Corrente

If you have "no place to go," come here!

Question for milspeak experts

In his Congressional testimonies, General Petraeus kept using the word "troopers" to describe individual soldiers.

Is this a new back-formation, whereby a "trooper" is the singular of "the troops"?

Did Petraeus coin the word?

Or is it the customary term in the military?

Thanks!

If it's new, and if it's a coinage by Petraeus, what do you think his purpose was?**

NOTE I tend to think it's new, because a cursory Google search doesn't throw any hits, and Wikipedia hasn't collected any definitions.

NOTE ** Tinfoil hat time: Currently, "trooper" has law enforcement connotations, as in "state trooper." Perhaps Petraeus is envisaging the use of the army domestically?

UPDATE I checked Petraeus's letter to the troops for such a usage, and found none. Personally, I read it as if I were back in the cubes, reading (yet another) letter from the CEO about a re-org. But I'd be interested to know what a milspeak expert thinks. Readers?

0
No votes yet

Comments

Submitted by Keith (not verified) on

I've heard it used for ages, at least in the Canadian Forces. However, it's a specific term in Commonwealth usage: it refers to a soldier in an armoured unit (as most were descended from cavalry units--'troops').

As mentioned in the Wiki entry, it is used for Airborne in the US (where I've heard it used). And of course the iconic science fiction version in "Starship Troopers".

So no, it's not a made up word.

leah's picture
Submitted by leah on

Troops can refer to an aggregate number of individual troops in two senses - the troops we have on the ground in Iraq, or the 3000 troops (or whatever the new number is) the Brits continue to maintain in the South. So a troop can be one soldier. When the military speaks specifically of specific aggregates of troops, it usually refers to the organized groupings that make up the pyramid that is the command structure - from squads to platoons to brigades, etc..each one of these which has its own specific name, i.e, the 82nd Airborne. Trooper is also a single soldier, but of course it has other meanings and connotations.

I don't have a clue as to why Petraeus used that locution; maybe it has something to do with him having a PHD?

In cavalry units, either armor or airborne, a company is called a troop, i.e. instead of Company A, it is A Troop. Individuals are called troopers.

The airborne units refer to individuals as paratroops, usually shortened to troops.

State police are often called troopers because they started out as cavalry units, which is why they still wear riding boots and wide brimmed hats in many states.

Petraeus has been in either mechanized units or airborne units his entire career.

Submitted by lambert on

One less thing to be paranoid about!

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by ron (not verified) on

Petraeus did NOT coin the phrase. It's been around for years.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

as an individual identifier within a unit of (ground based) forces that was smaller than a Squadron, back around the turn of the 1970/80 decade.


We can admit that we’re killers … but we’re not going to kill today. That’s all it takes! ~ Captain James T. Kirk, Stardate 3193.0

1 John 4:18

Submitted by lambert on

As the great Chicago-an Ann Landers used to say.

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi