- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 9, 2003

The names for U.S. military operations over the years have been poetic, moralizing and in one case so forgettable that leaders of that mission forgot it.
Carolina Moon. Just Cause. Productive Effort.
Among the pieces yet to fall into place in the pending war against Iraq is a name for it. So far, the buildup in the Persian Gulf has shared the umbrella moniker for the worldwide anti-terrorism campaign, Enduring Freedom.
There are all sorts of rules for coming up with a name, involving many Pentagon offices. In the end, though, it always has been more art than science.
Commanders choosing the operation name for a war in Iraq have to balance security concerns with the message, says Conrad Crane, director of the U.S. Army Military History Institute.
"It's good to get an inspirational burst out of the name," he said.
The naming tradition is rich and varied. It generally combines a commander's gut instinct with a computer database of possibilities, running names up the chain of command and hoping the result is memorable.
Operation Niagara in Vietnam was so named because the commander wanted people to think of relentlessly cascading bombs. The enormity of the Allied invasion of Normandy was captured in the dark moniker picked by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill: Operation Overlord.
Desert Storm, to drive Iraq out of Kuwait in 1991, evoked the furiously kicked-up sand of the largest military operation since World War II.
Operation Killer during the Korean War was a dud. It "struck an unpleasant note as far as public relations was concerned," Army Chief of Staff Gen. J. Lawton Collins told its creator, Lt. Gen. Matthew Ridgway.
Not all names are so tied to bloodletting. Through the decades there have been operations Bluehearts (Korea, the landing at Inchon), Ivy Bells (undersea snooping on the Soviets) and Carolina Moon (a deadly and unsuccessful mission to blow up a bridge in North Vietnam).
The tradition runs deep in domestic law enforcement, too. A recent federal crackdown on drug paraphernalia was named Operation Pipe Dreams and the corruption investigation of former Mayor Vincent Cianci Jr. of Providence, R.I., and aides was called Operation Plunder Dome.
The modern method of naming took shape in the 1989 invasion of Panama, with Operation Just Cause, originally called Blue Spoon.
Since then, operation names have become more self-explanatory, self-justifying and perhaps blander: the humanitarian Operation Provide Comfort in Turkey and Northern Iraq; Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti; Operation Enduring Freedom, the anti-terror war.
"The tone has to be positive one that shows we're attempting to do good and make a region better," Mr. Crane said.
Lt. Col. Gregory Sieminski, a military historian, said Operation Productive Effort, a 1991 Marine relief effort for typhoon victims in Bangladesh, was so unmemorable that leaders kept forgetting it.
Colin L. Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and now secretary of state, said: "After a day of struggling with Productive Effort, I said to my staff, 'We've just got to get a better name.'" It became Sea Angel, Lt. Col. Sieminski said in his 1995 history of naming operations.
The Germans during World War I were the first to name operations.
Lt. Col. Sieminski says U.S. operation names, used for security reasons, were chosen from a code word list similar to one used by the British in World War II. Namers drew from a list of 10,000 common nouns and adjectives from an unabridged dictionary.
During the Korean War, Gen. Douglas MacArthur allowed the code names to be declassified once operations had started, Lt. Col. Sieminski says.
At the end of the Vietnam War, the Defense Department issued guidelines on names. They must not be overly bellicose, offend good taste or a particular culture or ally, or employ exotic words, trite expressions or well-known commercial trademarks.
Such sensitivities led the Pentagon to scrap the original name for the anti-terror war, Infinite Justice, to avoid offending Muslims, for whom concepts of finality are associated with Allah.

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