War & Military Vocabulary: Understand the news
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War & Military Vocabulary: Understand the news

Hi again. I’m Adam. Welcome back to www.engvid.com.
Today’s lesson is a little bit unfortunate. We’re going to talk about the military, and
I’m going to give you some vocabulary to talk about military and war, armies, etc. Now,
the reason we’re doing this is because we actually had a few requests for this type
of lesson because if you open the newspaper today or turn on the TV or the Internet, everything
— everywhere you look at, it’s war. Right? The world is a little bit chaotic right now.
It’s just chaos everywhere. “Chaos” — big mess, big trouble. So it’s better that you
understand what it is you’re looking at, what it is you’re hearing, what it is you’re reading,
what it is you’re talking about. We’re going to look at a few things just to get you a basic
understanding of the military. I’m going to take the American military as an example
because they’re the biggest, and of course, they’re the most active military right now.
The military has four branches — four parts to the military. There’s the Army, the Marine
Corps — we don’t want to say the P or the S, “Marine corps” — Navy, Air Force. Army
— these are basically the ground soldiers. They have the tanks, the big, heavy machine
guns, the big anti-tank missiles, all that stuff. These are the ones that go in and do the
land things. They set up the whole — they set up the war, basically.
They set up the bases. The Marine Corps, these are the fighting soldiers.
Marine from water — they come in with the navy. The navy ships them in. They come in,
and they go do all the fighting, the deep fighting. Okay? These are very tough guys. The
Navy — the Navy has the ships, the submarines. They also have jets. They have Navy pilots
because they have those huge aircraft carriers that carry the planes. The plane can take off
in the middle of the sea. And of course, the Air Force. The Air Force has the
jets, the pilots, and all of that stuff. So these are the branches. Now, if you want
to know the ranks, this is the level of the people in the armies. We have officers, and
then, we have the unlisted personnel. The officers — the top is the General in the
Army and in the Marine corps. In the navy, they have an admiral. Then, you have a colonel.
Although this is an L, it sounds like an R — “ker-nel”, like popcorn kernel. You have a
major; you have a captain; you have a lieutenant. Now, between these levels, there are all kinds
of different ranks. You have a second colonel, a second lieutenant, etc. then, you have the lower
ranks. You have sergeant; you have corporal; and you have private. “Private” is the absolute
lowest you can go. I’m going to use a red pen from now. Okay. Now, if you
want to know what the insignia — if you want to know
what the stripes or the shapes on their sleeves are — or the stars
and the bars — you can look that up online. Just look for “insignia”,
“military insignia”. Now, when we talk about soldiers, also — you’re
going to see there are a lot of acronyms. An “acronym” is the first initial of a word.
When you have a few words, you take the first letter of each and put them together. “POW”
— “prisoner of war”. So if I’m a soldier and my enemy catches me and holds
me as a hostage, I’m a POW. “KIA” means “killed in action”. So if I go
fighting and I’m killed, that’s what the military lists me as, “KIA”. “MIA” — “missing in action”.
So the army can’t find me. They don’t know if I’m alive or dead. So I’m
just missing in action. Okay. When we talk about war, when we talk about
armies, we have to talk about weapons, also called “arms”. Okay? Like “arms”, except it’s an
extension of your arm. The gun is an extension of your arm. So “RPG” — “rocket-propelled
grenade”. So a “grenade”, as we have here — is like a mini bomb. You put it into the
gun; you shoot it; it goes, explodes; and you have shrapnel. “Shrapnel” are little pieces
of metal. So when the grenade explodes, all the little pieces of metal go flying
everywhere and kill and destroy. Then, we have “IED”. So non-regulated armies
— when you have fighters who are not in a regular army but are still fighting, they don’t
have the money or the know-how, necessarily, to build all these fancy weapons. So they
make “improvised explosive devices”. They take whatever they can find — some fuel, some
pieces of metal, a pipe, put it together, put it on the side of the road, and
when the enemy comes, it explodes. Now, again, you’re going to hear — you’re
going to read newspapers. You’re going to hear all these words. You’re going to hear
“rocket”, “missile”, and “mortar”. And you’re going to wonder what’s the difference. So I’ll
tell you. A “rocket” is, basically, something that is shot from a launcher. So “launch”
is a good word. “Launch” means send out or shoot. A rocket is launched. A rocket has
its own fuel. So once you shoot it, then, the rocket starts using its fuel, and it flies
further. It can go 50, 100, 150, 200 kilometers. The thing about a rocket is that it is “aimed”.
