Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Iraq War Slang

Over at GlobalSecurity is a list of Iraq war words making it into the lexicon.

Note the use of "Haji," normally a word of great respect in the Muslim world but used by soldiers flippantly, at the least, and derogatorily, even racist, at worst.

Others will disagree, vehemently, I suppose, but I believe in cutting soldiers who are getting blown up a break when they use these terms about their enemies, whether it's Kraut for Germans, Rebs for Confederates or Hajis for Iraqis. Of course, what they mean when they say it, and whether they use it against every Muslim as a slur, affects the level of negativity.

"Iraq War" seems to be showing up more often lately, and, like everything else connected with Iraq, how to refer to what's going on there is subject to debate. Is it a "real war"? An occupation? When do we decide to capitalize "war"? We used to say it was capped only in referring to declared, official wars, but that doesn't seem to work anymore since the last few "wars" we've been in as a nation haven't been declared by Congress. But to the soldier or sailor or airman or Marine getting blown up or shot to pieces, it sure is a war.

(h/t Josh Marshall for finding the list.)

Here are a few of the words:

* angel : a soldier killed in combat, used among some US medical personnel.

* battle rattle : Full battle rattle is close to 50 pounds worth of gear, including a flak vest, Kevlar helmet, gas mask, ammunition, weapons, and other basic military equipment. One component is the soft vest that covers the torso the shoulders and the back. It's made of soft material, a mixture of Kevlar and Twaron. These are sown together in sort of a sandwich fashion inside a nylon camouflage-pattern shell. The nylon vest has attaching points for load-bearing equipment. The second component of the system is ceramic plates that fit in pockets in the front and back of the vest.

* Bombaconda : nickname for LSA Anaconda, , a major base near Balad, reflecting the frequent mortar attacks.

* CHU : Containerized Housing Unit (pronounced “choo”) - Aluminum boxes slightly larger [22’x8’] than a commercial shipping container, with linoleum floors and cots or beds inside. This insulated CONEX shipping container has a door, window, top vent, power cabling, and an air conditioner. One version houses four people, while another is split into two, two-person rooms. The version with a shower and toilet shared between two rooms is called a "wet chu", which provides less crowded latrine and shower conditions than tents. The CHU gives soldiers a lot more living space than tents.

* Death Blossom : The tendency of Iraqi security forces, in response to receiving a little fire from the enemy, to either run away or do the "death blossom" spraying fire indisciminately in all directions. The term originated in the 1984 movie "The Last Starfighter" as a maneuver in which a single starfighter can single handedly wipe out an entire armada.

* fobbit : service member who never goes outside the wire off the forward operating base.

* frankenstein : A Marine Corps monster truck, bulging and rippling with spot-welded seams of add on armor. "We scrounge around for what we need and 'Frankenstein' it together."

* haji : Arabic word for someone who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca; 2: used by the American military for an Iraqi, anyone of arab decent, or even of a brownish skin tone, be they afghanis, or even bangladeshis; 3: the word many soldiers use derogatorily for the enemy.

* haji armor : improvised armor, installed by troops hiring Iraqis to update the vehicles by welding any available metal to the sides of Humvees

* hillbilly armor : Improvised vehicle armor, salvafed from digging through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal to bolster armor on their vehicles. Typically a half-inch of scrap steel hastily cut in the shape of the door and welded or riveted on.

* Jingle trucks : [Afghanistan] (transport trucks with a narrow wheel base that are usually adorned with colorful stickers and chimes), the military contracted for host nation delivery trucks, known as “jingle trucks” because of the decorative metal tassels hanging from the bottom of the truck frames that jingled when the trucks moved.

* Mortaritaville : nickname for LSA Anaconda, a major base near Balad, reflecting the frequent mortar attacks.

* Muj (pronnounced: Mooj), short for Mujahadeen. Formally a person who wages jihad, informally used for the Irai Insurgents starting in 2005.

* POG : People Other than Grunts [pronounced "pogue"] rear-echelon support troops. Arose in 2005 as a synonym for Fobbit, it seems.

* shake and bake : first used during the Vietnam War, and revived in Iraq, to refer to attacks using a combination of conventional bombs, cluster bombs (CBU), and napalm. In the battle of Fallujah in 2004 it was used in reference to a combination barrage of White Phosphorus and explosive artillery shells.

While we're at it, can we stop calling bombs IEDs and call them, oh, I don't know, BOMBS?

No comments:

Lijit Ad Tag