boots on the ground

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Attributed to United States General Volney F. Warner, as quoted in the Christian Science Monitor (April 11, 1980) in reference to the Iranian Hostage Crisis:[1]

1980 April 11, Cooley, John K., “US rapid strike force: How to get there first with the most”, Christian Science Monitor:
US options grow more difficults[sic] as the chance of a Soviet response increases. However, many American strategists now argue that even light, token US land forces -- "getting US combat boots on the ground," as General Warner puts it -- would signal to an enemy that the US is physically guarding the area and can only be dislodged at the risk of war.

Noun[edit]

boots on the ground

  1. (idiomatic, military) The ground forces actually fighting in a war or conflict, rather than troops not engaged or other military action such as air strikes.
    The Pentagon may say we have enough, but that's not what I'm hearing from the boots on the ground.

Synonyms[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Safire, William, "On Language - Let's Do This", New York Times, November 7, 2008.