U.S. Color-Coded War Plans
The use of colors for U.S. war planning originated from the desire [requirement] for the Army and Navy to use the same symbols for their plans. At the end of 1904, the Joint Board adopted a system of colors, symbols, and abbreviated names to represent countries. Many war plans became known by the color of the country to which they were related, a convention that lasted through World War II. As the convention of using colors took root, some were eventually reused, such as Grey, which originally referred to Italy. In all the plans the U.S. referred to itself as "Blue".

According to the public intelligence site, Global Security, the following plans are known to have existed:

War Plan Black
A plan for war with Germany. The best-known version of Black was conceived as a contingency plan during World War I in case France fell and the Germans attempted to seize French possessions in the Caribbean Sea or launch an attack on the eastern seaboard.
War Plan Gray
There were apparently several War Plans named Gray. One dealt with Italy, another with Central America and the Caribbean, and yet another dealt with invading the Portuguese Azores.
War Plan Brown
Dealt with an uprising in the Philippines.
War Plan Tan
Intervention in Cuba.
War Plan Red
Plan for Great Britain (with sub variants Crimson, Scarlet, Ruby, Garnet, and Emerald for British dominions; British Empire (not part of plan) Pink.
War Plan Orange
Plan for Japan.
War Plan Red-Orange
Considered a two-front war with the United States (Blue) opposing Japan (Orange) and the British Empire (Red) simultaneously. Ultimately this analysis led to the understanding that the United States did not have the resources to fight a two front war, and it would make sense to focus on one front, probably in the Atlantic. This was the decision made in the Plan Dog memo.
War Plan Yellow
Dealt with war in China - specifically, the defense of Beijing and relief of Shanghai during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
War Plan Gold
Involved war with France, and/or France's Caribbean colonies.
War Plan Green
Involved war with Mexico or what was imperially labeled a "Mexican Domestic Intervention" in order to defeat rebel forces in a civil war to establish a pro-American government. Developed in 1912, War Plan Green was not officially canceled until 1946. Putting it into effect would have violated the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
War Plan Indigo
Involved an occupation of Iceland. In 1941, while Denmark was under German occupation, the US actually did occupy Iceland, relieving British units during the Battle of the Atlantic.
War Plan Purple
Dealt with invading a South American republic. Specifically or generally?
War Plan Violet
Covered Latin America. The whole area?
War Plan White
Dealt with a domestic uprising in the US, and later evolved to Operation Garden Plot, the general US military plan for civil disturbances and peaceful protests. Parts of War Plan White were used to deal with the Bonus Expeditionary Force in 1932 (the Bonus March on Washington D.C.). Communist insurgents were considered the most likely threat by the authors of War Plan White. See also the raids and arrests which occurred in November 1919 and January 1920 under the leadership of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer during the Red Scare.
War Plan Blue
Covered defensive plans and preparations that the United States should take in times of peace.

Often, junior military officers were given the task of updating each plan to keep them trained and busy (especially in the case of War Plan Crimson, the invasion of Canada). Hey, Canada was close by and therefore would not involve expensive travel and research - plus there was no language "barrier" to embarrass the officers for not having a command of any foreign language. Who would ever care if the damn thing would work anyway. It was just another fantasy, busy-work project like polishing brass and leather for the enlisted.
Interesting read, do you have the original source available still?

On a similar subject, I was wondering if you (or any other forum members) are aware of the fantastic podcast "Hardcore History" by Dan Carlin.

The current multi-episode show (aptly dubbed "Blueprint for Armageddon") deals with WW1 in particular, highly recommended for any history buff: http://www.dancarlin.com/disp.php/hh
(14-03-2014, 08:14 PM)Timo Wrote: Interesting read, do you have the original source available still?

I am embarrassed! I am lazy; I should have credited Wikipedia even though I added some stuff. I think you will find plenty of source links there.

The Germans (and probably other nations) also used color codes for war plans, but not exclusively. From Wikipedia:
Fall Weiss ("Case White", "Plan White"; German spelling Fall Weiß) was the Nazi strategic plan for the invasion of Poland. The German military High Command finalized its operational orders on 15 June 1939 and the invasion commenced on 1 September. The origins of the plan went back to 1928 when Werner von Fritsch started working on it. Fall Weiss was developed primarily by Günther Blumentritt and Erich von Manstein while the two were serving as staff officers under General Gerd von Rundstedt with Army Group South in Silesia.
Alongside Fall Weiss ("Case White"), German strategists prepared other variants of the plan:
  • Fall Rot ("Case Red") (1935) – the German defense plan in case of an incursion by France following a German invasion of Czechoslovakia.
  • Fall Grün ("Case Green") (1938) – the German plan to invade Czechoslovakia.
  • Fall Gelb ("Case Yellow") (1940) – the German offensive against western Europe.
  • Fall Grün – ("Case Green") (1940) - the German plan to invade Ireland.
  • Fall Blau ("Case Blue") (1942) – the 1942 German strategic summer offensive in southern Russia.
  • Fall Weiss ("Case White") (1943) – a combined Axis operation against the Yugoslav Partisans throughout occupied Yugoslavia.
Those make popular titles among war gamers.

Sadly I am still on a dial-up so podcasts and streaming are not for me. Broad-Band is available out here on the edge of civilization, but the cost is prohibitive unless you are in business or are quite wealthy.

Wikipedia has an interesting list of military operations by code names:

Cold War Era -- Central America and the Caribbean
  • Fortune (1950s) — 1951 CIA plan for a coup in Guatemala. Executed as Success.
  • Success (1954) — 1954 CIA coup in Guatemala.
  • Northwoods (1960s) — plan to incite war between the United States and Cuba.
  • Peter Pan (1960s) — transfer of Cubans to the US
  • Operation Pluto (1961) — plan to invade Cuba and overthrow its government using an CIA-trained force of Cuban exiles.
  • Mongoose (1962) — plan for information gathering, sabotage, civil insurrection and overthrow of the Cuban government.
  • Phibriglex (1962) — US plan and mock invasion by its armed forces of a Caribbean island. The exercise took place on Vieques and the purpose of the mock invasion was to overthrow a fictitious leader called "Ortsac", whose name was, in fact, Castro spelled backwards. It occurred in August, shortly before the Cuban Missile Crisis. It is also known by the names Operation Ortsac, Operation Swift Strike II and Exercise Phibriglex-62.
  • Anadyr — Cuban-Soviet plan to base nuclear weapons in Cuba; the cause of the Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Kama — Soviet plan to forward-base seven Soviet ballistic missile submarines in Mariel, Cuba (part of Anadyr)
  • Power Pack (1965) — US deployment with OEA military support in the Dominican Republic
  • Waverider (1972) —
    • Acid Gambit — Rescue of Kurt Muse.
    • Bushmaster — Security operations near US facilities.
    • Sand Flea — rehearsal for Just Cause.
  • Cubana Flight 455 (1976) — a Cuban civilian flight from Barbados to Jamaica that was brought down by a terrorist attack did by CIA anti-Castro Cuban exiles and members of the Venezuelan secret police.
  • Urgent Fury (1983) — US invasion of Grenada
  • Contras covert operation (1980s) — The illegal arrangements of Ronald Reagan's administration to keep the financial, military, logistic and supply support for the Contras going.
  • Golden Pheasant (1988) — US deployment in Honduras
  • Just Cause (1989) — US invasion of Panama

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