PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colorado Springs, Colo. -- The word "warrior" is
out, and "phantom" is in. The term "brave" has been replaced by "dart," and
"Indian" has been changed to "sabre."
As in "sabre rattling," another term for military exercises.
The U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command
recently changed the names of some of their key military exercises to drop
words that American Indians may find insulting or degrading.
NORAD, whose mission is to thwart terrorist air attacks over North America,
unintentionally jumped into the "political correctness" fray just as the
national battle heated up over Indian nicknames and "mascots" as sports
The military name changes were revealed in a July internal memo from
command headquarters to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the Joint Chiefs
and other senior personnel. The memo was leaked to The Washington Times,
which broke the story Aug. 11.
The timing was coincidental, said NORAD spokesman Master Sgt. John Tomassi.
"This has been in the plans for over a year and, unfortunately -- or
fortunately -- it just happened to come out at the same time the NCAA was
having their debate about this whole thing. It was not meant to be any big
story, it was just, 'OK, we're changing the names,' but somehow the memo
got out and here we are in the midst of a controversy," Tomassi said,
adding that it was not a bad place to be.
The names have been used since the 1970s' Cold War days.
"They follow a Native American theme, and we looked at them and then we
looked into the regulations and found we shouldn't be using those names,
because the regs say we shouldn't be using any names that could be
construed to be disparaging. It probably wasn't taken into consideration
back then," Tomassi said.
There were essentially four words that needed to be exorcised -- "warrior,"
"chief," "brave" and "Indian."
"Warrior" was problematic.
"Warrior could be construed as anything. We actually call ourselves
'warrior' in the military," Tomassi said.
The decision was made to adopt a new theme -- the names of retired military
So "Amalgam Warrior" became "Amalgam Phantom," named after a type of war
plane that flew missions in the 1970s and 1980s. "Amalgam Chief" has been
changed to "Amalgam Arrow," the name of a Canadian-made war plane; and
"Amalgam Fabric Brave" and "Fabric Indian" have become, respectively,
"Amalgam Fabric Dart" and Fabric Sabre," the names of retired U.S. military
NORAD is a U.S.-Canadian military project under the command of U.S. Admiral
Timothy J. Keating, who also commands U.S. Northern Command. NORAD has
existed for 47 years; the Northern Command was created in 2002 in response
to the Sept. 11 attacks.
The air defense strategies have changed from a Cold War defense system
primarily aimed at deflecting attacks coming over the North Pole from the
USSR, to round-the-clock protection against both potential domestic and
external threats, Tomassi said.
The new names won't be adopted until Oct. 1, the beginning of NORAD's