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Old 05-18-2007   #21
Shek
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This is good news. Of all the Iraq books that I've read thus far, I think that Dr. Hashim's is far and away the best. Of course, this is somewhat an apples and oranges comparison since each book has its own focus, but the endnotes on his book are incredible.
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Old 05-20-2007   #22
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That is why the active guys have to go to the residency course now. The people I have met who did the ILE battalion job in the reserves were not always the most up to date. If you really want the PME, you go to the resident course.
As I understood it, for the Army the change for CGSC was to give priority to line officers to do the residency course. It was circa 2004 that I had a discussion with an Army O-3 about to be O-4 regarding this shift in the policy. Who knows whether this policy has been enforced given the manpower requirements of OIF/OEF. The Marine Corps has no such requirements -- my husband has been doing the Command and Staff correspondence course while in Fallujah. Also, the Marine Corps has had a reputation, at the War College level, of not necessarily sending people until _after_ they've had BN command. At least one person, whose opinion I trust and whose knowledge of the workings of the Corps is massive, has suggested this can be a problem.

One thing I'd be curious to know is what the stats are on reserve officer attendance at the War Colleges prior to 2001. It seems I run into a fair number of them attending the courses here at Newport, and I don't know whether that's a change (related to the operational requirements for AD officers) or the maintenance of the status quo.
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Old 05-20-2007   #23
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Actually, the policy is for everyone in the AC to attend the active course. Because of the manpower requirements for the wars, there are a lot of empty seats at ILE and the War College. The Guard and Reserve have started sending more officers to these slots because the AC can't fill them. There were traditionally a few slots for RC personnel in both courses, but again, because of the war there are greater opportunities available.
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Old 05-22-2007   #24
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Default An Unorthodox View of Insurgency/Counterinsurgency

Ok, I've been working on this one since my first tour as a single-by-deployment parent. It's a bit cheeky, but as the old saying goes, many a true word is said in jest. This is the unorthodox view I referenced in the Yingling thread.

Comments and additional "slides" are welcome. Normally I'm opposed to power-point, but in this case, the visuals work -- lot's of good, visceral imagery.


"Babies and Insurgents: Why Raising Children Is Like Fighting a Counter-Insurgency"

Consider:

- Cartoon of parent throttling baby in a circle with a slash through it to illustrate the point that you don't win by physically crushing the baby. Even though you can. And sometimes really, _really_ want to -- sort of. It's that brief moment of insanity, in which we are all mostly lucky for not acting on the idea.

- A Little Rascals picture of one of them kicking an adult. Several shots from Home Alone. Etc. These illustrate the point that they can hurt you to their hearts content. With glorious impugnity.

- A picture of other people smiling over the cute baby. A freedom fighter would kill for this kind of press. Highlights the point that the insurgent is often ahead in the PR campaign, whereas the side with the preponderance of power usually finds itself coming up short on this front. If Van Creveld is correct (On Future War), the obviously stronger side is _always_ going to have a PR problem.

- A visual of a parent holding a crying baby in her arms, Tuesday on the calendar, with one of those thought clouds coming out of her head with another visual of the same set-up, except the baby is happy -- on a calendar in this view it says Monday. What worked yesterday may not work today, and today's victories could be tomorrow's tragedies.

- I can't think of a visual for this one, but it's where you solve one problem and simultaneously create another in its place. If you're a parent, I'm sure you've done this. If you find a route that is not laced with IEDs, it's probably got a few corners with ambushes.

- A corollary to the above -- just walking right into a problem all on your own. Like when you offer something and then can't do it and now you've raised expectations. You just step into the s*&t [FN] all on your own.

- A picture of a parent, done up like a Secret Service agent, doing the throw him/herself in front of the proverbial bullet dive. Even though they drive you crazy, you'd die for your kids. This is the idea that, even when the locals seem to be working against you, you have to be willing to do anything to protect them, so that they don't become insurgents. You have to prove that you have their security and well-being as your priority.

