Michael Clarke, director of the Royal United Services Institute, was on Radio 4's Today programme this morning, discussing (in a more light-hearted vein than his interviews usually are) the difference between the code names given to military operations by the Pentagon and the British military. The interview was prompted by a recent report that a US plan to attack the Iranian uranium-processing infrastructure was code-named Olympic Games, which Michael Clarke found 'odd'.
Clarke said that, broadly speaking, the British military's view is that names should give nothing away. For this reason modern British code names are generated at random by computer and are supposed to be meaningless - thus Operation Herrick is the code name for operations in Afghanistan, and Operation Granby was used for operations during the Gulf War.
The BBC's Jim Naughtie referred to some British code names during World War 2 - Operation Market Garden, and Operation Goodwood, for instance, and compared these prosaic names with the 'cheesy' names chosen by the American military - Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Provide Comfort. Clarke felt that names that mean something invariably give some information to the enemy about your mindset at the time. So, Olympic Games suggests something big, and something imminent. He also hinted that London was not keen on the implications of the name.
The Today website no longer makes all its individual interviews available to listen to, so, to listen to this, you will have to go to the entire programme on iPlayer (here), and wind on till a few seconds after 1hr.47m into the progamme.