Thursday 07 Oct 2021 | 07:52 | SYDNEY
Thursday 07 Oct 2021 | 07:52 | SYDNEY

Reader ripostes: Military names, etc.


Sam Roggeveen


26 March 2010 12:35

Three emails below, the first two responding to James Brown's piece on military naming conventions, and the last about an error of expression I have probably made many times. First, Sam writes:

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks in the Austrian Alps with one BRIG Adrian d’Hage AM MC (Retd), who as you may know has gone onto a successful career as a novelist. As I had fairly recently returned from OP QUICKSTEP our discussion turned to the naming of military operations and why dance names had featured so regularly when it came to coups in the South Pacific (Morris Dance, Quickstep, Tango).

Adrian recounted a story from 1987 when (I believe) he was Director of Joint Operations; evidently it had fallen to him to name the operation and he consulted the relevant publication (apparently there was one then, I believe he said it may have been of British or NATO origin) and the only two remaining names were 'Jaculate' or 'Morris Dance' and he went with the least worst option. The subsequent officers who bore that responsibility either had a quirky sense of humour or little imagination...

Kirill Reztsov writes:

James Brown wrote: 'Except that Charlemagne spent a fair whack of his time forcibly converting his neighbours to Christianity. He also harboured a particularly trenchant dislike for neighbours of the Muslim persuasion. To make matters worse, the paladins were offed by Muslims after a particularly nasty act of treachery. So, I think we've pretty much picked a side there.' I think according to modern historiography, it was the Basques rather than the Muslims who defeated Charlemagne's troops at Roncevaux.

Still, probably not the best name for a peacekeeping operation. Who makes up the names for them anyway? And don't the police forces also have silly names, eg. NSW Police's 'Operation Vulcan'?

And finally, Ned Ward:

Could we please issue a directive regarding the difference between the words 'substantive' and 'substantial' . I  put the current confusion down to the impoverished education of most under-50 year olds who have sadly become victims of modern educational theories. As Euclid said, 'there is no royal road to learning'.