Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The U.S.-Canadian military commands responsible for protecting North America from terrorists have changed the names of key readiness exercises to more politically correct words that do not offend American Indians.

U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs have struck the word “warrior” from one major exercise and replaced it with “phantom,” according to a July internal message from command headquarters. The message went to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the Joint Chiefs and other senior leaders. A copy was obtained by The Washington Times.

A NORAD spokesman, Air Force Master Sgt. John Tomassi, said “warrior” and other words were changed with Indians in mind. He said, “They have been using these names for quite some time, and I don’t know of any complaints.”

An exercise called “Amalgam Chief” has been changed to “Amalgam Arrow,” the message states. And an exercise dubbed “Amalgam Fabric Brave” is now “Amalgam Fabric Dart.” “Fabric Indian” was deleted in favor of “Fabric Sabre.”

Northern Command and NORAD are keeping exercise labels of “Northern Edge,” “Vigilant Shield,” “Ardent Sentry,” “Amalgam Mute” and “Vital Archer.”

The bottom line: warrior, chief, brave and Indian are out; phantom, arrow and dart are in.

NORAD is a U.S.-Canadian organization commanded by U.S. Adm. Timothy J. Keating, who also heads Northern Command. The twin structures have taken on added importance since the September 11 attacks. NORAD has new procedures in place to protect American airspace against al Qaeda-style air attacks. Its largest exercise to practice those tactics is the twice-yearly Amalgam Warrior, which is scheduled for next April and is now Amalgam Phantom.

“We did change them because of the references to Native Americans,” Sgt. Tomassi said. “And the initiative wasn’t U.S. or Canadian. It was just NORAD. We are sensitive to such issues. We don’t have a professional sports team like the Washington Redskins. But we still are sensitive to the same sorts of issues that those organizations are. When Admiral Keating arrived, the staff was already in progress, saying this was an initiative we wanted to take on, and Admiral Keating embraced it.”

Sgt. Tomassi said the word “warrior” often connotes an American Indian, so it was struck.

Amalgam Fabric Brave, which is now Amalgam Fabric Dart, involves deploying fighter jets to various NORAD regions to check their response times.

With the name changes, the military is following a similar trend in other segments of society. Some schools have banned politically incorrect mascots in favor of wildlife or inoffensive symbols. The National Collegiate Athletic Association last week prohibited schools who have Indian mascots, such as the Florida State Seminoles, from hosting postseason tournaments or bringing their mascots to these events.

Under the leadership of Adm. Keating, U.S. Northern Command has projected the image of an organization aggressively defending the United States.

Adm. Keating on July 19 released a vision statement that said that “United States Northern Command defends America’s homeland —protecting our people, national power and freedom of action.”

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