The Guts to Try by James H. Kyle

The Guts to Try
ISBN 0935810544
  • Author:
    James H. Kyle
  • Title:
    The Guts to Try
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  • Publisher:
    Renaissance House Publishers (September 1, 1994)
  • Pages:
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    1906 kb
  • Size FB2 version
    1581 kb
  • Size EPUB version
    1707 kb
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From one of the highest ranking officers on the ground in Iran comes a no-holds-barred look at America s brave mission against terrorismColonel James H. Kyle was involved in every stage of the Iran hostage rescue operation. As Desert-1 Commander, he alone bore responsibility for the courageous mission. Now Colonel Kyle spares no one, including himself, in this riveting account that takes readers from the initial brainstorming sessions and training camps to the desert rehearsals, the forward staging areas in Egypt and Oman, and finally to the desert refueling site, where he decided to abort.Colonel Kyle provides honest answers to tough questions: Why were the pilots caught totally off guard by the weather? How did the CIA contribute to the mission s breakdown? And could such a failure happen again? The Guts to Try is a thrilling true-life adventure story exploring America s ability to react quickly, forcefully, and effectively to acts of terrorism.

My role in Eagle Claw was very minor--preparing Colonel Charlie Beckwith to meet the press to explain why the operation failed. Later I helped MG James Vaught write his response to the Holloway Commission Report. He believed the report was flawed, because several of its key findings lacked merit. He was indignant that he was the first one interviewed but never called back later to explain faulty decisions attributed to him by other interviewees.

To an old soldier, reading The Guts To Try is akin to reading a Greek tragedy. As far as I can tell, Kyle pulls no punches. I suppose the good news is that the failure at Desert 1 led to the creation of Special Operations Command where all potential participates in Special Operations work, train and live together. We are a better and stronger country on that account.
For me, this book was a page-turner. Col. Kyle's descriptions of the background, the mission itself and the aftermath fascinated me all the way through. The book is well written and edited with excellent pacing and the right amount of detail. I bought the book because I had recently heard a great presentation about the mission by one of the C-130 pilots involved. Everything in both sources matched. I also had met one of the participating Ranger officers who expressed great disappointment that the mission was aborted. He always believed the rescue could have been pulled off. I'm sure that point will always be debatable.

If nothing else, the book illustrates the military minds and attitudes of the dedicated planners and participants who worked tirelessly on this mission and tried to make it work. The unfortunate accident that ended the mission was a tragic example of what can happen in wartime. However, the British mercenaries were right. The participants did have "The Guts to Try."
This is a good accounting of the events leading up to and including the rescue attempt of the hostages held at the US Embassy by US Armed Forces in Iran.

The writing style is direct and to the point, which I find refreshing. I also enjoyed the explanation of the training leading up to the actual rescue attempt. I found it interesting to learn about how the military solves problems and prepares their men to perform a task.

My first criticism stems from my lack of military knowledge. I am not familiar with all of the varying types of military aircraft. I found it a chore to keep track of the varying aircraft and their roles. Right near the actual rescue effort it talks about EC-130s ,AC-130s, and MC-130s as well as others. These are explained in the back of the book but I found that it would have been nice to have a picture or two of the aircraft mentioned instead of just the letter-number designations. It would have allowed me something to visualize.

My other issue with this book is that when a person is mentioned its a one sentence tag about their position and/or role and that is it. That might be okay in a report but it makes them hard to remember past one sentence. It would have helped me as the reader had the people mentioned been given a description that would have stuck with me a bit more.

I don't think these two issues detract greatly from quality of the writing. The author does a great job explaining in detail many important points. I would recommend anyone who is interested in reading this book take some time to find a good website on the internet that shows pictures and descriptions of the relevant aircraft.
This exhaustive description of the planning and execution of Operation Eagle Claw, the attempt to rescue the Iranian hostages, gives the reader a sense of how complex the mission was. There is an old aphorism about the military that says, "The amateur talks about tactics and strategy while the professional talks logistics." This is one of the few military books I have read that provides enough (almost too much depending on your taste) detail about what it takes to carry out a mission deep in enemy territory. At the beginning, after realizing the problems they faced, I could not see how they could succeed. That they came as close as they did is what is truly amazing. It also speaks to the decrepit state of the military seven years after the end of the Viet Nam War. They had the men but lacked adequate resources. Fortunately changes were coming. This story helped to lead the way.