This is an apparently new military-speak word, which I first encountered in the Washington Post today. Blockquoth the Post:
One U.S. military officer said that the Northern Alliance, which has been battling the Taliban for control of Mazar-e Sharif, is "trying to organize themselves for something coordinated before Ramadan," the Muslim holy month that begins in mid-November. The effort, the officer said, is clearly being aided by U.S. airstrikes. "They attrit the Taliban lines every day."
I believe this is yet another example of a military euphemism
, much like the famous "collateral damage
" (AKA innocent civilians eating firey death
) hiding the truth of an armed conflict. What word could be inserted in that last sentence? "They defeat
the Taliban lines every day"? "They push back the Taliban lines every day"? "They successfully battle the Taliban lines every day"? Perhaps the most accurate way to describe it is "They kill off
the Taliban lines every day," just as accurate, in fact, more so, as it illustrates the brutality of war, which perhaps, hypothetically, the U.S. military
might feel inclined to obscure from the American public.