- How to train for the mission: Photo of a Marine PFC/Army Private in full combat gear holding an infant -- if he can keep that thing happy and safe for a month on his own he'll have an idea of what will be needed of him on a deployment to a CI. Scarier, in many respects, than SERE school.


Enjoy.


===================
[FN] I believe that reference to expletives in military history is both necessary, and one of the great bits of fun about the subject -- come on, we talk about some tragic stuff, let us have our moments of levity. I've referred to one of my favorite quotes, from Chosin, where the Marine, after being asked -- by a female reporter, no less -- what the most difficult part of the campaign was, responds, in a morphine induced haze, trying to get 4 inches of [grocery store muzak] out of 6 inches of clothing to urinate. As irreverant as reference to that quote might be, I do find it instructive. Another of my theories is the 4/6ths Principle -- that is, on the battlefield, all you'll ever get is 4/6th of what you need. The art is in making up the deficit. Exemplified by the John Wayne quote, "That's not all I've got, that's what I've got," from Rio Bravo. John Wayne could get away with it because his actual ass was on the line. It's not for the SecDef to say -- it represents his [albeit possibly honest] failure to do his job. The operational commander gets to make this sort of gruff comment that he'll make do with whatever he's given. [Rio Bravo being one of my favorite movies, with a great musical interlude by Martin and Nelson -- here's a link, but don't click on it unless you want to hear the song, because it comes up on its own.]
http://solosong.net/dino/rifle/rifle.html
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Old 05-22-2007   #25
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Sargent,
GREAT analogies that I think even our youngest trooper can relate to, especially if he/she is a parent! For your one bullet without a visual (solve on problem and create another in its place), I imagine taking a toy away from one of my kids, put it down and the other takes the same damn toy! Always a problem!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject. I think you've hit on a relevant, easy to use way of describing how to win/lose in COIN!
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Old 05-22-2007   #26
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As well as a nearly endless supply of COIN warriors among the women who are raising children. Hell, I bet a bunch of them would volunteer to go to Iraq/Afghanistan just to be able to take a break from the kids.

The question is; would we have to pay them to go fight insurgents or would they pay us for the opportunity to do something more restful than raising children?

My wife uses a tactic known as "mommy's mad at the world, and it's time to be very, very good." There are certain nation-states that might need this tactic.
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Old 05-22-2007   #27
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Default Another slide, and a scenario

Ok, you both made me laugh out loud with your responses.

I forgot another slide, and I don't know quite how/where it fits in. But it's the idea that, caretaking and taking a lot of difficulties aside, the parents also have to be a force for discipline in a child's life. They can't just let the children rule the roost -- ultimately that is only to the child's detriment, as they learn later in life that they aren't the be all end all of everything and that some people don't take kindly to spoiled brats. Maybe it's the "law and order" piece -- that is, as beneficent as you must be in certain respects, you also can't be too indulgent, you have to establish laws that must be followed by all or there will be consequences. Maybe the visual for this is a three picture scenario, first one is the child being told no cookies, second one is the child with the hand in the cookie jar, and third one is the child sitting in a corner on a time out (or, if it's not too offensive, holding his bum because it's just been spanked).

