Names
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The Most Awesomely American Names for Military Operations

Updated May 25, 2018 13.6k votes 3.0k voters 427.7k 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.
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  • 1
    Operation Overlord

    H-hour, D-Day....'nuff said.

  • 2
    Operation Rolling Thunder
    The US bombing campaign against North Vietnam wasn't particularly succsseful, but it had an awesome name that proclaimed exactly what it planned to do.
  • 3
    Operation Desert Storm
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    Operation Desert Storm

    The code name for the US-led assault to kick Iraq out of Kuwait, the name predicted the conflict perfectly - a storm of hell coming out of the desert.
  • 4
    Operation Phantom Fury
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    82

    Operation Phantom Fury

    The Second Battle of Fallujah—code-named Operation Al-Fajr and Operation Phantom Fury—was a joint American, Iraqi, and British offensive in November and December 2004, considered the highest point of conflict in Fallujah during the Iraq War.

  • 5
    Operation Red Dawn
    Name the capture of Saddam Hussein after a movie where Americans kick ass and take names? You make the list.
  • 6
    Operation Neptune Spear
    The plan to take out Osama Bin Laden was carried out by Navy SEALS, whose symbol is the trident carried by the god Neptune - three prongs representing their capabilities on land, sea, and air.
  • 7
    Operation Eagle Claw
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    Operation Eagle Claw

    America is an eagle. What do eagles do to their enemies? Claw them. Because that's what eagles do. Sadly, the attempt to rescue the American hostages in Iran failed miserably - but at least it had a killer code name.
  • 8
    Operation Steel Curtain

    "Operation Steel Curtain", was a hardened sweep and clear mission hence "steel curtain" because one of the SNCOs was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

  • 9
    Operation Iron Justice
    An operation to crack down on black market fuel sales in Baghdad, named for what America dispenses: iron justice.
  • 10
    Operation Urgent Fury
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    Operation Urgent Fury

    The US invasion of Grenada in 1983 boasts an awesomely American code name. You need tough action, and you need it now? Bam, urgent fury!
  • 11
    Operation Just Cause
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    Operation Just Cause

    The United States Invasion of Panama, code named Operation Just Cause, was an invasion of Panama by the United States between mid-December 1989 and late January 1990.

  • 12
    Operation Spartan Scorpion
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    Operation Spartan Scorpion

    Spartans: masterful warriors. Scorpions: killer clawed insects. America: both of these. This operation to finish off Ba'ath party hardliners in Iraq: successful.
  • 13
    Operation Linebacker
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    Operation Linebacker

    My personal all time favorite OP name, clear example of peace through superior fire power!

  • 14
    Operation Beastmaster
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    Operation Beastmaster

    Naming a plan to clear parts of Baghdad of insurgents after a crappy '80s action movie? Totally American in every way.
  • 15
    Operation Warrior's Rage
    2005 operation to capture insurgents, carried out with the rage of... you know... a warrior.
  • 16
    Operation Bayonet Lightning
    What's worse than getting hit with a bayonet? Getting hit with one made of lightning! Much about this quick operation in Iraq remains classified - but not its awesomely American name.
  • 17
    Operation Paul Bunyan
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    Operation Paul Bunyan

    This was a plan to chop down a tree in the DMZ that was obscuring spying on the North Korean side. Earlier, North Korean troops had hacked two American soldiers to death who had been trying to chop it down. So out came the giant guy with the huge axe - and hundreds of armed troops and helicopters.
  • 18
    Operation Valiant Guardian
    Among qualities to look for in a guardian, being valiant is high on the list. This operation to disrupt Al-Qaeda activities involved 4,000 Marines and took out 250 weapons caches.
  • 19
    Operation Gothic Serpent
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    Operation Gothic Serpent

    Operation Gothic Serpent was a military operation conducted by United States special operations forces with the primary mission of capturing faction leader Mohamed Farrah Aidid.

  • 20
    Operation Chattanooga Choo-Choo
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    Operation Chattanooga Choo-Choo

    You wouldn't think an innocuous '40s song about a train could be used as a military operation - but you'd be wrong. Operation Chattanooga Choo-Choo was the combined bombing offensive by the US and Britain against German railway lines and marshalling yards in preparation for D-Day
  • 21
    Operation Beaver Cage
    This 1967 plan to take out a Viet Cong base near Da Nang has a name that comes straight from the strip club, guns-a-blazing.
  • 22
    Operation Breakfast
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    Operation Breakfast

    The opening phase of the US bombing of Cambodia was named after breakfast, the most American meal of the day.
  • 23
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    Operation Charlie-Red

  • 24
    Operation Montana Mauler
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    Operation Montana Mauler

    An anti-infiltration mission against North Vietnamese forces - or a second-tier professional wrestler? You decide.
  • 25
    Operation Centaur Rodeo
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    Operation Centaur Rodeo

    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.