[Paleopsych] NYT: Word for Word: Give a Blood Chit to the Confusion Agent
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The New York Times > Week in Review > Word for Word: Give a Blood Chit
to the Confusion Agent
January 30, 2005
WORD FOR WORD
Give a Blood Chit to the Confusion Agent
By PETER EDIDIN
TO civilians, the language of war is poetry, or at least poetic: "We
few, we happy few, we band of brothers," or "Half a league, half a
league/ Half a league onward." Even "War is hell," Gen. William
Tecumseh Sherman's terse repudiation of the whole thing, has its own
But to the military professional, war is associated less with the
martial cadences of Tennyson than with bland bureaucratese. This makes
intuitive sense. A nation's military establishment requires an
emotionally neutral, descriptively precise vocabulary to track and
control its endlessly branching organizational tree, and to
occasionally fight a war - an extraordinarily complex undertaking.
The United States may have the greatest need for a military operating
language, because it has by far the largest military to operate. Such
a language exists, and much of it, the unclassified part, is collected
in the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated
Terms, a 742-page and growing work, most recently amended in November.
Since 1989, its use has been mandatory for the armed forces and the
The dictionary (online at:
ortlet.jsp?group=dod is striking for the resourcefulness of the
compilers - who must describe a wide array of arcane objects,
activities and institutions - for their lack of affect and for the
surreal humor that is the occasional product of unswerving literalism.
In a book whose ultimate subject is weapons and war, there is hardly a
whiff of smoke or powder. Excerpts follow.
absolute dud A nuclear weapon which, when launched at or emplaced on a
target, fails to explode.
antemortem identification media Records, samples and photographs taken
prior to death. These include (but are not limited to) fingerprints,
dental X-rays, body tissue samples, photographs of tattoos or other
identifying marks. These "predeath" records would be compared against
records completed after death to help establish a positive
identification of remains.
back tell The transfer of information from a higher to a lower echelon
of command. See also track telling. (See also: cross tell; forward
tell; lateral tell; overlap tell; and relateral tell.)
blood chit A small sheet of material depicting an American flag and a
statement in several languages to the effect that anyone assisting the
bearer to safety will be rewarded.
catalytic attack An attack designed to bring about a war between major
powers through the disguised machinations of a third power.
cloud amount The proportion of sky obscured by cloud, expressed as a
fraction of sky covered.
confusion agent An individual who is dispatched by the sponsor for the
primary purpose of confounding the intelligence or counterintelligence
apparatus of another country rather than for the purpose of collecting
and transmitting information.
consequence management Those measures taken to protect public health
and safety, restore essential government services and provide
emergency relief to governments, businesses and individuals affected
by the consequences of a chemical, biological, nuclear and/or
high-yield explosive situation.
culture A feature of the terrain that has been constructed by man.
Included are such items as roads, buildings and canals; boundary
D & D Denial and deception.
destroyed A condition of a target so damaged that it can neither
function as intended nor be restored to a usable condition.
disaffected person A person who is alienated or estranged from those
in authority or lacks loyalty to the government; a state of mind.
E total probable error
expellee A civilian outside the boundaries of the country of his or
her nationality or ethnic origin who is being forcibly repatriated to
that country or to a third country for political or other purposes.
See also displaced person; evacuee; refugee.
fires The effects of lethal or nonlethal weapons.
first light The beginning of morning nautical twilight; i.e., when the
center of the morning sun is 12 degrees below the horizon.
free rocket A rocket not subject to guidance or control in flight.
garnishing In surveillance, natural or artificial material applied to
an object to achieve or assist camouflage.
grazing fire Fire approximately parallel to the ground where the
center of the cone of fire does not rise above one meter from the
harmonization The process and/or results of adjusting differences or
inconsistencies to bring significant features into agreement.
hasty breaching The rapid creation of a route through a minefield,
barrier or fortification by any expedient method.
I Immediate; individual.
in extremis A situation of such exceptional urgency that immediate
action must be taken to minimize imminent loss of life or catastrophic
degradation of the political or military situation.
Injill Injured or ill.
kill box A three-dimensional area reference that enables timely,
effective coordination and control and facilitates rapid attacks.
median incapacitating dose The amount or quantity of chemical agent
which when introduced into the body will incapacitate 50 percent of
exposed, unprotected personnel.
message Any thought or idea expressed briefly in a plain or secret
language and prepared in a form suitable for transmission by any means
mixed bag In naval mine warfare, a collection of mines of various
types, firing systems, sensitivities, arming delays and ship counter
NAK negative acknowledgement
nickname A combination of two separate unclassified words that is
assigned an unclassified meaning and is employed only for unclassified
administrative, morale or public information purposes.
nuclear bonus effects Desirable damage or casualties produced by the
effects from friendly nuclear weapons that cannot be accurately
calculated in targeting as the uncertainties involved preclude
depending on them for a militarily significant result.
open unimproved wet space That water area specifically allotted to and
usable for storage of floating equipment.
partisan warfare Not to be used. See guerrilla warfare.
perception management Actions to convey and/or deny selected
information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their
emotions, motives and objective reasoning ... ultimately resulting in
foreign behaviors and official actions favorable to the originator's
objectives. In various ways, perception management combines truth
projection, operations security, cover and deception, and
rainout Radioactive material in the atmosphere brought down by
salted weapon A nuclear weapon which has certain elements or isotopes
which ... produce radioactive products over and above the usual
radioactive weapon debris.
squirt In air-to-air refueling, a means of providing visual detection
of a nearby aircraft. In practice this is achieved by the donor
aircraft dumping fuel ....
two-person rule A system designed to prohibit access by an individual
to nuclear weapons and certain designated components by requiring the
presence at all times of at least two authorized persons, each capable
of detecting incorrect or unauthorized procedures with respect to the
task to be performed.
unpremeditated expansion of a war Not to be used. See escalation.
unwarned exposed The vulnerability of friendly forces to nuclear
weapon effects. In this condition, personnel are assumed to be
standing in the open at burst time, but have dropped to a prone
position by the time the blast wave arrives.
vulnerability The susceptibility of a nation or military force to any
action by any means through which its war potential or combat
effectiveness may be reduced or its will to fight diminished.
warble In naval mine warfare, the process of varying the frequency of
sound produced by a narrow band noisemaker to ensure that the
frequency to which the mine will respond is covered.
WORM Write once, read many.
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