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Background: The situation before Tet

The United States, North Vietnam, and South Vietnam each had unique difficulties as the war entered 1968. At the end of 1967, the war had cost the United States over sixteen thousand deaths and over fifty-three thousand wounded since 1960, with the vast majority of those casualties occurring after the American buildup began in 1964-65. South Vietnam had lost over fifty thousand killed and over eighty thousand wounded since the North Vietnamese military effort began in earnest in 1960. PAVN and PLAF forces had lost perhaps as many as 200,000 killed and untold thousands wounded. As pressure mounted in the United States to show progress in the war and in stabilizing the South Vietnamese government, so too did pressure increase in North Vietnam to bring a successful close to the conflict.