New USFK Chief Battles Acronyms

Gen. James Thurman, the new U.S. Forces Korea commander, is cracking down on acronyms. "Don't assume I know everything" and "No acronyms" were on a list of top 10 instructions he sent out Thursday.

This order seeks to clamp down on rampant use of alphabet soup in the U.S. Army. Former U.S. President George W. Bush also confessed that he had difficult time grasping the acronyms during briefings by military leaders. "Many former U.S. presidents and secretaries couldn't ask for explanations when they didn't understand military acronyms during briefings in the time of crisis or wars because they wanted to avoid embarrassment," a diplomatic expert said.

In the U.S. Forces in Korea, one mysterious acronym was GSMA, meaning nothing more than the Greater Seoul Metropolitan Area. But the term was dumped. The acronym AA can mean 12 different things, from air-to-air, to assembly area, attack assessment, and anti aircraft. If a message reads, “Build AA (Anti Aircraft) network in AA (Assembly Area) using AAA (Anti-Aircraft Artillery)," no layman would understand what it means.

Acronyms can create problems in the Korean Army as well. One military official said, "When operation officers make briefings using many technical acronyms during drills, I feel like I’m listening to a foreign language."

englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 22, 2011 13:45 KST