The Terminology of Military Technology

By Skyler Frink
It's interesting to see the terminology being thrown around by those who develop weapons for the military. Weapons don't kill people, they "destroy targets" or "eliminate threats."

I understand it's a little extreme to say a machine kills people, it actually seems a bit over-dramatic, but the stone-cold "threat elimination" really does seem to take away from the sheer power of these machines. The words eliminate and destroy are calculated ways of removing things, it simply seems strange that these words are being used in relation to human beings.

What really brought this to light was a recent article on the Department of Defense website where a reporter talked about the Carl-Gustaf. The Carl-Gustaf, a shoulder-fired recoilless weapon, is described as being "able to destroy enemy targets hidden behind rocks, trees and buildings." You see, one part of that sentence really got to me, the idea that enemy targets are hiding. It just painted a mental picture where the enemy isn't being crafty and concealing themselves for an ambush, it struck me as a terrified person hiding from an 84mm shell that will unerringly strike its target.

Now, I'm not saying the enemy is innocent or that there is no such thing as a just war. I'd simply prefer if the words being used to represent taking a human life didn't seem so cold and calculated. Even a hunter wouldn't say he eliminated his target. There is an enormous amount of responsibility implied by giving any group a means to take lives, don't you think our language should reflect that rather than make it sound harmless?

In a time where you can kill a person using an unmanned vehicle from over a mile away, it may be time to get rid of the softness of the language used.

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The Mil & Aero Bloggers

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Ernesto Burden is the publisher of PennWell’s Aerospace & Defense Media Group, including Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence and Avionics Europe.  He’s a father of four, a runner, and an avid digital media enthusiast with a deep background in the intersection of media publishing, digital technology, and social media. He can be reached at ernestob@pennwell.com and on Twitter @aero_ernesto.

Courtney E. Howard, as executive editor, enjoys writing about all things electronics and avionics in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence, the Avionics Europe conference, and much more. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics geek. Connect with Courtney at Courtney@Pennwell.com, @coho on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

Mil & Aero Magazine

December 2013
Volume 24, Issue 12
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