WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military's code name for a crackdown on resistance in Iraq was also used by the Nazis for an aborted operation to damage the Soviet power grid during World War II.
"Operation Iron Hammer" this week launched the 1st Armored Division's 3rd Brigade into the roughest parts of Baghdad to ferret out the attackers who have killed scores of U.S. troops since Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was ousted in April.
A Pentagon official said the name was chosen because of the "Old Ironsides" nickname of the 1st Armored Division. He was unaware of any connection to any Nazi operation.
"Eisenhammer," the German for "iron hammer," was a Luftwaffe code name for a plan to destroy Soviet generating plants in the Moscow and Gorky areas in 1943, according to Universal Lexikon on the www.infobitte.de Web site.
A researcher at Britain's Imperial War Museum confirmed the existence of Eisenhammer.
The Nazi's long-range bombing operation was repeatedly postponed and was finally scrapped after an allied air assault destroyed many of the German planes on the ground in 1945, shortly before the defeat of Germany.
After it declared war on terrorism, U.S. officials changed the code name for its impending attack on Afghanistan to Operation Enduring Freedom. The original name, Operation Infinite Justice, was jettisoned amid fears that the Muslim world, already leery of U.S. intentions, would object on the basis of Koranic teachings that only God can provide infinite justice.