Thirty years ago today, the attempt to rescue the hostages held by Iran failed at Desert One, ending in tragedy and farce. The failed attempt also effectively ended the hopes for reelection of Jimmy Carter.
The failed operation was a wake-up call and a catalyst for change. The formation of the US Special Operations Command can be directly tied to lessons learned from Operation Eagle Claw. In effect, the USSOCOM acts as a separate armed service, even though all of the personnel assigned to it are members of the various branches.
Operation Eagle Claw was also the impetus behind the Army’s creation of Task Force 160, the first Army aviation unit dedicated to supporting special operations forces. It later evolved into the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
Finally, Operation Eagle Claw, and the less than stellar performance of the services in Operation Urgent Fury (the invasion of Grenada) was a major influence in the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 which fundamentally changed the way forces were trained and commanded in the field.