This one is not journalese, but another illustration of the absence of copy editors. Here’s the lede of a Washington Post story, Mar. 8, 2017: “Marines from an amphibious task force have left their ships in the Middle East and deployed to Syria, establishing an outpost from which they can fire artillery guns in support of the fight to take back the city of Raqqa from the Islamic State, defense official said.”
I doubt that defense officials said “artillery guns,” just as nobody who has taken military basic training would use that goofy term. Later, the story reports, “The Marines on the ground include part of an artillery battery that can fire powerful 155-millimeter shells from M777 howitzers….” That’s so you wouldn’t confuse those “powerful” 155-millimeter shells with weak or gentle or benign 155-mm shells.
File under: Bring back the draft.