So far, the military operations against the group Islamic State (also known as ISIL and ISIS) and other jihadists in Syria and Iraq that are being led by US Central Command have not been given a name.
According to retired Admiral William J. Fallon, who commanded CENTCOM during a period from 2007 until 2008, the lack of a name is somewhat unusual. In fact, in a conversation with Business Insider on Wednesday, Fallon said CENTCOM probably was using a name for the operations internally.
“They usually have a name,” Fallon said, adding, “I’m sure they do.”
However, shortly after Business Insider spoke to Fallon, CENTCOM spokesman Major Curtis Kellogg insisted the operations against ISIS remain unnamed.
“There currently is no name for this operation. When/if that occurs, it will likely be announced by DoD or Joint Staff,” Kellogg said.
The lack of a name for the operations is certainly a break from military tradition. It has also drawn criticism from those who suggest it may be an indication the President Barack Obama and his administration are somehow reluctant about the operations or attempting to insulate themselves from perception they began a war. The fact the US has not officially designated this a military campaign also reportedly will prevent soldiers who participate from getting certain medals.
However, Fallon, who now works for the private security firm CounterTack, suggested the lack of a name for the operations is relatively insignificant.
“I’m sure they have one, but it’s not a big deal,” said Fallon. “That’s one of the minor, minor things. It’s just shorthand for people to be able to refer to a thing.”
A spokesperson for the Office of the Secretary of Defence echoed the argument the naming issue is not a major one.
“There is no legal significance in the naming of operations, nor does it affect legal authority,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson also suggested the operations will not be given a name any time soon.
“No official name has been given to the series of targeted strikes we have taken, and we do not have a timeline for a name to be assigned, if at all,” they said.
According to a CENTCOM spokesperson, names for operations led by the command would be conceived by a “group” within CENTCOM.
“Somebody here, or a group of individuals here at CENTCOM will come up with a name. Everything will be mulled over within this group of individuals,” the spokesperson said. “Lots of things come into play when you actually name something. You don’t just pull out of the air. … There’s a lot of things that go into it. … They’re taking into consideration everything.”
After officials at CENTCOM come up with a name, the spokesperson said it is sent to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for approval. However, they indicated the president can get involved in the naming process.
“It’s sent up to Joint Chiefs,” the spokesperson said, adding, “Unless the White House comes up with something.”
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