The Mayaguez Crisis: Mission Command and Civil-Military Relations

The Mayaguez Crisis: Mission Command and Civil-Military Relations
The Mayaguez Crisis: Mission Command and Civil-Military Relations
USA Price: 
In stock
GPO Stock Number:

The Mayaguez crisis is one of the best documented but least-understood crises in US history. Copious documentation, including declassified White House meeting minutes and notes from private conversations, has not produced a good, consensus explanation for US behavior. The event is still explained as a rescue mission, a defense of freedom of the seas, an exercise in realpolitik, a political gambit to enhance President Ford’s domestic political fortunes, and a national spasm of violence arising from frustration over losing Vietnam. Widespread confusion about what happened and why it did contributes to equally confused explanations for US behavior. Even President Gerald R. Ford never understood the exact roles his two strongest advisors, Henry A. Kissinger and James R. Schlesinger, played during the crisis.  

Christopher J. Lamb’s The Mayaguez Crisis, Mission Command, and Civil-Military Relations demonstrates how three decades of scholarship mischaracterized US motives and why the allegation of civilian micromanagement is wrong. He then extracts lessons for current issues such as mission command philosophy, civil-military relations, and national security reform. In closing he makes the argument that the incredible sacrifices made by US servicemen during the crisis might have been avoided but were not in vain. 

This award winning title was among the Library Journal's list of Notable Government Documents 2018 as well the recipient of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s Brigadier General Edwin Simmons–Henry I. Shaw Award for superior historical scholarship:

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations x

Foreword xi

Preface xiii

Key Figures in the Mayaguez Crisis  xix

Abbreviations  xxiii

Introduction 1

Part I: Crisis Behaviors

1. Day One: Monday, May 12... 11

2. Day Two: Tuesday, May 13... 19

3. Day Three: Wednesday, May 14...35

4. Day Four: Thursday, May 15... 57

Part II: Crisis Explanations

5. Critical Crisis Decisions 69

6. Explaining Decisions, Behaviors, and Outcomes 105

7. Refining the Explanation: Rationality, Bureaucracy, and Beliefs 137

8. Findings, Issues, and Prescriptions 165

Conclusion 213

Notes 219

Map Credits  273

Index 275


Historians, military experts and leaders with expertise and interest in the lessons from the Vietnam War and private citizens with an interest in military history will find this publication a thoughtful representation of an important military event.

Product Details

Availability Details:
In Stock
USA Price:
International Price:
Defense Dept., Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint History Office
  • Lamb, Christopher J.
Key Phrases:
  • Mission Command and Civil Military Relations
  • Mayaguez Crisis
  • Vietnam War
  • Cambodia
  • Kampuchea
  • Military History
Quantity Price:
Unit of Issue (US):
Unit of Issue (Non-US):
Record Creation Date:
Last Status Update:
Back to Top