30 January 1968 - 23 September 1968; North Vietnamese troops along with guerrilla fighters launched the Tet Offensive, a “shock and awe” style attack that forever changed the way the American people would look at the war. Not only were U.S. and South Vietnamese forces stunned by the attack being instigated during the Tet celebration, but the press and folks at home in America were also shocked and disheartened. Over two dozen cities that were supposed to be safe havens by this point were attacked, including Saigon.
This news was especially chilling because the popular American sentiment at the time was that the North Vietnamese were all but beaten. In addition, raw film footage from the Tet Offensive was coming in from Tokyo and hitting the airwaves unedited. The nightly news in America was filled with horrific images and reporters didn’t have the experience to explain it. It looked nightmarish to the average person, especially without benefit of analysis, and quickly turned many in America against the war.
“We know about the operation but we don’t know how big and how powerful it will be,” said Azizullah, 35, a shopkeeper from Marja, who uses only one name. “It seems it will be a major operation because compared to the previous time, this time there’s too much preparation for this operation on both sides.”
Both Mr. Azizullah and Mr. Shah said they were hopeful that Afghan government and international forces would stay in Marja, rather than pulling out after a short time, as happened the last time the coalition took Marja, in May 2009.
“There will be a big clearance operation and we will separate the civilian population from the insurgents,” General Azimi said. “As I’ve said many times before, we will have a bloody summer ahead.”