The Biggest Military Operations: Top 10

Les Plus Grandes Opérations Militaire : Top 10 - Phil Team

The Entebbe Raid was one of the greatest military operations of 1976. The popular fascination aroused by this successful raid inspired two television films: "Victory at Entebbe" (with Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Dreyfuss, Kirk Douglas) and "Raid on Entebbe" (with Charles Bronson, Peter Finch, Jack Warden, James Woods).

We are forty four years later, so it is probably time to take stock of the large-scale military operations and missions that have marked the world by name. But also by their difficulty.

Here are ten military operations whose names are indelibly remembered.


The Allied invasion of France on D-Day was perhaps the best-kept secret in military history until the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944. The outcome of the war in Europe was essentially settled on that day- there, although fighting with Germany continued until 1945.

Overlord resembles the medieval fantasy epic or sci-fi video game. Eventual success must have seemed inevitable from the moment someone came up with the name.

2. Operation Rolling Thunder

Rolling Thunder is the North Vietnam bombing campaign of 1967-68 that American generals were sure would break the enemy's will and lead to victory in the war. It did extensive damage but, as history later revealed, the United States underestimated the Vietnamese people's commitment to unified self-rule and overestimated their commitment to communism. .

That doesn't make Rolling Thunder any less of a fantastic name. It perfectly evokes the waves of destruction caused by the bombing campaign. Additionally, it later inspired the name of a powerful B-movie about Vietnam veterans, starring William Devane, and that movie in turn inspired the name of Quentin Tarantino's film production company.

3. Operation Red Dawn

Red Dawn was Saddam Hussein's mission to capture after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. US forces eventually found him in a burrow in December and, unlike Osama bin Laden, he had not spent his last days of freedom to live in relative luxury.

What puts Red Dawn on this list is the fact that it is named after the 1984 film which is one of the greatest pro-American films ever made.

4. Operation Vittles

World War III could have started in 1948 after the Soviet Union blocked access to the western sectors of Berlin. Faced with starving citizens, President Truman allowed the airlift of vital foodstuffs for nearly a year before the Soviets relented and allowed normal access.

Most military bureaucrats would have found a boring name like "Operation Food Cart" or "Operation Dining Table". A Brit could have found "Operation Victuailles". But an American chose to call it "Operation Vittles".

5. Operation Urgent Fury

Was it totally necessary in 1983 for American forces to invade a tiny Caribbean nation (population 91,000) that was flirting with communism? Was this a falling domino that would trigger a flood of pro-Soviet regimes into the American sphere of influence? In one week, 19 Americans were killed and 116 wounded.

The name, on the other hand, was one of the best. "Operation Urgent Fury" sounds like the title of a movie where Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme are the two special ops leaders who join forces to take down the Communists once and for all.

6. Operation Desert Storm

In 1990, Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait and President George HW Bush sent US troops to the Middle East in the hope that Saddam would back down. He didn't and US forces launched a 6 week war to retake Kuwait and cripple Iraq. This war was quick and won wide support on the home front, thanks in part to the excellent 24-hour live television coverage of the fledgling CNN news channel.

A desert storm is created by wind and sand. She is sudden, ruthless and incredibly violent. Not preventing men and women from waging the war on terror, Operation Iraqi Freedom does not have the unforgettable fury of a desert storm.

7. Operation God's Wrath

Palestinian Black September and PLO terrorists attacked the athletes' village at the Munich Summer Olympics in 1972, taking the Israeli team hostage and ultimately slaughtering 11 athletes and coaches. The horrific outcome of the standoff could have been at least partly behind the risky decision to attempt the risky Entebbe operation four years later.

Over the next 16 years, Israel's Mossad intelligence agency conducted a covert operation to retaliate against the terrorists responsible for the massacre and several of their most prominent supporters. As this was a covert operation, the exact number of retaliatory killings is unclear. Steven Spielberg dramatized the operation in his underrated 2005 film "Munich."

Does the name really need an explanation? Israeli Jews worship an Old Testament God known for his wrathful and vengeful spells. The Mossad brought down the wrath on what the Israelis justified as a mission from God. Black September was unlucky.

8. Operation Barbarossa

In June 1941, German military leaders were eager to crush Stalin as they invaded the Soviet Union with Operation Barbarossa. They were going to take the western lands of the USSR and put their natural resources to work to expand the Nazi war machine. Short version: Hitler underestimated this enemy and the invasion was a huge misstep that led directly to Germany's defeat in WWII.

How did a German military operation get an Italian name? Barbarossa is the Italian abbreviation for "Red Beard". Frederick I was a King of Germany who became Holy Roman Emperor in 1155. A great military leader and charismatic ruler, Frederick died in Asia Minor while leading the Third Crusade. Which, come to think of it, foreshadows the practical end of Germany's attempt to rule Europe after its defeat at Stalingrad.

9. Operation Magic Carpet

A secret 1949-1950 airlift brought nearly 50,000 Yemeni Jews from Aden to the new state of Israel. Like most things related to the nation of Israel, the mission has generated controversy, particularly from Israeli officials who have focused on the number of Jews left behind by British and American rescuers.

Yet Operation Magic Carpet is the best possible name for an operation to bring refugees to safety across the deserts of Arabia.

10. Operation Dynamo

2017 was the year of Operation Dynamo in cinema, with 'Dunkirk' and 'The Darkest Hour' both winning multiple Oscars. Dynamo was the hastily devised plan to evacuate British troops from French beaches after the German invasion of France in May 1940. Over 338,000 troops were saved, a miracle that allowed Britain to regroup and ultimately to win the war together with his allies.

The film 'Darkest Hour' suggests that the name was given to the operation in a rush, after Churchill demanded the rescue begin and told his commanding officer that a name was needed. The officer looks up and sees a physical dynamo with a metal badge that says "Dynamo" and the movie skips to the next scene without further comment. Sometimes the best names are the ones you don't think too much about.


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