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Desert One: The Hostage Rescue Mission

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see report Ill never forget that momentous morning 25 April, 1980, when I picked up the newspaper and found headlines about the failed mission to rescue American hostages Iran was holding. Ill never forget my feelings of remorse over the loss of lives, embarrassment over the failure of the mission, and outrage over our national humiliation. I wondered at length about the decision-making and planning processes that led to execution of such a difficult mission. I also wondered why the mission failed. History isnt kind to failure. If the raid had succeeded, Jimmy Carter probably would have been reelected, and he would have been hailed as a great decision- maker. instead, critics have castigated him for designing a flawed plan and making a poor decision. The reasons for the Presidents decision to execute the hostage rescue operation were extraordinarily complex. President Carter made this decision with a multitude of diverse and strong pressures bearing heavily on him. The environment in which Carter made the decision was volatile and shifting, domestically, internationally, politically, and personally. Also, some participants within his decision-making group had strong differences of opinion, which contributed to pressure on the President. We can understand President Carters decision to execute the hostage rescue operation by using an analytical collage. A collage makes sense because this, and other crisis decisions, are very complex. My collage consists of key aspects of the decision-makers environment, aspects of Allisons bureaucratic model of analysis, backgrounds and mind-sets of principal participants, and a multitude of influences emanating from the nature of the crisis. Other approaches could easily include Allisons rational actor and organizational models however, owing to space constraints, I chose to limit discussion to my collage.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Psychology
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Escape, Rescue and Survival

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