TET 1968 Uprising PSYOP

SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)

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There are dozens of books and probably millions of words written on the Viet Cong attempted uprising in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) in 1968. I am not going to discuss the uprising in any depth except to give some background. I have already written an article on the Tet holiday in general, and reader can find that using this link

As most historians know, the Viet Cong decided to attempt a general uprising in 1968, hoping that the Vietnamese people in the South would rise up and join them. That did not happen. The people wanted no part of the insurrection and the Viet Cong were beaten so badly that they never became a major fighting force again. However, this did not help Vietnam and the United States in any way, since North Vietnam was then forced to send trained professional troops down the Ho Chi Minh Trail in greater force.

Tet seems to have been a complete surprise to American forces. The Communists had offered a cease fire and the Americans and South Vietnamese believed them. They accepted. Staff Sergeant Don Fieler told me a story that he finds funny now, but not in 1968:

On 31 January 1968, at about 2200, I was on the latrine sitting on the opening next to the Sergeant in charge of intelligence. I asked him how it looked for the TET cease fire and he said that everyone believed that all was going well, and it would be peaceful during the TET holidays. Three hours later that latrine took a direct mortar hit as the TET offensive started. Since then I have had little faith in intelligence.

On the other hand, friends of mine who were high in the ranks of Intelligence knew something was up and warned their headquarters, but apparently, nobody was listening. One analyst who shall go unnamed told me that he was putting pins in the maps from recon units and soon had all the major cities surrounded by pins. He had no doubt something big was about to occur but nobody cared to listen.

General Cao Van Vien and Lieutenant General Dong Van Khuyen mention their Vietnamese view of Tet 1968 in an Indochina Monograph published by the U.S. Army Center of Military History, titled Reflections on the Vietnam War. The book was translated by Phillip Tran.

When the Tet General Offensive finally materialized, it came as a big surprise for the Government of Vietnam. We were surprised not because of the absence of telltale indications which our intelligence had picked up but primarily because of our subjectivity and complacency which totally misled our estimates as to the enemy's intention and calculated boldness. It was indeed a risky venture for the enemy, but he had accepted the inevitable heavy losses. It was a daring move because our enemy completely disregarded the traditional sanctity of the Tet and overly relied on theoretical popular uprising.

The Tet offensive did not help the enemy attain his strategic objectives. He temporarily regained some initiative but eventually lost it again and found himself in a military posture much worse than before. The Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces did not disintegrate; they became stronger and more aggressive. Popular uprisings, a key to quick victory, never materialized. U.S. forces did not bog down as expected, and finally the enemy's ploy of installing a coalition government was completely shattered. The enemy's subjectivity also brought him a big surprise. He had preconceived ideas about the weakness of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces and the people's hostile attitude toward the United States and the Government of Vietnam. But the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces had fought gallantly and with confidence; they had fully demonstrated their combat capabilities and aggressiveness. Despite their criticisms of the Government of Vietnam and noncommittal attitude, the South Vietnamese people had resolutely refused to cooperate with the Communists. They were not deceived by such disguised stratagems of Communist domination as "coalition," "neutrality," and "peace."

South Vietnamese Colonel Hoang Ngoc Lung wrote a monograph entitled Intelligence for the U.S. Army Center of Military History in 1976. He mentioned the fact that the signal to start the general uprising was a “Happy Tet” poem by Ho Chi Minh broadcast from Radio Hanoi:

When North Vietnam was preparing to launch its General Offensive against cities in South Vietnam during the Tet holidays of 1968, it gave the order for preparation and attack under the form of a “Happy Tet” poem by Ho Chi Minh. This poem was broadcast by Radio Hanoi, intended for Communist troops in the South:

This Spring will be much different from previous springs
Because every household will enjoy news of victory
North and South will now forever reunite
Forward! Total victory will be ours.

The “Happy Tet” poem by Ho Chi Minh that Radio Hanoi repeatedly broadcast for some time before Tet was also a significant indicator that failed to draw the attention of our intelligence experts. For one thing, it had become a habit of the North Vietnam leader to address Happy Tet wishes to the North Vietnamese population every year. For another, words of exhortation to victory were nothing new in Communist propaganda jargon. What our intelligence experts failed to detect was the meaning that something new would happen this coming Tet and that it was going to be entirely different from previous years. The significance of Ho’s short poem as a signal for preparations and attack was later confirmed by several enemy prisoners and returnees.

The first phase of the 1968 General Offensive also helped the Republic of Vietnam intelligence establishment to learn more about the enemy. Unprecedented numbers of prisoners, returnees, and important captured documents contributed toward deepening our knowledge on the enemy’s strategy and policies. As a result, we knew well in advance every detail about the follow-up phase of his offensive, even the exact time of the first attack, which began on 5 May 1968. This was due to our agent sources within enemy ranks. In addition to information on the enemy campaign, these sources also divulged the difficulties that the Central Office for South Vietnam was facing, particularly the deteriorating morale of Communist units. At the same time, high ranking returnees contributed much invaluable information on the enemy’s internal situation.

From a morale standpoint, the uprising was a major blow to the United States. They had been hearing rosy news for years of constant American victories and enormous body counts of dead Viet Cong and had no idea that the guerrilla movement could plan and wage such an enormous attack. For the first time, many Americans, including TV reporter Walter Cronkite, began to wonder if the war was winnable.

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The Viet Cong Tet Offensive – 1968

What motivated me to write this short report on the PSYOP of Tet 1968 was an illustrated book titled The Viet Cong Tet Offensive - 1968, part of a “Series of Combat History” that was written by a number of Republic of Vietnam Army officers and printed by their Printing and Publications Center. It was later translated into English by a group of Americans officers assigned to a Joint Staff Civil Affairs Translation Board. It is about 490 pages in length and tells the entire story of Tet 1968 in five detailed chapters. The last section of the last chapter is titled “Propaganda.” I saw that last chapter and thought that I had some Viet Cong leaflets and some Allied leaflets that mention Tet 1968 and perhaps I might do a short report using the Vietnamese book.

Even as the Viet Cong forces were being destroyed, they kept telling their own people that they were victorious everywhere. The report says in part:

The formation of the so-called “Alliance of National, Democratic and Peaceful Forces in the South” was announced. It was the NLF who acted as spokesman for the Alliance, calling for united action to restore independence, democracy, and peace to the South in view of later national reunification.

Although the general offensive failed the very day it was launched, the Communist radios kept claiming victories for more than a week, trying to boost the red soldiers morale…A communique issued by the Communist command in Saigon reported that offensive troops had occupied within ten days the ARVN General Staff headquarters, the American Embassy, the Tan Son Nhut air base, the Go Vap rear area, and had control on most of Saigon’s 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th precincts while expanding their thrust into the other precincts.

