EYE ON WASHINGTON | Linguistic Legacies of the Iraq War, Abbreviated

Linguistic Legacies of the Iraq War, Abbreviated 



CF – (a) Coalition Forces: The U.S.-led invasion and occupation force.

(b) Charlie Foxtrot: Alphabetic code for an epithet frequently used by CF about CF.  (Hint: first word is “cluster”)


COINCounterinsurgency (one word, sometimes two).  Theory developed by military scholars after invasions in the Philippines, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., surprisingly led to local discontent and violence.  Area of professional expertise for numerous DoD consultants.  Summary of theory: Insurgencies can be handily countered through an 8-hour web-based cultural awareness training module, compensation for mistaking a family member for an IED ($2,500), and civic empowerment of local leaders (easily identified by large number of followers carrying automatic weapons).


CPA Coalition Provisional Authority (defunct).  The temporary government of Iraq during the first year of the occupation, featuring L. Paul Bremer, Ahmed Chalabi, and several 22-year-olds who were excited to get their first passports.  Among the CPA’s many accomplishments: (1) sending the Iraqi Army home with their weapons and the promise of severance, (2) failing to pay that severance, and (3) creating an armed insurgency.


CTCounterterrorism (one word, sometimes two).  Similar to COIN, but unlike the tendency of insurgencies to be limited to a single country (usually a devastated war zone), terrorism can be worldwide or even at home, making CT contracts much more fun.  Impetus of the award-winning See Something, Say SomethingTM campaign, the long-overdue purchase of tanks and armored personnel carriers for your local police department, and a constant flow of new terrorists to counter.


DoDDepartment of War.


GOIGovernment of Iraq.  That thing the Iraqis wanted to do for themselves.


GWOTGlobal War on Terror.  (Alt. “War on Terror”)  The term (now out-of-fashion) encompassing America’s bold thirteen-year effort to punish Al Qaeda for 9/11 by forcing it to open new franchises in other countries.


IEDImprovised Explosive Device. What insurgent and Al Qaeda franchises serve, sometimes by drive-thru.


KBRKellogg Brown & Root, Inc.  (NYSE: KBR)  The top services contractor (by far) in OIF, becoming to military privatization what Coke is to fizzy drinks, Kleenex is to tissues, and Blackwater is to mercenaries. Praised by accusers for the creativity of its indiscretions, such as forgetting where it left $100 million of U.S. Government property and accidentally electrocuting soldiers in the shower.


OCOOverseas Contingency Operation.  How the Obama Administration ended the GWOT by renaming it.


OGAOther Government Agency.  What CIA-types call the CIA so that everyone knows they’re CIA.


OIFOperation Iraqi Freedom.  The official name of the mission to bring freedom to Iraqis by way of an operation.  Saddam Hussein was surgically removed.  There were complications.

Etymological note. Originally called “Operation Iraqi Liberation” until White House communications professionals realized that its acronym might make it appear that a war started by the former chairman of an oil company and the former chairman of an oil-services company might something to do with oil.


PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Not original to Iraq War, just made a lot more common by it.


SMESubject Matter Expert (pronounced “smee”).  Recommended personnel for nation-building efforts.  (This acronym is less well known, possibly due to their absence.)


TBITraumatic Brain Injury.  Hopefully you didn’t get one of these, because then you’d have to go to the…


VAU.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  Where GWOT veterans who were trained to hurry up and wait to be shot at are still going to hurry up and wait for shots.




Jeremiah Goulka is a writer based in Washington, DC.  Before he couldn’t stand it any longer, he worked at two federal agencies and a prominent think-tank.  You can follow him on Twitter @jeremiahgoulka or contact him through his website www.jeremiahgoulka.com.




Jeremiah Goulka
Jeremiah Goulka is a writer based in Washington, DC. Before he couldn’t stand it any longer, he worked at two federal agencies and a prominent think-tank. You can follow him on Twitter @jeremiahgoulka or contact him through his website jeremiahgoulka.com.