Method to the Ridiculousness

Ah-ha! The Pentagon actually has a set of criteria for coming up with silly names for military operations. For the current ‘Operation Odyssey Dawn’ (Which some have observed sounds like a pole dancer from an Atlanta strip club), the criteria are that the first word must begin with the letter ‘O’. I presume they label these things alphabetically much like the NOAA labels Hurricanes. The second word can begin with the letters ‘A’ through ‘F’. I am unclear on the logic behind this one.

In addition, there are several restrictions. Here is a list from the Office of Naval Operations courtesy of The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell‘s website:

Who actually chooses the words and their motivation remains a mystery. I suspect they may have flunked creative writing in college. This Wired article says that the names are somewhat random and these guidelines exist because of some bad press due to previously inappropriate operation names from prior conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. Now we know.

(By the way, you can post your own alternate suggestions for the operation at

About Mr. Universe

Mr. Universe is a musician/songwriter and an ex-patriot of the south. He currently lives and teaches at a University in the Pacific Northwest. He is a long distance hiker who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also an author and woodworker. An outspoken political voice, he takes a decidedly liberal stance in politics.
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37 Responses to Method to the Ridiculousness

  1. filistro says:

    Well, this is just silly.

    It reminds me of a game I once played at a party where you take the name of your first pet, and put it together with the name of the first street, neighborhood or small town you lived in as a child, and the result would be your stage name if you became a porn star (or, in Mr U.’s case, a Chippendale… 😉

  2. Mr. Universe says:

    Yep, my porn star name is Momma Kitty Houston. Works, eh?

  3. mclever says:

    Danny Rock Island?
    Lady Aurora?

    I don’t know if either of those works for me…

  4. filistro says:

    “Momma Kitty Houston.”

    It has a really blowsy, seedy, louche kind of vibe.

    I like it 🙂

  5. mclever says:

    Murphy Mackinaw?

    I may need to steal Mr. Universe’s porn name…

  6. filistro says:

    OOO… I like “Danny Rock Island!”

    Can’t you just see the bulging pecs, the 6-pack abs, the shaggy blond hair and worn blue jeans… (excuse me while I put a damp cloth on my forehead…)

  7. filistro says:

    I would be Miggy Riverside, which is frisky but with a certain sophistication, a je ne sais quoi…

  8. filistro says:

    Jonah Goldberg thinks Odyssey Dawn is a perfect name because an “odyssey” is a long, difficult, impossible task that keeps one hopelessly mired down for an entire lifetime.

  9. mclever says:

    I’ll bulge my biceps for you, filistro! Pardon me while I brush my blond Bieber-bangs back from my forehead….

    LOL! OK, I’ll quit… You’re absolutely right that the military operation names are just as silly as fake porn names!

  10. dcpetterson says:

    Ginger Flicker.


  11. filistro says:

    A “Ginger Flicker” sounds like an extremely rare songbird indigenous to certain areas of Minnesota.

    Or somebody who would flip the bird to Newt Gingrich….

  12. mclever says:

    LOL, dcpetterson!

    I can see the taglines now for “Odyssey Dawn” starring Miggy Riverside, Ginger Flicker, and Momma Kitty Houston!

  13. Mr. Universe says:

    Danny Rock Island sounds like a gay porn star name

  14. Monotreme says:

    Laddie FM1788. Very postmodern and techno-sounding, like a porn robot.

  15. Brian says:

    Max Oakwood. I like it.

  16. filistro says:

    Rigorously applying these rules, I have a few suggestions for the Pentagon:

    Obelisk Force sounds manly and phallic, and is in keeping with the shape of Tomahawk missiles

    Obituary Day would be appropriate though I … what? Too dark? Well, then I also really like:

    Oatmeal Cookie which has a comforting wholesome vibe and is “in keeping with American ideals”… but I suppose “oatmeal” is in violation of the rule about compound words.

    You know, this naming of wars is hard work.

  17. mclever says:

    Operation Oatmeal Cookie is my favorite. Sounds delicious!

  18. Here’s a few candidates:
    Open Door
    One Day
    Offal Dish (sounds awful, doesn’t it?)
    Oppressive Bush
    Orange Agent
    Oinking Cat
    Ostentatious Buffoon
    Oiled Cog

    This isn’t that hard after all. 🙂

  19. Mr. Universe says:

    A Ginger Flicker in the UK would be a redhead picking their nose.