It said that 10, 000 allied troops including 3,000 Americans had been killed, while tens of thousands of others had defected, and that the whole government machinery in Saigon had collapsed. The communique also claimed that 200 planes, over 600 military vehicles including 200 armored cars had been destroyed, and people from all walks of life in the liberated cities and villages had joined popular Self-Defense units with weapons captured from the enemy. It said tens of thousands of ARVN officers, soldiers, policemen and officials had joined the people's ranks; and all conditions were favorable for a final victory.

Another communique issued by the Command of the western area said:

From 3l January to 7 April 1968, simultaneous attacks were launched against the cities and towns of Can Tho, Soc Trang, Vinh Long, Bac Lieu, Ca Mau, and Rach Gia. The command headquarters of the IV Corps suffered heavy losses; the command headquarters of the 14th, 16th and 32nd Regiments were destroyed. 6,200 enemy soldiers were captured. 25,000 enemy soldiers and cadres were put out of combat.

All other enemy war communiques were of the same line. All claimed big victories, with particular emphasis on a final victory described as within reach to boost the red soldier’s morale.

Leaflets were also prepared.

These groups started distributing Leaflets while speaking to the people through loudspeakers. Most leaflets were supposed to have been originated from the so-called Alliance of National Democratic and Peace Forces. Police reported later that a total of twelve different leaflets were distributed in Saigon.

I will not talk about the attacks in any detail; just add some of my Viet Cong leaflets and some of my American-South Vietnamese leaflets that specifically mention Tet 1968 to illustrate the story. I hope to hold this report to about 4,000 words, but my history is that the articles somehow all grow to a minimum of 10,000 words.

About a decade ago I wrote in an article about the casualties of the Vietnam War:

Young men in North Vietnam had a slogan: “Born in the North to die in the South.” They saw their friends marching off, never to return, and knew that if sent South, the odds were very good that they were going to die. During their great “victory” of Tet 1968, 32,000 Guerrillas were killed and another 5,800 captured. The Viet Cong was virtually put out of business in a single prolonged battle. During the course of the War, General Giap said that a total of 500,000 of his troops were killed in the fighting. In April 1995, Hanoi admitted that the actual number was 1.1 million men killed. The United States lost 58,209 men in the war. It would seem to be an American victory, except that South Vietnam did eventually fall so we must say that through patience, propaganda, subterfuge and the support of Russia, China and the Soviet Bloc, North Vietnam was the winner of the war.

Speaking of North Vietnamese General Giap, Colonel Harry Summers, the U.S. author and historian, once decided to provoke General Giap. He said “The North Vietnamese troops had never defeated the Americans on the battlefield.” Many American veterans of the Vietnam War will tell you “We were winning when I left.” General Giap replied: “That is true but it is also irrelevant.” In other words, it was never about the fighting; it was always about the will of the American and North Vietnamese people and governments to fight to the bitter end and win.

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Viet Cong woman with Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG)

The number of actual Viet Cong who died during Tet is still open to question. It started about 30,000 and a few years later rose to 40,000. The New York Times of 31 January 1988 said:

The number of enemy dead had climbed to more than 58,000. More than 14,000 South Vietnamese men, women and children also had died. Of all the battles that together are known as the Tet offensive, the longest, bloodiest and most destructive was fought over Hue, in central Vietnam.

The Second Indochina War Symposium was held at Airlie, Virginia on 7-9 November 1984, hosted by the Center of Military History of the United States Army. In regard to the Tet Offensive, historian Douglas Pike said:

In the Tet offensive of 1968 thirty-two of South Vietnam's major population centers were attacked simultaneously by 70,000 of General Giap's best forces. While the Tet offensive had enormous psychological impact abroad, particularly in the United States where it was a major factor in President Lyndon Johnson’s decision not to seek reelection, it was a disaster for General Giap. He had begun his winter-spring campaign with 195,000 men. At its conclusion he had lost (killed or permanently disabled) 85,000 of his best troops with virtually nothing militarily to show for it.

The Viet Cong Tet Offensive introduces us to the uprising. I will edit and paraphrase some comments for brevity:

What did the Communists have to say through their propaganda machinery and both the Hanoi and National Liberation Front (NLF) radios during the Tet general offensive? First, they claimed a formation of so-called “Alliance of National, Democratic and Peaceful forces” in the South. The NLF claimed to be the spokesman of this Alliance, calling for united action to restore Independence, democracy and peace” to the south.

Curiously, the South was at peace already, but terrorized by Guerrilla bands that murdered people that did not follow their political beliefs. This would continue during the uprising when the “peaceful democratic forces” would kill thousands of innocent civilians.

The Viet Cong try to take the American Embassy but Fail

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American military police kneel behind a wall as they fight for control of the U.S. Embassy compound.
In the foreground are two American soldiers who were killed in earlier fighting.
In spite of the dramatic attack on the U.S. Embassy, the Tet Offensive was a tactical defeat for the Viet Cong.

The Vietnam War Almanac

Although the general offensive failed the very first day it was launched, the Communist radios kept claiming victories for more than a week, trying to boost their soldier’s morale. A communique issued by the Communist Command in Saigon reported that their troops within 10 days had occupied the ARVN General Staff Headquarters, The American Embassy, the Tan Son Nhut Airbase, and control of four of Saigon’s districts…10,000 Allied troops including 3,000 Americans had been killed. Tens of thousands had defected. The Saigon Government machinery had collapsed. 200 planes, 600 military vehicles including 200 armored cars had been destroyed. And people were joining the popular self-defense units with weapons captured from the enemy. Tens of thousands of ARVN officers, soldiers and police had joined the people’s ranks. Final victory was in sight.

Vietnam Document and Research notes, Number 22, March 1968, discusses Tet 1968 in depth. Some of the comments are:

When the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army unleashed their attack against the cities of South Vietnam on 31 January their military offensive was accompanied by a propaganda offensive against the Government of the Republic of South Vietnam. At the most public and diffuse level, this “political struggle” took the form of radio broadcasts transmitted by Hanoi and the broadcasting station of the South Vietnam National Liberation Front. These broadcasts asserted that the Government of South Vietnam was being overthrown, that its authority in many localities bad been superseded by that of revolutionary organizations, and that the people should seize power and accomplish total defeat of the Government and its allies.

At the bottom level, amongst their forces on the ground, the Viet Cong propaganda took the fora of leaflets distributed directly to people on the streets or to families in their homes in those sections of cities penetrated or temporarily controlled by the Viet Cong or North Vietnamese Army military units.

The Time Opportunity

This leaflet depicts an advancing crowd of Vietnamese and Montagnard country people. The message on the leaflet states:

The time-opportunity has arrived! The entire people unite in a single mind to fight the Americans, overthrow the puppets, and seize the government for the people.

Note: There were certain terms used in many of the leaflets prepared for Tet 1968. Three of the most popular were: Time Opportunity (Now or never), General Offensive, and General Uprising.


Smash Control

The above leaflet, distributed in Quang Ngai Province, contains the statements:

The Liberation Armed Forces will attack repeatedly and continuously the military targets of the Americans and puppets, the government office of the puppet regime, the communication arteries, the pacification teams, the cruel gangs…Compatriots should take this opportunity to rise simultaneously to smash the machinery of control, to liberate yourselves and be masters of your own fate.



