Postcards from the Stan – Let me Orientate you to how we Conversate in the Army

It is nothing short of miraculous that our fair, strong soldier in the ‘Stan is fighting every day for Uncle Sam and blogs more often than That Little Red-Headed Girl. Would it help my case if I told you I’ve been sick with a plague-like virus and spending each spare moment watching a 12-part BBC series on the History of Britain? Ha! In lieu of a TLRG post, I give you another Postcard from the land of warlords and infidels.

In addition to finding that I am unable to tell time properly here in the Stan, I have also discovered that the Army speaks in a foreign tongue. Even though I have years of post graduate education, bear a degree with the work doctor on it (although my attempts to get people to call me Dr. K—” have so far been unsuccessful, Juris-istic as I may be) I still have difficulty comprehending people in ordinary conversation. I wondered why this was, until I realized that the Army has, after noting that it has the power to crush small South American dictators with ease, proceeded to ignore all grammatical conventions and make up its own language. As an example of this observation, I offer a few common Army phrases and their translations:
We will SP at the RP with all SM that are OPCON’d = Hey ya’ll, come over to my house and meet the new neighbors!
The daily Fragmentary Order (FRAGO) has been published = Sweetie, I put the honey-do list on the fridge!
I have three PAX for immediate TA-CON to your CP = The kids are ready to be picked up from day-care
I have to do a Class One Download = Goin’ to read Army Times
Thank you for your support = “F*** you!
Air – BORNE! = Thought silently to oneself – I really think you’re an idiot but I am going to sound like I am enthusiastically agreeing with you by responding as loudly as possible without actually giving a coherent answer.
Translation has become a regular part of my day. I work in a large operational control center, divided into individual offices. Our legal den of iniquity is tucked far in the back, behind some crates and under some rocks. Not really under some rocks, but it’s a good metaphor for all the unfinished legal actions I have been finding lying around the office after moving in and turning over all those rocks. Unsure of where to go when I first walked into the building, I turned to one of the soldiers guarding the entrance and asked him where I should go. He replied, I’m not sure ma’am, but people seem to be matriculating over there. He was trying so hard, I just smiled and kept walking. Apparently I am reaping the benefits of the word of the day toilet paper the Army has been purchasing.
Last week, for the second time in my Army career, I have gotten into a 30 minute argument as to whether irregardless is a word. As in, irregardless of whether its beef or chicken, the chow hall will make the meat taste exactly the same as last night, over cooked and smothered in barbeque sauce. I take the position , rightly so, as proved by its presence in the tome of Webster, that irregardless is a word and should, nay, must, be used in conversation. Others take the less enlightened, albeit more letteroelogically efficient, that you must use the word regardless. While this disagreement is not particularly funny, neither are most of the jokes that fly between me and the other two fiscal law attorneys (e.g. Have you seen this acquisition request? Can you believe that they miprd for a contract extension without an option year?) While the three of us thought this was extremely shocking and hilarious, the operational attorneys across the aisle merely groaned and threw wads of paper to make us be quiet.) In order to settle the argument sans fisticuffs, my colleague and I turned to Webster, who had the most witty, Postcard-worthy comment on the debate and the absolute last word. I quote;
Irregardless originated in dialectical American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that “there is no such word.” There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance.
Oh the burn, the ignominy of being bested!!! So, having proven my point that it is indeed a word, Mr. Webster proceeded to embarrass me into grammatical shame! Apparently, irregardless of how sage I think I am ….
Perhaps my misplaced hubris stemmed from an incident last week when my Trivial Pursuit/Jeopardy Brain Cells tripped into overdrive. I was loitering in the waiting area of the medical clinic, having escorted one of my co-workers in for some medication, when one of the medics charged out from the treatment area asking for help from the other medics on a crossword.
Medic One What was that thing that the Greek Emperor said that had all the Vs?
At this point my sense of self-importance puffed up like a blow fish facing a Japanese sushi master and I smiled smugly while congratulating myself for knowing that not only was Caesar was Roman, but that the saying was veni, vidi, vici, or I came, I saw, I conquered.
Medic Two Wasn’t it something like Vente, Grande, Mocha?
Medic One Yeah, but no.
Medic Two Why don’t I Google it?
At this point, I should say to all of our national leaders, that if you want to stop our enemies from Veni, Vidi, Vici all over suburban America, take down the Google website. It has become the one-stop research tool for the military. If the Taliban could Google, they would know pretty much everything our intel guys know.
Medic Two Here it is – Veni, Vidi, Vici

Google point proven.

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