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Subject: Operation Codenames rss

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Tim Parker
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The other day, while writing up the session report for the fun and tense game JJ played of Red Dragon/Green Crescent, I was reflecting on some of the code names we gave our operations in the game and it got me to thinking: how often does the choice of operational code names give intelligence to the enemy?

We all know about Operation Barbarossa and Sealion but what about Operation Mercury? Could it be that the image of the winged god was picked deliberately for this operation?

Or what about Operation Musketeer? Could some planner have thought about the Three Musketeers (Britain, France, and Israel) when choosing the name?

I read somewhere (not sure where as I have read nearly a dozen books on the Cuban Missile Crisis) that the Soviets chose the code name Anadyr to try to deliberately deceive the United States but actually it caught the attention of some in the intelligence community as being such an odd choice, although it didn’t help in the end.

Some code names of course give nothing away (Case Blue, Case White and other German WWII codenames).

Of course I know that the military is supposed to use random names for codenames but

So do you think that the codenames ever give the other side any information? And do you think the names are ever deliberately chosen by someone trying to be “clever”
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Pete Belli
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Re: Operation Codnames
Quote:
...do you think the names are ever deliberately chosen by someone trying to be “clever”


Wacht am Rhein

BTW, Churchill insisted on the code name DRAGOON for the invasion of southern France because he had been "dragooned" into compliance.
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Bill Eldard
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Re: Operation Codnames
The namimg of military operations can be selected for various reasons, such as security, public consumption, context, etc. For example, the 1944 invasion of Normandy was named Overlord, and the naval portion of that operation was named Neptune.

Most operation names are nondescript, but sometimes there is a back story.

When the Joint Chiefs of Staff received orders from ReaganBush-41 to invade Panama, someone asked the Staff what they were going to name the operation. An Army lieutenant general (Director of Operations, J-3) offered Operation Just Cause. One member asked, "As in the cause we're undertaking is just?"

"No," the LTG replied. "I'm thinking we're doing this just 'cause we can."

The name of the operation stuck. (I heard the anecdote from that general after he retired and attended a wargame I participated in.)
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Tim Parker
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Eldard wrote:
The namimg of military operations can be selected for various reasons, such as security, public consumption, context, etc. For example, the 1944 invasion of Normandy was named Overlord, and the naval portion of that operation was named Neptune.

Most operation names are nondescript, but sometimes there is a back story.

When the Joint Chiefs of Staff received orders from Reagan to invade Panama, someone asked the Staff what they were going to name the operation. An Army lieutenant general (the J-3) offered Operation Just Cause. One member asked, "As in the cause we're undertaking is just?"

"No," the LTG replied. "I'm thinking we're doing this just 'cause we can."

The name of the operation stuck.


But wasn't George H.W Bush president when we invaded Panama?
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Brian Train
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Nowadays some militaries pick operation codenames randomly.
The British deployment to Afghanistan was named Operation HERRICK because that's what the computer in the Ministry of Defence coughed up.

Probably better this way; there are only so many variations you can ring on aggressive rah-rah words before you start naming things Operation GORILLA BALLS for want of alternatives.

Brian
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Sam Carroll
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I always thought that "Operation Hailstone" for the attack on Truk was a bit of a giveaway.
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Carl Fung
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Operations Epsom and Goodwood in Normandy were named after British racecourses.

Operation Downfall, the planned operation against Japan was pretty straightforward naming.

Operation Bodyguard, the D-day deception plan has some hidden meaning in there.

Operations Desert Shield and Desert Sword defined the defensive and offensive of what we were doing in Saudi Arabia.

Of course you have the modern overly jingoistic and sappy ones like Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. This will be followed by Operation Get the Bad Guy.
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Barry Harvey
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I like to think that - like the Rule of the Universe from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - there's one person who dishes out operation names.

Leader: We've been invaded by aliens. We've invented an Orion Drive and we need a name.
Ruler of the Universe: Operation Daffodil.
Leader: Daffodil!?
Ruler of the Universe: Take it or leave it. But definitely leave the whiskey.

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Brian Train
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Eldard wrote:

When the Joint Chiefs of Staff received orders from Reagan to invade Panama, someone asked the Staff what they were going to name the operation. An Army lieutenant general (the J-3) offered Operation Just Cause. One member asked, "As in the cause we're undertaking is just?"

