Operation New Dawn? Where have we heard that name before?

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Lance Cpl. Joshua J. Melendez, of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, provides security during a June 20 patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, as part of Operation New Dawn. (Photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga/Marine Corps)

On Wednesday, the name of the U.S. military’s mission in Iraq will change, with the venerable “Operation Iraqi Freedom” moniker turned in for a new one, “Operation New Dawn.”

The transition was announced in February, and takes effect as U.S. officials seek to highlight the improvements in Iraq. President Barack Obama is expected to address the nation tonight at 8 p.m., and will no doubt reference the new name as he seeks to reassure Americans that the U.S. has turned a page in the war in Iraq.

As Operation New Dawn comes to the forefront, however, there’s a catch: Another Operation New Dawn began unfolding June 15 in southern Afghanistan. It involves Marines, who have sought out the Taliban in regions between violent Marjah district and Nawa, a district of about 89,000 people to Marjah’s east.

In news releases, the Marine Corps has said that 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, had an active role in the operation. A Marine official previously told Marine Corps Times that New Dawn also would involve forces from 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., who would attack “areas that insurgents use in transit to and from Marjah.”

I’m seeking additional details on how Operation New Dawn in Afghanistan has progressed, but in the meantime, it’s worth pointing out that the Marines chose New Dawn as a name for a significant operation despite already knowing that the mission in Iraq would take on the same name tomorrow.

If the operation in Afghanistan is still ongoing, perhaps they’ll consider giving it a new, tougher name like “Cobra’s Anger.” That is, after all, a military classic.

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About Author

I’m a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.

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