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Entries from The New Combat Contradictionary

PUBLISHED: March 20, 2008

An Exercise in Interpretive Lexicography Relating to the Recent Hostilities

An Army of One: soldiers who dump their girlfriends/boyfriends right before an overseas deployment ostensibly to spare them the pain of long-term separation. Also The Cult of Aloneness.

Black Swan-ism: idea that the war in Iraq is essentially an unknowable event, divorced from the law of cause and effect, its participants merely awaiting the next unforeseeable catastrophe such as the bombing of the Golden Mosque in 2006 which set off a wave of sectarian violence.

Calendar Karma: secret mental calculus used to plan operations based upon a unit’s stateside rotation date, the idea being that the last days of a given deployment are always the most dangerous, i.e. all combat tours end early.

CNN Solipsism: tendency of newly-arrived, Ivy League-educated reporters from major outlets to view the war in exclusively news-cycle terms. This person has no idea of why someone would enlist in the military and has never before visited the Middle East. Such individuals think nothing of chatting up privates about the political fallout from the lack of up-armored Humvees in theater.

Combat Corporate: personal style pioneered by L. Paul Bremer, now favored by civilian Green Zone denizens who wish to appear to be in touch with the troops. Look includes power tie, pressed button-down shirt, chinos, and standard-issue desert combat boots. In a further attempt to manifest solidarity with the troops, combat corporateers will go so far as to sunbathe in order to foster a field-savvy appearance. Adherents are sometimes referred to as Fashion-Forward Fobbits.

Combat Slumming: act of visiting active combat zones by non-combat personnel in order to experience the war first hand and/or to “see how the boys are living.” Common to the combat corporateer demographic. Combat slummers can be seen reading the latest issue of Foreign Policy at the dining hall. Also Salt-of-the Earth-ism or Outside the Wire-ism.

Coppola Crypticism: practice of peppering daily life in Iraq with obscure references from Apocalypse Now.

Deployment Snobbery: condition common to soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division, who have been deployed overseas longer than any other unit in the army. Symptoms include insensitivity to the plight of others who haven’t been in Iraq or Afghanistan as long as your unit. Related to (but not as pernicious as) KIA Snobbery.

Greatest Generation Envy: tendency to compare a unit’s operational accomplishment to events in World War II, e.g. “Well, Husaybah wasn’t Iwo Jima, but my boys did one hell of a job with this godforsaken town.”

Guilt Gifting: ubiquitous care packages sent to the troops from stateside “We Support the Troops” groups in an effort to assuage their own sense of guilt about the war. A form of Freudian sublimation. Also Care Package Patriotism. Related to (but not as pernicious as) Car Magnet Patriotism.

IED Irony: tendency to make flippant ironic comments about being attacked in the secret belief that such comments can make one safer, e.g. “God, wouldn’t it be sweet if we got IEDed today? Then the deployment would be over!”

Jargon-Jamming: tendency among military officers to obscure actual events behind arcane military terminology, usually in an attempt to make a given event seem more significant, e.g. “We conducted a cordon-and-knock and PUC’d seven LNs, one of which turned out to be our number-one HVT” (“We caught a big suspect last night”).

KIA Astrology: looking over casualty reports for similarities between yourself and the recently killed-in-action, e.g. “Wow, some guy in the 101st with my birthday just bought it.”

Media Valor: tendency to launch needless and dangerous operations in order to put on a good show for an embedded reporter, the idea being that even if casualties are taken, the memories of the fallen will live on in the media, exemplified by belief “It’s better to be famous than alive.”

Operational Electioneering: practice of halting or slowing military operations to coincide with upcoming stateside elections in the hope that the resultant drop in casualties will have a desirable political impact at home, e.g. Operation Phantom Fury, the second assault on the city of Fallujah, an operation that had been planned months prior but was launched a mere five days after the 2004 presidential election which resulted in the re-election of George W. Bush. Also Casualty Manipulation.

Operational Nostalgia: homesickness for the 2003 invasion, e.g. “Fuck all this nation-building crap. The world was so much simpler back in ‘03”

Q’uran-o-centrism: obsessive reading of the Q’uran by combat troops in the futile hope that it will help explain the larger situation in Iraq, e.g. “After my first firefight I emailed my Mom and told her to send me a copy of the Yusuf Ali translation. I just want to understand how these people think.”

Retro-destruction-ism: the idea that technology and the internet have rendered history irrelevant and that the best way to understand modern warfare is simply to read the news.

Santayana-ism: the idea that technology is irrelevant and that history is merely repeating itself. Adherents of Santayana-ism inevitably predict an impending Tet Offensive in Iraq.

Secondhand Cinema: the tendency to remember one’s combat experiences as outtakes from popular war movies, e.g. “Remember the Black Hawk Down day we had in Doura last month when Aiello bought it?” Also Movie Memorializing.

Stateside Breakdown: period of mental collapse upon return from Iraq/Afghanistan; frequently caused by an inability to function outside of a structured military environment and a realization of the one’s inability to communicate the war experience to others. Often marks the beginning of the Tactical Wanderlust phase.

Tactical Wanderlust: condition common to soldiers with ailing personal lives. Unable to comprehend the rhythms of stateside life, they continually volunteer for overseas assignments in order to avoid having a normal, stable lifestyle.

Thousand Death Syndrome: process by which a combat veteran loses the war against his/her imagination, from Shakespeare (who never saw combat), “A coward dies a thousand deaths. The valiant die but once.” 

Vic Morrow Vintage-ism: the tendency among certain soldiers to equip themselves with outdated equipment because of its perceived coolness, e.g. the Sergeant Major in Ramadi who carried a Vietnam-vintage M-14 complete with a wooden stock.

Violent Voyeurism: the attitude that no event is significant, including combat, unless it can be made into a video and distributed over the internet.


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