"No," the LTG replied. "I'm thinking we're doing this just 'cause we can."

The name of the operation stuck. :)


I believe you, and I kind of thought this was the case, but if you could point out a source for this, others would too.

Brian
 
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Michael Sommers
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ltmurnau wrote:
Nowadays some militaries pick operation codenames randomly.

The problem with that is that no one want to hear that their loved one died in Operation Nifty Nugget.
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Daniel Blumentritt
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Quote:
The other day, while writing up the session report for the fun and tense game JJ played of Red Dragon/Green Crescent, I was reflecting on some of the code names we gave our operations in the game and it got me to thinking: how often does the choice of operational code names give intelligence to the enemy?


At least once I know of: The Germans in WW2 had a radar navigation system they named Woden - the one-eyed Norse God. The British correctly guessed from this that it was single-beam system and were able to narrow down their options for countermeasures.

FWIW, that the code name should not suggest in any discernible way any aspects of the operation was one of several principles spelled out by Winston Churchill in a 1943 memo after he realized that he couldn't approve every single code name personally.


Quote:
The problem with that is that no one want to hear that their loved one died in Operation Nifty Nugget.


That no mother should have to be told that her son died in Operation "Bunnyhug" or "Ballyhoo" was also in his memo.

Quote:
Of course you have the modern overly jingoistic and sappy ones like Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. This will be followed by Operation Get the Bad Guy.


Bwahaha nice. Another of Churchill's principles was that the name of the operation should not suggest any overconfident boasting about the success of said operation.
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Gordon G
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I can't speak for major operations but I know that when I was working Air Tasking Orders (ATOs) for real world operations (Allied Force, Enduring Freedom) we would use all manner of themes to come up with codewords and call signs. Sometimes it was sport teams (Brewer, Packer), car models (Pontiac, Chevy) all the way to family names (Nathan, Betty) and cartoon characters (Marge, Homer, Maggie).

We were pumping out so many ATOs we quickly ran out of the standard "cool" callsigns/codewords and resorted to whatever struck us for the day. The only requisite was that it wasn't already in use as a Joint Brevity word, and that it wasn't clearly offensive (although we did once have ATC repeatedly broadcast "Fluffer" over common freq when we couldn't reach a flight of B52s headed to Iraq).

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I think if Grognads was given the job of code name picking then no one on either side would have a clue!
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Bill Eldard
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catosulla wrote:
Eldard wrote:
The namimg of military operations can be selected for various reasons, such as security, public consumption, context, etc. For example, the 1944 invasion of Normandy was named Overlord, and the naval portion of that operation was named Neptune.

Most operation names are nondescript, but sometimes there is a back story.

When the Joint Chiefs of Staff received orders from Reagan to invade Panama, someone asked the Staff what they were going to name the operation. An Army lieutenant general (the J-3) offered Operation Just Cause. One member asked, "As in the cause we're undertaking is just?"

"No," the LTG replied. "I'm thinking we're doing this just 'cause we can."

The name of the operation stuck.


But wasn't George H.W Bush president when we invaded Panama?


Ooops. You are correct. I've made the edit. Thanks!
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Nick West
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Statalyzer wrote:
Quote:
The other day, while writing up the session report for the fun and tense game JJ played of Red Dragon/Green Crescent, I was reflecting on some of the code names we gave our operations in the game and it got me to thinking: how often does the choice of operational code names give intelligence to the enemy?


At least once I know of: The Germans in WW2 had a radar navigation system they named Woden - the one-eyed Norse God. The British correctly guessed from this that it was single-beam system and were able to narrow down their options for countermeasures.


..and if I recall, they correctly estimated the range of the radar system as in the relevant mythology he could "see at night just as well as if it were day, and for over a hundred leagues".

On a related radar code name, there was a British passive ground reading radar called H2S (as in the formula for hydrogen sulphide the smell of bad eggs) which was developed into a very effective offensive bombing system although original envisaged as a method to get pilots back to their home base.

The developers called it H2S unofficially as they regarded the officer who was in command of the project as a complete shit - in forces parlance "a bad egg".

