The Army loves acronyms and jargon. Virtually any conversation with troops devolves into an unintelligible (to outsiders) babble of grunts and acronyms and awkward phrases whose common meaning cannot be discerned.
To some extent, the use of jargon is a good thing. It speeds up communications within the military community. Every profession has this characteristic.
But the Army sometimes gets a bit carried away. And the trend has gotten worse in the last couple decades.
Hollywood might poke fun at the Army’s liberal use of acronyms and abbreviations, perhaps with good reason: There are nearly 1,100 acronyms and approximately 2,000 operational terms in the Field Manual 1-02, the Army and Marine Corps’ manual of operational terms and graphics.
A team of Army terminologists is working to change that.
Carlos Soto, a terminologist with the Fort Leavenworth, Kan.-based Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate Joint Multinational Doctrine Division, said the philosophy of his group is simple: Because soldiers were taught English before joining the Army, why try to teach them a new language?
I’ll give you an example of one of my own pet peeves.
In the olden days, there was command. You gave orders, other folks carried them out. But that wasn’t enough. Soon enough, it became “command and control” which meant that after you gave your orders, you could modify them and guide your forces right in the middle of their execution. It also lead to the handy acronym “C2” which was easy enough. But then improvements in electronics lead to tossing in communications to the mix and changing it to “C3″.”
Fine, but then everything had to be computer based, leading to “C4”.
I think the current iteration is “C4ISR” for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. Which, basically, it all still boils down to the tools used to exercise command. So why don’t we just call it “Command” and leave it the heck alone?