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It has been reported on Wikipedia that Operation names are designed to obscure or misrepresent the nature of the mission (CIA cryptonyms and edit), but this is quite patently nonsense. Operation names have increasingly become a glowing banner of the intentions of the US Army, or possibly so that the generals involved do not forget which part of the world they are taking over or just knocking down so that it won't get back up to bother them for a while.

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Just a few examples:

  • The mission to cut down a tree obscuring the view, on the border of South and North Korea: Operation Paul Bunyan. Paul Bunyan being of course the folk tale hero that people told tall tales about before Chuck Norris. Task Force Vierra (Spanish for "See", only spelled wrong) required only 813 men, an entire Wikipedia:Company (military unit) of transport and attack helicopters, various jet fighters and bombers etc, with the entire DMZ on heightened alert status and the aircraft carrier Midway moved to just offshore
  • PBHISTORY (WP), the operation to, at worst, inspire widespread reporting implying that the democratically elected Guatemalan government overthrown in 1954 had significant ties with the USSR, but with the ostensible aim of finding such ties, rewrote Guatemalan history.
  • The rushed Invasion of Grenada, while the country still reeled from the assassination of its leader Maurice Bishop (WP) 12 days before: Operation Urgent Fury. The adjective "Urgent" is clearly meant to convey something immediate, even hurried, but is the juxtaposition of something that takes time to build up, "Fury", intentionally humorous, or accidental? Remember, they think differently.
  • Truth is stranger than fiction: "Just Cause (WP)". Try an apostrophe just before the 'Cause', making it short for, "Because We Want To"
  • The mission to harass coastal Panamanian Defense Forces, to wear them down with false reports of invasion until they grew tired of responding, and/or to provoke them into attacking : Operation Sand Flea (WP)
  • The mission to apprehend the former CIA asset Manuel Antonio Noriega, who collaborated with the US to smuggle cocaine into the US : Nifty Package (WP). Not to be confused with the tamales found at his house that were initially reported as being packages of cocaine...Or is it?
  • Operation Deny Flight : North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) operation to prevent aircraft in Bosnia and Herzegovina from flying over their OWN country. Denial, indeed
  • Operation Iraqi Liberation was the early name for the invasion of Iraq, but its acronym, OIL,[1] gave too much away, and so it was changed to a Big Fat Lie. "Operation Iraqi Freedom" was itself a denial of the reason (proven false) for invading, which was to remove Weapons of Mass Destruction. The US did not have to go all the way to Iraq to find WMDs in any case; they had plenty themselves, and a much longer and more profound record of being a rogue state. Watch (very short) Myth-busting: Fleischer referring to "Operation Iraqi Liberation" (OIL) at YouTube
  • "Enduring Freedom (WP)" Not, in this case, easy to endure, but it should only be a little while longer. Only a little while, that is, unless the Operation's earlier name, "Infinite Justice" is more accurate. Maybe that was giving too much away, with occupation duration having become a political issue. The lesser-known Operation Enduring Freedom in the Philippines has also dragged on into the present, with the stated aim of assassinating "terrorist" leaders who oppose the current regime and US occupation with unmanned drones.[2]
  • One of Project Gunrunner's (WP)'s plans to deprive Mexican drug cartels of weaponry, the ATF's (WP) Operation Fast and Furious, gave them weapons instead.[3] It thereby achieved optimum Oppositeness. Or did it? See CIA drug trafficking

Fictional representations of Operation names have either satirized them on purpose, or by imitating them without regard to their inherent flaws, satirized them by accident. With a purpose, from Doonesbury: "Operation Frequent Manhood" And haplessly, from a video game": "Fires of Freedom". To save the country, we had to burn it down.[4] Turns out, some parts of Iraq actually were burned to the ground. Maybe the army were saving them from having to live in "mud huts" by destroying them.[5] Again, a video game: Propaganda Due (P2)

The final clinching proof that operation names are not a secret code: when operations are really supposed to be secret, they do not have names. Not ones we hear about, anyway. Like the bombing of Dresden that created the world's first man-made firestorm (similar, earlier plans were called Operation Thunderclap, nothing cryptic there, but not the actual bombing), or the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (WP) (the plans to invade Japan were called Operation Downfall, again obvious, but not the A-bomb bombing runs).

Local or other nations' operations[edit]

  • Operation Wasteland, an undercover investigation into organized crime control of the waste disposal industry in New York City.[6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. Myth-busting: Fleischer referring to "Operation Iraqi Liberation" (OIL), YouTube
  2. US drones circle over the Philippines, Jacob Zenn
  3. Democracy Now!
  4. "It became necessary to destroy the town to save it'"-unidentified United States major, during the Vietnam war. : This Day in Quotes
  5. It Became Necessary To Destroy The Town To Save It August 10th, 2008, Omar Khdhayyir
  6. Takedown, the Fall of the Last Mafia Empire, by Detective Rick Cowan and co-author Douglas Century
  7. Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage, by Heather Rogers on pages 191-194