Magazine

Afghanistan's battlefield slang

Alamy Image copyright ALAMY
Image caption An example of an 'Ally' soldier

Most wars can be identified by their own slang, and Afghanistan was no exception. As British combat operations come to an end, BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale and Thomas Martienssen pull together a short lexicon of words and abbreviations used during the conflict.

ALLY Term for a battlefield fashionista - desirables include having a beard, using a different rifle, carrying vast amounts of ammunition, being dusty and having obscene amounts of tattoos and hair. Special forces are automatically Ally.

ANA Afghan National Army. Also ANSF - Afghan National Security Forces, used to include various police.

BARMA Drills and procedures for searching for IEDs (improvised explosive devices), normally using a vallon detector. Also ARMOURBARMA - using a heavily armoured vehicle to drive over unsearched ground; and "unofficially" FARMERBARMA - using a local guide to escort a patrol through a village for their knowledge of local IED placements.

Image copyright PA

BADMIN Used to describe a soldier with poor organisational skills or inability to look after their kit properly.

BUTLINS A joke name given to the main British base of Bastion in Helmand. A reference to its relative luxuries and facilities including mess halls, shops, showers and even Pizza Hut, in contrast to life in the smaller and harsher bases. Also dismissively known as ATR (Army Training Regiment) Bastion.

Image copyright PA

CRAP-HAT A unit judged as inferior. For the Parachute Regiment, that includes every other unit and regiment.

CROW New soldier recently out of training. Hardly a term of endearment.

FAC Forward Air Controller. A soldier on the ground who directs fire from the air using specialist equipment and radios.

GANNERS Royal Navy and Marine reference to Afghanistan. Soldiers talk about Afghan, but rarely the full name Afghanistan.

GUCCI A reference to a desired piece of kit, as in: "That sleeping bag is a Gucci piece of kit."

HLS Helicopter Landing Site. The main one at Camp Bastion was called Little Heathrow. EHLS is an Emergency Helicopter Landing Site - often used to evacuate injured troops.

IDF Indirect fire. Occurs when there is no direct sight of target. Generic term for enemy artillery or mortar fire.

IED Improvised explosive device, otherwise known as roadside bomb. Similarly VBIED - vehicle-borne improvised explosive device and DBIED - donkey-borne improvised explosive device.

JINGLYTRUCK Reference to brightly coloured Afghan trucks - often decorated with chains and bells that make them jingle as they drive along.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption JINGLYTRUCK: It's a truck. It jingles.

LASH VEGAS Same idea for what was the British HQ at Lashkar Gah. More luxuries than most FOBs (forward operating bases).

MERT Medical Emergency Response Team - medical evacuation helicopter with medics on board. Normally a Chinook.

RATS Rations or a description of unpleasant conditions - such as being wet, cold and hungry. BALTIC is another term used to describe being cold.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption UGLY: Hard to imagine how the Apache got its nickname

TACSAT Radio used to call in either FastJets or Apache helicopter in support of troops.

TERP An Afghan interpreter. A shortened US expression also used by the British military.

TERRY As in Terry Taliban. Common reference to the enemy. The American expression is T-Man.

TIC Troops in Contact - one of a long list of Army abbreviations. TIC is used to relay over radio when troops come under fire.

UGLY An Apache gunship helicopter - an obvious reference to its menacing appearance.

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