No 9 Army Film & Photographic Unit via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
No 9 Army Film & Photographic Unit via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

15 Unexpected Military Operation Codenames

No 9 Army Film & Photographic Unit via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
No 9 Army Film & Photographic Unit via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Winston Churchill had no time for silly military codenames. In a 1943 wartime memo on the subject of coining operation names, he cautioned: “Do not suggest the character of the operation or disparage it in any way, and do not enable some widow or mother to say that her son was killed in an operation called ‘Bunnyhug’ or ‘Ballyhoo.’” Understandable. However, military operations—British or otherwise—haven’t always followed these principles, and some of their names seem downright ridiculous. Although there’s rarely a (public) explanation of why the weird names were assigned, that doesn’t make them any less amusing. Here are just a few of the more memorable.


Operation Dracula was the Allied South East Asia Command’s plan to reconquer the Burmese capital of Rangoon near the end of WWII. Part of the Burma Campaign, the operation was led by British and Indian forces via sea and sky to wrest the region from Japan, which had invaded in 1942. Begun in 1944 as an outgrowth of the earlier Plan Z, the mission was abandoned—maybe because the sun came up?—but then reinstated the following year. The British and Indian forces encroached on Rangoon as monsoon season began, only to find that the Japanese had skipped town a few days earlier, whereupon it was occupied by the Indian 26th Division without opposition.


Bush delivering his second inaugural address via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This one was a counterterrorism effort that involved a group of 13,000 top-secret commandos who served as military security to support the 2005 U.S. presidential inauguration of George W. Bush. The elite troops carried state-of-the-art weapons as they lurked in the shadows of the White House and the Capitol while the inauguration went down. A Power Geyser, by the way, is a fighting move from the video game series Fatal Fury, where character Terry Bogard blasts the ground with his fist, thereby devising a field of explosive energy around him that sends his opponents flying.


3rd Armored Regiment Coat Of Arms via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Tigers are pretty boss by themselves, but what if you had not only an American one, but an ALL-American one? The U.S. military ended up giving this name to the November 2003 Iraq War mission to search and clear farms and villages around the Euphrates River in the Northern Iraqi town of Al -Qaim as they tried to capture a handful of insurgent leaders. They ended up detaining 12 men as a result, including a few who were on the American “Most Wanted” list. Not bad.

It’s fun to make up origin stories here, but this codename is actually no mystery. It stems from the nickname for the 82nd Airborne Division—“All-American”—and the “Tiger” squadron of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, both of which launched the first phase of the plan. And for what it’s worth, it was specifically the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment from within the 82nd who worked on this plan, and those guys have their own nickname: “The Devils in Baggy Pants,” plucked from the diary of a disgruntled Wehrmacht officer who was killed in WWII.


Wathiq Kuzaie via Getty Images

From the name, this one sounds like it absolutely, positively must have happened in the ’80s, but actually it was not until 2006 that Operation Beastmaster cleared three neighborhoods in the Baghdad suburb of Ghazaliya—an area itself codenamed “IED Alley East.” Even though none of them used scimitars or were able to telepathically communicate with animals like in the movie, U.S. troops worked in tandem with the Iraqi Army to great success, leading the latter to uncover seven weapon caches as well as a deposit of roadside bomb-crafting supplies. The mission also resulted in the capture of an (unnamed) high-value target. Sounds like that beast got mastered.


Photograph of the fictitious girlfriend Pam. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Guess the British military managed to sneak this strangely named mission under Churchill’s nose somehow. Operation Mincemeat involved a decoy corpse—a possible (if gross) clue for the name’s origin. As Allied forces were preparing an attack on Sicily in 1943 during World War II, they wanted to convince the Germans that they were headed to Greece and Sardinia instead. So they took the body of Welsh laborer Glyndwr Michael, who’d died from eating rat poison, and planted some phony top-secret papers describing a plan to attack Greece and Sardinia on it, as well as a photo of a fake girlfriend, then let it float to an area off Spain where a particular Nazi agent was located. It worked perfectly. The plan was initially part of a memo containing possible ideas to lure German U-Boats toward minefields and was titled #28: A Suggestion (not a very nice one).

If this sounds like something from an old-timey detective pulp, well, there’s a reason for that. The scheme originally came from the mind of Ian Fleming, who later authored the James Bond books, back when he was an assistant to the head of British Naval Intelligence. Fleming confessed that he’d borrowed the idea of a dead body with false papers from a spy novel he’d once read.


Exactly this, only in Iraq several years later. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Despite what you might guess given some slang connotations here, Operation Viking Snatch—which attempted to stop a rash of weapons-smuggling during the Iraq War—was named and carried out within the last decade. The operation took place in September 2007. The name almost certainly derives from a snatch strap, which is a kind of tow rope used to pull bogged-down vehicles out of sand or mud, with Viking Offroad being a company that manufactures them—so, a Viking snatch strap. However, it can probably be assumed that whoever picked this codename was quite aware of its additional entendres and used it anyway.