On the "take a bullet slide" I've got a scenario from OIF I'd like to put forward to illustrate and see what folks think about it. A fair bit of the grunt work of the insurgency is being done by regular Iraqi folk who aren't necessarily committed, but who need the money, and who don't want to get on the wrong side of the insurgents. You know, they emplace the IED or trigger it, eg. Or they're one of the prayers and sprayers who work in support of the A-Game guys. Now, let's say you catch the guy. What if, instead of putting them in jail, you offered them something better. You empathize with their situation, and you find out what they'd rather have. What did the guy do before? If he operated a little kabob cart, what if you offer a micro-loan or business grant to open a kabob shop? Maybe they won't all go for it, but some will, probably more than half. Once you get some going for it, I think you'd see a snowball effect. Or perhaps I'm just a bright-eyed optimist.
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Old 05-23-2007   #28
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A fair bit of the grunt work of the insurgency is being done by regular Iraqi folk who aren't necessarily committed, but who need the money, and who don't want to get on the wrong side of the insurgents. You know, they emplace the IED or trigger it, eg. Or they're one of the prayers and sprayers who work in support of the A-Game guys. Now, let's say you catch the guy. What if, instead of putting them in jail, you offered them something better. You empathize with their situation, and you find out what they'd rather have. What did the guy do before? If he operated a little kabob cart, what if you offer a micro-loan or business grant to open a kabob shop? Maybe they won't all go for it, but some will, probably more than half. Once you get some going for it, I think you'd see a snowball effect. Or perhaps I'm just a bright-eyed optimist.
I think it is a good idea. I've read that turning the enemy to fight for your side is one the hallmarks of small wars won.
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Old 05-23-2007   #29
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In the very beginning of the "insurgency" we had developed an agreement with the locals. Some Fedeyeen strongman had kidnapped some family members, and dropped off a mortar and some rounds. If the farmers didn't fire the mortars on the base, they'd get their relatives back... one piece at a time. So, we allowed the farmers to fire on the "base", as long as the mortar fire impacted in an area that was "safe", our patrols wouldn't kill them.

I don't know what we could've promised the farmers to make them "not shoot" the mortar; as it was, after about 6 months, both the Fedeyeen and "Big Army" caught on to our "agreement" and it was back to being enemies again.

I'm a little disturbed by the Iraqi Populace = Children piece, (White Man's Burden and all that) but I have to say, you found an unexpected and accurate parallel with your unconventional view on COIN.

BTW - Would it be okay to yell at the Iraqis something like "If you guys say one more word, I'm going to turn this war around and go straight back home. And we're never going back!"
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Old 05-23-2007   #30
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In the very beginning of the "insurgency" we had developed an agreement with the locals. Some Fedeyeen strongman had kidnapped some family members, and dropped off a mortar and some rounds. If the farmers didn't fire the mortars on the base, they'd get their relatives back... one piece at a time. So, we allowed the farmers to fire on the "base", as long as the mortar fire impacted in an area that was "safe", our patrols wouldn't kill them.

I don't know what we could've promised the farmers to make them "not shoot" the mortar; as it was, after about 6 months, both the Fedeyeen and "Big Army" caught on to our "agreement" and it was back to being enemies again.

I'm a little disturbed by the Iraqi Populace = Children piece, (White Man's Burden and all that) but I have to say, you found an unexpected and accurate parallel with your unconventional view on COIN.

BTW - Would it be okay to yell at the Iraqis something like "If you guys say one more word, I'm going to turn this war around and go straight back home. And we're never going back!"
Interesting about the mortars... I don't really know how this all works in reality, it's more of a directional idea (a la Builder and Dewar's idea of "planning" from an article in Parameters back in the 90s).

I totally get your point about the "white man's burden" aspect. I suppose that piece works better when you are fighting an insurgency within your own country. But really, it just goes to the point that law and order are necessary in the process of ending an insurgency/establishing a secure setting. In Iraq, this part might have to be done by the locals.
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Old 05-23-2007   #31
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BTW - Would it be okay to yell at the Iraqis something like "If you guys say one more word, I'm going to turn this war around and go straight back home. And we're never going back!"
Only if you promise not to use an "I'll give you something to cry about!" No kidding, I've actually said that -- and delivered on the promise, once -- to my son. Ooops.
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Old 05-23-2007   #32
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"Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"

What I love about this brilliant analogy is that it is something every human being on the planet can relate to as obvious common sense, because even if childless, we've all been children.

I desperately wish this idea wasn't so deeply enmeshed with the "white man's burden" notion of paternalism/maternalism, because the actual techniques are among the oldest behavior-development tools in the human arsenal.

