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The Iraq War by a Different Name

Starting on Sept. 1, when combat troops depart Iraq and 50,000 training/advisory troops remain, the war once known as Operation Iraqi Freedom will become Operation New Dawn. The name change will “recognize our evolving relationship with the Government of Iraq,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates writes to Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. troops in the Middle East and South Asia.

The symbols are less important than the actual withdrawal, which will be completed in December 2011. But one bit of trivia: Operation Iraqi Freedom was so named because of an effort to tie it to what used to be known as the War on Terror in Central Command’s context. The Afghanistan war had been dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom, so Centcom under former commander Tommy Franks thought of calling the Iraq war Operation Desert Freedom, since all Centcom’s previous Iraq operations — Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Desert Fox — had “Desert” in the title. But then someone thought that the rest of the Arab world would take “Desert Freedom” to mean “The Americans are invading here next” and thought better of it. Operation Iraqi Freedom it was.

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