If you thought the last one sounded crass, there’s also this one. Operation Beaver Cage was a helicopter assault launched by the U.S. Marines upon on a Vietcong base in the very populous Que Son Valley, south of Da Nang. Lasting from late April through mid-May of 1967, the Marines walked away with 66 captured Vietcong soldiers and the operation was considered a success. No word on where exactly the name came from, but it’s worth pointing out that although beavers are native to North America and Eurasia, there are none to be found in the wild in Vietnam.


Spc. Cal Turner in Baghdad. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Although it sounds like it’s an edict by the street captain to drive slowly when kids are at play, this endeavor—along with its little sister, Operation Safe Market—was actually a 2007 effort to make residential neighborhoods, marketplaces, and areas of traffic congestion safer for Iraqis to live and work in during the Iraq War. Basically, they were cracking down on car bombs, with additional measures to decrease general sectarian violence. Not much of a secret codename, but it’s kind of adorable.


Chris Servheen via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The “forced entry” part makes sense, anyhow: In the summer of 2004, U.S. soldiers went out on a counterinsurgency raid in Iraq under this codename, busting into private homes to search and seize high-value targets. The guys they were looking for were suspected of attacking coalition forces, and the search was conducted in Najaf, a city just south of Baghdad. The grizzly bit is less clear, but the Americans might just have been flattering themselves.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Almost 20 years before the superhuman mutant of the same name was DIY-ing magnetic fields in the 1963 debut issue of X-Men, Allied forces were using this word during WWII to refer to a 1945 conference among Winston Churchill, Josef Stalin, and FDR. While not strictly a military operation, the three leaders met in Yalta, USSR, in February of that year to discuss how to secure an unconditional surrender by the Germans (and also how to divvy up all the post-war geographical spoils). Operation Magneto, along with Operation Cricket, the prep meeting that happened few days prior, were collectively known as Operation Argonaut.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

A part of the Solomon Islands, the isle of New Georgia was invaded by the WWII Allied forces over the summer of 1943, and they called it Operation Toenails. The reason behind the name seems to have been lost to history. This mission was the first major Allied offensive exacted in the Solomon Islands since New Georgia’s neighbor, Guadalcanal, had been secured the previous February, and it led to the subsequent capture of the rest of the Solomons, concluding with the island of Bougainville. This invasion was part of the two-pronged, equally-oddly named Operation Cartwheel, the group of attacks that the Allied troops conducted in order to first isolate and then descend upon the Japanese military base at Rabaul, on the Solomon island of New Britain.


The operation probably looked just like this. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The plan here was to systemically bomb German railways in 1944. Seems as though someone was like “Okay, we’re bombing trains. Okay, what’s a train-themed name that we can use that doesn’t actually have the word train in it? Or railway? In any known language?” “I’ve got an idea, sir. The Nazis will have no idea what a ‘choo-choo’ is.” This was a successful mission, by the way—the railways were extensively damaged, forcing Germany to scramble for laborers to repair them when there was already a huge labor shortage. Glenn Miller would be proud.


Official Marine Corps photo via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Transpiring at the end of April 1975, Operation Frequent Wind was the wrap-up phase of the evacuation of American civilians and at-risk Vietnamese in Saigon prior to the Fall of Saigon, wherein the North Vietnamese Army showed up and took over. Hours after the mission ended, North Vietnamese tanks came crashing through the gates of the Independence Palace, and President (of two days) Duong Van Minh surrendered, signifying the end of the Vietnam War. One can guess at the codename’s origin here, considering it was a helicopter-based evacuation and that it was also tremendous—81 helicopters transported 7000 people to offshore aircraft carriers over the course of two days, making it the largest helicopter evacuation on record.


The Lion of Babylon via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Operation Lion Cub had two very important missions on December 21 and 24 of 2004—to commandeer a convoy full of toys to the villages of Wynott, Al Alam, and Al Owja in Iraq, where soldiers would hand them out to Iraqi children. The codename is perhaps a nod to the ancient symbol of Iraq, the Lion of Babylon. Family Readiness Groups in the U.S. and Germany had collected the toys over several months as part of a Christmas donation drive, and the operation received a very positive response from both the kids and their parents.


US Army forces in Kirkuk, Iraq in 2003. SSGT James A. Williams via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

There’s not a whole lot of info out there on Operation Gimlet Victory, other than that it happened in 2004 during the Iraq War. There were a handful of other U.S. counterinsurgency operations with gimlet in their names—Operation Gimlet Crusader, Operation Gimlet Silent Sniper—that were staged in the city of Kirkuk during the same year, so one can assume that this one was, if not the victorious denouement of those operations, at least related to them. The name likely refers to the tool kind of gimlet and not the cocktail kind, but it still sounds like what happens after you slog through your tedious Friday at work and finally make it to happy hour.

