Slang In The Service

Ben Brody presents “the definitive glossary of modern US military slang,” noting that well-known terms like “chopper” and “GI” are out of date. Brody writes that “soldiers fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have developed an expansive new military vocabulary, taking elements from popular culture as well as the doublespeak of the military industrial complex.” Some examples:

Bird: Helicopter. “Chopper” is rarely used, except in movies, where it is always used. A chopper is a kind of motorcycle, not an aircraft.

FAN: Feet, Ass and Nuts. Used to describe a smell common to military tents and barracks.

Groundhog Day: From the Bill Murray movie, the phrase is used to describe deployments where every day proceeds the same way, no matter how the individual tries to change it.

Gun: A mortar tube or artillery piece. Never used to refer to a rifle or pistol. Military-issued pistols are usually called 9-mils.

Kinetic: Violent. Example: The Pech Valley is one of the most kinetic areas in Afghanistan.

Meat Eater: Usually refers to Special Forces soldiers whose mission focuses on violence, as opposed to those whose mission focuses on stability and training.

Moon Dust: The powdery, flour-like dust that covers everything in southern Afghanistan and much of Iraq.

Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone: A military doctrine or political process that appears to exist in order to justify its own existence, often producing irrelevant indicators of its own success. For example, continually releasing figures on the amount of Taliban weapons seized, as if there were a finite supply of such weapons. While seizing the weapons, soldiers raid Afghan villages, enraging the residents and legitimizing the Taliban’s cause.