Thursday, March 24, 2011

Operation Random Name

James Wolcott finds the name of our Wings Over Libya adventure pretty funny:
"Isn't Odyssey Dawn part of the fab Carnival Cruises fleet?" tweets Tom Watson.

To me, Odyssey Dawn suggests the name of a Seventies porn star, one of those spacier ones who made a couple of films until the prospect of working again with Ron Jeremy sent her back into the soap bubble from whence she came, and off she floated.

Yes, I can almost hear it now, the voice of coming attractions announcing: "Odyssey Dawn in Harold Lime's Hot Dog Girls II, starring Leslee Bovee, Desiree Cousteau, and introducing Sandy Melons as the Surfer Chick..."
Other talking heads had other ideas, including "a Carnival cruise ship", "a Yes album", "a stripper", "a Stephenie Meyer novel", "a Tom Clancy novel", "a Philip K Dick novel", (that's a lot of novels!), "a Cabbage Patch kid", "The name of one of Frank Zappa's kids", and "a straight-to-video movie with Jean-Claude Van Damme".

Personally, I kind of like the idea that the name the DoD has tagged this thing with is just two random words. The fakey "code names" that had been ginned up to make the little wars they designated sound cooler and funn-er than they really were, like "Just Cause", "Desert Storm", "Iraqi Freedom" were making me throw up a little in the back of my mouth.

But either way, we've come a long way from the days of "Operation Killer" and "Operation Ripper".

I'm still not sure whether that's good, bad, or just...different.


  1. I liked "Operation Ripper" and "Operation Killer".

    They had a charming honesty about them, which is completely foreign to the mainstream American polity in the second half of the 20'th century.

    But never mind me. I'm one of those old dinosaurs that prefers to call things by their right names. Another couple of decades and I'll be as extinct as they are. Most of the rest of the cavemen have already preceded me.

    - Stormcrow

  2. Stormcrow: That was Matt Ridgeway, a hardcharging ol' paratrooper, and he knew what made men fight. He wanted his guys to know that they were going to kill Chinese, and that's what they did.

    Interesting, tho, that if you go back to WW2, when this stuff started, the names were REALLY random. The invasion of Sicily was "Operation Husky", the North Africa landings "Torch", the proposed invasions of Japan "Olympic" and "Coronet". Nothing either ferocious OR self-congratulatory there.

    Not sure which is better, or worse. I can understand why the Pentagon PAO types shrank from "Killer" - God forbid the civilians were slapped in the face with the reality of war. Heavens, you might just as well change the name of the outfit back to "War Department"!

    We're more "refined" now, for better or worse.

  3. Odyssey Dawn - as - porn star, with the Farrah Faucet hairdo. Now that really is rich.

    Maybe there's more to this anonymized name than we think. The dawn of an odyssey ... It's odd, y'see (?)

  4. Yeah, FDChief, you told me about Ridgeway yourself. IMHO, you write about military history very well, and I've been learning quite a lot here.

    I've never been anything but a civilian. The Armed Forces have never been crazy enough or desperate enough to require my services. Fortunately for us both.

    But I realized this could happen one day when I was 9 or 10, when my mom took me aside one day and explained that some day I might end up having to serve. A few years later, I stumbled across a copy of one of Liddel-Hart's better-known works, and I started trying to figure out what all this was really about.

    As for civilians facing the reality of war - maybe that's not a bad thing when the consequences are all added up. The last 50 years have given us examples of astonishingly bad decisions when we leave the whole mess up to the PTB.

    We don't do ourselves any favors by looking away.

    I guess you don't need much imagination to figure out what'd happen to somebody stupid enough to use a table saw, without watching what he was doing.

    I think that's a pretty good analogy to our practice of ignoring the subject of war in hopes it'll go away by itself, while we allow our government to wage "our" wars for us by proxy.

    - Stormcrow