In defense of military jargonMargaret Benner (Other...

the Forum

March 12, 1991

In defense of military jargon

Margaret Benner (Other Voices, Feb. 20) believes that "disguising and sanitizing our war language obscures the terrifying reality of war." Ms. Benner has confused the language of the military with the language of the teacher.

The military has, over the years, developed language that meets its needs. Benner's contention that the use of such language in describing armed conflict is intended to "distance us from its horrible consequences" demonstrates a lack of understanding of how language is used.

The use of specific terms (jargon, if you like) is intended to convey information to a specific audience. While "smart bomb" may sound like a contradiction in terms, it describes a specific family of ordnance to me.

Pilots really do "deliver" their "ordnance" to "neutralize" certain "facilities." Sometimes these "assets" cause "collateral damage," both "direct" and "indirect." Soldiers, sailors and airmen are truly "deployed" into a "theater" and then "staged" to reach an "end goal" in accordance with a "game plan." Missiles can "cruise" and are "married" to their "payloads" prior to their "employment." "Opposing forces" are "engaged" with "families" of "weapons systems" to include "carpet bombing." The opposing force's remaining "capabilities" are measured by "damage assessments."

The intent is not to disguise what is going on. These terms and thousands like them describe specific things to specific people. It is an undeniable fact that people experience hideous pain and death in the tragic, bloody carnage of war. Those of us who have seen and participated in the "necessary evil" of war understand that.

Right now, I and thousands like me are doing a job the elected officials of this country have given us. In doing so, we employ the language of our profession to describe events and circumstances, just as artists, engineers, doctors and a thousand other professionals do. I would be pleased to provide "translations," but kindly do not accuse me of trying to shield the American people from the "naked truth."

Mervin W. Bierman

Offutt AFB, Nevada

The writer is a captain in the United States Air Force.

A call from the governor

Forum Extra

AT PRECISELY 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6, I received phone call. A man identified himself as a trooper of the Maryland State Police assigned to the governor's office, stating that the governor wanted to speak with me.

I didn't catch the trooper's name, as I had retired early and for a brief moment was startled.

My first thought was that one of my children had been in an accident.

The governor then came on the phone and sarcastically thanked me for the letter I had written, dated March 1, to Hilda Mae Snoops, expressing my thoughts and dissatisfaction with her recent feelings of rebuff and intent to start all over redecorating the Governor's Mansion. I had also expressed my opinion of the governor in this letter.

It was very obvious from the conversation [that] the governor was looking for an argument and trying to antagonize me, but everything he shot at me was thrown back at him.

I took the opportunity to tell him he had been a wonderful mayor but sure was lacking as a governor. He has acted like a dictator instead of a leader. His power has gone to his head.

He wanted me to tell him how he should run the state, what he was doing wrong.

For starters, I said I'd stop construction on the stadium before I'd stop construction on our state roads. To which he replied, "I can't do that," and changed the subject.

He went on and on, telling me our state's problems aren't his fault, and he's not responsible.

Suddenly I realized he was finally speaking the truth. He wasn't responsible, and he still isn't responsible.

Our conversation ended when the governor became so angry that he slammed the phone down.

Dianne Stenzel

Perry Hall

Unfair to Schaefer

I would like to register a protest at the tendentious article on Governor Schaefer and his state of mind which appeared on March 4. As an opinion column it would have been bad enough, but to feature it on the front page as "news" exemplifies the sleaze journalism that The Evening Sun seems to be indulging in on an increasingly more frequent basis.

The "article" featured a rehash of old news that was never really news to begin with, armchair psychology about the governor's mental state and innuendo that was, at best, unkind if not vicious and mean-spirited. What it was intended to accomplish escapes me completely except perhaps to goad Mr. Schaefer into one of his famous outbursts of temper.

The governor has plenty of faults, but he has tried as both mayor and governor to devote himself to the people of the city and state and has done so with remarkable and praiseworthy effectiveness. He has been "married" to his job, and it is easy to understand how his emotions are tied to it, so that criticism of the job he is doing can be taken very personally.

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