If you had asked people last August to identify General Schwarzkopf, the Patriots and a Scud, the answers might have been: a) a character on Hogan’s Heroes, b) a football team in New England and c) a can of bug spray. The media barrage from the Persian Gulf quickly brought the names, the weapons and the updated jargon into common usage. Led by nouns disguised as verbs and backed up by battalions of acronyms, WarSpeak ’91 opened a multifront offensive of rap lingo interspersed with pop-culture references and good old-fashioned GI vulgarity. The English language was an early casualty, but is thought to be recuperating nicely.
Attrite (a-trit): The verb form of attrition, meaning to lose troops under enemy fire.
BCDs: “Birth Control Device” glasses, ugly military issue spectacles.
Big Red: The desert sun.
BMOs: Black moving objects, Saudi women in traditional head-to-toe dress.
Bolo badge: A Purple Heart, particularly one awarded for foolhardy behavior.
Bone domes: Helmets.
Bovine scatology: Gen. Schwarzkopf’s somewhat clinical rendition of B.S.
Carpet bombing: Massive bombing in a limited space, usually by B-52s. A Vietnam War term.
Chocolate chips: Desert camouflage uniforms.
Cold, cold smoked the bitch: Said by pilots when shooting down an Iraqi plane.
Collateral damage: Civilian casualties.
Deconflict: The task of keeping coalition aircraft separated in an attack so they don’t interfere with each other or shoot each other down.
Desert shield: Anything that protects from the blowing sand.
Dog him out: To criticize.
Echelons beyond reality: Command decisions.
Fog of war: The chaos and confusion of battle both in actuality and in the minds of soldiers.
Foxtrot: Substitute for that other highly popular f-word.
Frogfoot: An Iraqi attack plane.
Furballs: Pilot jargon for air-to-air dogfights.
Get your gut right: To eat.
Golden BBs: Derisive American term for Iraqi antiaircraft artillery.
Heat tab: See “Big Red.”
High speed, low drag: Paratrooperese for impressive.
Homers: Iraqi commanders; named after Bart’s bumbling dad, Homer Simpson.
Hooah!: All-purpose yell of celebration. Similar to Yee-haw!
Humvee: High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, i.e. Jeep.
KSA: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
KTO: Kuwait Theater of Operations.
Little Hollywood: Rear veranda at Dhahran International Hotel, which the four U.S. networks transformed into a stage—blue cabana domes and all—for their live shots.
Lost and found badges: Marine term for Army name tags.
MOPPed up: Mission-Oriented Protective Posture, the chemical-weapons protection suit and gas mask.
The mother of all…: Saddam Hussein’s declaration that the gulf war would be “the mother of all battles.” Now an all-purpose prefix, as in “I have the mother of all headaches.”
MRE: Meals ready to eat. No longer called C-Rations. (a.k.a. might require emergency)
Ninja women: Saudi women in black veils.
Not a problem/ I’ll make it happen: Standard replies by service people to those giving orders.
Patriot-baiters: Network TV correspondents found in Little Hollywood during Scud alerts and still photographers who run to the hotel roof in an alert. Also: Scud bait.
Prayer patrol: Saudi sound trucks that roam the streets announcing prayers five times a day.
Quick-turn burn: Five-minute process of reloading and refueling an F-15 fighter for another run.
Rumint: Rumor intelligence.
Saudi champagne: Perrier and apple juice.
Scudinavia: Name used by Israeli military analysts for area in western Iraq used to launch Scud missiles toward Israel.
Semper Gumby: Marine slang for “always flexible.” from Semper Fi.
Target-rich environment: Iraq.
Triple A: Anti-aircraft artillery. Formerly ack-ack.
Zoom bag: Flight suit.