The expression "stubby pencil drill"

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The expression "stubby pencil drill"

Post by Hoplophile » 05 Nov 2019 14:24

A hearty "hello" to all who read this ...

In the course of your reading about the US Army of the period covered by this sub-forum, as anyone encountered the expression "stubby pencil drill?"

I first heard it in the late 1970s or early 1980s, while serving in the US Marine Corps. However, I suspect that it is of much older vintage. Indeed, I find myself wondering if it has its origins in the sort of staff-work intensive map problems posed to students at the Army Command and Staff College (and its predecessors) in the 1920s and 1930s.

Here is what I found so far:

Google N-Gram viewer yields no results for the expression.

The Hathi Trust website uncovered instances of its use going back to the 1980s.

The four (!) cases in which it was found in the course of a search at the Combined Arms Research Library date to the 1990s.

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Re: The expression "stubby pencil drill"

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 08 Nov 2019 04:38

I first heard the phrase in the early 1980s. Cant recall it before then.

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Re: The expression "stubby pencil drill"

Post by Sheldrake » 08 Nov 2019 10:02

I did not hear the heard the term used in British service in the 1980s. I think it refers to the types of time and distance calculations that form the basis of a lot of staff-work e.g working out movement tables etc.

As a gunner, pencils were not stubby but sharpened at both ends to ensure that even if the point broke the message could be recorded.

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