From the Soldier side: One of the things I learned early in the Army was we are able to speak in a language that most “normal” folks can’t understand. We don’t learn this language from brilliant training at the Language Institute at Monterey, California…we learn it on the job. This is the language of Acronym with a little Slang thrown in. Even if you have a very high score in this language, the Army is not going to pay you extra money. The funny thing I found is, each little part of the Army tends to make up their own language around Acronyms. In some cases, they assign an “ANCO” – Acronym NCO ---oh yeah, NCO is an friggen Acronym for Non Commissioned Officer, which is a fancy way of saying Sergeant. If you could say something in two words, you don't...you have to use 4 or 5 to sound better. This is how we "re-double" our efforts.
When I was stationed in the Old Berlin Brigade as a young solders many, many years ago…some of my buddies and I were sitting around drinking a few beers and talking into a tape cassette recorder. I never played the tape back when I was sober, I just mailed it home. My family told me years later that they had no idea what we were talking about because of the acronyms and the slang we used. I’m pretty sure if I found that tape today, I wouldn’t be able to figure out what we had talked about. (for info on the Berlin Brigade, click on http://www.usarmygermany.com/Units/Berlin%20Brigade/USAREUR_Berlin%20Brigade.htm )
Several years ago, before 9-11, I was in a Combat Engineer company in the National Guard. We spent our “summer camp” at wonderful Fort Irwin in the Mojave desert. We were supposed to be training with a Regular Army unit there, but it seems that they wanted nothing to do with us and our old worn out APCs (Acronym for Armored Personal Carrier…we just called them “Tracks.”) So, for the first part of the two weeks, we wondered around in the desert doing our own training.
The Major talked fast and with purpose. He could have been giving a football team the play of the game. The problem was, he was using a bunch of Acronyms and terms I had never heard before. My LT was standing next to me during the briefing. When it was over I looked at the LT and asked: “LT, do you have any idea what the hell he just said?” (oh yeah, LT is an Acronym for Lieutenant, for a list of all Officer ranks, go to http://www.defenselink.mil/specials/insignias/officers.html#O1
So, anyway, since the LT had NB (No Balls) when the Major got done with his briefing, he asked if there were any questions. I said: “Sorry sir, but we’re just National Guard, could you explain that in English?” Do you want our tracks to flank your trucks the provide an over-watch?”
The Major had talked for 20 minutes. I explained what he wanted in 30 seconds. He looked at me and said:”Yes Sergeant, that’s exactly what I need you engineers to do.”
See, if he had used PE (plain English) I’m sure everyone else would have understood him because all the RA soldiers were standing around after I asked the question…then they looked at me and said: “thanks, we never know what he’s talking about.”
Then the Acronym stories from Iraq are even better….
To be Cont.