Compatriot Citizen:

The general offensive against the Thieu-Ky clique which we are looking for has materialized. The Revolutionary Army, responding to the will and the anger of the entire people, has opened fire at the enemy with whom we cannot live under the same sky.

We wish to report to the compatriots that we are determined to overthrow the Thieu-Ky traitors’ regime, destroy those who have been oppressing and beating the compatriots so far. Our struggle's objective is to win independence for the people, peace for the country, democracy, and happiness for the people.

We will build a power regime entirely of our own, a regime for the Fatherland and the people. To enable the Army to fulfill its sacred but very heavy responsibility, we demand that the compatriots:

1 - Give us a hand in attacking and pursuing the American and puppet forces.
2 - Help us arrest all the cruel henchmen of the Americans and puppets.

Being the children of the people, the Revolutionary Army pledges to do its utmost to win Victory for the Fatherland and the people.

January 31, 1968
The Revolutionary Army Command
Long An Province

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A Viet Cong Tet-themed leaflet

The Communists regularly lied and bragged about major victories and thousands of battles won and U.S. aircraft shot down. This is rather typical of their exaggeration and talks about Tet 1968. This Quang Nam Province National Front for Liberation leaflet claims that the Viet Cong:

Annihilated 62,000 enemy troops…24 battalions, 95 companies of US and puppet troops…1000 military vehicles…Tens of hundreds of aircraft…100 vessels…

The leaflet was found by former Sergeant First Class Don Peterson who was in Vietnam during the years 1968-1969. He told me:

I picked this up somewhere between LZ Baldy and LZ Ross. I don't recall the Road number or Highway between the two Landing Zones, but they called it Que Son Valley.

A second communique, issued by the Central Area Command said in part:

From 30 January to 4 April 1968, our forces smashed key military and administrative organs of the enemy in 21 cities. Six sub-area command headquarters and 4 operational commands were destroyed. 16,000 soldiers including 1000 American soldiers were killed, seven battalions including one American battalion was annihilated, 14 vessels and 155 military vehicles were destroyed and 13 planes shot down…400 enemy soldiers surrendered to our side. 6 Key highways were under constant pressure. We destroyed the Rach Mien Bridge and took over the My Thuan ferry.

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Brooks A. Mick, M.D. was a Surgeon in Vietnam during the Tet uprising. He told me a bit about his actions at the time:


Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) Leaflet

A Huey, taking off from the airstrip at Kontum during Tet, was shot down and crashed with two of my medics from the 1/22nd Infantry on board, but both were uninjured.  They were under fire and sheltering under the wreck until the enemy fire was suppressed and they could bug out.  

I found the leaflet just after Tet, sometime in mid or late January, 1968, and I was with either the 1/22nd Infantry or 1/14th Infantry (I was moved around to fill in trouble spots) and we were operating mostly out of Fire Base Mary Lou or up at Dak To. I do recall this was near the Cambodian border, which was within sight across a small valley.I was on an overnight patrol and happened to spot this lying along the trail. I had a new Asahi Pentax 35 mm camera and so I just stopped, leaned over, and photographed this in somewhat poor light. I had no flash at the time, probably wouldn’t have used it anyway. I did not pick it up.

[Author’s Note]: I do not recognize that particular leaflet but of course, millions were dropped during the Vietnam War. For more information on the Chieu Hoi program, click here.

Treating a wounded North Vietnamese Soldier

I was a Battalion Surgeon, and aside from the two infantry battalions, I served with 5/16th Artillery, and in 4th Medical Battalion’s C and D companies.

The Bunker…A Safe Place

The bunker was by highway  A14 at the south end of the bridge to Kontum

As I said, I was moved around a lot, sort of a trouble-shooter. I recall all my medics fondly. Some of us were dropped off at the bridge south of Kontum on highway A14. We started a bunker there, but took mortar and small arms fire during the first night, so I moved south a kilometer to a Special Forces C camp, and we set up there. Here are some further photos.

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Determined to Fight…

The Vietnamese often prepared leaflets in the Vietnamese language for their own civilians or the Army of Viet Nam, what they might call the "Puppet Army of the Americans." This leaflet was found in 1968 in the Mekong Delta. This leaflet depicts an American eagle with the face of President Lyndon B. Johnson pierced by three arrows. The Viet Cong propaganda on the arrows says:

Determined to fight, determined to win.

General Attack; general uprising --- All together. Kill Americans and Thieu

North Vietnam shot down 3,300 airplanes.

“Thieu” of course is the Republic of Vietnam’s President Nguyen Van Thieu.

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To: Officers and men…

This Viet Cong leaflet is interesting because it mentions several of the nations that helped the Republic of Vietnam; the South Koreans, Australians and Thai. The front is in English, the back in Vietnamese. It makes the same claims of a massive victory during the Tet offensive and tells the American troops to demand repatriation and let the Vietnamese settle their own problems.

A third communique issued by the Command of the Western Area said in part:

From 31 January to 7 April 1968, simultaneous attacked were launched against six cities. The command headquarters of the IV Corps suffered heavy losses; the command headquarters of the 14th, 16th and 32nd Regiments were destroyed. 6,200 enemy soldiers were captured. 25,000 enemy soldiers and cadre were put out of combat. Eight regular battalions were decimated as were the 43th and 44th Ranger Battalions. Our forces attacked 7 airfields…100 aircraft were shot down…

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Empty Saigon Streets usually packed with traffic
are guarded by two GIs during the Tet Uprising

Ho Chi Minh sends his Troops a Personal Tet Greeting in 1968

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Tet Greeting From Chairman Ho

This New Year will be better than past new years
Victory and good news will sweep the nation
South and North vie with one another in fighting the Americans
Advance - total victory is ours

Spring 1968
Ho Chi Minh

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The Remains of Civilian Dead at Hue

This official propaganda photograph was released by the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Political Warfare Directorate and depicts the Americans and Vietnamese searching for remains of the dead at Da Mai Brook, Hue.

This two-sided uncoded leaflet seems to target the Vietnamese troops and civilians during the Tet uprising. Notice it mentions various cities that have been either attacked or taken. Interesting that it mentions Hue, where some of the worst atrocities occurred:


In Saigon, Da Nang, Hue, and more than 40 cities, municipalities were either being attacked or were overrun by the people and National Liberation Front cadres. Many places have formed People’s Revolution Government. Many soldiers of the Saigon Puppet Government have returned to the people and the revolutionary forces to fight against the people’s government.

Many military bases have invited the people’s representatives to their base to hand over their authority and to carry arms by the people’s side. All their acts and deeds are welcomed by the people and the revolutionary cadres; others who oppose are severely punished. All Brothers! The sacred hour to save the nation is coming. The fate of American villains and those of Thieu and Ky is about to end. We call upon you to leave the enemy government and return to revolutionary force. Help the Revolutionary force liberate the last of military posts. Any government military units which leave with their weapons will be whole-heartily welcomed.

