Military operation code names can be tricky to pull off. You want to have a name that conveys power and majesty, striking fear into the hearts of your enemies, but you don’t want something that lets your enemy know what you’re actually doing – such as the planned German invasion of England (its name, Sealion, let the British know exactly what it was). You also don’t want something inappropriately glib, either because it’s not macho enough (the US invasion of Grenada was briefly named “Blue Spoon”) or sends the wrong message, such as the unfortunately named Korean War-era plan “Operation Killer.”
The naming of military operations is thought to have begun with the German Empire in the final two years of World War I. Before then, operations were usually named after either their commanding officer or the general area they were taking place in (i.e., Somme Offensive, Neville Offensive, etc.) But German generals added code names to increase operational secrecy and give them a shorthand for referring to individual parts of the hugely complex battles on the Western Front.
In the decades that followed, operation names went from random designations to carefully chosen code names that would boost morale and offer clever description. American officers in Vietnam and beyond were faced with naming dozens of operations, everything from large scale troop deployments to clearing out small sections of cities. Here are the most awesomely American names for military operations from World War II through Iraq. Bask in their American kick ass majesty and upvote those that are screaming “U S A! U S A!” the loudest.
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