As we were first to tell you last week, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wrote a memo to Central Command commander Gen. David Petraeus telling him that as of September the mission in Iraq will no longer be called "Operation Iraqi Freedom," but rather "Operation New Dawn."
Gates wrote in a memo exclusively obtained by ABC News 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 "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."
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.”
And some criticism is now coming from the Left as well.
On her website, Arianna Huffington writes this "New Dawn will, incidentally, still see 50,000 U.S. troops left in Iraq…'Operation New Dawn' sounds like 'A New Way of Forgetting This Ever Happened.' It's time to brand the war what it always was — 'A Huge, Tragic Mistake' — and get the hell out."
And on her blog, Cindy Sheehan writes that she "found out that the 'operation' that killed my son is over. 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' got its name after the 'great' Powers That Be figured out that 'Operation Iraqi Liberation' stood for 'OIL.' Now, Obama’s SecDef, Robert Gates, has changed that benign name to an even more New-Agey, Sweeter-than-Honey name: 'Operation New Dawn.' Doesn’t that sound nice? Who doesn’t like New Dawns? Except perhaps the people of Falluja who were brutalized in a Marine siege back in 2004 that was inappropriately entitled, Operation New Dawn."
Continues Sheehan: "It doesn’t matter what the U.S. decides to call its 'Operations:' part of us will reject the propaganda, and part of us will embrace it wanting very desperately to believe that our country is not a rogue state and/or that Obama is not as bad, or worse, than Bush. Innocent people still die and our soldiers are still victims, whether they come home dead or alive, whatever the war criminals in DC decide to label their crimes as."