Do not hesitate. Take the glorious road with the people and fight against the Americans; it is a life-time opportunity.

The People’s Revolutionary Committee. Sector I.

Hue was one of the worst crimes of the Viet Cong during Tet. They apparently killed thousands there while they held the city. A communique from the Commander of the Hue forces said:

From 31 January to 9 February 1968, we overran 53 enemy positions, and captured more than 10,000 soldiers including 1,800 Americans. The 7th Armored Regiment was annihilated as were 6 enemy battalions including 2 riot police battalions. The 1st Infantry Division was decimated with its 1st and 3rd regiments losing three-quarters of its men…118 planes of all kind were shot down, and 250 military vehicles including 60 tanks, 20 artillery pieces were destroyed. 10 war vessels and junks were sunk. 10 arms and ammunition dumps were seized, along with 2,000 weapons of all kinds. Tens of thousands of people welcomed the formation of a revolutionary government. The Americans have suffered heavy casualties and will certainly be defeated.

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The National Liberation Front Military Medal

The Viet Cong continued to issue such communiques, even as their people were pushed back from their temporary gains and crushed. A National Liberation Front news bulletin of 13 February said that the Command of their forces in the South had warmly praised the various units involved in the general offensive, with most of them being awarded the Liberation Military Medal.

The Americans Strike Back

American propaganda was fairly quiet during the general offensive because no one knew exactly how the battle would go. The same thing happened in 1945 when Hitler surprised the Allies with his Ardennes offensive. American PSYOP stopped for a brief while until the tide of battle turned and once it was sure that the Allies had won a victory, the leaflets fell with a vengeance. The same thing happened in 1968. Once it was clear that the Allies had won a great victory and the Viet Cong was on the run, millions of leaflets were prepared to tell the enemy just how bad their defeat had been. There was nobody else that was going to tell them, especially not Hanoi. You will notice that the number of Viet Cong dead differs in each American leaflet. This is because they were printed at different times and each leaflet would mention the most current number as of the day of printing.

JUSPAO Policy Number 56, dated 6 February 1968, was titled Restoring Civil Confidence; Popular Rejection of Call for General Uprising. The 4-page publications said in part:

To shore up the confidence of the civilian population in the Government of Vietnam and the Free World Military forces capability to blunt the enemy thrust, restore security, and get the country back to normal again in the shortest possible time. To drive home to the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese the peoples! rejection of the general uprising that was supposed to accompany the enemy terror offensive during the 1968 Tet period.

While the premediated, all-out attack in violation of the purported seven-day Tet truce announced by the Viet Cong, gave the enemy an initial psychological advantage at a staggering cost to them in casualties, loss of civilian lives and destruction of property, the general uprising to which their propaganda exhorted the people failed to materialize anywhere. The combined forces of the GVN and its free world allies broke the back of the communist offensive, killing over 14, 000 enemy soldiers in the first five days of fighting.

The rejection by the people of the enemy's call for a general uprising in support of his terrorist gamble should be stressed heavily in the output of PSYOP media directed to the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong and the population at large. The population of Greater Saigon and its suburbs will be a special target of intensive GVN mass media output, assisted by JUSPAO. Maximum use of loudspeakers will be made.

To the remaining pockets or North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong infiltrators in the cities and to the enemy forces generally, PSYOP should stress: Primarily the total rejection by the people of South Viet Nam of the Viet Cong (NLF) call for a general uprising to accompany the Viet Cong effort to seize the cities. The complete failure of the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong all-out attack in which the lives of the most experienced cadre have been sacrificed. The staggering casualty rate inflicted on the aggressor by overwhelming GVN and Free World military forces firepower. The ease with which North Vietnamese Army North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong holdouts bottled up in populated areas can rally or surrender to the allied forces by throwing down their weapons and waving a surrender pass or leaflet, or simply by coming hands up and unarmed out of their hiding places.

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Leaflet 95T

During the Vietnam War American PSYOP had a number of different campaigns, all aimed at specific targets. The Ho Chi Minh Trail campaign had leaflets coded with the letter “T.” Leaflet 95T is the first leaflet dropped over the Trail to tell the soldiers coming South of the great defeat of the General Offensive. The front of the leaflet bears three photos of the fighting and the back a single photo of dead Viet Cong. The text says in part:


The Communist Party’s Tet Offensive in South Vietnam failed to achieve any of its military objectives. The Communist controlled Viet Cong forces attacked Saigon and 43 other towns and cities on the eve or Tet, violating the sacred Tet season. Many people were injured. Homes of innocent people were destroyed. The people did not rise to help their attackers; they did rise to help the forces of South Vietnam. The people of South Vietnam do not want to be liberated; they are already free.

Your Party-controlled government has been telling you that millions of people in the South rose to join the Communist ranks. That never happened. A free people cannot be liberated. During the Communists’ Tet Offensive, the Vietnamese Army and Allies killed more than 65,000 Communist troops and captured another 12,000. You are being sent south to replace them. Most of you will be killed far from home and buried in unmarked graves. Seize the first opportunity to leave your unit and come over to the ranks of the Republic of South Vietnam.

Leaflet 7-138-68

The communists attacked President Thieu in their Tet offensive propaganda leaflets. Here Thieu strikes back. This leaflet depicts him at the head of a group of soldiers, civilians, workers, and farmers. The implication is that Thieu is of the people, and a leader of the people. It appears that because of the fighting in the streets, the people were asked to stay inside for their safety. The text on the front is:

Compatriots, be united and support the Government of Vietnam, led by President Nguyen Van Thieu in a quest of peace for this land. Please duly observe this curfew order to ensure security for yourself!

The text on the back is:

Thanks to the unity of the entire Army and people, the Communists have suffered a humiliating defeat. Facing the Communists' suicide attacks, almost everyone in the cities participated in hunting down and chasing the Viet Cong.

Against the Communists' desperate and inhuman attacks, the people once again have shown their utmost disdain for the Communists. More than ever, the people have united with the Army to form a monolith to defeat all the Communists' attacks.

This unanimity should show the Communists that they must let the people of the South choose their government according to their own will.

Poster 10-147-68

This 17 February 1968 poster by the 10th PSYOP Battalion is titled “People Hate the Viet Cong.” It depicts South Vietnamese veterans volunteering to defend their province against the Viet Cong offensive. The text is:


The Viet Cong are hated because they violated the truce of the last days of the sacred spring of the people. They destroyed the people’s houses and caused thousands to become homeless.

Hundreds of young men of all elements, most of them ed-servicemen from Hao Hao, Don Xa, and everywhere in the province came to the city. They volunteered to destroy the enemy and secure the land without asking for pay. These ex-servicemen with much experience stand with the Army of Vietnam to protect the province from the destructive actions of the Viet Cong.

