Operation EAGLE CLAW

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Operation EAGLE CLAW was a failed U.S. hostage rescue, by military special operations forces, to recover U.S. personnel taken hostage at the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran on November 4, 1979. While the plan was high-risk, it is still regarded to have been feasible; the greatest problems was that the ad hoc task force assigned the mission was inadequately equipped and trained, suffered from interservice politics, and was conducted under such tight operational security that the security kept personnel from receiving information they needed to know.

After-action review led to the formation of the United States Special Operations Command, and, within USSOC, the standing 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR).

Concept of operation

The basic operational plan involved establishing a base, called DESERT ONE, into a remote area of Iran, from with United States Army Special Forces ground troops would infiltrate Tehran. From positions in the Tehran area, they would attack the guarded embassy grounds, liberate the hostages, and take them to a soccer stadium, where long-range helicopters would land to evacuate the personnel from Tehran.

At DESERT ONE, however, a combination of accidents caused the mission to be called off. A bare minimum of helicopters made it to the site, and, while refueling, there was a fatal collision between a helicopter and a fixed-wing transport/tanker. With the loss of an additional helicopter, there was insufficient airlift to carry out the mission.