It's no Desert Storm. It's not even Desert Fox. It wishes it was Desert Crossing. It can't be Operation Iraqi Freedom, since we've used that, although it could be Operation Freedom Is Messy. The point is: U.S. war planners now say they need a name for this thing that's totally not a war, but a "targeted operation."
WSJ's Julian Barnes reports today that the military brass are looking to slap a brand name on this certified pre-owned Middle East conflict, but so far the Pentagon's best and brightest have done about as well at taxonomizing the conflict as they have at executing it:
Two months since war planes first started striking Islamic State targets, operations in Iraq and Syria don't have a fancy name. One of the generic placeholders found on classified Pentagon PowerPoint slides reads: "Operations in Iraq and Syria."
One senior official said [Operation] Inherent Resolve was a placeholder name and never seriously considered for the overall war effort. Other officials said had the name been better received it might well be the new war's moniker.
"It is just kind of bleh," said a military officer.
Pointyheaded warspeak is a special kind of awful product positioning. (I'm kind of surprised "Inherent Resolve" didn't cut muster, seeing as how it sort of sounds like a Procter & Gamble floor disinfectant.)
On the other hand, perhaps critics of the open-ended, well-intentioned but indeterminate military action should see a name put on it, since that makes it somehow more tangible, ownable—easier to hold its architects accountable for down the line, should they attempt to change the plan and the discussion.
The Journal has invited its readers to name that mission, using the hashtag #OperationName. (Never miss an opportunity for reader engagement.) There have been some nice stabs at it—see a few below—but I'm guessing Fortress America readers have a few ideas of their own. And anyway, we'd like to have our own shorthand for referring to this thing in future posts. So add your suggestions in the comments.
— Dan Spencer (@cayankee) October 3, 2014
— Stephen Saideman (@smsaideman) October 3, 2014
#OperationName combat patch should be a huge question mark with the phrase 'Why so serious' in latin, says my infantry cdr big bro.
— Ben Watson (@natsecwatson) October 3, 2014
#OperationName -- Operation Hey! That's My Humvee might work -- as of today the U.S. has damaged or destroyed 47 Humvees in Iraq
— Felicia Schwartz (@felschwartz) October 3, 2014
A Warlike Act on Terrorlike Acts by Soldierlike people #OperationName
— Joe Messina (@joe_messina) October 3, 2014
— Peter Spiegel (@SpiegelPeter) October 3, 2014
— Julian E. Barnes (@julianbarnes) October 3, 2014