You know generally where you want to go. You aim it, shoot it, and hope it gets there. A
“missile”, on the other hand, is “guided”. So a missile is like a rocket, but it’s bigger;
it has more fuel; it can fly much further. There’s something called a “ballistic missile”,
which can fly halfway around the world. These are huge missiles. And they’re guided. Is
means there are computer chips inside, and somebody back at the base, the army base,
can sit there on the computer and tell the missile where to go, and it hits exactly where
you want it to. So that’s the difference between “rocket” and “missile”. A “mortar” is also just aimed. But a mortar
is like a big bullet. It’s like — however big it is, you drop it into its launcher;
it pops the fuel or gunpowder — whatever. And it just flies. It’s lobbed. It means it
just — and again, you hope it lands where you want it to land. Of
course, bullet is in the gun. Then, you have a lot of anti stuff. “Anti-tank
missile”, “anti-aircraft missile”. So basically, whatever it is you want to destroy, you
have a missile and a launcher for that. “Grenade”, we spoke about. Then, there’s “sanctions”. Now, “sanctions”
are not a physical weapon. Sanctions are what a government can do to another government
to hurt it. Okay? So for example, if you go to the U.N.’s Security Council and you say,
“These people are behaving bad. We want to stop all their banks from making trades. We
want to not allow them to export their oil or their gas or their fruit or their — whatever
they have.” So “sanctions” are restrictions. And this is an economic weapon. It’s not a
physical weapon. You can’t see it. You can’t touch it. But it could be very devastating.
It could do a lot of damage. So now, I have a few more random vocabulary
words for you. Again you’re going to hear a lot about these in the news. A “ceasefire”
basically means “cease fire”, “stop shooting”. So a “ceasefire” means everybody just stops
shooting. Just relax. Wait a second. A “truce” means a long ceasefire. It means you stop
shooting for a long time, and maybe you’re going to start talking. Then, if you make
an agreement, you sign a treaty. A “treaty” is like a contract, but it’s between countries.
Peace treaty, trade treaty, etc. “UNSC” — “United Nations Security Council”. Okay. “Boot camp”
— when these guys join — the privates, they join the army; they join the Marine Corps,
for example — they go to boot camp. This is where they get trained. Now, this word
is used often these days for exercise. For example, a yoga boot camp, a Pilates boot
camp — it means you come; we exercise like crazy and lose pounds and again muscle and
everybody’s happy. In the army, just training to go fight. The person who trains you is
called a “drill sergeant”. So it’s the same, “sergeant”, but a very specific one. He trains
you. He’s the trainer. “Troops” — these are all troops. All soldiers are called “troops”.
Okay? But if you’re not in a regular army, then, there are different words to talk
about you as a non-regular army person. Let’s see some more words. Okay. So we have a few more words here to
look at. I’ve got my black pen back by magic, somehow. A few things — a few people that you
need to know in the military besides troops. “Guerilla” — “guerillas” are basically soldiers
who are not part of a regular army. They’re actually the same as “militants”. You can call
them “guerillas”; you can call them “militants”. It’s “guerilla warfare”, which means you’re not
fighting by the standard rules of engagement, by the standard rules of war. Guerillas don’t
have rules. They do what they need to do to win, and the same with militants. The group
of militants is called a “militia”. Okay. That’s just the group. Now, of course you have — in a war, you have an
enemy. But you also have an “ally” or “allies” if you have more than one. Now, and then you
have a “coalition”. When you create a group — of nations, especially — or groups that
join together for a common fight, that is a “coalition”. So you hear a lot
about that in the news as well. Now, you’re going to hear about “battle”.
You’re going to hear “conflict”. And you’re going to hear “war”. A “war” is made up of
many battles. You have a little battle here; you have a little battle here; you have a
little battle here; and together, you have a war. Now, a lot of times, you’re going to hear
about a “conflict”. Technically, a “conflict” is a polite word for “war”. The reason they
use “conflict” and not “war” is because of the legal system. If you say “war”, there
are different laws that apply. If you say “conflict”, it just means you’re having a
little bit of trouble with your neighbor. You’re bombing them. They’re bombing you.
But it’s just a conflict. You know, you’ll make up soon; you’ll be friends soon. So it’s a polite
way to say “war” without the legal obligations. Now, when you talk about war, again, you have
an “offensive”. An “offensive” is when you attack. A “counter-offensive” is when the other
side attacks back. So you start an offensive; you start to attack; you’re trying to advance on
your enemy’s territory. They’re counter-attacking, trying to “repel” you, to push you back. Now,
if you have an “incursion”, it means you’ve entered the enemy’s territory; you were able
to get inside. “Incursion” means get inside. Now, if you go in and you’re able to destroy a
lot and kill a lot of people, then, we call this situation an “onslaught”. You’re advancing
and killing and destroying as you go. Again, none of this is good stuff, but it’s
in the news. You probably need to know what they’re talking about. You might hear this
expression often: “boots on the ground” or “ground forces”. Most wars these days — we’re
very technologically advanced, so most wars are from the sky and from computers. But if
you send soldiers into a territory, then, you are putting boots — like, boots, shoes —
on the ground, soldiers. Boots on the ground — soldiers. Ground forces — soldiers, walking
in, guns, knives, RPGs, whatever it takes. There you go. If you need to talk about war or
about the military you have some vocabulary now. You can always go to www.engvid.com and
do the quiz. Make sure you understand all these words. If you have any questions, please
ask in the comments section. Please do not bring politics into the comments section.
This is about English and only English. We don’t need to make any comments about anything.
Ask your English questions. Help each other with the English, and everybody will be okay.
You can read newspapers. Watch CNN if that’s what gets you going. And it’s all good.
Okay. I’ll see you again soon.


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