Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
How the Pentagon Comes Up with Code Words and Secret Project Nicknames (thedrive.com)
116 points by jonbaer on Aug 12, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 15 comments

"Llama Fury" was a week-long Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) training exercise

It's notable that the more obscure/technical the task, the more likely it is that amusing random combinations will apply. For more politicized things it's always names that 'just happen' sound super-patriotic like 'Valiant Shield' or 'Enduring Freedom'. I guarantee that if the invasion of Iraq had been called 'Llama Fury' there would have been a proper exit plan on a sensible timeframe.

Its smart to automate this. So all meaning is removed and you avoid leaking intelligence. You don't want to call your operation to invade Kuwait DESERT STORM or something.

I thought of a book like that. Foreign spies try to figure out who is running a sensitive operation by running a Leadership/Targeting operation to figure out who is running the show. It means they need to find out who decided to name the operation "OP SUPER SAIYIN" and "OP BRIGHT BLOTTER" or something.

I wonder if other governments have similar methods for their secretive code names or different methods entirely? The one that popped into my head (perhaps only because it sounds so whimsical, but yet the goals were so completely contemptible) was 'Operation Cherry Blossoms At Night' - a plan that was formulated by Imperial Japan during WWII (but never acted upon) to perform attacks of biological warfare on southern California.

EDIT: For those interested - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Cherry_Blossoms_at_N...

I have always wondered this. I've always been somewhat enamoured with the stern and mysterious two-word nicknames of classified programs, such as the ones listed: 'HAVE BLUE', 'ACID GAMBIT', 'AUTUMN RETURN', 'SENIOR TREND'... Maybe I'll write my own generator for these.

I did this in bash a while ago. https://github.com/JeremyGrosser/codenames

Very cool.

Those were all Burningman theme camp names, right?

My favorite, relayed to me by an ops planner in the business of such things, which I'm told was briefed up to the president, was Operation Double Dutch Rudder. The content I cannot discuss, but at one point said ops planner found himself low-crawling in-country to deliver a projector on his back to the HQ tent. Can't make this stuff it up. By the name, you can estimate the year of action.

Dutch... so Reagan?

Probably not good for the government, but I always thought you should use porn terms -- that way if your project leaks, nobody can talk about it in public, and you will never, never, never rank for it if somebody does.

Reminds me of Rainbow Codes[0].

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Rainbow_Codes

One code word I heard that is as plain as it can be is "Point Luck" used in Midway Battle.

I have heard some pretty amazing nick names in my previous life, but I cannot share them. Oh well.

In the government or at a technology company?

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact