Vice News has obtained a list of at least 21 named U.S. military operations that have taken place or are still ongoing on the African continent, so we might as well figure out which names are badass and which are just incredibly absurd.
As Vice's Nick Turse reports, the military apparently has more operations going on in Africa than it does in the Middle East, though that's a bit of an apples to oranges comparison: The continent is large and ops in Africa tend to be smaller, while ops in the Middle East encompass tens of thousands of personnel (think Resolute Support in Afghanistan or Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria).
Still, the operations in Africa tend to range from objectively cool — Odyssey Lightning — to the totally weird — Justified Seamount.
Here's how they rank:
- Odyssey Lightning: With the primary objective of removing ISIS from Sirte, Libya in 2016, this operation needed a clever sounding, badass name, and what's better at putting into words a strike against the enemy than lightning?
- Junction Serpent: Another in a series of operations in Libya, Junction Serpent was supposed to provide targeting information for DoD strikes carried out in the previously-mentioned Odyssey Lightning. It brings to mind a snake, and since it was the second in a three-phase plan, the use of Junction seems to fit. Bravo there, Africom J-3.
- Jukebox Lotus: The name for the crisis response to the Sept. 2012 terror attack against the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. One of those names that seems to make zero sense and was perhaps hastily picked, which would fit given the nature of what occurred.
- Octave Anchor: I couldn't find much of anything about this operation, so we'll just have to assume that Anchor means Navy SEALs and the musical-sounding Octave means they'll be singing and holding hands with their African partners. Or killing ISIS while listening to Metallica. It really could go either way.
- Juniper Shield: This is the overall name for U.S. military ops against al Qaeda in northwest Africa and the training of partner forces. And yet, the mission gets quite a boring name.
- Juniper Nimbus: At this point I'm convinced that Lt. Gen. James Vechery, Africom's top officer for military operations, just has a dart board with buzzwords like “Octave,” “Shield,” “Juniper,” and “Odyssey,” and is just throwing shit at the wall to pick the latest name. This op seems to be centered around counter-Boko Haram efforts in Nigeria.
- Nimble Shield: No idea what this one is about. But I do know the name sounds similar to Nimble Archer, a 1987 operation in which the Navy struck Iranian oil platforms.
- Junction Rain: A Coast Guard-African partner operation involving the boarding of ships using Junction and Rain, likely to signify its amphibious nature. Kinda obvious there, but I still dig it.
- Octave Shield: The op mainly focused on terror groups in Somalia, which seems to follow along with the previously-mentioned operation-name bingo.
- Objective Voice: One of the ops that Africom has publicly flaunted, Objective Voice, previously called Assured Voice – Africa, had a mission to counter extremist propaganda. Think intel analysts watching al Qaeda snuff films and coming up with their own DoD responses. But Objective Voice? I think in 2018, we can say that Operation Terrorist Fake News Is The Enemy Of The People would ring more true.
- Jupiter Garrett: This seems to be about drone operations in Somalia, according to The Drive. It also makes me wonder who the hell is Garrett and why did he get his own operation name?
- Observant Compass: The mission to kill or capture one of the world's biggest assholes, Joseph Kony, it unfortunately didn't have much of a name to go along with the mission. Still, while Operation Kony Dick Punch would have been more meaningful in my opinion, I can understand why they'd go with a more sanitized version.
- Echo Casemate: On first read, you'd think this was some sort of protective case for your Amazon Alexa device. In reality, this name was used to describe an airlift of peacekeepers to the Central African Republic in 2013. But still, Echo Casemate? Wtf?
- Juniper Micron: This was the U.S. military's part in providing support to France in Mali. It also uses Juniper and Micron, both names of technology companies, paired together to make one of the most boring and terrible operation names one could think of.
- Rainmaker: What this one is, I have no idea. But maybe the planner who came up with this is just a big John Grisham fan.
- Odyssey Resolve: The first of three phases, this op was for intelligence-gathering ahead of U.S. strikes in Libya. It's also just a rehash of other similar-sounding operations like Odyssey Lightning and Inherent Resolve, so unfortunately, I'm going to have to dock some points.
- Oaken Steel: A brief, rapid deployment of troops to the U.S. Embassy in Juba, South Sudan. Points for using the frequent op buzzword “Steel” for this one, but when it goes after “Oaken” — meaning made of oak — it makes me think the PowerPoint ranger in charge of this one pulled two words out of a hat and said here's the latest dumb operation name, boss.
- Oblique Pillar: What this one is about is anyone's guess, but what is beyond dispute is that the name sucks.
- Oaken Sonnet: Contingency operations in South Sudan, and also one of the weirdest names for an operation. Hey Maj. Shakespeare, can you submit something a little better?
- Justified Seamount: Are you fucking kidding me?
- New Normal: I want to believe this is the overall operation name for the Post 9/11 Forever War: Welcome to Operation New Normal, where the war never ends and the mission doesn't matter. Instead, the deadpan “New Normal” operation is basically a quick-reaction force-type mission for whatever new shit might happen to go down on the continent, apparently.