Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Very Unfortunate Writing Tic

This is the opening paragraph of a new piece about applying counterinsurgency techniques in Mexico:
The Mexican Army‘s counter-drug (CD) operations are making a limited impact on narco-trafficking in Mexico. If they continue their current CD tactics, they will not be effective in the long run because SEDENA is not approaching CD operations like a counter-insurgency (COIN) mission, nor are they effectively attacking the Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) Center of Gravity (COG). SEDENA operations are currently centered along two principal lines of operation - source control (drug eradication/seizure) and HVI interdiction (arrest). By weighting these two lines of effort, SEDENA operations are not focused on what is the key terrain in any counter-insurgency environment - the population. Additionally, SEDENA targeting efforts are not focused on attacking the critical vulnerabilities that directly affect the DTOs strategic COG – the revenues derived from drug sales.
I'll have more to say on the merits of the piece later, but first, let me second Matt Yglesias in saying how lame it is to overuse acronyms. This is absolutely ridiculous. I would have returned this with a "Do again or accept a zero" if a student ever turned it in to me while I was teaching English. There are 13 acronyms in the opening paragraph! You know, the one that should state your case clearly and concisely and encourage the reader to continue reading. This encourages you to throw tequila and lime juice in your eyes. "Center of gravity" is turned into an acronym! That's not a long piece of technical jargon, but a basic piece of American phrasing. I don't know if this habit is inspired by pretension, tradition, or a nerdy belief that acronyms are cool, but the author has made his piece far less effective.


sarah said...

Such a good point! Truthfully I only made it through the second or third line before jumping down to read your input.

pc said...

Yeah it's insane. I defy you to finish the whole article without suffering an aneurism. [Knocking on wood]

Burro Hall said...


pc said...

It's horrible, Burro. I bet the author is the sort of person who would not use a car seat were he Mexican. All shortcuts for this guy.