Nation: Mirv, Marv & Mad

Defense experts use so many acronyms and abbreviations that they sometimes seem to be talking in a secret language. The various cruise missiles, for example, are fondly called "alcoms," "slickems" and "glickems"—for the ALCM (air-launched cruise missile), SLCM (sea-launched) and GLCM (ground-launched).

The basic missile is still known by its initials, ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile), but its systems for multiple warheads sound more like a team of comedians—MIRV and MARV (for multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle and the more advanced maneuverable reentry vehicle whose course can be adjusted after launch).

SALT, which is...

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