special operators

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue May 3 13:22:12 UTC 2011

I believe I first noticed "special operators" used in the early days of the
Afghanistan invasion
, but certainly no later than the invasion of Iraq.

It sounded strange to me too. However, the rationale may be that "special
forces" (the older term) suggests Army Special Forces ("Green Berets")
exclusively. The new term is also vague enough to add extra secrecy and
mystery to the proceedings: maybe Delta Force or the CIA was involved, or
some organization nobody's ever heard of before and never will.

"Special operations," of course, has been around for a long time.

I'm sure there's some tendentious objection to the word "commandos," which
was good enough for the Greatest Generation; that's why I just used it on
another thread.


On Tue, May 3, 2011 at 9:05 AM, victor steinbok <aardvark66 at gmail.com>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       victor steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      special operators
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Well, this is interesting.
> http://goo.gl/x33PN
> > Officials described the reaction of the special operators when they were
> > told a number of weeks ago that they had been chosen to train for the
> > mission.
> I never heard of troops in special operations referred to as "special
> operators". It makes some sense, but introduces all sorts of subjective
> nuances. Maybe it's my sheltered existence limiting exposure again... Just
> running a search on "military special-operators" gets a lot of hits--some
> are recent and many are spurious, but plenty of relevant info as well.
> Russians use the same term for both the troops and the units--SpetzNaz,
> short for "special designation" or "special purpose". Avoids the whole
> issue
> ;-)
> "Special operations" not in OED either for actual ops or for the units that
> run them. Of course, nothing on "special operators" either. "Black
> op[erations]" is not in OED either.
> VS-)
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