Fobbits and other Iraqi critters

Date Published: 12 November 2004

Fobbits and other Iraqi critters

Here's some terms you'll need to know if you're going to be coming to Iraq soon (at least for US Army folks). One term that's frowned up on officially but used all the time is 'haji', referring to Iraqis. There are 'haji shops' at most bases where you can buy souvenirs, dvds, gifts, rugs, blankets, electronics, etc. A haji is really a muslim who has completed a 'haj', or pilgrimage, to mecca, and is a term of respect. However, using it to refer to any/all muslims/Iraqis is somewhat disrespectful and, as I said, is frowned upon. Nonetheless, many haji shops have signs out front of them that read 'hajee shop' so it seems at least these proprietors don't mind the term.

An acronym you'll quickly learn here is FOB, which stands for Forward Operating Base (or something very close to that). Those of us who conduct missions 'outside the wire' on a regular basis have come up with a variety of terms to refer to those who remain safe and comfortable on base. The most common one lately has been 'Fobbit', referring to those short, fat, hairy creatures that live in little holes and rarely venture out into the world (see Tolkien for more info). I've also seen some units refer to them as FOB Dwellers, with one platoon of Bradleys stenciling the letters FUFD on their back hatches (FU FOB Dweller). Prior to deploying, non-combat troops were usually referred to as REMFs, where RE stood for Rear Echelon (and MF you can guess), but that term seems to have been replaced by Fobbit here.

One more term before I must go -- the FOB Taxi. This refers to any vehicle that never leaves the FOB and is only used to shuttle its owner, usually a Fobbit, around the FOB. Strangely, these vehicles are often first in line for upgrades such as better armor, better gun mounts, etc, while those vehicles that actually leave the FOB daily (usually operated by lower-ranking soldiers) must make do with less well-equipped vehicles.

Steve Smith

About Ardalis

Software Architect

Steve is an experienced software architect and trainer, focusing on code quality and Domain-Driven Design with .NET.