Let’s Say It Right

In October 1969, the U.S. Command in Vietnam issued a directive titled "Let's Say it Right" to the American Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN). The directive forbid military press officers from using certain terms and provided a list of acceptable terms in their place.

For instance, instead of referring to "free firing zones" in which anything that moved was considered enemy and could be fired at, officers were supposed to say "pre-cleared firing zones." And instead of "lull" they were supposed to refer to "light and scattered action."

A military spokesman said that the directive was actually just a "style sheet" whose purpose was to "get everyone using similar words."

Some more of the "no-no" words (as AFVN officers described them) were listed in this NY Times piece:

New York Times - Jan 11, 1970

GI Press Service - April 1971

     Posted By: Alex - Fri Nov 04, 2016
     Category: Languages | Military | 1960s

This from the same bunch who called the Korean Conflict a "police action." When the bullets and bombs are flying, it is a war. Maybe undeclared, but a war nevertheless.
Posted by KDP on 11/04/16 at 12:52 PM
Are these the guys who coined 'friendly fire' for weaponry on our side killing our own people.

They may have roots back in the Spanish Civil War. Americans who fought against Franco were suspected of being communists before Pearl Harbor. Afterwards they were called 'premature anti-fascists'.
Posted by Phred22 on 11/04/16 at 03:21 PM
Apparently not, Phred22. A quick perusal around the 'net turns up only three references and it seems that it appeared in a journalistic sense during the First World War period. It does sound as if it would come out of the propagandists mind to soften the blow of having been wounded or killed by your own compatriots, though.

I was disappointed that the OED had such a sparse entry for the phrase.
Posted by KDP on 11/04/16 at 04:54 PM
My war. The best was Five O'clock Follies. AFN the military radio station was a huge joke, we would listen and breakdown in tears of laughter it was so f*cking wrong. REMF was another. We flew into a rear base after a couple of week in the boonies. A West Point Captain in shined boots, starched fatigues and shinny helmet lined us up and got on our case for looking so bad. No bath or shaving for the duration did make us look bad. He singled out one guy and said what the hell have you been doing solider? The answer, Smoking gooks sir, someone had to do it. Come along next time. War is hell.
Posted by Gator Guy on 11/04/16 at 06:07 PM
I had a 'Nam vet for a housemate in here in the States, who had not gotten past the REMF thing one bit. He would go around at gatherings, looking for them. When he found one, he would get up in their grill but good. He got thrown out of a party or two, but felt better, I take it. I don't recall any actual assaults, but I think he got revenge for your WP captain, Gator Guy.

Apparently, they didn't have "attacking to the rear" until General Smith in the Korean War.
Posted by Virtual on 11/04/16 at 10:16 PM
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