COMMUNIST UNITS PARTICIPATING IN ATTACKS DURING THE TET OFFENSIVE
30 JANUARY THROUGH 13 FEBRUARY 1968
A review of field reporting since the start of the current Communist offensive
indicates that approximately 58,000 Communist main and local forces were
committed in attacks on urban areas and military installations through 13
February. (For detailed data on forces available and engaged in the Tet
offensive, see Appendixes A and B.)2Neither
printed. Of this total, about 37 percent were North Vietnamese Army
(NVA) troops and another 29 percent were
Viet Cong (VC) main force troops. The remaining
34 percent consisted of VC local forces which
had been reinforced for the attacks by the upgrading of local guerrillas. On
the basis of MACV's latest order of battle of
115,000 men, the Communists would appear to have committed about 50 percent of
their regular forces to the attacks.
If the reported losses of 32,500 killed in action and 5,500 detained applied
solely to the VC/NVA regular forces, the Communists would have lost more than 65
percent of the forces committed to the Tet offensive. This would have been a devastating blow.
However, there are a number of pieces of evidence which suggest that such an
interpretation would overstate the Communist manpower drain.
First of all, VC/NVA forces participating in the offensive were augmented by numbers
of guerrillas operating in independent units or integrated into local force
units. Second, there was extensive VC activity to raise new recruits. Third,
casualties included laborers conscripted to move VC supplies, as well as a number of civilians in densely populated
areas taken under attack. Almost certainly the rate of casualties among new and
relatively untrained forces was higher than among hard-core troops.
Central Intelligence Agency, O/DDI Files, Job 78–T02095R, SNIE 14.3–1–67, Viet Cong Recruitment and
Morale Problems. Secret; No Foreign Dissem. A notation on the first page
reads: “This memorandum was produced by CIA.
It was prepared by the Office of Economic Research with assistance of the
Vietnamese Affairs Staff and coordinated with the Office of Current
Intelligence. It analyzes developments reported through 13 February
3In a CIA memorandum entitled “The Communists' Ability To
Recoup Their Tet Military Losses,” March 1, the Office of Current
Intelligence and the Office of Economic Research speculated that it would
take the NVA/VC 6 months to recover from their Tet losses, but added the
following caveat: “It is entirely possible, however, that they might be able
to accomplish full recovery in a much shorter time and that within six
months their troop strength would be substantially greater than it was prior
to Tet. Everything hinges on the real extent of their Tet losses and on
their ability to recruit and impress personnel in the countryside.”