Article on British army slang in Iraq War

Dale Coye Dalecoye at AOL.COM
Mon Apr 7 02:30:25 UTC 2003

>From the Glasgow Herald (the Scotsman and the Herald have excellent war
coverage by the way)

Army trained in linguistic manoeuvres

When 'slotting' gets up close and personal  IAN BRUCE with the Black Watch
near Basra LIVING with the British Army can be a major linguistic
challenge.Soldiers of all ranks talk in baffling acronyms. There are
abbreviations for almost every facet of life, and in-house terms for anything
not covered by Queen's Regulations."Just bimble down to the CP for a sitrep
from the 2IC." In English, that translates as take a stroll down to the
command post where the battalion's second in command will bring you up to
date on what's happening.Rifles are gatts. Tank crews are trackies. Tankers
call infantry crunchies, based on the sound they make when run over by 53
tons of armour. Fighter-bombers are fast-movers.Yet one strand of euphemism
among the abbreviations and cynicism remains oddly consistent. In a
frequently brutal world, no-one ever mentions the word "Kill". The vogue term
for termination by gunfire, bayonet or grenade is "slotting". Snipers "ping"
their targets, an expression with roots dating back to the trench warfare of
the first world war. Enemies can be "wasted", "totalled" or "blown away", but
never killed.Removing the name seems to make it easier to carry out the
ultimate act of life taking. A sniper interviewed last week said he never
thought of his victims as people, merely targets. It was his way of coping
with the trauma of extinguishing another human's existence. Army training for
the boys who have to go forward into harm's way is all about channelling
aggression to achieve a result. But squeezing the trigger or thrusting a
bayonet into an enemy's body remains an unnatural act for most.US studies of
the performance of their comrade units in the second world war and in Korea
showed that 15% of infantry "grunts" never fired their weapons at all in
action. Another 20% deliberately aimed wide or high when confronted by an
opponent whose face they could see.Despite quantum leaps in the technology of
military hardware, the role of the frontline infantrymen has changed little
in a millennium. His war is up close and personal Most fire-fights, once the
artillery mortars, missiles and satellite guided bombs have done their work,
still take place at less than 100yds range.The young soldiers who last week
attacked the outer defences of Basra were shooting Iraqi militiamen at 30
yards or less, as rooftops, windows and street corners became frontline
positions.Sergeant Duggie Dunbar, of Aberdeen, a Warrior vehicle commander,
said: "Training under proximity of danger takes over once the rounds begin to
fly. You concentrate on survival. Even the youngest of our lads responded
instinctively. At that point, it's them or you."My backside was flapping like
a rabbit's ears when I saw the first rocket propelled grenade rip past my
turret. You just have to settle down and get on with the job. You can work
out the moral rights or wrongs some other time."The high velocity rounds for
the army's SA80 rifles are described as "5.5mm sleeping tablets". They are
designed to provide the most permanent rest of all.When the "slotting" ends,
the soldiers relax with "scran" or "scoff" - both terms for ration food - and
then crawl gratefully into their "gonk bags", the bivouac sacks which allow
them to sleep in the field.Anyway, now its time for another sitrep and then,
hopefully a "womble" - a journey to the basic army commissary to pick up soft
drinks, soap and toothpaste.No dramas, as they say.

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