Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Afghanistan Deployment Dictionary

While deployed I learned a variety of terms of geographic and cultural nature which soldiers use while in Afghanistan.  Some of these terms were used in Iraq while others were new.  For those interested, here is a self-made dictionary of these terms.

GOIRAAbbreviation for Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
1.  The official government headquartered in Kabul.

Hajji:  Literal translation means "one who goes on Hajj (Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca)" but can be used in Afghanistan or Iraq as an honorific.
1. Hajji can be used to refer to anything Afghan/Iraqi be it a person or place.  Not necessarily positive or negative.  Example:  "There are a bunch of Hajjis standing outside."  "I went to the Hajji store because their prices are better."
2.  Hajji can be used in a way to emphasize poor Afghan/Iraqi design.  Example:  "Don't plug in your computer there!  That is a Hajji outlet!"

Muj:  Short for mujahadeen, literally meaning "holy warrior."  Taliban/al Qaeda in Iraq/al Qaeda/Haqqani Network/other insurgents will refer to themselves as mujahadeen.
1.  Muj is used to refer to insurgents.  Example:  "We got into a fight against a couple of Muj down the road."

Old Americans
1.  Term used by Afghans to refer to Americans who came to Afghanistan from the 1950s to the 1970s as part as development projects.  As the "Old Americans" always traveled in small groups or alone no one seems to mention anything bad about them.  Usually the "Old Americans" were fascinated by everyday Afghan life, which confused many Afghans as everyday life to them is nothing to be fascinated about.  Most stories dealing with "Old Americans" are light hearted.  Example:  "When I was young an Old American came to my village to help build a well.  He kept taking pictures of our qalats (mud homes).  He used all his film taking pictures of the homes and I know film was not cheap in Afghanistan!"

Pakistan:  The country
1.  Used by Taliban, normal Afghans, and Americans alike to describe, somewhat justifiably, the root of all evil.  Even the Taliban blame Pakistan for problems.  Examples:  "An IED blew up our road!  Where did the IED come from?  Pakistan!"  "Who controls this war against the Afghan people?  Pakistan!"  "Good people make good countries.  Bad people make Pakistan." (last quote originally from Rifftrax but heard in some areas of Afghanistan)

Shadow
Used as an adjective to refer to the Taliban alternative to GOIRA and GOIRA positions.  Examples:  "Shadow court."  "Shadow governor."  "Shadow school."

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