Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
9 of the worst-named military missions and war games in history
While researching another story, I came across a recent exercise designed to steel NATO for battling Russian subs. The war game was named for a ferret-like creature that subsists on insects and worms.
Nothing like a small mammal to drive terror into an adversary's heart.
How do military leaders come up with these? In the case of the U.S., military commands are assigned blocks of the alphabet, say from AA to AD, from which they can choose two word names. Such as Agile Diver. The rules forbid "commercial trademarks," "anything offensive to good taste," or that are similar in spelling to a code word.
They also set aside words for certain commands. "Cheese," for example, is only to be used by the chief of naval operation's office. Ditto "rabbit."
(Great Britain's Prime Minister Winston Churchill specifically warned about "frivolous" words, saying no one would want to tell a grieving mother her son died in an operation named "Bunnyhug.")
Here's a totally objective guide to the worst-named military operations and exercises of all time.
1. Exercise Bold Alligator
Bold Alligator is a large-scale amphibious exercise that showcases naval forces like the US Marines. )(U.S. Marine Corps/Pfc. Nicholas Guevara)
Alligators are cold-blooded and pretty low energy most of the time.
2. Operation Black Ferret
Ferrets make great pets. (Associated Press/Lenny Ignelzi)
Ferrets are small, furry mammals that have been domesticated. The wild ones are known to dance a gig to hypnotize their prey, according to Mental Floss.
Operation Black Ferret was a search and destroy mission in Vietnam.
3. Operation Mermaid Dawn
Mermaid performer Paisley Easton. (Weeki Wachee Springs State Park)
In addition to not finding ferrets frightening — setting aside "The Big Lebowski" scene where a ferret scares the Dude in a bathtub — I don't especially find the prospect of mermaids at dawn threatening.
Rebels named their 2011 assault on Tripoli, according to this excellent overview of military naming by Mental Floss.
4. Operation Flea Flicker
Got an itch? This was the name for a 2005 mission to seize weapons and propaganda before a referendum on the Iraqi constitution.
5. Operation Cajun Mousetrap III
A deer mouse is released from a trap. (Associated Press/Mike Groll)
What about the mousetrap makes it Cajun? And did this mousetrap work better the 3rd time around? This was the name of a nighttime raid on Samarra, Iraq in 2004.
6. Exercise Steadfast Jazz
The saxophones of the US Air Force's jazz ensemble. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Jalene Brooks0
This is one jazz set that just doesn't quit! Fully 6,000 troops in NATO's ready-response force participated in this ludicrously named 2013 exercise.
Hat tip to Business Insider's Pentagon Correspondent Ryan Pickrell for the suggestion.
7. Exercise Dynamic Mongoose
The mongoose's connection with this massive NATO naval exercise remains unclear to the author. (U.S. Navy/ Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amanda S. Kitchner)
Notably, NATO also has an Exercise Dynamic Manta.
8. Operation Therapist
Professional counseling seems to have inspired one operation's name. (Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock)
How does it make you feel? The was the name of a 2005 Army mission in Tikrit, Iraq.
9. Exercise Tiger Thrust
A formation of A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft from the 23d Fighter Group at a March 1 flyover. (U.S. Air Force/Andrea Jenkins)
The name of a training exercise held in the 1980s at what was once England Air Force Base in Louisiana, then the home of the "Flying Tigers" of the 23rd wing.
Gringo-Goucho: Aircraft carrier exercises involving the U.S. and Argentine navies. The term "gringo" occasionally has a pejorative meaning for English-speaking Americans.
Team Spirit: A joint U.S.-South Korea training that ended in 1993, and that keeps reminding me of Nirvana's 1991 hit, "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
Operation Desert Snowplough: Reportedly a name for a Danish operation during the Iraq War.
Operation Frequent Wind: The evacuation of civilians from Saigon in 1975.
Read more from Business Insider:
- Chuck Norris got up close and personal with an Abrams tank while visiting Fort Hood in Texas
- How the true story of 'Black Hawk Down' made it to the big screen, according to author Mark Bowden
- The 5 best military academy athletes who went pro
- You are a disgrace to your Purple Heart': Green Beret's mother rejects Navy SEAL's apology for killing her son
- An F-16 fighter jet carrying munitions crashed into a warehouse in Southern California
WATCH NEXT: A Civilian Tries Military Phrases
Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials are warning soldiers and military families to be aware of scammers using the Exchange's logo.
In a news release Wednesday, Exchange officials said scammers using the name "Exchange Inc." have "fooled" soldiers and airmen to broker the sale of used cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and boat engines.
KABUL (Reuters) - The Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility on Sunday for a suicide blast at a wedding reception in Afghanistan that killed 63 people, underlining the dangers the country faces even if the Taliban agrees a pact with the United States.
The Saturday night attack came as the Taliban and the United States try to negotiate an agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. forces in exchange for a Taliban commitment on security and peace talks with Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government.
Islamic State fighters, who first appeared in Afghanistan in 2014 and have since made inroads in the east and north, are not involved in the talks. They are battling government and U.S.-led international forces and the Taliban.
The group, in a statement on the messaging website Telegram, claimed responsibility for the attack at a west Kabul wedding hall in a minority Shi'ite neighborhood, saying its bomber had been able to infiltrate the reception and detonate his explosives in the crowd of "infidels".
Calling aviation geeks in New York City: The British are coming.
In their first visit to the United States since 2008, the Royal Air Force "Red Arrows" will perform an aerial demonstration next week over the Hudson River, according to an Air Force news release. F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels demonstration teams will also be part of the show.
Frances and Efrain Santiago, natives of Puerto Rico, wanted to show their support last month for protesters back home seeking to oust the island's governor.
The couple flew the flag of Puerto Rico on the garage of their Kissimmee home. It ticked off the homeowners association.
Someone from the Rolling Hills Estates Homeowners Association left a letter at their home, citing a "flag violation" and warning: "Please rectify the listed violation or you may incur a fine."
Frances Santiago, 38, an Army veteran, demanded to know why.
A West Point graduate received a waiver from the U.S. Army to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday, and play in the NFL while serving as an active-duty soldier.
The waiver for 2nd Lt. Brett Toth was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, who said that Toth signed a three-year deal with the Eagles. Toth graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 2018.