Friday, January 05, 2018, 10:50 (GMT+7)
The 1968 General Offensive and Uprising – Vietnam’s aspiration for peace, national independence and reunification

Years have elapsed, yet echoes of the 1968 General Offensive and Uprising (also known as the Tet Offensive) continue to reverberate. Upholding the spirit of “nothing is more precious than independence and freedom”, “we would rather sacrifice everything than lose the country and be enslaved”, our people defied all the odds to defeat the American troops and to realize the aspiration for peace, national independence and reunification.

50 years prompt ago, on the eve of the 1968 Lunar New Year, the Voice of Vietnam broadcast verses in celebration of the New Year by beloved President Ho Chi Minh:

This spring will be far better than any spring past,

As truth of triumph spreads with trumpet blast

North and South, rushing heroically together, shall smite the American invaders

Go forward! Certain victory is ours at last.

It was the appeal for the 1968 General Offensive and Uprising across South Vietnam, the focal point of which was Sai Gon, Hue and Da Nang. Coming as a surprise and boldness, the 1968 General Offensive and Uprising directly targeted the enemy’s strongholds, manifesting Vietnamese strategic thinking, characteristics of people’s war military art, strength of revolutionary heroism in the Ho Chi Minh era, will, wisdom and aspiration for peace, independence and national reunification.

After “special  warfare” had foundered, the US switched to “local warfare” in South Vietnam while intensifying the bombing of North Vietnam. Although over 1 million troops, made up of American troops, “puppets”, and expeditionary forces, were mobilized, two strategic offensives in 1965-1966 and 1966-1967 were a rout, reducing the enemy into passivity. By the end of 1967, the revolution in South Vietnam made great strides in our favor. Against this backdrop, on the basis of assessments and analyses of domestic and foreign developments, our Party decided to “...encourage maximum efforts by the entire Party, military and people to develop our revolution to the fullest...for the sake of a decisive victory”, to lead and direct the launching of the 1968 General Offensive and Uprising, to closely combine the Offensive by the three-category armed forces (made up of regular  troops, local force, and militia -guerilla forces) with the Uprising by the masses, to combine military struggle with political and diplomatic struggles, to take the Offensive as a facilitator for the Uprising and to turn  the enemy’s stronghold into the battlefield. Our soldiers and people launched the Offensive and Uprising en masse in most cities, towns and districts across South Vietnam, killing hundreds of thousands of hostile troops, terrorizing approximately 15,000 hostile military posts into surrendering and retreat, destroying over 1,500 strategic hamlets, and so on.

The 1968 General Offensive and Uprising led “local warfare” to failure, the enemy to make concessions, to unconditionally end the Operation Rolling Thunder and to come to the conference table in Paris. This served as a strategic turning point, bringing our struggle for national independence and reunification to a new stage as we completely gained the upper hand. It was also a rehearsal for the 1975 Spring General Offensive and Uprising (also known as the 1975 Spring Offensive) which the complete liberation of the South and national reunification ensued.

The victory of the 1968 General Offensive and Uprising has taught us valuable lessons. First, we must stick to the goal of national independence and socialism as well as the Party’s leadership.  The determinant of the victory lies in the fact that the correct political and military guidelines by the Party evoked and promoted synergy between the great rear in the socialist North and the great front line in the South. Building real strength of the revolution, directly powerful armed forces, was also among the decisive factors in the victory of our soldiers and people. Alongside the armed forces as the core of operational activities on the battlefield, battle-tested political forces of the masses, who were central to the political struggle, developed strongly and widely. Hundreds of thousands of cadres and Party members with steadfast loyalty were singled out and trained before being secretly dispatched to cities and towns so as to consolidate and develop revolutionary bases as well as to transport weapons to the inner cities. This manifested our Party strategic vision and direction as to the building of people’s armed forces.

The victory of the 1968 General Offensive and Uprising also marked the success of the military art of people’s war, the employment of the three-category armed forces (made up of regular troops, local troops and militia-guerilla forces) as well as the combination of secrecy, surprise and boldness. The selection of hostile targets and surprise assaults on the nerve centre of the enemy bore testimony to the distinctive characteristics of the Vietnamese military art.