  20. filistro says:

    Lawrence O’Donnell was going to show some of the best Operation names sent in by viewers, but I missed the whole segment (hockey and curling on TV tonight.)

    Were there any good ones?

    I still think the guys at The Corner have come up with the best names so far.

    (“Operation Qadaffi DUCK!” is my favorite….)

  21. mclever says:

    Qadhafi Duck is funny! But it doesn’t follow the rules… Too bad Qadhafi’s name doesn’t have a variant spelling that begins with the letter O.

    Often Fun
    Ogle Chicks
    Only Child
    Omnibus Bill
    Orangutan Bush
    Ominous Feeling
    Orange Apple
    Ogre Ears
    Once Again
    Oppressor Finished
    Ocean Deep
    Ouster Fling
    Open Book
    Orbit Achieved
    Opening Bid
    One Club
    Onus Denied
    Original Concept

    I’m sure others here can come up with something more creative, but those are just a few off the top of my head.

  22. Damn, Mac, that’s a fine list. Got me laughing at more than a few of them.

  23. Oh, and, of course, following the Opening Bid of One Club comes One Diamond.

  24. mclever says:


    Is that an Over Call? or did my LHO pass? I probably should have asked what system we were using first, eh?


  25. Monotreme says:

    Out FOXed
    Odor Eater
    Oprah’s Cousin

  26. filistro says:

    Operation Old Dictator?

  27. Monotreme says:

    Overthrowing Assholes
    Outré Force
    Organized Chaos
    Ouzo Drinking
    Offal Chewing
    Omnipresent Domination
    Old Fart

    Story about the last one: in a previous job, my boss was a narcissistic blowhard. He was annoying me at a meeting with this and that, and it must’ve shown on my face, because he said, “I bet you think I’m a silly old fart.”

    I replied, “I don’t think you’re old, sir.”

    He was mad at me for days after, but he shouldn’t feed me the straight lines like that.

  28. filistro says:

    Does anybody have contact info for the Pentagon?

    I want to nominate Mac and Monotreme as the new Committee in Charge of Nomenclature for Military Operations.

  29. mclever says:

    Organized Chaos…

    I’d bet that’s pretty close to what the guys on the ground are calling it regardless of what the upper muckety-mucks say. Although, their word for “Chaos” is likely unprintable in a family publication…

    Organ Donor
    Occluded Front
    Orderly Conduct

  30. Number Seven says:

    Jon Stewart was saying the name sounded like the name of a Yes album but I like the porn analogy better.

    Here is mine: Tiger Terrace.

    Here are my operation names: Oyster Boy, Odiferous Fish, Obama’s Folly, Ok Bomb, Outed Gay.

    You guys are right, this is fun.

  31. filistro says:

    “Odiferous Fish” would be a great name for a rock group.

    Though probably difficult to say when one is stoned… so maybe not.

  32. Monotreme says:

    @fili and @#7:

    Odiferous Furuncle, then.

  33. mclever says:

    Unfortunately, Monotreme, one of the rules was that the words chosen can’t be “obscure,” and I’d bet that “Furuncle” isn’t well-known among the typical military and political elite.

    Octagonal Bird
    Occasional Friend
    Opposites Attract

  34. Number Seven says:

    Opposites Attract is great but it gave me this idea:

    Opposites Attack

    I had to look up furuncle. That is just nasty, lol.

  35. filistro says:

    @#7.. I had to look up furuncle. That is just nasty, lol.

    Me too. EEWWW.

    I think “Opposites Attack” is probably our winner.

    (I do still have a strong affection for “Odiferous Fish”… but it’s probably not that relevant to the situation. Though, come to think of it, no less relevant than “Odyssey Dawn”…)

  36. mclever says:


    I thought Occluded Front was particularly apt, but it’s not immediately obvious. It’s a weather term for when a cold front overtakes a warm front and creates a cyclone that may spawn a huge mess of thunderstorms and tornadoes. The idea of two fronts battling it out and creating a natural-disaster seemed fitting for just about any military engagement…

  37. filistro says:

    @Mac… It’s a weather term for when a cold front overtakes a warm front and creates a cyclone that may spawn a huge mess of thunderstorms and tornadoes.

    Apt, yes… but you’re just way too classy for the company in here.

    For example, when I see “Occluded Front” I visualize a Hooters waitress wearing a semi-opaque tank top 😉

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