ABC News has learned that the Obama administration has decided to give the war in Iraq — currently known as Operation Iraqi Freedom — a new name.
The new name: "Operation New Dawn."
In a February 17, 2010, memo to the Commander of Central Command, Gen. David Petraeus, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the "requested operation name change is approved to take effect 1 September 2010, coinciding with the change of mission for U.S. forces in Iraq."
You can read the memo — a copy of which was sent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen – HERE.
Gates writes that by changing the name at the same time as the change of mission — the scheduled withdrawal of U.S. combat troops — the US is sending "a strong signal that Operation IRAQI FREEDOM has ended and our forces are operating under a new mission."
The move, Gates writes, "also presents opportunities to synchronize strategic communication initiatives, reinforce our commitment to honor the Security Agreement, and recognize our evolving relationship with the Government of Iraq."
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell had no comment on the memo, saying it speaks for itself.
The move has met with some criticism. In a statement, Brian Wise, executive director of Military Families United said, “You cannot end a war simply by changing its name. Despite the Administration’s efforts to spin realities on the ground, their efforts do not change the situation at hand in Iraq. Operational military decisions should not be made for purposes of public relations, as the Secretary of Defense cites, but should be made in the best interests of our nation, the troops on the ground and their families back home.”
If Gates was hoping that "Operation New Dawn" would convey a new period in the US-Iraq relationship, it's not clear that was the best choice of name.
After all, Operation New Dawn was the name for the bloody and grueling 2004 battle for Fallujah.
Originally, US forces had called the fight for that city "Phantom Fury," but Iraqi leaders suggested it be called al Fajr, or New Dawn.
"It is with all pleasure that I announce to you that Operation New Dawn has been concluded," the Iraqi minister of state for national security, Qasim Dawood, said at a news conference in Baghdad in November 2004.
*This post has been updated.