[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


Give a Blood Chit to the Confusion Agent


    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
    hard-bitten grace.

    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
    Defense Department.

    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
    of communication.

    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
    psychological operations.


    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.


    z Effort.

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