War Lingo Blends Arab Words, Military Terms And Slang War In The Gulf

January 24, 1991

The Gulf war has introduced Americans to a whole new language, incorporating technical military terms, GI slang and Arab words. Here is a glossary, drawn from wire services, from attrite to zulu:

ATTRITE (a-trit) -- lose troops by attrition or enemy action: e.g. "[Saddam Hussein's] being attrited while he's doing all this waiting" -- Army Lt. Gen. Thomas W. Kelly.

AWAC (a-wac) -- Airborne Warning And Control system, in which a jet monitors air space with radar and guides fighters and bombers to their targets.

BEACHES -- fighting terrain, Arabian deserts.

BUFF -- nickname for B-52 bombers, which stands for (sanitized version) "Big Ugly Fat Fellow."

CARPET BOMBING -- called "rolling thunder" in Vietnam, intensive bombing in a limited space, usually by B-52s.

COLLATERAL DAMAGE -- civilian deaths and injuries, and other damage beyond what was anticipated to a military target.

DECAPITATING ATTACK -- attack on enemy commanders operating behind the lines, leap-frogging the masses of enemy tanks, artillery and fortified positions that make traditional warfare such slow and bloody work.

ELECTRONIC JAMMERS -- computer-powered devices that send out high-energy pulses to disarm or disorient enemy radar and other communications.

FUR BALLS -- flier slang for the hectic tangle of air-to-air dogfights.

GOLDEN BB -- anti-aircraft doctrine attributed to the Soviets, holding that if enough bullets and other projectiles fill the sky during an air raid, at least some will hit their targets and bring planes down.

HUMVEE -- high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle, a large truck-like vehicle that has replaced the traditional military jeep.

JUKE -- move quickly to evade enemy fire.

KILLSACK -- minefields and oil-filled trenches beyond the Saudi-Kuwait border, through which U.S. ground forces would have to move if a ground war begins.

LANTIRN -- Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night, a sophisticated guidance system enabling pilots to deliver bombs accurately in the dark.

MREs -- military-issued food rations, officially "Meals, Ready to Eat."

NBC -- nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

PAVE TACK -- infrared laser and computer system that can pinpoint targets or weapons.

SCUD -- Nickname invented by NATO for Soviet-made SS-1, a surface-to-surface ballistic missile used by Iraq in bombing attacks on Saudi Arabia and Israel.

SLAM -- Stand-off Land Attack Missile, launched from a carrier-launched attack plane.

SMART BOMBS -- bombs guided to their targets by on-board video or laser systems.

SORTIE -- from French sortir (to leave): a combat mission or support mission flown by a single military plane.

TRIPLE A -- Anti-Aircraft Artillery, once known as ack-ack.

WADI -- Arabic word for dry ravine or valley.

WING WEENIE -- fighter unit staff officer with no combat duties.

ZULU -- Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). When it's 0000 zulu (midnight GMT), it's 7 p.m. in Baltimore and 3 a.m. in Baghdad. The military uses zulu as its time reference worldwide.

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