Thursday, March 31, 2011

A War By Any Other Name

By now, the term Odyssey Dawn should be familiar to you ... it's the official nickname of the military mission to help somebody (who, we hope, will eventually be grateful) do something (which we hope will turn out all right) in Libya.

The nickname Odyssey Dawn has come in for a good deal of undeserved scorn because it sounds, well, silly, and doesn't have the gravitas we might want for the name of an operation that is costing many millions of dollars to support a bunch of people who will later hate us for whatever outcome ensues. How did we come up with a nickname like that?

You can find out some of the arcane history behind the selection of operational nicknames by reading this article at - Let's Rename Operation "Odyssey Dawn". Among the other interesting factoids you will learn is that Africa Command, the military command which is carrying out the mission, is allowed to select two-word nicknames in which the first word begins with the letters JS through JZ, NS through NZ, or OA through OF (hence, Odyssey).

In addition to an appropriately-spelled first word, a military operational nickname should have other characteristics. First, it should be relatively martial-sounding; for instance, Spring Daisies is probably not as good a nickname as Anvil Express (which was an exercise in which I participated long ago). Nor, in the interest of operational security, should it reveal anything about the operation itself ... thus, Operation Bomb-the-Hell-Out-of-Libya is probably less desirable than something less specific.

An operational nickname should be inspiring, too. A soldier, sailor, or airman would much rather tell the grandchildren that he (or she) was part of Operation Overlord (the World War II invasion of Normandy) than of Operation Pillow Talk.

A nickname shouldn't lend itself to jokes. The invasion of Grenada in the 80's was nicknamed Just Cause ... which spawned the unfortunate moniker Just Because.

And a good operational nickname certainly should be politically correct and not offend anybody. The military response against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 was originally called Infinite Justice, but Muslims objected because only God (well, okay, Allah) can dispense infinite justice; the name was duly changed to Enduring Freedom. This, of course, was not necessarily a bad choice of name, because the mission has now been enduring for about 10 years.

So ... to what might we change the name Odyssey Dawn? Given the mandatory selection of first-letters-of-the-first-word given to Africa Command, we might select something like ...

Obvious Waste;

Obscure Goals (this one was my favorite from the article);

Obladi Oblada (this was my second-favorite); or,

Jumpin' Jehosephat.

But in the end, who cares? No matter what we call it, we'll still end up being blamed for whatever goes wrong, and the Republicans will use it as a political cudgel with which to pummel President Obama for doing what they blamed him for not doing in the first place.

Oh, and somebody's got to pay for those two lost F-15s and all those expensive cruise missiles. If you're part of the middle class, it's you.

Just thought you'd like to be reminded.

Have a good day. You can call it Operation Getting By.

More thoughts tomorrow.



Amanda said...

Interesting! I wonder how much time is spent coming up with these names.

KathyA said...

Very interesting! How about "Operation Oh Shit, Here We Go Again!" Maybe not... "Operation Obsessive Compulsive Need to Please"?

Mike said...

Operation 'Bar Fight'.
Operation 'We need to beat the crap out of somebody to feel good'.
Operation 'Money to the war machine'.