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April 27, 2019
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April 30, 2019
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February 15, 1968
PDF icon THE INTELLIGENCE BACKGROU[15617872].pdf193.62 KB
Approved for Release: 2019/04/17 C00016883 pANITIZED COPY 15 February 1968 The Intelligence Background of the Current Communist Offensive 3-13 Evidence has been building up for the past several weeks that the Communists intended to launch a major and widespread offensive in South Vistnam in connec- tion with the Tet season. Indications of this were plentiful in the 1st and IInd Corps areas along the * boast, and in the provinces of the central highlands. Evidence of enemy-offensive preparations was also apparent, but_less plentifUl, in the IIIrd Corps provinces around-Saigon and in the Delta. It-was clear that the offensive would include attacks on some of the smaller provincial and district � ...seats.--as have major Communist campaigns in the past. It also appeared that the attacks might include strikes against some major urban centers such as Hue, Pleiku and, possibly, Saigon. The fact that the at- tacks would involve near simultaneous assaults against over three-fourths of the province capitals and other major cities, hceiever, was not anticipated, nor was it probably possible to do so on the basis of the avail- able intelligence. .The growing ability of the enemy Content UNCLASSIFIED. per , osial tO6 Vote 4 MAY Approved for Release: 2019/04/17 C00016883 Approved for Release: 2019/04/17 C00016883 to better coordinate both the movement of his forces and the timing of his assaults had been apparent, particularly since the advent of his current "wintere-spring offensive." During the i)ast several weeks, the publications of the Central Intelligence Agency that are distributed throughut the LS Government have regularly reported on and warned of the enemy intentions within the scope I have. described. On 8 January, for example, one of our publications took note of the ster-up which had already occurred in coordinated attacks by enemy forces "against government administrative centers and alliea outposts throughout the country. Between 5 and 10 January, our publications directed particular attention to the increase in enemy actions against -.strongpoints and population centers in the Saigon area. On 8 January one of our publications described an-at- tack on a provincial capital near Saigon and stated that "this type of enemy activity may continue. It would include mortar and rocket attacks on Saigon" and other nearby targets. By 20 January we were stating that Communist � forces in the northern 1st Corps area "may intend to carry out simultaneous attacks against both the Khe -2- Approved for Release: 2019/04/17 C00016883 Approved for Release: 201 9/04/17 66064863 Sanh area and population centers along the coast." We noted at least five North Vietnamese regiments in position to conduct attacks near the coast. On 24 January, we described the expansion of the threat into the Quang Nam - Quang Tin Province area where the positioning of Communist units "has increased the � threat 'to other allied positions ranging from Da Nang to Tam X.-- By 26 January, we reported that a "widespread coordinated offensive by enemy forces throughout the northern part of South Vietnam appears .imminent." Our publications during this period also indi- cated.the possibility that enemy offensives in the northern provinces might be coordinated with attacks in the western highlands. The present positioning of -. enemy forces, together with the material in captured documents, we stated on 23 January, point to an-"im- 3 pending Communist effort against US and South Viet- namese forces in Kontum and Pleiku." In the Delta area, our publications noted during January that the "intensity of enemy activity has increased mark- edly" and that the Communists have evinced an ability to launch "coordinated mortar and ground attacks" in several provinces at one time. -3-- Approved for Release: 2019/04/17 C00016883 Approved for Release: 2019/04/17 C00016883- The intelligence upon which we based our re- ports of the impending enemy military activity -was a combination of that collected by the US and South Vietnamese' � might note that publications of the US military command in South Vietnam contained many of the same'warnings concerning_enemy intentions as did our own. Evidence as to the exact kickoff time of the enemy offensive was conflicting. There were indi- cations beginning around 20 January I 1 . which suggested that a "D-day" type of date had been chosen by the_enemy for sometime during the period between about 27 January and 5 Februa y. By'29 Januar'., analysis of this intelligence led us to warn in our publications that D-day "maybe set - for as soon as 30_January." This had to be regarded as very tenuous, however, since the enemy in the past, although he had taken advantage of truce periods to improve his tactical position and to launch scattered attacks, had refrained from a general of- fensive. Approved for Release: 2019/04/17 C00016883 mummummuMMOMM Approved for Release: 2019/04/17 C00016883wommammmwm 5 Fragmentary material on the political objectives of the current Communist offensive has, in retrospect, been available for some months in captured enemy doc- uments, agent reports, and prisoner interrogations. The information; however, has been extremely ambiguous, and somewhat contradictory. Much of it appeared too grandiose and unrealistic tObetaken seriously as a guide to future_Communist intentions. I speak in particular pf hints that the Communists intended to launch a "general uprising." We simply did not, .and still do not, give them the capability for doing so. We were thus reluctant to believe that they wou:Id risk potential_disaster to their military machine by staking their_future on a bid to spark such a revolution. It will probably still be some weeks before we can ascertain with any certainty whether this was their basic objective, or whether - they really sought more limited political goals. Approved for Release: 2019/04/17 C00016883