Under the Party’s leadership, our soldiers and people were imbued with the Ho Chi Minh-coined slogan “Unity, unity, great unity. Success, success, great success”, whereby importance was attached to building and promoting the strength of great national unity associated with that of the times, combining military struggle with political and diplomatic struggles, enlisting the wholehearted help of international friends for our struggle for national independence and reunification. Also, that distinctive strength was multiplied by the Vietnamese people’s aspiration for peace, national independence and reunification.

Whilst peace, cooperation and development remain the prevailing trend, the threat of war is ever-present with complicated and unpredictable developments in the East Sea of Viet Nam (South China Sea). The global economic growth is projected to recover, yet riddled with significant uncertainties. Tremendous advances in science and technology, especially the 4th Industrial Revolution, have had far-reaching implications for our country. Domestically, we are entitled to major achievements of 30 years of Doi Moi with increasingly positive development trends and socio-political stability among others. However, shortcomings in the economy remain. Policy space has become far narrower while demands are ever-growing in terms of investment, social security, national defense and security. Climate change, natural disasters, saline intrusion and extreme weather continue. At the same time, hostile forces have accelerated their sabotage activities, including “peaceful evolution”, “self-evolution” and “self-transformation” from within. 

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc receives the guard of honor of the Air Defence - Air Force Service on December 21st, 2017 (photo:

Inheriting and perpetuating venerable traditions of national construction and defense, the entire Party, military and people are determined to unite in defying all the odds towards targets and tasks of socio-economic development pursuant to resolutions by the Party and National Assembly, laying a firm foundation for higher growth and more sustainable development in the ensuing years. We resolutely struggle to defend sovereignty and national interests, to maintain peace and stability for the country’s development and to increasingly bolster Vietnam’s reputation and status in the international arena. The lessons from the 1968 General Offensive and Uprising, which still retain their profound significance, must be applied and further developed  in the cause of today’s homeland building and safeguarding.

First, stick to the goal of national independence and socialism and the Party’s leadership to successfully fulfil the task of homeland building and safeguarding. The Vietnamese revolution attributes its successes to the Party. We must thoroughly grasp and effectively implement the guidelines for comprehensive reforms adopted by the Party, take economic development as the central task, take Party building as the key task, take national defense and security as the crucial task, accelerate the cause of national industrialization and modernization, and achieve the goal of a prosperous people and a strong, democratic, equitable and civilized country. We must be fully aware of the Party’s lines on homeland protection and effectively implement the Resolution by the Party Central Committee on the Strategy for homeland protection in the new situation, This is conducive to accurately assessing and predicting developments, especially defense, security, diplomatic ones to avoid being reduced into passivity, to firmly safeguard independence,  sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and to maintain peace and stability for the country’s development.

Second, pay attention to building and promoting the strength of the block of great national unity in the new situation. Amidst deeper international integration and stiffer competition, this is a matter of urgency to the Vietnamese revolution. The entire Party, military and people shoulder political responsibility to rally forces in the process of homeland building and safeguarding. Attention must be paid to enhancing the effectiveness of the whole political system, promoting the role of the all-level Vietnam Fatherland Fronts, fostering the people’s trust and building the posture of “people’s hearts and minds” right at the grassroots level.

Third, consolidate real strength and build strong all-people national defense. Today, the building of all-people national defense must be both comprehensive and focalized, capable of effectively dealing with all contingencies, foiling hostile forces’ plots and artifices via the “peaceful evolution” strategy, averting wars and winning wars of aggression on all scales and in every form. All-people national defense must be built on a comprehensively strong and increasingly modernized basis in line with the global and regional situations and the country’s capabilities. The building of the posture of all-people national defense must be closely linked to that of people’s security, especially in strategic areas with emphasis placed on the building of the posture of “people’s hearts and minds” at the grassroots level. Provincial, municipal defense areas must be strong enough to facilitate the building of strong all-people national defense in the new situation. At the same time, the effectiveness of the State management must be improved while strategies for homeland protection, especially military ones in the new situation, must be perfected. Defense and security education must be promoted to heighten awareness of the task of homeland protection among cadres, Party members and the people. International cooperation and defense diplomacy must be fostered whereby our military’s reputation and status can be further raised, contributing to homeland protection from afar.

