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‘Desert Fox’ Was WWII Nickname

December 17, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Joint Chiefs of Staff named the Iraq operation ``Desert Fox″ to reflect the surprise nature of this week’s airstrikes.

It was a surprise, too, to people who remember the moniker as the nickname of Erwin Rommel, one of Nazi Germany’s most popular military leaders.

Just a coincidence, the Pentagon says.

During World War II, Rommel led troops in France and Italy. But the military tactician won his fame and his nickname commanding the Afrika Korps. He arrived in northern Africa in 1941 to help Italian troops fight the British.

Ever cunning, Rommel attached airplane propellers on trucks and ordered them to rumble about to create dust and simulate an assault in one area while he attacked another. Battling searing temperatures, insects and sand storms, he repeatedly outmaneuvered his opponents, but eventually was overcome by British forces at El Alamein in Egypt.

Rommel lost his command when he told Adolf Hitler that it was useless to continue the war. In July 1944, he was implicated in a plot to kill Hitler. Hitler gave him the choice of ingesting a fatal dose of poison, or being tried for his alleged involvement. Rommel chose the poison.

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