Odyssey Dawn sounds like a porn star name. I’m not quite sure why they went that route. It seems to buck the trend of naming military operations something that kind of makes sense. Desert Storm makes sense. Uphold Democracy makes sense. Provide Comfort makes sense. Odyssey Dawn? Porn star name.
Naming military operations is something the Germans started doing in World War I. Other countries caught on and by World War II America was naming operations too. But we were new at the game and not very good at it so we went with names like Alpha and Leader. Kind of dull and they didn’t say much about the actual operation. That was intentional because giving too much away was considered a bad idea after British intelligence came to realize that Operation Sea Lion was Germany’s plan to invade Britain.
By the time we were in Vietnam operation names were being used more for public relations, although they still weren’t particularly descriptive. Furthermore, names like Masher and Flaming Dart angered the anti-war crowd.
Nowadays clever operational names are par for the course. Usually, anyway, I have no idea what happened with regard to Odyssey Dawn. Here’s how Slate explains the naming process:
For a big deal like the Iraq War, staff officers compile a list of two-word nicknames that seem appropriate, and their commanding officer picks one, keeping in mind that it may be used to sell the public on the validity of the undertaking. Then he submits his choice to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for approval and then the Secretary of Defense for a final OK.
The more minor operations – which I presume Odyssey Dawn is – there is a different protocol, which actually might explain how they arrived at Odyssey Dawn:
The Joint Chiefs of Staff assign each command agency in the Department of Defense a set of two-letter alphabetic combinations–Southern Command, for example, has BL and KE, among other pairings. (Or, at least, it did as of 2002. The document list is classified.) The first word of each nickname must start with one of these designated pairs; the second word is random.
Regardless of how they got there, Odyssey Dawn is a name that seems to fail the guidelines laid out by Lt. Colonel Gregory Sieminski in a 1995 article for Parameters the quarterly for the U.S. Army War College:
First, make it meaningful.
Odyssey Dawn is not particularly meaningful, but is an excellent porn star name.
Second, identify and target meaningful audiences.
The audience in this case is the world community, and especially Arabs. A good name can send them a calming message. Operation Civil Shield or Operation You Asked Us To Do This, Remember? might reassure the Arab street that we’re not going on another Middle East adventure. Odyssey Dawn doesn’t do that. Porn star name.
Third, be cautious of fashions.
In other words, don’t get stuck with a clichéd convention like the very popular verb-noun combination: Provide Hope, Provide Comfort, Provide Relief or Uphold Democracy. They managed to evade that with Odyssey Dawn’s noun-noun combination. But it still makes no sense and sounds like a porn star name.
Finally, make it memorable.
Oh, it’s memorable alright. Odyssey Dawn, Jenna Jameson and Shyla Stylez in No Guy Zone.