10 Things We Know About The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2

Though Hulu has been producing original content for more than five years now, 2017 turned out to be a banner year for the streaming network with the debut of The Handmaid’s Tale on April 26, 2017. The dystopian drama, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 book, imagines a future in which a theocratic regime known as Gilead has taken over the United States and enslaved fertile women so that the group’s most powerful couples can procreate.

If it all sounds rather bleak, that’s because it is—but it’s also one of the most impressive new series to arrive in years (as evidenced by the slew of awards it has won, including eight Emmy and two Golden Globe Awards). Fortunately, fans left wanting more don’t have that much longer to wait, as season two will premiere on Hulu in April. In the meantime, here’s everything we know about The Handmaid’s Tale’s second season.


When The Handmaid’s Tale returns on April 25, 2018, Hulu will release the first two of its 13 new episodes on premiere night, then drop another new episode every Wednesday.


Fans of Atwood’s novel who didn’t like that season one went beyond the original source material are in for some more disappointment in season two, as the narrative will again go beyond the scope of what Atwood covered. But creator/showrunner Bruce Miller doesn’t necessarily agree with the criticism they received in season one.

“People talk about how we're beyond the book, but we're not really," Miller told Newsweek. "The book starts, then jumps 200 years with an academic discussion at the end of it, about what's happened in those intervening 200 years. We're not going beyond the novel. We're just covering territory [Atwood] covered quickly, a bit more slowly.”

Even more importantly, Miller's got Atwood on his side. The author serves as a consulting producer on the show, and the title isn’t an honorary one. For Miller, Atwood’s input is essential to shaping the show, particularly as it veers off into new territories. And they were already thinking about season two while shooting season one. “Margaret and I had started to talk about the shape of season two halfway through the first [season],” he told Entertainment Weekly.

In fact, Miller said that when he first began working on the show, he sketched out a full 10 seasons worth of storylines. “That’s what you have to do when you’re taking on a project like this,” he said.


As with season one, motherhood is a key theme in the series. And June/Offred’s pregnancy will be one of the main plotlines. “So much of [Season 2] is about motherhood,” Elisabeth Moss said during the Television Critics Association press tour. “Bruce and I always talked about the impending birth of this child that’s growing inside her as a bit of a ticking time bomb, and the complications of that are really wonderful to explore. It’s a wonderful thing to have a baby, but she’s having it potentially in this world that she may not want to bring it into. And then, you know, if she does have the baby, the baby gets taken away from her and she can’t be its mother. So, obviously, it’s very complicated and makes for good drama. But, it’s a very big part of this season, and it gets bigger and bigger as the show goes on.”


Just because June is pregnant, don’t expect her to sit on the sidelines as the resistance to Gilead continues. “There is more than one way to resist," Moss said. “There is resistance within [June], and that is a big part of this season.”


A scene from 'The Handmaid's Tale'

Miller, understandably, isn’t eager to share too many details about the new season. “I’m not being cagey!” he swore to Entertainment Weekly. “I just want the viewers to experience it for themselves!” What he did confirm is that the new season will bring us to the colonies—reportedly in episode two—and show what life is like for those who have been sent there.

It will also delve further into what life is like for the refugees who managed to escape Gilead, like Luke and Moira.


Though she won’t be a regular cast member, Miller recently announced that Oscar winner Marisa Tomei will make a guest appearance in the new season’s second episode. Yes, the one that will show us the Colonies. In fact, that’s where we’ll meet her; Tomei is playing the wife of a Commander.


As a group shrouded in secrecy, we still don’t know much about how and where Gilead began. That will change a bit in season two. When discussing some of the questions viewers will have answered, executive producer Warren Littlefield promised that, "How did Gilead come about? How did this happen?” would be two of them. “We get to follow the historical creation of this world,” he said.


A scene from 'The Handmaid's Tale'

While Miller wouldn’t talk about who the handmaids are mourning in a teaser shot from season two that shows a handmaid’s funeral, he was excited to talk about creating the look for the scene. “Everything from the design of their costumes to the way they look is so chilling,” Miller told Entertainment Weekly. “These scenes that are so beautiful, while set in such a terrible place, provide the kind of contrast that makes me happy.”


Like season one, Miller says that The Handmaid’s Tale's second season will again balance its darker, dystopian themes with glimpses of hopefulness. “I think the first season had very difficult things, and very hopeful things, and I think this season is exactly the same way,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “There come some surprising moments of real hope and victory, and strength, that come from surprising places.”

Moss, however, has a different opinion. “It's a dark season,” she told reporters at TCA. “I would say arguably it's darker than Season 1—if that's possible.”


