April 25, 1980, was a defining moment for Special Operations as the tragic news of the failed Desert One mission became known that day. President Jimmy Carter announced a secret rescue mission for the Iranian hostages had failed; eight American servicemen were dead and several others were seriously injured.

Desert One

The tragedy at Desert One, problems with the Grenada invasion and failure to fix the Special Operations joint mobility issues led Congress to pass the Nunn-Cohen Amendment, mandating that the President create a unified combatant command for special operations with control over its own resources.

The U.S. Special Operations Command was formed April 16, 1987, with responsibility to organize, train and equip U.S. Special Operations Forces from the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Gen. James Lindsay became U.S. Special Operations Command’s first commander and served as such from 1987-1990.