From what I know, SF operations are quite successful if they have safe ingress and egress. If these things go well, they usually perfrom quite well on-target.
The guy who was to head the rescue mission, M.Gen. Jimmy Vaught, didnt even have a base of operations, or a team in place to train. He had to select men from standing SF teams, instead of selecting a team that had already trained together.
This mission brought about the first attempts at flying wth night vision goggles in a helicopter.
Someone mentioned helicoptors. They used Sea Stallions from the Nimitz, which were only suited to the mission in terms of range of flight.
Of the 8 Sea Stallions, 6 made it to the rendez vous point in the dessert late because of sandstorms. So they were flying blacked out, with night vision goggles for the first time, in a sandstorm. Not good. The 2 that were left had mechanical problems before they even got that far and had to go back to the Nimitz. So now we are down from 8 to 6 helos. They had a contingency for using only 6, but it was tight.
When they arrived at the rendez vous point, one of the 6 burned out a hydrolics pump. Now they were down to 5. The mission could not go on.
The disaster occured just after refueling. The helos were in a hover, and they were supposed to be using a flashlight on the ground as a reference point. Someone was using a flashlight to inspect the wheel well of a C-130 that was there, and the helo pilot started hovering on that reference point. He assumed it to be stationary, but the guy with the flashlight ran away from the dust storm kicked up y the rotor wash and the pilot assumed the helo itself was moving, so “corrected” himself into the C-130. I think 8 people were killed. The rest of the mission personel left the wreckage in the dessert and made it for home.
As far as it being operationally sound, yes and no. They had decent inteligence on the Chancery building, where the hostages were thought to be, but knew little else about the people holding them. They based the assualt on the Israeli attack on Entebbe, which was an airfield. They were going into the heart of a metropolis.
Before we judge this mission, remember what they had to work with. There were not even support units trained for this. So you have a guy who is leisurely refueling helos 3 miles from the deck of a carrier one night, who is dashing 200 miles into hostile territoty the next. But they tried. and they learned from the mistakes.
If you want a poorly planned and executed rescue operation, do a google search on the freighter Mayaguez.