Fourth, make the Vietnam People’s Army (or VPA) regular, elite and gradually modernized for it to be at the core of successfully fulfilling the task of socialist homeland defense. The VPA must be strong politically, ideologically and organizationally to be worthy of its role as the political and military force with absolute loyalty towards the homeland, Party, State and people. The Party’s absolute, direct, comprehensive leadership and the State’s concentrated, unified management over the VPA must be enhanced while the VPA Party organization must be clean and strong to meet the requirements of assigned tasks. Emphasis must be placed on augmenting the VPA’s combativeness whereby a number of its services and arms will take priority over others in terms of modernization. Units across the VPA must be organized on a compact, mobile basis in accordance with new operational conditions. Additionally, the quality of training and education, logistics and defense industry must be improved while the Army rear policy must be properly implemented with special attention devoted to revolutionary contributors and families of war invalids and martyrs.

Fifth, apply the military art of people’s war to Vietnam’s contemporary military science. Amidst more demanding requirements of homeland protection, this is a must. Valuable lessons from our time-honored traditions of heroic resistance against foreign aggression, including the 1968 General Offensive and Uprising, must be extensively researched and creatively applied to the new conditions under which the enemy employs hi-tech, sophisticated materiel, thereby firmly protecting the socialist Vietnamese Fatherland.

Sixth, combine the national strength and the strength of the times in the process of implementing the guideline for developing a socialist-oriented market economy and national construction and protection. Promoting the national strength lays a foundation for utilizing the strength of the times while the latter helps to promote the former. We are determined to build a clean, enabling, action-oriented government at the service of the people and enterprises in line with requirements of socio-economic development and trends in integration and globalization. Priority must be assigned to institutionalizing the Party’s guidelines in accordance with requirements of perfecting the institutions of the socialist-oriented market economy and building the socialist law-ruled State. Economic restructuring must be associated with the renewal of the growth model in the direction of enhanced productivity, quality, effectiveness and competitiveness. Focus must be directed towards enhancing the performance of State-owned enterprises and developing the private sector into the driving force for the economy. Favorable conditions must be created for the innovation and start-up activities by the people and enterprises. Economic development must run parallel with cultural development, democracy, social equity and environmental protection. Social security must be guaranteed so as to enhance material, spiritual lives of the people, especially of revolutionary contributors and ethnics in remote, border, island areas. The Resolution by the Party Central Committee on the enhancement of Party building and rectification must be strictly enforced, thereby averting degradation in political ideology, morality and lifestyle as well as manifestations of “self-evolution” and “self-transformation” from within. Due attention must be paid to the prevention of and fight against corruption, wastefulness and negative practices.

The 1968 General Offensive and Uprising as an immortal epic has gone down in the Vietnamese history and been engraved in the Vietnamese minds. Countless outstanding Vietnamese fell or left part of their flesh and blood on fierce battlegrounds. Glory belongs first to Vietnamese heroes and war martyrs who bravely fought and sacrificed their lives for national independence and freedom. It is they that have beautified the Vietnamese heroism and traditions of resistance against foreign aggression.

The flame of aspiration for peace, national independence and reunification by the whole Party, military and people in the 1968 General Offensive and Uprising, has always kindled within every Vietnamese, urging us to promote patriotism and revolutionary heroism in our today’s Doi Moi towards the goal of a prosperous people and a strong, democratic, equitable and civilized socialist Vietnam which is on a par with other countries in accordance with beloved President Ho Chi Minh’s wishes.

Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Member of the Politburo, Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Your Comment (0)

General Chu Huy Man: A talented militarist and politician
Man lived to nearly 100 years old and spent two thirds of his life working and contributing to the Party and revolution. Over the course of 76 years in service of the Party and 61 years in the military, having undergone the two holly resistance wars of the country, regardless of working in the mountainous or lowland areas, in Viet Nam or Laos, advantages or disadvantages, he used to stick to communist ideal; be an excellent pupil of President Ho Chi Minh; set a shining example of a great man, a talented righteous general, a good militarist and, politician of the heroic Viet Nam People’s Army.