There was also a North Vietnam bombing campaign, usually aimed at convincing the North to talk peace or stop their aggressive tactics in the south. The campaign was known as Rolling Thunder, Field Goal, Fact Sheet, and Frantic Goat as time went on. The same general leaflet as “The Communist Tet Offensive Failed” was dropped on North Vietnam, but now coded just 95 without the “T” that connoted “Trail.” This version of the leaflet had two photos on the front and three on the back and some minor changes in the text. It might have been written earlier than 95T because it mentions 30,000 Viet Cong killed and ends with “Don’t believe your government’s lies. Listen to the Voice of Freedom for the true story.” The “Voice of Freedom” was an Allied propaganda radio station.

The Viet Cong Tet Offensive book says that a dispatch from Hong Kong on 14 February said that Mao Tse Tung was not pleased with the Communist General Offensive in Vietnam. It was not in accordance with his doctrine as it violated the principal rule of guerrilla warfare by attacking the cities. Mao regarded the Viet Cong offensive as a manifestation of adventurism which used to be the subject of Red China’s biggest ideological conflict before the Cultural Revolution.

That comment is odd because at the time of the offensive most political pundits believed that Mao had pushed the Viet Cong to rise up and take over South Vietnam.


Colonel Hoang Ngoc Lung talked about the sudden realization that the Communist propaganda about the South Vietnamese people wanting to be “liberated,” were all lies in his monograph titled, The General Offensives of 1968-1969 for the U.S. Army Center of Military History in 1978:

After the two phases of the offensive which took place during the first half of 1968, the Communists had incurred total losses amounting to 170,000 casualties and 39,800 weapons of all types. This heavy toll seriously affected the morale of Communist troops and cadres in almost all units. A substantial number of enemy unit commanders had been killed or wounded; many others chose to rally to the GVN.

The enemy’s propaganda apparatus, which had heretofore been considered effective, fell victim to an unexpected backlash. The outcome of the offensive thus far and the realities witnessed by enemy troops in South Vietnamese cities contrasted so much with Communist propaganda lines that the latter became outright lies. Southern enemy troops, for example, had been informed that they would receive an enthusiastic support from the urban population, which never materialized. NVA troops who were sent to the South to participate in the offensive had been led to believe that South Vietnam had been “liberated” and what remained for them to do was just go in and take over. The situation of South Vietnam had been represented to them as one of near collapse in which the exploited population was chafing under repressions and deprivations, longing for the day of liberation. But what Communist troops really saw for themselves during the short period they encountered South Vietnamese urban civilization had struck them as beyond imagination. NVA troops could not believe their eyes when confronted with the sophisticated amenities of westernized modern life. Their impression was one of awe and bewilderment.

Gradually, they came to suspect and disbelieve their own propaganda apparatus. Just as they were suffering from one defeat after another, for example, this apparatus continued to sing news of victory along with statistical results on “enemy” losses that had been so excessively falsified that even the most gullible Communist troops had to question their veracity. The truth finally dawned on them that what they had been told was simply hollow propaganda. And for the devout Communist, this affected his morale most seriously.


The Chieu Hoi Campaign to Capitalize on the Failure of the Communist General Offensive

The U.S. Joint Public Affairs Office prepared PSYOP Policy 57 on 8 February 1968 to seize the initiative with Chieu Hoi appeals based on the failure of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong to achieve their objectives of their Tet Offensive.

It determined that there was every indication from captured documents and prisoner interrogations that the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong leadership intended to seize the cities and counted on the popular uprising against the Government of Vietnam in support of the Tet offensive. There were no plans for withdrawal, relief or reinforcements and the overwhelming defeat of their maximum effort was a severe psychological blow

Against this background of disillusionment and failure, a dramatic response to skillful desertion and surrender appeals was conceivable. These messages needed to be keyed to their present situation and should avoid the standard and generalized Chieu Hoi appeals and give heavy emphasis on the themes of popular rejection, total failure of the general offensive to seize any of its objectives, and unprecedented losses in men and weapons inflicted on their forces. Until further notice, all Chieu Hoi materials, such as leaflets, newssheets, loudspeaker/radio message should be based on the failure of the Communist offensive. The current inventory should not be used except with notable exceptions. The following five leaflets may still be used. SP-893 (Safe conduct pass), SP-2263 (NVA poem), SP-2266 (Government treatment of POWs), SP-2336 (Message to a NVA soldier) and SP-2393 (News of the victory).

I will add two of those special leaflets here:

Leaflet SP-893

This is one of the leaflets that still could be used after Tet 68. All the leaflet 893 flag safe conduct passes show a large flag of the Republic of Vietnam at center on the front and, in the earlier versions, smaller flags of allied nations participating in the war. The first was the five-flag pass, showing flags of the United States, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, in addition to the flag of Vietnam. This leaflet and its variants were produced before 1967. In 1967, a seven-flag version was introduced, showing the additional flags of Thailand and the Philippines. Finally, in 1972, when Vietnamization became the focus of propaganda, all flags except that of Vietnam were removed. Several different forms of propaganda were used on the back side. The original leaflet was given the code 893. Subsequently, the letters "A" through "F" were added to distinguish some of the modifications.

Leaflet SP-2263

This leaflet has a long and sentimental poem, and we should point out that poetry was an important part of Vietnamese PSYOP. It is depicted in the JUSPAO November 1968 publication Communicating with Vietnamese thru Leaflets that says:

This leaflet uses poetry as a medium of communication. In fact, some of the best leaflets ever used in Vietnam have consisted of emotion-provoking poems, with suitable illustrations related to the thematic content of the poem.

A JUSPAO document dated 18 September 1969 is entitled “Poem by North Vietnam Deserter.” The document states that the poem was written for Tet by a Hoi Chanh who did not ask for money. The poem, written by Hoai Thanh was entitled “Take a husband my love.” The letter says in part:

I suggest that this be considered for use on radio, television, magazines, newspapers and leaflets. This, after all, is a nation of poets. The single most effective leaflet dropped in the past was the soldier’s poem to his mother.

A few lines from the six-stanza Tet poem:

Listen to me, my love.
Take a husband, my love, for my life is ebbing fast.
I must lie to myself when giving you this advice.
But my darling, I must think of your future…

I am committed and eternal bitterness is my lonely fate
Oh, listen to my aching heart and seek your ideas in love…

PSYOP Policy 57 continues:

Up to date products are now being developed. They must make the following points:

The NVA/VC leadership misled and betrayed their soldiers. Their shame cannot be forgiven. The Winter-Spring Offensive is a total failure. The call for a general uprising has been emphatically rejected by the population of South Vietnam. Losses inflicted on the NVA/VC are unprecedented. Thousands of soldiers have died needlessly. NVA/VC troops were promised relief and reinforcement with 48 hours, but no relief was forthcoming, and the men were abandoned to their fate. NVA/VC fighters were promised revolutionary new weapons, but no such weapons were distributed.

Some of the new leaflets that met these requirements are depicted below.

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Leaflet 2448

The Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO) was one of the main proponents of Allied Propaganda in Vietnam. Leaflet 2448 depicts a major Communist officer who was killed during the Tet Offensive. The text is:

The Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces has completely crushed the Viet Cong's general offensive against the cities.

