Appointment in Tehran

Summary: A great new book from Casemate that covers the behind the scenes planning and operations for Desert One. These Special Operators infiltrated Tehran, rented vans and transport vehicles, stored them in a local warehouse in preparation for an embassy takedown, airfield seizure, and what would have been the biggest rescue operation in American history. It ended up being cancelled after the support aircraft collided in the middle of the night while refueling. The rest is history.

After the Iranian student overran the US embassy and took American hostage the Special Operations community started planning for their rescue. Bringing together their best assets in the US, Berlin Detachment A, and other CIA assets, the team made extensive and elaborate plans to conduct a large rescue plan that would infiltrate Delta, Rangers, Special Forces personnel near the Embassy Compound and conduct operations that would secure the hostages from the Iranian students. The Achilles heel in their planning and execution was identified early. The Special Operations team DID NOT have dedicated pilots for C130s or CH-57 choppers that were organic to their chain of command. They were forced to rely on normal Air Force and Navy Pilot to get the raider force in country, and out of the country. This would prove to be a huge mistake in strategic planning and execution.

Although the raid was overall considered a failure because the aircraft (a C130 and a CH-57) collided and exploded in the middle of the night while refueling in preparation for the final stages of the raid the on the ground planning was the best anyone had ever seen.

For those personnel that were lucky enough to be in the Special Operations and military history communities over the past 30 years we have heard many stories and books that clearly articulated what went wrong with the aircraft and planning of the air operations in the desert. However, the devil in the details was all the planning that went on behind the scenes in Tehran. A very small team made up of Detachment A, CIA personnel, and in country CIA assets allowed for a very elaborate plan for transportation and exfil of the raid teams as well as the hostages. IMPO this part of the plan was very successful and clearly was not an issue with the mission execution. In hindsight that is easy to say but after reviewing the details of the staging of the vehicles, the transportation to the assault site, and planned exfil, it is clear to me that, IF, the aircraft HAD NOT collided in the desert this would have proven to be a massive win and one of the most successful raids, EVER, for the Special Operations communities. History had other plans. Ultimately, Charlies Beckwith and the Armed Forces Chief of Staff, General Meyer, would call off the mission based on planning scenarios that clearly indicated they could not safely get out all of the raiders and the hostages if they continued forward with the aircraft that survived the Desert One Staging area! An excellent read.

Link to the book online,


Overall: 5 stars

Readability: 5 stars

Believability: 5 stars

Accuracy: 5 stars

Relevance and Humor: 5 stars