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The Most Awesomely American Names for Military Operations

Updated May 25, 2018 12.9k votes 3.1k voters 436.1k views30 items

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.
  • 26
    Anti-insurgency operation in Kirkuk with a name that celebrates stealthy killers who move silently and drink heavily.
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  • 28
    The centaur is the half-man/half-horse creature of Greek mythology. A rodeo full of centaurs - can you get more American than that? The operation itself - to disrupt weapons smuggling - is not nearly as awesome as its name.
  • 29

    Operation Babylift was the name given to the mass evacuation of children from South Vietnam to the United States and other countries at the end of the Vietnam War, on April 3–26, 1975.

  • 30

    It exemplified the ability of the western Allies to work together against a common enemy, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was born during the airlift. For the Air Force, Operation Vittles provided abundant lessons about airlift.