Perhaps you can get beyond the paternalism/maternalism idea by relating this to group dynamics and social persuasion ... where success also requires repetition, restraint, simplicity of message, and an ability to relentlessly focus on the long-term goal in every day-to-day activity. Everything I need to know about COIN I learned in Kindergarten.

As I read through this, I keep being reminded of Fallujah in the spring of '04, when the four contractors were butchered. My unorthodox view of this is that one of the reasons the U.S. government hires the security contractors and pays them six-figure tax-free salaries is because they are risking their lives with the implicit understanding that, if their bodies were dragged through the streets, the news footage won't show dead American soldiers. In Fallujah, we collectively lost sight of this pragmatic reality and instead declared war on a city. It's as though we became guilty of shaken-baby syndrome.

Last edited by VinceC; 05-23-2007 at 02:27 PM.
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Old 05-23-2007   #33
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Default Teenage Insurgents?????

While I find the analogy to child-rearing compelling, I think you may have focussed on the wrong age group in your analysis.

I believe that we are dealing with something more akin to teenagers rather than younger munchkins. I think an approach like that used by Kevin Kline with his son in the 2001 movie "Life as a House" might be worth investigating.

BTW "Rio Bravo" may be the Duke's best picture, IMHO. I'm particularly partial to the scene where Stumpy's (Walter Brennan's character) complaining about conflicting guidance from Marshall Chance.
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Old 05-23-2007   #34
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While I find the analogy to child-rearing compelling, I think you may have focussed on the wrong age group in your analysis.

I believe that we are dealing with something more akin to teenagers rather than younger munchkins. I think an approach like that used by Kevin Kline with his son in the 2001 movie "Life as a House" might be worth investigating.

BTW "Rio Bravo" may be the Duke's best picture, IMHO. I'm particularly partial to the scene where Stumpy's (Walter Brennan's character) complaining about conflicting guidance from Marshall Chance.
The teenagers are more like dedicated AQ -- there's nothing you can do about them!

Seriously, part of the point of using the baby/small child as the object is to make clear the physical/strength disparities -- and how they don't matter. The initial point of comparison that occurred to me was that you are bigger and stronger than the baby, but killing the baby isn't victory, it is most definitely defeat. It is the similar situation to a Counterinsurgency -- you don't win by applying your overwhelming force -- in fact, that's often how you lose. That is, you can't lash out because they've made you insane.

On a separate note, regarding the paternalism piece, I do not mean to suggest that the Counterinsurgent side is the "parent" in the conflict. I mean only to suggest that many of the same ideas that govern parenting also governing the conduct of a counterinsurgency. I want to shake the notion that winning is fighting and killing insurgents and other similar activities.
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Old 05-23-2007   #35
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With teenagers (I have experience on both ends here), it's really a test of how well you've done during the pre-teen rearing phase, with the caveat that there are too many variables for you to have had control over the outcome. Plenty of good adults had lousy parents, and vice versa.

The goal is to have given teenagers the behavior tools and experiences for them to have a greater chance of success as they respond to their hard-wired need to drive away from the group that nurtured them and find a new social group of their own. This remarkable evolutionary trait accomplishes two things -- physcially, it minimizes inter-breeding; and socially, it provides a mobility that allows each generation to take a critical look at the received wisdom and knowledge of the larger culture.

Or, as my wife would say, they go insane at age 14 and, sometime around 22, get over it.

It's helpful to understand this social dynamic from a COIN point of view, because our soldiers are teenagers or recent teens who have broken away from their nurturing group and have found a new social group in which to belong. At this age -- 18 to 22 -- humans can be intensely passionate about believing in and defending their newly adopted group and its values. On the other hand, their potential insurgent adversaries are of the same age cohort and believe just as fervently and inflexibly in their chosen values.
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Old 05-23-2007   #36
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Seriously, part of the point of using the baby/small child as the object is to make clear the physical/strength disparities -- and how they don't matter. The initial point of comparison that occurred to me was that you are bigger and stronger than the baby, but killing the baby isn't victory, it is most definitely defeat. It is the similar situation to a Counterinsurgency -- you don't win by applying your overwhelming force -- in fact, that's often how you lose. That is, you can't lash out because they've made you insane.

