Posted by James Briggs on March 28, 2003
The following appeared in the Times of Friday 28 March. I thought it worth copying.
How to follow the granularity
when blues go kinetic
By David Charter, Central Command, Qatar
THE war started
with ?decapitation?, then switched to ?shock and awe?. Every campaign spawns its
own lexicon and the Iraq conflict will be no exception. Most buzzwords will be
common parlance only in the mess, but others will become familiar. The 1991 Gulf
War gave us Scuds, one of Iraq?s ?weapons of mass destruction?, and Saddam?s threatened
?mother of all battles?.
Now we have America?s Moab. The massive ordnance airburst bomb, a satellite-guided missile with a mushroom cloud, has been nicknamed the ?mother of all bombs?, as if to beat Saddam at his own linguistic game.
Some phrases seem designed to sanitise war ? think of daisy-cutters in Vietnam, which sounded gentle but sent shrapnel flying indiscriminately. The first Gulf War brought us ?friendly fire?, used to mask the horror of killing your own troops by mistake. In this war the military will use the phrase, but prefers to talk of ?blue-on-blues?, from planning maps showing the good guys in blue and the enemy in red.
The 1991 conflict also gave us ?collateral damage?, chilling military jargon for killing innocents, and ?human shields?, phrases destined to return despite greater use of ?precision bombing? of ?kinetic targets? (military facilities).
First news of the fighting is being reported by journalists ?embedded? with coalition forces, a phrase suggesting just how close the relationship is between ?embeds? and troops, but which may come to mean a link that is a little too cosy.
If people flee attacks, they become ?dislocated civilians? (refugees), but then they will avoid the ?fibua?, fighting in built-up areas. Only a grasp of ?granularity? (fine detail) will help the coalition to ?invest? (attack) in Saddam?s ?smez? (super missile engagement zone, an area south of Baghdad protected by layer upon layer of different guns and mortars). When coalition troops ?go kinetic? (attack) and lose their lives in the course of ?servicing? (destroying) a target, their commanding officers have the unpleasant duty of ?kinforming?: telling their relations.
Aircrew in Iraqi airspace refer to ?sausage side?, the area where they turn the ?non-friendlies? into sausages. Ground troops, on the other hand, belittle Iraqi defences as ?speed bumps?.