From 30 January 1968 to 15 February 1968, over 34,000 North Vietnamese Regulars and Viet Cong soldiers paid for their crimes. Among them was Major General Tran Do, who was killed in an action at 46th Street in Cholon in the outskirts of Saigon City.

The death of Tran Do, Tran Van Tra and Nguyen Chi Tranh proved that the Communist aggressive policy to take over South Vietnam has severely failed. It was not their inability or incompetence, but the Communist adventurous acts that cause their deaths.

Why do you still hesitate? Try to find an opportunity to return to the National Community and rejoin your families, as tens of thousands have already done.

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Leaflet 2556

Leaflet 2556 was all about the Tet defeat. I seldom show all-text leaflets but will show this one because of the message. It says in part:


On 31 March 1968 President Johnson said: “Even while the search for peace was going on, North Vietnam rushed their preparations for a savage assault on the people, the Allies and the Government of Vietnam.”


He final figures are in. The elected President of the Republic of Vietnam, Nguyen Van Thieu, has announced that, during the Tet offensive, the North Vietnam Army in the South and the Viet Cong: Suffered 57,293 killed; lost 7,555 captured; and lost 14,918 weapons.

In just two months, the casualties among the NVA and VC forces were the equivalent of half of your total casualties in the year 1967. President Thieu said: “The Communist Tet Offensive can be considered as having completely failed.

I should note that all-text leaflet 2549 also mentions the Tet Offensive, but just near the end of side two. Some of that text is:


The heyday of youth is something that is the most precious of your life. Thus, the leaders of the Communist Party have imposed on you the tragic consequences of the fratricidal war.

After unceasing failures, especially the bitter defeat of the so-called “general offensive” in the recent Tet, have you ever thought that you ought to live to meet your family again on a certain day?

To be sure that you are alive to meet the happiest time of the heyday of youth, be courageous and leave the Communist ranks and return to the Government and people of the South. The free and prosperous life of the South Vietnamese people will be your future life.

On 23 February 1968 JUSPAO published a supplement to PSYOP Policy 57. It stated that the term Hoi Chanh (rallier) will be used in all future Chieu Hoi appeals. It also said that to restore diversity to the appeals, 37 of the older leaflets and other products that had been banned could now be disseminated again. Once again, I will depict two of those items here:

Comic book 2078

Comic book 2078 is an example of a Chieu Hoi product. Its title is A Nightmare Passed - Chieu Hoi. This July 1967 booklet is 5 x 7-inches in size and 20-pages in length. The comic book presents, in cartoon style, the experiences and thoughts of a Hoi Chanh (defector or “rallier” from the Viet Cong) on the events which led to his decision to Chieu Hoi (return to the National Government). At the start of the book a happy young man is shown at school. Later he decides to join the Viet Cong. His group is first bombed by the Americans and then he gets sick but cannot be treated properly in the field. He is forced to take part in self-criticism and after a second American aerial attack he finds Chieu Hoi leaflets on the ground. He returns to the fold at the end of the book has returned to his old school.

Leaflet SP-2141

Leaflet SP-2141 depicts a mother crying over the image of her dead son, killed while fighting. The leaflet is designed to encourage enemy soldiers to rally to the government side before being killed in battle. PSYOP records indicate that 15 million copies of this leaflet were prepared in December 1967 and forwarded to Da Nang, Nha Trang, Pleiku, Bien Hoa, and Can Tho. The text on the front of the leaflet is:

We cry for the dead.
We are bitter because of the Communists
have destroyed our families.
When will mothers and children be reunited?

A 1967 report entitled Viet Cong Measures against Government of Vietnam Leaflets in Phu Yen Province says in part:

The most effective Chieu Hoi leaflets depicted families of both North Vietnam and South Vietnam urging their sons, husbands, and relatives to return home and give up the war. Cadres alleged that they could see through this distortion of the truth and were not discouraged. Chieu Hoi leaflets which urged people to resettle in Government-controlled areas enjoyed less success. Many who had resettled had found only hardship. When they returned to their native villages, they reported to their friends that life had been difficult. The government had not made good on its promise to aid and support them. Jobs were difficult to obtain. Farmers were unable to continue to farm because land and money were not available. Life was better in the Viet Cong-controlled areas.

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Sergeant Jim Hoskin said in regard to his MACV Headquarters in Saigon:

On the morning of Tet 1968 what kept the MACV Headquarters Ton Son Nhut from being overrun by the armed local Viet Cong was a group of the 1st Cavalry seasoned combat soldiers who were passing through and lodged at our Headquarters compound for the night. They and our own Military Police held the perimeter.

Major Michael G. Barger wrote his Master’s Thesis on Psychological Operations Supporting Counterinsurgency: 4th PSYOP Group in Vietnam. He said about Tet 68:

The Tet Offensive, launched on 29 January 1968, was a simultaneous attack on most provincial capitals as well as the national capital intended to touch off the General Uprising that would lead to ultimate victory. Unfortunately for the North Vietnamese Politburo, the offensive failed to spark the hoped-for uprising and it cost the VC and North Vietnamese Army (NVA) attackers 14,000 killed in just the first five days of fighting. The total estimated number of casualties for the VC and NVA in the three major offensives of 1968 was 240,000 killed or wounded. Further, atrocities such as those committed in Hue caused Vietnamese public sentiment toward the VC took a sharp decline in affected areas.

The Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO) issued policy guidance immediately following the Tet Offensive to take advantage of the changed situation. The policy directs all U.S. elements in Vietnam to emphasize to the Vietnamese population the staggering losses inflicted on the VC/NVA as well as the damage their attacks caused in heavily populated areas such as Pleiku. In PSYOP directed toward the enemy, the policy directed emphasis on the popular rejection of the call for a general uprising, the complete failure of all attacks and the staggering casualties suffered to no purpose.

What I found rather surprising in that looking through the 1968 issues of the PSYOP – POLWAR Newsletter, the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, monthly publication for PSYOP troops, there was absolutely no mention of the Tet General Uprising. The American Command seems to have treated it as if it never happened. Since that was the major action of 1968 it is surprising that it was ignored.

I did find one mention that 500 sets of a photographic exhibit depicting the horrors of the Tet attack have been assembled for Public Affairs use. Each set is comprised of several large display boards and is considered ideal for use with Cultural Team performances, county fairs, MEDCAP etc. It is planned to send one exhibit to each district and province, and 100 sets for U.S. military units.

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Leaflet 6-131-68

The 6th PSYOP Battalion was the first PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam. When there was need for a PSYOP Group the 6th became the 4th PSYOP Group and another 6th battalion was authorized. In 1968 the 6th Battalion printed and disseminated about a half-dozen Tet Offensive leaflets. They are all old, faded and mostly text. So, I will mention the messages on a few of them here just to let the reader see what was being printed by the 6th Battalion.

