Academic journal article Military Review

THE MAYAGUEZ INCIDENT: Testing America's Resolve in the Post-Vietnam Era

Academic journal article Military Review

THE MAYAGUEZ INCIDENT: Testing America's Resolve in the Post-Vietnam Era

Article excerpt

THE MAYAGUEZ INCIDENT: Testing America's Resolve in the Post-Vietnam Era, Robert J. Mahoney, Texas Tech University Press, Lubbock, 2011, 336 pages, $39.95.

From 12 to 15 May 1975, the United States was involved in a hostage situation and rescue operation with a government with which it had no diplomatic relations. The Mayaguez crisis nearly resulted in the annihilation of part of the rescue force and tested the presidency of Gerald Ford in the wake of U.S. failures in Southeast Asia. The Ford administration believed it had to demonstrate U.S. resolve and strength to both allies and adversaries. Although some have forgotten the seizure of the SS Mayaguez, author Robert Mahoney demonstrates in The Mayaguez Incident that the lessons learned from this crisis are as pertinent today as they were decades ago.

Mahoney convincingly argues that the historical record on the Mayaguez is incomplete and that the crisis was a landmark event in that it tested the 1973 War Powers Act, exposed weaknesses in the U.S. ability to plan and conduct Joint operations, and was one of the first occasions where a strategic leader could speak directly to commanders on the battlefield. The author states his work is a "small step toward expanding scholarly understanding of the Mayaguez crisis in the broader context of the Cold War and correcting its treatment as a footnote for those who fought and died for their country in the rescue operation." He succeeds brilliantly on both accounts.

The book adds much to our understanding of the events. It ties together, for the first time, the strategic, operational, and tactical events and puts them into the larger context. It clearly portrays the complexity of decision making and why problems in crisis planning and execution can easily occur. …

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