Operation Iraqi Freedom gets a name change
Operation Iraqi Freedom is ending on September 1, 2010.
But this doesn’t mean that the troops are finally coming home. This doesn’t mean that we are admitting that the 2003 invasion of Iraq went against American interests. This doesn’t mean that we cost ourselves victory in Afghanistan by embarking on a second war, stretching manpower and talent. This doesn’t mean we are admitting that we destabilized the Middle East and handed Iran and virulently anti-American political Islamists a golden prize in the country of Iraq.
No. Operation Iraqi Freedom is being renamed. Starting on September 1, 2010, the United States will be involved in Operation New Dawn. The official Pentagon spin is that the new name reflects the reduced role American troops will play in Iraq in the coming years. September 1 is when American troop levels in Iraq will drop down to 50,000.
50,000 people. That’s the population of a mid-sized town. Even with this reduced number of troops, endless numbers of them will still be involved in firefights and operations that will risk their lives. Most of them will still be in Iraq for a long time to come. The official Pentagon statement:
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE 1000 DEFENSE PENTAGON WASHINGTON, DC 20301-1000
MEMORANDUM FOR THE COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
SUBJECT: Request to Change the Name of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM to Operation NEW DAWN
The requested operation name change is approved to take effect 1 September 2010, coinciding with the change of mission for U.S. forces in Iraq. Aligning the name change with the change of mission sends a strong signal that Operation IRAQI FREEDOM has ended and our forces are operating under a new mission. It also presents opportunities to synchronize strategic communication initiatives, reinforce our commitment to honor the Security Agreement, and recognize our evolving relationship with the Government of Iraq.
Robert M. Gates
cc: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
But, here’s the thing. No one in the Pentagon thought out the consequences of renaming it “Operation New Dawn.” In 2004, the newly installed Iraqi government rallied their troops for the Second Battle of Fallujah in “Operation New Dawn.” Not the most auspicious start for the Pentagon’s new name change.