6-118-18 is all text with the same message on front and back with a fancy design at the bottom. 50,000 copies of the leaflet were printed. Some of the text is:

The crimes of the Viet Cong during this Tet holiday period are unforgivable…The Viet Cong in fact are being defeated. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam, together with Free World military forces has killed over 21,300 Viet Cong since their aggressive acts began on 27 January 1968.

6-129-68 has a much longer text with the same message on front and back so I will just translate a small part of it. 25,000 copies of the leaflet were printed:

The people of the South were remembering their ancestors and welcoming the new spring when you burned and destroyed the land. The consequence of your ruthless attack on the South has been a great loss for you. You have lost 26,000 men who were killed, and 5,000 who were captured.

6-131-68 is all text with the same message on front and back. 50,000 copies of the leaflet were printed. It says in part:

Since the beginning of the Viet Cong offensive, over 26,000 VC and North Vietnamese Army soldiers have been killed by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam and its allies throughout the country. Do not let the VC bring bad luck to you. If you have a VC weapon, turn it in to the near government or Allied post.

You will be generously rewarded.

The Viet Cong Tet Offensive tells us that the defeat of the General Offensive was a great disappointment to the people of North Vietnam:

It caused much confusion among the Communist ranks in South Vietnam as they no longer hoped for either a military victory or a quick end to the war. In the face of American military might, they now realized that a victory would not be as easy as their Hanoi leaders had claimed…Communist soldiers from North Vietnam had to endure more suffering…They had been deceived by their leaders whose order was to “go and take over” the South as three-quarters of the land had been occupied by “our comrades in the South.” In short, the Communist general offensive brought about the collapse of the Red soldier’s morale.

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South Vietnamese Army Leaflet DV34AH8268

South Vietnam had their own Political Warfare units and were able to print leaflets for their own people. This leaflet is all text on the front and back and is in regard to the Tet uprising of 1968. This leaflet says in part:

Cadres and Soldiers of the Viet Cong 9th Division

Your friends failed in their plan to take Saigon. During the period 29 January to 9 February 1968, similar plans throughout South Vietnam also ended in complete failure. Almost 26,000 of your friends were killed and 5,000 more were captured. Your friends brought death and undying shame upon themselves when they inflicted pain and death on innocent mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and little children as they are joyfully greeting the sacred traditional Vietnamese Tet holiday.

Your friends mistakenly believed that the people of Saigon would support their plan of destruction and would help your friends to seize all of Saigon…

Before we end this short report we should mention that the U.S. Navy also did psychological operations in Vietnam during Tet 1968. The U.S. Naval Forces Vietnam After-action Monthly Reports tells us much more about what the Navy did:

The United States Navy also performed PSYOP missions using their PBRs. During the month of January 1968 The U.S. Navy made 94 hours of aerial broadcasts, 384 hours of surface broadcasts and distributed 293,334 leaflets. Their psychological operations personnel distributed food to refugees and other needy people, broadcast information in response to psychological operations guidance, issued elementary sanitation instructions, passed on information as to how members of the Viet Cong could defect and attempted to help the people solve minor problems.

Leaflet 95 was dropped on North Vietnam after the Tet offensive. My copies of this leaflet are too poor to show. I can barely make out four photographs of injured people and destroyed buildings. I thought the text might be interesting to the readers though:

The Communist Tet Offensive Failed. The Lao Dong Party's Tet offensive in South Vietnam failed to achieve any of its military objectives. The Lao Dong Party-controlled Viet Cong forces attacked Saigon and 43 other towns and cities on the eve of Tet, violating the sacred Tet season. Many people were injured. Homes of innocent people were destroyed. The people did not rise to help their attackers; they did rise to help the forces of South Vietnam. The people of South Vietnam do not need to be liberated; they are already free. The communist controlled forces of the north are now hated more than ever before.

Your Party-controlled government has been telling you that millions of people in the South rose to join the communist ranks. This never happened. A free people cannot be liberated. In defending the liberty of South Vietnam, the South Vietnamese forces and their allies have destroyed more than thirty thousand communist troops and wounded thousands more so that they can no longer fight. The communist Tet offensive was a total failure. Do not believe your government's lies. Listen to the Voice of Freedom for the true story.

Leaflet 10-045-69

This satirical leaflet depicts a Viet Cong political cadre lying to his troops about Tet. He tells them of the great victory they had in 1967 while he hides the truth of their defeat. They attacked again in 1968, an attack that led to their death and destruction. Now they want to continue their useless attacks. One million copies of this leaflet were printed and dropped by air. The text on the front is:

Tet 1967 – Viet Cong offensive fails – thousands of Viet Cong killed.
The Communist leaders tell you that you are winning but the truth is you are being defeated.

The text on the back says in part:

While preparing for the general attack at Tet, your leaders told you that the people in the cities and the ARVN troops would rally to your side, but the truth has proven to be the opposite. The people resisted you and the ARVN troops defeated you. Your leaders are now renewing their destructive attacks. Once again, your leaders are using their former arguments, as at Tet. Certainly, these arguments will only bring you heavy losses as at Tet. The truth is now clear. Why do you wait? Leave the Viet Cong ranks and immediately return home.

The 1972 Easter Offensive

When people talk about offensives in Vietnam, they usually think only of the Tet offensive, and there were several of those. There was also an Easter offensive in April 1972.

The Easter Offensive, officially known as the 1972 Spring - Summer Offensive by North Vietnam, was a military campaign conducted by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), against the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), and the United States military between 30 March and 22 October 1972. The offensive was designed to achieve a decisive victory, which even if it did not lead to the collapse of South Vietnam, would greatly improve the North's negotiating position at the Paris Peace Accords.

Leaflet 4496

This JUSPAO leaflet specifies 30 March though it never says Easter offensive. It depicts a Soviet-built tank destroyed by ARVN forces. The text is:

One of more than one hundred North Vietnamese tanks destroyed in the Party’s foolish attempt to invade the Republic of Vietnam.

Some of the text on the back is:

On 30 March 1972, the armed forces of North Vietnam launched an invasion across the demilitarized zone of the Republic of Vietnam, but they have been met by the full force of the of the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam, and now, tens of thousands of North Vietnamese youths lie dead on the battlefield…

The U.S. high command had been expecting an attack in 1972 but the size and ferocity of the assault caught the defenders off balance, because the attackers struck on three fronts simultaneously, with the bulk of the North Vietnamese army. This first attempt by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) to invade the south since the Tet Offensive of 1968, became characterized by conventional infantry–armor assaults backed by heavy artillery, with both sides fielding the latest in technological advances in weapons systems.

The campaign can be divided into three phases: April was a month of PAVN advances; May became a period of equilibrium; in June and July the South Vietnamese forces counter attacked. On all three fronts, initial North Vietnamese successes were hampered by high casualties, inept tactics and the increasing application of U.S. and South Vietnamese air power. One result of the offensive was the launching of Operation Linebacker, the first sustained bombing of North Vietnam by the U.S. since November 1968.

