By JESSE HAMILTON,
The Hartford Courant  

FALLUJAH, Iraq -- The military loves its
acronyms. The alphabet soup runs so deep that
there is a document called the Glossary of
Acronyms and Terms -- known, of course, as the
GOAT.

But there's a special, unofficial acronym the troops
in the toughest places, like the Connecticut-based
Marines from Charlie Company, use -- a term that
sets them apart.

POG. Pronounced like vogue. As in: There are
POGs at Camp Fallujah that don't even know
Marines are stationed in the middle of the city.

It stands for Personnel Other than Grunts.

In war, the grunt is the lowest common
denominator. Grunts do the fighting. The lance
corporal machine gunner. The corporal kicking in
doors. People who stay dirty most of the time.
People most likely to get hit.

As long as there have been wars and armies, there
have been grunts, and those grunts have shared
sarcastic whispers about the troops behind the
lines, those who stay in relative safety.

There are places to the east of Fallujah, military
facilities where seafood and ice cream are served in
the chow halls, where the base stores are stocked
to the ceiling, where troops can walk outside
without body armor and helmets, where the toilets
flush.

Nobody at Charlie Company would suggest such
places aren't needed. Nobody would say that an
army could function without a vast support
structure -- just the kind of thing the Iraqi Army
doesn't have yet.

But no matter how vital the people are who work
back there, a typical Charlie Company Marine will
see them just a little differently than he does the
guys stacked in the racks beside him: They are
POGs. We are grunts.

And most of the Marines here wouldn't have it any
other way.
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