Death by acronym & other incomprehensible prose

If you are keen to sow confusion among your enemies and allies alike, best to interact by acronym.


Air forces the world over, and their suppliers, are class leaders in this puzzling means of communication. The US Department of Defence (spelt locally as Defense) even produces its own Dictionary, the preamble to which says: The DOD Dictionary is managed by the Joint Education and Doctrine Division, J-7, Joint Staff. All approved joint definitions, acronyms, and abbreviations are contained in Joint Publication 1-02, DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms 08 November 2010, as amended through 15 October 2015.” A useful work of reference indeed.

Our own boys in blue recently came up with a cracker of their own: ‘T2W’. It stands for Thinking to Win and is the new leadership strategy for the RAF.

Apart from suggesting a rather worrying concept, namely that the leaders of this key force had not thought about winning previously, the specifics are baffling.

The eight individual initiatives of T2W are :”… based around having a common vision, training to win, driving innovation and change, supporting ideas, recognising talent, developing diverse thinking, finding new ways of applying air power and then finding ways to better promote them.”

Do you recognise the same meaningless, corporate bovine effluent spouted from the rear ends of corporations the world over? It even uses the same passive tone “… finding new ways of applying …” as opposed to …find new ways to apply… beloved by CEOs and their advisors who believe in this sort of guff and know next to nothing of the nuances of grammar.

The strategy, aim and purpose of the Royal Air Force was stated, extremely simply, by Hugh Trenchard the man who founded it. He said that air power concerns combating missiles that travel through the air, whether fired or dropped. Did the committee (it had to be a committee) which crafted T2W consider this elegant construct in its deliberations? Somehow I doubt it.

It was reassuring to see in the Letters page of the most recent edition of ‘Aerospace’magazine, published by the learned Royal Aeronautical Society, T2W receive the pasting it deserves.

The general opinion is that the senior folk who had coined T2W should PUFO (British Infantry acronym; now also found in urban idiom) that requires no formal dictionary to be clearly understood.