On a separate note, regarding the paternalism piece, I do not mean to suggest that the Counterinsurgent side is the "parent" in the conflict. I mean only to suggest that many of the same ideas that govern parenting also governing the conduct of a counterinsurgency. I want to shake the notion that winning is fighting and killing insurgents and other similar activities.

My reason for suggesting the teen rather than the younger set is rooted in a view of the whole person. Parents of teens can apply overwhelming force in two different ways--they have the superior mental/rational card
(also known as "age and experience") which they can use to browbeat those teens. They also still have physical power over the teens quite often ("age and cunning will beat youth and brute strength every time")

On a separate, but related, note you seem to have been hoisted on your own pitard here.
While you say you want to shake the notion of winning via violence, your analogy seems largely to focus on just that aspect of the parent-child relationship. Your stated goal leads to another reason for my response focussed on teens: they, at least sometimes, are amenable to reason (while the babies and toddlers in your hypothetical slides are not). Parents just have to figure out what kinds of reasoning works with their teens. This is sort of like a clash between two cultures, which seems to characterize most COIN efforts that are not completely run from inside the affected country by its own forces. BTW, many teens are caught in the same conundrum: trying to figure out how to talk to their parents about their issue, they lack the common ground which causes their all-too-frequently-heard outcries of "Mom (or Dad), you just don't understand." Parents quite often do understand the issue; they just don't share the language (AKA cultural commonalities) to be able to express that understanding.
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Old 05-23-2007   #37
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My reason for suggesting the teen rather than the younger set is rooted in a view of the whole person. Parents of teens can apply overwhelming force in two different ways--they have the superior mental/rational card
(also known as "age and experience") which they can use to browbeat those teens. They also still have physical power over the teens quite often ("age and cunning will beat youth and brute strength every time")

On a separate, but related, note you seem to have been hoisted on your own pitard here.
While you say you want to shake the notion of winning via violence, your analogy seems largely to focus on just that aspect of the parent-child relationship. Your stated goal leads to another reason for my response focussed on teens: they, at least sometimes, are amenable to reason (while the babies and toddlers in your hypothetical slides are not). Parents just have to figure out what kinds of reasoning works with their teens. This is sort of like a clash between two cultures, which seems to characterize most COIN efforts that are not completely run from inside the affected country by its own forces. BTW, many teens are caught in the same conundrum: trying to figure out how to talk to their parents about their issue, they lack the common ground which causes their all-too-frequently-heard outcries of "Mom (or Dad), you just don't understand." Parents quite often do understand the issue; they just don't share the language (AKA cultural commonalities) to be able to express that understanding.
I don't disagree with your critique of the idea. But I would submit that we don't even have a good, commonly understood starting point. Consider the "teen" piece as advanced Counterinsurgency, whereas the "baby" piece is remedial. We have such a strong tradition of force=war=winning, and that needs to be broken down in order to begin the process of learning how to do COIN correctly. Alternatively, the "baby" piece might be how to deal with the part of counterinsurgency where there is still quite a bit of violence afoot, and the "teen" piece is how to navigate the point when you've gotten the insurgents to stop fighting (for the most part) and now you have to deal with them politically.

Does that lower my petard?

