Friday, October 02, 2009

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Grapefruit

The Man and I were idly wondering how the names of military operations get chosen. They can't be randomly selected (I'll have a vowel please Carol...and a consonant....) and even choosing an adjective followed by a noun could throw up some fairly dreadful combinations (hard to fire up the forces with 'Operation Fragrant Plantpot' or 'Shrugging Shoulders'. Names need to be something that fierce military generals can tell the President without laughing ('What are we calling this operation, General?' 'It's Operation Timid Otter, Sir' - er, no.).

So to come up with such wonderful names as 'Urgent Fury' (US invasion of Grenada), 'Purple Warrior' (UK Falklands training exercise) and not forgetting Desert Storm, there have to be people (person?) with that job, with military credentials and codeword clearance (not sure what that means, but they say it a lot on The West Wing. Hah! Only my 2nd post back and already I'm mentioning The West Wing! Did I say how good it was?). Perhaps they do other things as well - uniform design? Cleaning the situation room?

There have been a few awful names over the years. Frequent Wind, anyone (Vietnam)? Operation Bramble Bush (Israeli attempt to assassinate Saddam Hussein: no wonder it failed). Australia really weren't trying with 'Operation Morris Dance'. Seems a shame they don't choose names that spell things out, 'exactly what it says on the tin' style: perhaps Operation Gleeful Slaughter, Trained Scapegoats, or Unnecessary Carnage.

What I reckon is, the People That Choose have lists, one of adjectives and one of nouns, all approved by some committee. It is then a simple matter to select the next word from each list. Try it for yourself. Select one from the following:

Mountain, breaking, definite, steel, red, sleeping, restoring, exotic, screaming, desert, cautious.

The add a second word from the following list:

Dragon, cedar, wind, cobra, fire, eagle, cactus, tiger, storm, charge, hope.

(Nearly) works for all options!

Most of the good names are very macho and purposeful. Would we get a different kind of operation if we chose names like 'Little liedown' or 'Touchy feely'? Perhaps I'll suggest it to Obama, he seems like a nice bloke.

2 comments:

blue hands said...

oh my goodness, you're back! How I've missed your lovely prose. This post is very funny and I'm sure you realised that your lists provide the option "breaking wind"

jeznash said...

I think I'm going to change my name to exotic cobra! Thanks for that! And welcome back!