Friday, September 15, 2006

Troops Vs. Soldiers

Somebody help me understand this please. Why do media outlets report "4 U.S. Troops Killed In Iraq" vs. "4 U.S. Soldiers Killed In Iraq"? I don't get it. Troops is plural. Troops is supposed to refer to a group of soldiers or a military unit. Referring to a soldier as a troop makes me feel like we are distancing ourselves from the individual. It seems more like an anonymous drone that is being referred to, rather than an individual who is performing a very specific, often dangerous role at the direction and discretion of our military and government leaders. I'd much rather know that an individual gave their life for our country than hear that a "troop" had been killed. I'd really rather hear that no one was killed, but troops seems too distant and we need to be closer and real and understand that those who are really at risk have a name and a face and are individuals. Okay...short rant, but this really bugs me.
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4 comments:

Steve said...

I agree. I think I must've fallen asleep the day they talked about how 1 troop equals one soldier. I figured that if a troop was killed, it was 20 or so soldiers. That's what I get for thinking on my own...

Anonymous said...

Dan,

Troop is generic for any member of our armed forces whereas Soldier is specific to the Army, Sailor to the Navy, Airman to the Air Force, and Marine for the Marine Corps.

--tom rafferty

dhduff said...

Thanks for clarifying Tom. That would make sense then to use the term troops to describe members of more than one branch of the military when they are together or if the author/reporter is intending to be generic.

When lives are lost I think using a generic term is inappropriate. In cases of fatalities I feel the individual should be given the respect they've earned and where possible use terms that provide as much individual description as possible.

Sure, we cannot expect a headline to always give individual details. It's a headline afterall, but it wouldn't take much to do a better job describing our military personel.

But still...Why not call soldiers "soldiers", sailors "sailors", marines "marines", etc...? Instead of the generic "troops". I think troops is often used because it takes up less room in a headline. It still seems to cause a disconnect for me. "Troops" is distant and remote, while "soldier" is a descriptor I can connect with. I can identify more closely with a soldier, or sailor, or marine, or airman than I can with a troop.

And let's not even get started on "F Troop".

K...it's late and I rambled. but the term still bugs me.

Anonymous said...

Dan,
Agreed. Not only does it take up less room in a headline, it also shows a lack of reporting. I would argue a lack of respect both to the profession of journalism and to the person who died serving their country.
--tom