A not insignificant chunk of the training we go through before arrival focuses on the differences in culture between State and the Military. You can divide us into two opposing columns: we're passive-aggressive; they're hyper-confrontational. We tend to be egalitarian; they focus on rank and discipline. They keep a tidy desk; we live in squalor. Physical fitness matters to them; if we had push-up tests, we'd lose the vast majority of our service. Few foreign service officers smoke; the military loves its cigarettes but REALLY loves its smokeless tobacco.
Having been good friends with the Marines at my last two posts, none of this was new to me. I was a little surprised at how many people here use tobacco products -- everyone smokes cigarettes, all the officers smoke cigars and it seems like every enlisted man has a hunk of chaw in his mouth at any given time -- but beyond that nothing surprised me.
"Foul language," we were told, "is another area where the military isn't like the civilian world. You can expect that the language will be a little salty." This also wasn't news to me -- but I must say that I'm surprised at the the degree to which it's rubbing off on me. I wasn't particularly saintly in my speech habits before this deployment, but I also can't remember ever having dropped the F bomb in a staff meeting. Here, that's closer to de rigeur.
All of this is to say that I anticipate that the language in this blog will continue to go downhill. I don't anticipate studding my writing with obscenities, but as I continue to quote the people around me, the likelihood of using foul language goes up. It is, I suppose, one of the lesser-mentioned dangers of living and working with the military.