Things I learned (military acronyms)

When translating a somewhat specialised text, even when it’s intended for a wide audience, you can come across a whole lot of mind-boggling acronyms, and military jargon is no exception. So here are some things I learned while translating a policy report about European and French security…

EUFOR stands for European Union Force (Force de l’Union européenne), and it is a generic name for certain temporary military operations led by the EU in the context of its common foreign policy. The name of each operation, which follows the term ‘EUFOR’, either references Greek mythology or the deployment site (e.g. EUFOR Althea). But EUFOR is not to be confused with…

EUROFOR (European Rapid Operational Force, or Force d’intervention rapide européenne), which was a multinational rapid reaction force made up of personnel from four EU Member States (Italy, France, Portugal and Spain) and mainly charged with humanitarian, peacekeeping and peace enforcement missions. It was created in 1995 and lasted until 2012, since it was transformed into…

An EU Battlegroup, known as EUBG (in French: Groupements tactiques de l’Union européenne (GTUE) or Groupement tactiques interarmées de réaction rapide (GTIRR)): a military unit with a battalion-sized force (1,500 troops), considered to be the smallest self-sufficient military unit that can be deployed and sustained in a theatre of operation. The  Council of the European Union controls 18 of these multinational Battlegroups in the context of its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) (Politique de sécurité et de défense commune (PSDC)).

And then there’s OPEX. Careful with this one, since while it often stands for Operational Expenditure in English (“dépenses de fonctionnement“), in French it designates external military operations – Opérations Extérieures – in which around 6,500 French soldiers took part in 2015.

So what kind of apparatus is used during such mission, you ask? Well another whole load of acronyms: VBCI (véhicule blindé de combat d’infanterie) and VAB (véhicule de l’avant blindé) are two French examples. In English we have the AVF (armoured fighting vehicle), sometimes also referred to as “armour”, IVF (infantry fighting vehicle) and MICV (mechanised infantry combat vehicle).

These are also distinct from APCs (armoured personnel carriers), which are transport vehicles armed only for self-defense and not specifically engineered to fight on their own. In French, APCs are known as véhicule de transport de troupes (VTT), not to be confused with the more common VTT (vélo tout terrain, or mountainbikes) which are somewhat less useful on the battlefield…








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