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  Words of war explained
Updated 04 April 2003, 14.52
Confused by all the jargon you hear when people describe what's happening in the Iraq conflict?

Here's a handy guide to understand what reporters are actually talking about.

  • Anti-aircraft fire = guns or missiles fired from the ground at aircraft overheard - also known as "flak"

  • Assets = bombs

  • Blue on blue = a term used to describe an accidental attack on someone who's fighting on the same side

  • Casualty = someone who is either wounded or killed in fighting or bombing - this can be a soldier or an ordinary person

  • CentCom = the place where coalition missions are planned, called Central Command. It is in Doha, Qatar - another country in the middle east, not far from Iraq

  • Civilians = people who are not in the armed forces

  • Coalition forces = armed forces from different countries who share the fighting and are fighting for the same reasons

  • Coalition of the willing = American term for the countries involved in the Iraq conflict.

  • Collateral damage = damage to anything you didn't mean to target - this can include humans which is why it's a term which is seen by many as insensitive

  • Convoy = a group of ships or vehicles travelling together under armed protection

  • Embedding = the 500 journalists who are based within US and UK military units, living and travelling with them before and during the war are embedded.

  • Firefight = battles involving gun fire

    Scud missile and launcher
    Scud missile and launcher

  • Fog of war = the confusion that often surrounds military action

  • Friendly fire = see Blue on blue

  • Guerrilla warfare = small groups of soldiers fighting small battles, often firing on larger groups of soldiers then running away to hide

  • Hawks and doves = a hawk is someone who believes in using soldiers to solve problems like Iraq. A dove is someone who would rather try and find a solution by talking

  • Hearts and minds = winning over the Iraqi people to believe in the coalition forces and understand that they will not hurt them

  • Installation = military or industrial building - in the Iraq conflict, it's usually used to describe oil fields and military targets

  • Intelligence = secret information collected about an enemy

  • Medivac = this is short for medical evacuation, which means removing an injured soldier from the battlefield very quickly so they can get medical help

  • POW = stands for prisoner of war

  • Reconnaissance = this is when the military watches and checks out an area to get information about it, usually for a while - sometimes shortened to "recce," or "recon"

  • RPG = Rocket Propelled Grenade. An explosive which, rather than being thrown, is fired by a launcher

  • Rules of engagement = important rules about fighting wars that soldiers are supposed to obey

  • Scud = a short range ballistic - or flying - missile launched from big mobile launchers

  • Shock and awe = the term the Americans are using to describe their massive bombing campaign

  • Sortie = a small raiding party usually sent out to check things out before a proper attack - can be air or ground raids

  • Tracers = bullets which glow so soldiers know where they are firing - not all the bullets do this

  • Triple A = a type of anti-aircraft fire

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