Why don't military operations have cryptic names any more?

“Operation Desert Shield” . . . “Operation Desert Storm” . . . “Operation Enduring Freedom” . . . I recall Bush I called the Panama invasion “Operation Just Cause” . . .

Time was, the name for a military operation was just the opposite of a marketing label. It was something random, so the enemy who intercepted a communication mentioning it wouldn’t automatically know what it was all about. D-Day was “Operation Overlord.” When my Dad was in Air Force intelligence he once worked on something called “Operation Tea Ball” (I still have no idea what that was). When/why did that change? Or does the military still use mysterious names for operations, but the publicly announced operations fall into a different category (one at which even generals might roll their eyes)?

My first thought is that military operations these days are politcal operations.
They are supposed to resonate with voters. People want to know why their tax dollars and fellow citizens lives are being spent on amilitary operation. The (elected) head of the military puts the supposed justification right in the name.

Smaller operations still have military sounding names. Operation Phantom Fury (Fallujah 2004, after the more public Operation Vigilant Resolve) comes to mind.

Well, and for some other examples of military operations with cryptic names from Iraq, you have Operations:

“Planet X”
“Peninsula Strike”
“Desert Scorpion”
“Soda Mountain”
“Iron Bullet”
“Ivy Lightning”
“Tiger Clean Sweep”
“Cajun Mousetrap”

If you want a full list of Iraq operation names, along with a description of each operation, check here:


The name that sums them all up is Doonesbury’s “Operation Frequent Manhood.”

The modern operations being described are more or less open (after all, we know about them). Who knows what the aforementioned were called prior to implementation, before they were ready for public consumption. The meaningful subportions of the above mentioned operations may have had the sort of mystery names you are looking for (Cobra II?). The for public consumption versions might as well have a propoganda name. Programs that are intended to remain under wraps still get obsure names, though, like ‘Tacit rainbow’ or ‘have blue’ for the stealth fighter development (iirc).

And it should be noted that the 1943 (or was it '42?) version of Overlord, intended to rapidly establish a presence in western Europe and mop-up German units in the event of a German collapse had the mystical name “operation roundup”

IIRC Paul in Saudi is the operation name expert.

Linebacker II: The Decisive Use of Air Power?

Under General William L. Kirk.

Obscure code names are meant to hide ones intentions from an enemy who is dangerous to you. America these days doesn’t go after dangerous enemies; we go after helpless victims. It doesn’t matter if they know what we intend, because they can’t seriously fight back. If they could, we wouldn’t attack them.

Just curious, to prove our real manhood, should we go after China?
Your point was valid until the last two lines. That was just insulting.


We shouldn’t do anything to prove our manhood; that’s a stupid reason to do anything.

No, accurate. Why do you think we chose Iraq as an invasion target over Iran, and still haven’t invaded them ? Why did we attack Iraq and not North Korea, despite calling them both part of the “Axis of Evil” ? Because they can fight back, and America is a nation of bullies and cowards and predators.

You go to far. That characterization fairly applies only to our current civilian leadership.

And who voted them in ? Who failed to vote them out, when given a chance ?

You don’t think we could have laid Iran or North Korea to waste with ease?
If all we wanted to do was destroy there economy and infrastructure we could still do so with ease. IMO we attacked Iraq because This Bush was try to make up for some failure by Daddy in the first war with Iraq. But that is just my opinion.

So where do you by your extra large brushes anyway? If we agree America is acting like a bully (I don’t) could you perhaps narrow the scope of your insult and say the current Administration is filled with bullies and cowards and predators.
Maybe even try, “Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and a few others are bullies and cowards and predators.”

Your statement is inflammatory and insulting to everyone who calls the USA home and probably some of our friends and allies.


Not without taking a lot more casualties.

But not conquer them with ease.

Too bad. Don’t go conquering people who can’t fight back then. And I have no respect for anyone willing to be the friend or ally of America.

I think it has to do with the fact that the military is sharing these names with the public. I know that four days before D-Day, the crossword puzzle editor at (IIRC) the Daily Mail was arrested and held (without being charged). The reason? The answer to 11-Across was “OVERLORD.”

Why? Neither had much ability to stop our Air Force and North Korea could be blasted by the Navy.

Of course not, we couldn’t even conquer Iraq or Afghanistan with ease. So what is your point.

Okay, I am hawkish and ex-Navy. So I stand guilty in your eyes. But how about some of my friends who protested the war from Day 1. Why are you calling them bullies and cowards and predators. How about the Millions who voted against Bush? Including me the Hawk.

You don’t get your point across by making huge sweeping generalizations.
By the way, I see you are in California. Is that California, USA? If so this make you a bully, coward or predator.
Are you?


Y’know, it’s a common psychological problem. See, America is the the center of the universe, right? So if we’re not the bestest most free-est and most gosh-darn swellest country in the universe, well, be must be the most despicablest, cowardliest, and predatorest country in the universe. Because it’s all about America, right?

The people who fall into the trap are the most provincial people in the world. And there’s nobody more provincial than an American who’s convinced America is evil.

Actually, there was more to it than that- the answers to the various other clues in the crossword were things like “Juno”, “Pluto”, and “Mulberry” (code-words for various aspects of the D-Day landings).

From Wikipedia:

And did I say any of that ? Quit putting words in my mouth.

America is an evil country because it does evil things. The “provincial” people are the ones who don’t think America is doing evil, because they consider no one outside the borders of America to be human. We can bomb them, rape them, torture them, molest their children; it’s not evil, because we put less value on foreigners than we do American house pets.


So you couldn’t or wouldn’t answer my questions. Why don’t you invest in some new brushes that aren’t so broad. I recommend some fine art brushes like Potrait Artist use.