“As a junior officer and the lowest ranking 'gopher' at the creation of these forces, I saw how the several Services had great reservations regarding SOF to the point of studied dislike of it and a distinct distaste for its inclusion as a member of their force structure. The single lone exception was Army Chief of Staff Shy Myer, who saw terrorism and asymmetrical warfare as the emerging National threat and worked to build a missing capability. He did this as a lone wolf in that much of the Army leadership as well as the other Services, looked upon SOF as a high-risk loose cannon on their stable conventional deck.”
In 1980, the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was seized and the American citizens there taken hostage. The Joint Chiefs of Staff examined its inventory of capabilities and concluded it had in reality, no capabilities other than nuclear weapons or mass conventional forces—neither of which were rational outcomes. Any capability tailored for this form of conflict would have to be built from scratch.
Keith Nightingale, then a junior officer, was Deputy Operations Officer of Joint Task Force Eagle Claw, commanded by Major General James Vaught, which attempted to do just that. This is his personal, unique account of the events leading to the rescue attempt, and how its failure directly led to the creation of the Special Operations competency that the United States enjoys today.