As of September 1, the U.S. military engagement in Iraq will be renamed Operation New Dawn. The Washington Post reported last weekend that the new name was "designed to symbolize the dramatic drawdown of U.S. forces that is planned and to 'recognize our evolving relationship with the government of Iraq,'" according to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.
The article continued:
Names are important, especially in war. Like a good advertising jingle, war names must be catchy and concise. But above all else, they have to sell -- all sorts of things, to all sorts of people: inspiration to the troops, righteousness to Americans at home, partnership to allied countries, peace and promise to non-combatant civilians.
And, to the enemy: We're-coming-to-kill-you aggression.
The key question: "Who is your target audience?" said Brig. Gen. Sean Macfarland, who is credited with helping turn around the insurgent violence in Ramadi, the provincial capital of Iraq's Anbar province. "If it's just internal consumption, you want to give a name the soldiers and Marines will get pumped up about. But if it's more for Iraqi consumption, it has to translate well. And if it's going to be in newspaper headlines and be commented about on op-ed pages, then you have to give it a more politically correct name."
Read the rest of the article, which includes a link to a list of Iraq operations compiled by GlobalSecurity.org. It doesn't go beyond 2007, but it nevertheless includes some interesting specimens, including Operation The Three Kings (named for the movie about the first Gulf War, perhaps?), Operation Determined Fury, and Operation Machete Harvest.
Read about the history of named U.S. military operations in this 1995 article, published in Parameters magazine.
Hat tip: Laura Scheflow.