Leaflet 4501

This all-text JUSPAO leaflet warns North Vietnam and its troops of President Nixon’s plans to counter the attack. There are 14 points, but I will just mention a few:

Soldiers of North Vietnam

President Nixon announced on 8 May that the United States and the Republic of Vietnam would cut off North Vietnam from the weapons and supplies it needs to continue the aggression against the South. He said:

All entrances to North Vietnam posts will be mined. Rail and all other communications will be cut off. Air and naval strikes on North Vietnam will continue, you will have no means to continue fighting. Your leaders have been offered generous terms to stop the actions above. Agree to a ceasefire. Return all American prisoners-f-war. If these terms are not met, you will die needlessly. Without supplies you cannot continue to fight…

We know the general PSYOP plans of the North Vietnamese from the General Political Department: Formation, Organization, and Guidance of Party and Political Operations Within the Army (Chronology of Events and Documents), Volume II, Book (1965-1975). I have edited the document greatly for brevity. Some of the comments are:

Special Features of the Military Proselyting Operations Missions Guidelines

Our resistance war against the Americans to save the nation is growing developing better than ever before. Both our posture and our power are good. We are launching across-the-board attacks using our two legs [military and political] and our three spearheads [military attacks, political attacks, military proselyting attacks] throughout South Vietnam.

The enemy is losing: the U.S. is being compelled to continue to withdraw its forces, the puppet army has now entered a new period of collapse that cannot be reversed, and the enemy’s “Vietnamization” plan is bankrupt. The primary target of our current military and enemy proselyting operations is the puppet army.


Leaflet 4503

Leaflet 4503 depicts an aircraft carrier off the coast of North Vietnam and the text in part:

One of several United States carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin with the mission of interdicting supplies destined for North Vietnamese Army forces in South Vietnam.

United States action in mining the entrances to all North Vietnamese ports is directed against the military capability of North Vietnam and not against other nations…This action has been taken to shorten the war and stop the killing throughout all of Indochina.

[Some of the] missions of our military proselyting operations in this new situation are as follows:

Incite American troops and satellite [Allied] troops to oppose the war, to demand to be sent back home, to refuse to support the puppets, and to refuse to attack the revolution. The primary goal is to incite the puppet army to oppose the war and to revolt against the enemy. The entire civilian population and the entire armed forces will conduct military proselyting activities. We will conduct these operations both on the front lines and in the rear area. We will conduct these operations both in Vietnam and abroad.

For puppet army soldiers:

Provide guidance instructions to enemy soldiers both on the battlefield and in the rear area on opposing the war, on carrying out mutinies and insurrections and on seceding [breaking away from the army’s chain of command], on how to surrender on the battlefield, and on deserting their units or on joining civilians in carrying out uprisings.

For the civilian population and for the families of puppet army soldiers:

Propagandize [publicize] our victories; create confidence in the revolution’s inevitable victory. Provide military proselyting guidance to the civilian population, paying special attention to the families of puppet soldiers. Promote struggles to protect youths, to protect husbands, children, and siblings, and to appeal to loved ones to return to the open arms of the revolution. Use the families of puppet army soldiers as the assault force in the struggle against the military draft and against upgrading troops [transferring RF and PF soldiers to the regular army], and to surround enemy outposts and conduct military proselyting attacks.

For our people’s armed forces:

Provide guidance to people’s armed forces personnel in how to conduct enemy proselyting on the battlefield, disseminate lessons learned from experience in combining enemy proselyting with combat operations and in carrying out our policies on enemy prisoners of war and deserters.


Recognize the situation and quickly free yourself from the enemy’s repressive bondage and return to the open arms of the revolution!

Rise in mutinies or insurrections, kill stubborn, recalcitrant thugs [commanders], return to the open arms of the people, and perform actions to help save the nation and save our homes!

The entire population must unite in a resolute effort to protect our families by refusing to allow the enemy to draft them or upgrade them and to crush the U.S.-Thieu “Vietnamization” plan!


Use all our radio broadcasting stations to conduct military proselyting, using both the Voice of Vietnam and Liberation Radio. Make maximum use of enemy prisoners and defectors from the 1968 Tet Offensive, the Route 9-Southern Laos Campaign, the Central Highlands, etc. and new defectors to issue appeals and enticements to the enemy. Pay attention to using those from the same units, from the same military service, from the same native area, who hold the same ranks or position, to appeal to their peers. Use the Liberation News Agency and the Vietnam News Agency to issue military proselyting reports (both domestically and abroad). Make maximum use of our foreign channels, especially in Paris and Stockholm, to send propaganda into South Vietnam.


Leaflet 4505

This May 1972 leaflet features a portrait of President Richard Nixon and his promise never to desert the Republic of Vietnam. Nixon said in part:

…the United States will never abandon the 17 million South Vietnamese people to Communism and terror...The U.S. President stated in direct comments to the leaders in Hanoi: “You people have already suffered too much in your pursuit of conquest. Do not compound their agony with continued arrogance. Choose instead the part of peace that redeems your sacrifices, guarantees true independence for your country, and ushers in an era of reconciliation.”

American Proselyting:

Propagandize our victories and publicize the defeats and collapses of the puppet army to make an impact on the Americans. Expose Nixon’s plots and schemes to intensify the fighting, sabotage the Paris talks, and deceive the public to win votes during the upcoming Presidential election in the United States. Utilize the effects of our victories on the battlefield to support the Spring Struggle Movement in the United States. Encourage and provide guidance for conducting collective anti-war actions in various forms. Utilize English language broadcasts by our two radio stations.


Do not be the last American soldier to die in Vietnam!

Do not risk your life to support the puppet army!

Do not allow Nixon to use your bodies and blood to prop up the rotten Nguyen Van Thieu regime!

Do not help Nixon to prolong this unjust, immoral war in Vietnam!

Destroy your weapons and equipment to avoid being sent into battle!”

Organizational Tasks

Propagandize South Korean Soldiers. Step up our efforts to recruit penetration agents [agents inside the enemy’s ranks], expand our network of military proselyting agents, strengthen, and consolidate old [former] agents, plant agents in the PSDF and in the different puppet army military services and military specialty branches. Pay special attention to establishing contacts with young officers. Boldly establish contacts with mid-level and high-ranking puppet army officers. Depending on the specific situation, arrange for the puppet army soldiers’ organizations from the 1968 Tet Offensive to resume operations and issue appeals. Form new organizations appropriate to the new situation, that are adapted to meet our requirements and the special requirements of individual localities, individual enemy military services, and service branches, and that are adapted to the current political movements and political trends in South Vietnam.

Looking through my own files, the only mention I saw of the Easter Offensive was their using gas during their attacks:

CR Gas was used by the North Vietnamese forces in some battles like Hue in 1968 or during the Easter Offensive in 1972. Sometimes it was called “suffocating gas” and in sometimes “noxious chemicals.”

This has been a short look at the Communist and American propaganda regarding the Tet 1968 General Offensive. It is written only to show some of the interesting propaganda leaflets that were prepared during and shortly after that battle. Readers with comments are encouraged to write to the author at sgmbert@hotmail.com..