A scene from 'The Handmaid's Tale'

When pressed about how the teaser images for the new season seemed to feature a lot of blood, Miller conceded: “Oh gosh, yeah. There may be a little more blood this season.”

6 Surprising Facts About Nintendo's Animal Crossing

by Ryan Lambie

Animal Crossing is one of the most unusual series of games Nintendo has ever produced. Casting you as a newcomer in a woodland town populated by garrulous and sometimes eccentric creatures, Animal Crossing is about conversation, friendship, and collecting things rather than competition or shooting enemies. It’s a formula that has grown over successive generations, with the 3DS version now one of the most popular games available for that system—which is all the more impressive, given the game’s obscure origins almost 15 years ago. Here are a few things you might not have known about the video game.


By the late 1990s, Katsuya Eguchi had already worked on some of Nintendo’s greatest games. He’d designed the levels for the classic Super Mario Bros 3. He was the director of Star Fox (or Star Wing, as it was known in the UK), and the designer behind the adorable Yoshi’s Story. But Animal Crossing was inspired by Eguchi’s experiences from his earlier days, when he was a 21-year-old graduate who’d taken the decisive step of moving from Chiba Prefecture, Japan, where he’d grown up and studied, to Nintendo’s headquarters in Kyoto.

Eguchi wanted to recreate the feeling of being alone in a new town, away from friends and family. “I wondered for a long time if there would be a way to recreate that feeling, and that was the impetus behind Animal Crossing,” Eguchi told Edge magazine in 2008. Receiving letters from your mother, getting a job (from the game’s resident raccoon capitalist, Tom Nook), and gradually filling your empty house with furniture and collectibles all sprang from Eguchi’s memories of first moving to Kyoto.


Although Animal Crossing would eventually become best known as a GameCube title—to the point where many assume that this is where the series began—the game actually appeared first on the N64. First developed for the ill-fated 64DD add-on, Animal Crossing (or Doubutsu no Mori, which translates to Animal Forest) was ultimately released as a standard cartridge. But by the time Animal Crossing emerged in Japan in 2001, the N64 was already nearing the end of its lifespan, and was never localized for a worldwide release.


The GameCube version of Animal Crossing was released in Japan in December 2001, about eight months after the N64 edition. Thanks to the added capacity of the console’s discs, they could include characters like Tortimer or Blathers that weren’t in the N64 iteration, and Animal Crossing soon became a hit with Japanese critics and players alike.

Porting Animal Crossing for an international audience would prove to be a considerable task, however, with the game’s reams of dialogue and cultural references all requiring careful translation. But the effort that writers Nate Bihldorff and Rich Amtower put into the English-language version would soon pay off; Nintendo’s bosses in Japan were so impressed with the additional festivals and sheer personality present in the western version of Animal Crossing that they decided to have that version of the game translated back into Japanese. This new version of the game, called Doubutsu no Mori e+, was released in 2003.


One of Animal Crossing’s most recognizable and popular characters is K.K. Slider, the laidback canine musician. He’s said to be based, both in looks and name, on Kazumi Totaka, the prolific composer and voice actor who co-wrote Animal Crossing’s music. In the Japanese version of Animal Crossing, K.K. Slider is called Totakeke—a play on the real musician’s name. K.K. Slider’s almost as prolific as Totaka, too: Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the Nintendo 3DS contains a total of 91 tracks performed by the character.


A more controversial character than K.K. Slider, Mr. Resetti is an angry mole created to remind players to save the game before switching off their console. And the more often players forget to save their game, the angrier Mr. Resetti gets. Mr. Resetti’s anger apparently disturbed some younger players, though, as Animal Crossing: New Leaf’s project leader Aya Kyogoku revealed in an interview with Nintendo's former president, the late Satoru Iwata.

“We really weren't sure about Mr. Resetti, as he really divides people," Kyogoku said. “Some people love him, of course, but there are others who don't like being shouted at in his rough accent.”

“It seems like younger female players, in particular, are scared,” Iwata agreed. “I've heard that some of them have even cried.”

To avoid the tears, Mr. Resetti plays a less prominent role in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and only appears if the player first builds a Reset Surveillance Centre. Divisive though he is, Mr. Resetti’s been designed and written with as much care as any of the other characters in Animal Crossing; his first name’s Sonny, he has a brother called Don and a cousin called Vinnie, and he prefers his coffee black with no sugar.


Since its first appearance in 2001, the quirky and disarming Animal Crossing has grown to encompass toys, a movie, and no fewer than four main games (or five if you count the version released for the N64 as a separate entry). All told, the Animal Crossing games have sold more than 30 million copies, and the series is still growing. In late 2017, the mobile title Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp was released for iOS and Android. It's a big step for the franchise, as Nintendo is famously selective about which of its series get a mobile makeover. A game once inspired by the loneliness of moving to a new town has now become one of Nintendo’s most successful and beloved franchises.


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