H-Diplo Reactions to Released Records on the Tet Offenesive [Jervis]

Diane N. Labrosse's picture

From: Robert Jervis <rlj1@columbia.edu>

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has just released the first of 3 tranches of records on the Tet Offensive.

The first batch is heavy on CIA records and can be found here:  https://www.intelligence.gov/tet-declassified.

As Chair of the CIA’s Historical Review Panel, I am interested in what H-Diplo readers think of them.  The full-page redactions concern material that is not relevant to Tet.

Robert Jervis
Columbia University

I started skimming the newly released batch of documents relating to the Tet Offensive, and within minutes I found George Carver, "More Vietnam Numbers Problems," 3 November 1967,
in which Carver opened up an interesting can of worms of which I had been unaware.

MACV had recently decided to stop including the Viet Cong's Self-Defense Militia in its figures for Communist manpower in South Vietnam, while continuing to count Viet Cong Guerrillas. Carver said that the Communists at least in some parts of the Mekong Delta seemed to be abolishing the distinction, amalgamating the Self-Defense Militia and Guerrillas into a single organization. This would pose problems for an American attempt to count one but not the other.

My reaction is "Indeed."

I am disappointed to see that in the President's Daily Brief for January 29, 1968, the last one President Johnson got before the beginning of the Tet Offensive, the "South Vietnam" section is sanitized. The last thing not deleted discussed North Vietnamese preparations for offensive action in the Central Highlands, and I am pretty sure the next sentence, deleted, had also been relevant to the Tet Offensive.


My colleague John Prados posted a detailed reaction to the release on the National Security Archive's blog, Unredacted.  You'll get an idea of his opinion from his title: "New Tet Documents? Not So Much"

The article is here: https://unredacted.com/2018/08/07/new-tet-documents-not-so-much/


Malcolm Byrne
The National Security Archive