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successful withdrawal from the island, having earlier recovered the Mayaguez and its crew. The high cost of this mission in terms of men and equipment does not obscure the fact that it accomplished its purpose-to rescue the ship and its crew. Yet, it did so in an inefficient and even deadly manner, demonstrating the need for prior preparation for short-fuse responses to worldwide contingencies. The Mayaguez rescue operation highlighted the fact that to conduct a successful Joint operation, units must first train jointly. In honor of those who paid the highest price for this knowledge, Koh Tang must be remembered.


Koh Tang will never be forgotten by those who participated, nor those other military forces in the Pacific who, because of the perceived need to respond quickly, could not get to the Gulf of Thailand in time. One of the many military units not in the Gulf but relatively close by and anxious to assist in the recovery of the Mayaguez was the seaborne force used in Operation Frequent Wind, the 9th MAB. The commander of that over-the-horizon assault force. Brigadier General Richard E. Carey, recently provided his thoughts on the Mayaguez mission. He wrote: "The Mayaguez Rescue was the most classic example of assured failure with Joint Operations to that time. Unfortunately, the lesson was not learned and the same mistakes were repeated in the Iranian Hostage Rescue operation (1980). Modern communications are wonderful but they also are deadly. The capability to talk over thousands of miles from the very highest levels to the frontline foxholes takes many of the important decisions out of the hands of the responsible commander, the man on the scene. In the final analysis, in the case of the Mayaguez, the lack of accurate intelligence resulted in faulty decisions. Decisions were driven by the desire to do something and to do it as quickly as possible. The National Image was at stake. Unfortunately, the frontline Marine was the recipient of the results of poor decision-making. Again, coordination was conducted by an isolated commander (USSAG) without the proper input from the field commander. To undertake a mission of this type from 195 miles away and with inadequate resources is naive and foolhardy. The results only reinforce my statements."99






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