For this issue’s dive into the archives, we visit part of a 1964 article from Amerika Esperantisto, the magazine of the now-extinct EANA. It featured excerpts from an article in Friends magazine about the use of Esperanto in the U. S. Army’s “Aggressor Force.”
“Whenever soldiers of the U. S. Army swing into action during maneuvers — in training areas all over the country — they meet strong, organized resistance from a well-trained enemy known officially as Aggressor, but often referred to as Trigons. Dressed in a jungle-green uniform and speaking the strange language of Esperanto, Trigon is a real enemy, even though he represents an imaginary country whose totalitarian form of government is controlled by the ruthless Circle Trigon political party.
The concept of using specially trained troops to oppose maneuver forces came into being in 1946, when U.S. Army Aggressor Center was formed at Fort Riley, Kansas. Army commanders, after appraising the battlefield performance of soldiers during World War II, were convinced that something should be done to introduce realism to training programs. The purpose of Aggressor Center is to help build up the feeling of actual combat for soldiers in the field. The center directs and supervises the training of field advisory teams, procures or manufactures uniforms and equipment for Trigon troops, and prepares special Aggressor training manuals. Field advisory teams go where needed to advise unit commanders on Aggressor training, tactics, and uniforms, and to help indoctrinate Aggressors in the Circle Trigon’s political philosophy.
Aggressors use special identification cards and distribute propaganda — they even carry safe-conduct passes to hand out to U.S. soldiers who may wish to surrender to the enemy! The Aggressor uses a sonics platoon to present combat sound effects, and an engineer platoon handles portable dummy artillery field-pieces, tanks, and vehicles. Running into a variety of realistic battlefield conditions, troops thus return from maneuvers much wiser in the ways of totalitarian warfare.”
The use of Esperanto as the language of the Aggressor Force has continued to inspire comments in the press of the U.S. and the world. A large number of soldiers, coming into actual contact with both the Aggressor and Esperanto, have written EANA for information and have become interested in learning the interlanguage for its own sake and for its usefulness in travel and world friendships.
A few months ago one of the major television networks featured a full-length movie that told the story of the deadly seriousness with which the Aggressor Force conducts its counter attacks in maneuvers. The scenes showing the interrogation of prisoners provided the opportunity to use the “aggressor language” (Esperanto) in realistic sequences.
In the official Field Manual FM30-101A, entitled “Aggressor, the Maneuver Enemy Esperanto Language”, the Introduction gives the following as the Purpose and Scope of the General use of Esperanto:
The purpose of this manual is to provide U.S. forces, portraying AGGRESSOR, with a different language, the use of which will enhance intelligence play and add realism to field exercises. Included are an elementary grammar of the Esperanto language, an English-Esperanto and Esperanto-English vocabulary, and special tables on days and months, numerals, weights and measures, and approximate conversions.
a. Aggressor has adopted Esperanto as his official language. Although it has not supplanted the regional use of other languages and dialects, it is expected to do so eventually. The adoption of Esperanto as the official language does not prohibit the oral use of any local language by prisoners of war, casualties, or other Aggressor personnel, or the written use of any such language in the preparation of documents. …
c. Esperanto is scientifically constructed and adapts to its own use wordroots from various Indo-European languages. Incorporation of roots and of internationally accepted words into the language is facilitated by the extreme regularity and simplicity of Esperanto grammar. …”
The Esperanto vocabularies in the Aggressor manual are excellently done. They contain many terms not found in older Esperanto dictionaries. There are about 5,000 in the manual.