Editor’s note: The Long March will be closed for inventory the month of August. We regret any inconvenience this causes our loyal customers. In an effort to keep you reasonably content and focussed, we are offering re-runs of some of the best columns of the year. We value your custom and hope you will stick around for . . . the Long March.
Here’s our first Long March contest: Write one sentence of U.S. military jargon that is credible to military personnel yet incomprehensible to civilians. Something like, “I was no-notice tasked to fix a C4ISR problem the divarty S-2 was having, but then some CatFour ND’d his Ma Deuce straight through the brigade satcom power system.” Or this, from a magazine sitting on my desk: “While C4I is a critical element that enables the ARG/MEU SOFLE to accomplish its mission and to maximize SOF-CF I3, the modified program also creates challenges.”
Slang is much a part of the military as MREs, physical fitness tests, and shitty base housing. Each branch and unit has its own verbal shorthand, and Navy aviators are no exception — even though much of the colorful language deployed by pilots is a shorthand for expletives you can use over radio transmissions without getting slammed for misconduct.
Congratulations! You have successfully entered the civilian sector and landed your first job after separating from the military. Yet, your transition is not complete. There are some military mannerisms that you’ve acquired while serving that can sabotage all of your success.
If you’ve served in the military, live with a veteran, or work with one, you know that jargon is a part of their vocabulary. While some of their military slang or abbreviations are practical in the civilian world, others are perfect for everyday use. In fact, a number of these words or phrases are more clever and politically correct than certain civilian words or phrases.
Joining the military isn’t easy. Remember the days when you got off the bus (and I’m speaking from the enlisted perspective here) and walked into a swarm of yells and screams from big scary men and women? Worst of all, everything you did and everything you said was wrong. But it took courage, a fierce resolve, and the self-confidence to face the unknown.