Unfortunately the officer in question was visiting the team and learned first hand of the unofficial codename and enquired how they came up with it. Improvising desperately, one of them told him that originally HSH stood for Home Sweet Home, but they thought that was too obvious an acronym for security reasons and so changed the order to give H2S.

"Very clever, very clever," responded the visiting bad egg, "I will recommend we use that as the official code name."

And so it was.
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Tim K
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Back in the day, right around 20 years ago, I played some Global War, the combined games of Advanced Third Reich and Empire of the Rising Sun and also the precursor to A World at War. I recovered my sanity quickly and no longer play any version of these games. Research project codenames though were a memorable part of the experience.

I tried to be witty. Some of us remember the mid- to late-90s. I still snicker when I think about Projects Dueling Browsers and Psychopathic Halfback. I had other witty codenames but they're not coming to mind right now. My names had nothing to do with the project's nature.
 
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Damo
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Operation Shoe string was pretty descriptive.
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Christopher Lawrence
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There was all kinds of snickering when Stalin announced Operation Uranus.

Of course, he promptly had the miscreants shot.
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Tim Parker
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CraftyShafty wrote:
There was all kinds of snickering when Stalin announced Operation Uranus.

Of course, he promptly had the miscreants shot.


Are you sure?

I always thought it happened more like this: Stalin examining maps with Zhukov, smoking his pipe and the saying, "Look at Germans putting under equipped allies on flanks. We will prepare offensive to crash through flanks and encircle them! We shall call this offensive Operation Uranus as that is what we are about to kick!"

"A brilliant choice, Comrade Stalin!" (Said in perfectly timed chorus by Beria, Molotov, Voroshilov, Khrushchev, et al
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Ryan R
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2005 maditory Soildier task training for my company was given an operational name by me: Operation Chupacabra.
 
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Pete Belli
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CraftyShafty wrote:
There was all kinds of snickering when Stalin announced Operation Uranus.

Of course, he promptly had the miscreants shot.


PLUTO was the Allied codename for the system carrying fuel beneath the Channel from Britain to Normandy in 1944...

PipeLine Under The Ocean
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Bob Zurunkel
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pete belli wrote:
CraftyShafty wrote:
There was all kinds of snickering when Stalin announced Operation Uranus.

Of course, he promptly had the miscreants shot.


PLUTO was the Allied codename for the system carrying fuel beneath the Channel from Britain to Normandy in 1944...

PipeLine Under The Ocean


What a Mickey Mouse codename.
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Bill Eldard
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ltmurnau wrote:
Eldard wrote:

When the Joint Chiefs of Staff received orders from Reagan to invade Panama, someone asked the Staff what they were going to name the operation. An Army lieutenant general (the J-3) offered Operation Just Cause. One member asked, "As in the cause we're undertaking is just?"

"No," the LTG replied. "I'm thinking we're doing this just 'cause we can."

The name of the operation stuck.


I believe you, and I kind of thought this was the case, but if you could point out a source for this, others would too.

Brian


The source was the general (retired when he recounted it) at a war game circa 2000, but I don't recall his last name (I think it was Brown).
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Bill Eldard
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Damjon wrote:
Operation Shoe string was pretty descriptive.


The actual name for the Guadalcanal invasion was Operation Watchtower. It was the Marines who unofficially nicknamed it Shoestring after Flethcher's carriers departed early, forcing Turner to withdraw his amphibious ships before they had unloaded all of the landing force's equipment and supplies.
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Brian Train
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Eldard wrote:
ltmurnau wrote:
Eldard wrote:

When the Joint Chiefs of Staff received orders from Reagan to invade Panama, someone asked the Staff what they were going to name the operation. An Army lieutenant general (the J-3) offered Operation Just Cause. One member asked, "As in the cause we're undertaking is just?"

"No," the LTG replied. "I'm thinking we're doing this just 'cause we can."

The name of the operation stuck. :)


I believe you, and I kind of thought this was the case, but if you could point out a source for this, others would too.

Brian


The source was the general (retired when he recounted it) at a war game circa 2000, but I don't recall his last name (I think it was Brown).


Thanks for the confirmation Bill!

Brian

[ETA: I did some looking around and the original plan for what became this operation was named BLUE SPOON. Ho hum, eh...]
 
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