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Old 05-23-2007   #38
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Hi Sargent,

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I don't disagree with your critique of the idea. But I would submit that we don't even have a good, commonly understood starting point. Consider the "teen" piece as advanced Counterinsurgency, whereas the "baby" piece is remedial. We have such a strong tradition of force=war=winning, and that needs to be broken down in order to begin the process of learning how to do COIN correctly. Alternatively, the "baby" piece might be how to deal with the part of counterinsurgency where there is still quite a bit of violence afoot, and the "teen" piece is how to navigate the point when you've gotten the insurgents to stop fighting (for the most part) and now you have to deal with them politically.
Why not combine them and, at the same time, add in some "grand parent" figures as the local sheiks? After all, one of the serious problems with the baby issue is that "White Man's Burden" imagery and that could be corrected with having the local elders in a grandparent role - it also reinforces the idea that it is okay to ask for advice (aka babysitting) and you are a twit if you don't.

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Old 05-23-2007   #39
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I don't disagree with your critique of the idea. But I would submit that we don't even have a good, commonly understood starting point. Consider the "teen" piece as advanced Counterinsurgency, whereas the "baby" piece is remedial. We have such a strong tradition of force=war=winning, and that needs to be broken down in order to begin the process of learning how to do COIN correctly. Alternatively, the "baby" piece might be how to deal with the part of counterinsurgency where there is still quite a bit of violence afoot, and the "teen" piece is how to navigate the point when you've gotten the insurgents to stop fighting (for the most part) and now you have to deal with them politically.
The baby treatment piece is not really remedial. Rather it is part of a graduated response depending on where one is in the insurgency. It goes with Baby insurgencies (I think they used to call them Phase I--those that are just starting and/or have very little popular support). Being too heavy handed with anti-insurgency tactics sways public opinion towards the insurgents. Humor the bad behavior, and we hope it goes away. If it doesn't (as with Baby Dumpling now not only blowing raspberries, but blowing raspberries with a mouth full of food every time s/he's fed), perhaps more coercive measures need to be applied. But, as the Wicked Witch of the West says in The Wizard of Oz ,"These thing have to be done delicately." Graduated responses go along with the various phases of insurgency--I think the current operations in SWA require a more teen-parent-like solution since this is no Phase I Insurrection (and probably never was).
BTW, I think categorizing insurgencies as Phase I, II, II, etc. is a mistake. Insurgencies occupy a continuum going from limited popular support to massive popular support.
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Does that lower my pitard?
Petards (my bad for previous uncaught misspelling) usually cannot be unhoisted, just as, more germane to the alleged origin of the phrase, "gas, once passed, cannot be recaptured."
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Old 05-23-2007   #40
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Default excuse my Petard

pe·tard
–noun 1. an explosive device formerly used in warfare to blow in a door or gate, form a breach in a wall, etc.
2. a kind of firecracker.
3. (initial capital letter) Also called Flying Dustbin. a British spigot mortar of World War II that fired a 40-pound (18 kg) finned bomb, designed to destroy pillboxes and other concrete obstacles.
—Idiom4. hoist by or with one's own petard, hurt, ruined, or destroyed by the very device or plot one had intended for another.

[Origin: 1590–1600; < MF, equiv. to pet(er) to break wind (deriv. of pet < L péditum a breaking wind, orig. neut. of ptp. of pédere to break wind) + -ard -ard]
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
American Heritage Dictionary - Cite This Source pe·tard (pĭ-tärd') Pronunciation Key
n.
A small bell-shaped bomb used to breach a gate or wall.
A loud firecracker.

[French pétard, from Old French, from peter, to break wind, from pet, a breaking of wind, from Latin pēditum, from neuter past participle of pēdere, to break wind; see pezd- in Indo-European roots.]

Word History: The French used pétard, "a loud discharge of intestinal gas," for a kind of infernal engine for blasting through the gates of a city. "To be hoist by one's own petard," a now proverbial phrase apparently originating with Shakespeare's Hamlet (around 1604) not long after the word entered English (around 1598), means "to blow oneself up with one's own bomb, be undone by one's own devices." The French noun pet, "fart," developed regularly from the Latin noun pēditum, from the Indo-European root *pezd-, "fart."
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