Lexicon of Iraq War Lingo: Fightin’ Words


GROUNDHOG DAY: another day on duty in Iraq

DEAD CHECK: to put bullets in a lifeless body to ensure it’s dead

BAGHDAD CLOCK: Iraq’s own timeline for progress, usually set several months behind the Washington clock

ALL-AMERICAN DECOY: guard posted out in the open; a sitting target.

HOLLOW ARMY: to fill out the ranks with untrained or unqualified soldiers

20 PERCENT SOLUTION: General David Petraeus’ plan to arm the Sunnis to fight Al Qaeda in Iraq

80 PERCENT SOLUTION: plan to break the Sunni insurgency by siding with the Shiites and Kurds

CRUNCHIES: tank-driver slang for infantry. (Think of the sound of a tank rolling over a body.)

RED ON RED: enemy-on-enemy fire, such as when Shiite factions battle each other

FOBBIT: American soldier who never leaves a forward operating base (FOB)

DBIED: Donkey-Borne Improvised Explosive Device. Also known as “shock and hee-haw.”

CROCKET: insurgent vehicle carrying rockets or artillery rounds. Also known as “cartillery.”

HILLBILLY ARMOR: improvised vehicle armor made from scrap metal and scrounged parts. Also known as “Frankenstein” in the Marine Corps.

RHINO: 37-ton armored bus that shuttles VIPS from the Baghdad airport to the Green Zone

THUNDER RUN: high-speed military convoy in the midst of battle

ROAD APPLES: wake of defecation left by a convoy as soldiers relieve themselves from the backs of their trucks

AIRHEAD: base for supply and evacuation by air

FREEDOM BIRD: airplane flying American soldiers out of Iraq. Originated in Vietnam.

NEO: noncombatant evacuation operation

ASS AND TRASH: hauling people and things, usually by air. Originated in Vietnam.

ROLL UP: orderly dismantling of military facilities

CHU: Containerized Housing Unit (pronounced “choo”). A movable living space made from a shipping container. Often clustered in “CHUvilles.”

RE-HAT: to give a local militia new uniforms, often without adequate training

LILY PAD: military base used as a jumping-off point to get to another part of the world

COMMO BLACKOUT: communication blackout for a dead soldier’s unit until family is informed

TRUNK MONKEYS: derogatory term for Iraqi troops in a pickup truck mounted with a machine gun

ROUTE TAMPA: main military supply line into Iraq from Kuwait. Also the main route out of the country.

OVER-THE-HORIZON FORCE: post-withdrawal contingent of American forces that would remain in the Middle East

TINY HEART SYNDROME: affliction common among Iraqi units that shy away from combat

CHEWERS: insurgents who record the license plates and movements of Iraqi civilians working with the Americans to target them for assassination

RAT FUCK: to ransack

“SHUT UP AND COLOR”: admonition to a soldier who is expected to do his duty despite less-than-ideal circumstances

SIMPLIFICATION: Iraqi slang for ethnic cleansing

FORT LIVING ROOM: civilian life

BUG OUT: to beat a hasty retreat

KMAG YO-YO: Kiss My Ass, Guys, You’re On Your Own. Translation: Adios, Iraq!

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