Warfighter
Posted: 31 January 2013 05:27 PM   [ Ignore ]
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The discussion of “armed gunmen” made me think of another term that may seem redundant but actually isn’t: warfighter.  Language log discussed this in response to a video game reviewer, who chortled, apparently at some length, at the seeming silliness of the title of a recent game, “Medal of Honor: Warfighter”.  The reviewer asks (rhetorically) why didn’t anybody raise their hand and object to this silly title when it was proposed.  Professor Liberman responds that the term warfighter is accepted military jargon, has utility, and is not redundant, so clearly any objection to it would have been, and is, misplaced.

As to redundancy, I think warfighter clearly isn’t redundant, at least after a little reflection.  One can fight in things other than wars, and one can serve in a war in a capacity other than fighting. 

The term has utility because a) it includes the members of every branch of the armed forces, including soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen, b) it distinguishes between those who fight in a war and those in a support capacity, and c) it is gender neutral. 

But the game reviewer’s point, really, is that it is a silly thing to call a video game, not so much that it is not useful as military jargon.  Which, I think, is really a marketing question, which I know nothing about.  But I do know something about video gaming, as a long-term gamer myself, and it does strike me, intuitively, as kind of a silly title.  But I’m not sure that that’s really a “big deal”: it isn’t a spectacularly horrible name, I think, and I suspect, but don’t really know, that the appeal of a game’s title has relatively little impact on game sales, especially with regard to a long-running franchise, such as Medal of Honor.

Perhaps the term warfighter, “feels” redundant, even though it clearly isn’t, because the term is ... Superfluous?  Unnecessary?  Anti-climatic?  In the context of a game about a member of the armed services.  I don’t know that any game which is set in a “war” is not about a warfighter.  It’s kind of like naming a game, “Medal of Honor: Servicemember who fights.”. Well sure, you are a member of the armed services in that game, and “servicemember” is an accepted jargon term (I think).  But, seriously?  “Medal of Honor: You’re The Cook” would be a far more surprising title.

And I am skeptical that the game is truly using the jargon term in the right context and in the right manner.  I suspect that the game designers think the term connotes “badass” or “highly trained killing machine”.  AFAIK, it doesn’t (many warfighters surely are badasses, but that is surely not the point of the term).  It is an inclusive term for those who fight in a sustained military engagement, including situations, such as the US “presence” in Iraq) where no “war” has been declared.

Also, AFAIK, and based on the LL examples, warfighter appears to be primarily a Department of Defense term used by analysts when discussing or analyzing warfighters (and how to best train them, equip them, support them, deploy them, etc.) but not necessarily to be a term used by the actual “warfighters” themselves.  So, as a piece of jargon, it seems somewhat out of place here.  And ISTM that it is better to not use jargon at all than to use it incorrectly or awkwardly, unless the term is so “cool” that nobody will care that you technically misused it.  Which doesn’t seem to be true, here.

Is anybody here familiar with the term?  Do you have a better sense than me as to what it denotes and in what contexts it should be used in?

[ Edited: 31 January 2013 05:31 PM by Svinyard118 ]
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Posted: 01 February 2013 04:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Perhaps the term warfighter, “feels” redundant, even though it clearly isn’t, because the term is ... Superfluous?  Unnecessary?  Anti-climatic?

How about “unfamiliar.” This is a clear case of having problems with a word because it is new to you. The fact that it is a compound of simple words probably adds to the feeling. Had it used words with Latin or Greek roots it might sound more elevated (e.g., aviator v. airman).

The above description of the utility and use of the word by the military is pretty much dead on, except for the idea that it is used mainly by “analysts” and not the warfighters themselves. My experience is that it is used throughout the uniformed military, but in contexts discussing the roles and missions of the military. It is used self-referentially, not in the context of a “I’m a tough, badass warfighter,” but more like “in the end success comes down to us warfighters.” Also, within the individual services, where the majority of the uniformed military work, there are the terms like soldier, sailor, airman, and marine , plus informal ones like grunt, that are perfectly useful. It’s only in the “purple-suited” jobs at the Pentagon where the need for the term becomes a bureaucratic necessity. Another bit to add to the utilitarian concept is that the word emphasizes war, rather than humanitarian or nation-building missions. The upper echelons of the US military are continually striving to restrict their mission to training for and fighting wars, and not be used for other missions.

Despite the fact that the word’s use by the military isn’t in the badass sense, I think it works rather well as a video game title. Its simplicity enhances its bellicosity, and the Pentagon usage brings a dash of professionalism to it. Warfighters aren’t brutes; they’re professionals on a mission. The word is straightforward, direct, and violent.

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Posted: 01 February 2013 07:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I despise the term, but I recognize that my reaction is pure old-fartism.

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