FIBUA, mouseholing, and other words of war.

FIBUA, mouseholing, and other words of war.

FIBUA, mouseholing, and other words of war.

Language and how we use it.
April 4 2003 5:33 PM

The Words of War

Where do MOUTs and MOPPs come from?

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EPW: Enemy prisoner of war. This is now the term of choice in the American military over the less specific POW. The latter term, however, is still applied to U.S. troops taken prisoner.


Fedayeen Saddam ("Saddam's Men of Sacrifice"): An Iraqi paramilitary group believed to have had between 30,000 and 40,000 troops at the war's start. Founded in 1995 by Odai Hussein, Saddam's son. Perhaps this is one new term we all should have known a long time ago.

FIBUA: Fighting in Built-Up Areas. A military acronym that may be heard more often in the coming days.

Fog of war: An old favorite given new relevance by those Mesopotamian sandstorms.

Frag, Fragging: A Vietnam-era term for the murder of an officer (usually an unpopular one) by his own troops. It comes from "fragmentation grenade," which was a weapon of choice for the attacks.

Granularity: A military term for specific details. As British Maj. Gen. Albert Whitley said at a recent press conference in Kuwait, "What I thought I'd do for you is try and give you some granularity, some explanation of the security situation out in Iraq …"

MOAB: No, not the Mother of All Bombs, although the Pentagon clearly isn't unhappy with the nickname given its new 21,000-pound blockbuster. It really stands for Massive Ordnance Air Blast. (See this "War Stories" for more on the "palace buster.")

MOPP: Mission-Oriented Protective Posture. U.S. troops wear MOPP gear to protect against chemical and biological weapons. The amount of gear increases with the threat level, which ranges from MOPP 0 to MOPP 4.

Mouseholing: A technique in urban combat to keep troops from having to move around outdoors in a hostile built-up area. Instead, the invading force moves house to house by blasting holes through adjoining interior walls of apartment buildings.

MOUT: Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain. (See FIBUA.)

Pro-everything: Since "anti" sounds so negative, some activists who oppose the war now want to be called "pro-peace." However, "pro" can have its own pitfalls, such as when it's attached to "war." Some who support the conflict prefer to be called "pro-troops" or "pro-liberation." Reminiscent of the eternal debate over abortion terminology.