Military Phrases & Acronyms

Do you often read a phrase or acronym in your favorite thriller and not quite sure what it means. We hear your Lima Charlie / LOUD & CLEAR!!

If you have read something and are curious as to the meaning and don’t see it here. Tweet us @LimaCharlieEdit and we will add it to the list.


1st CIV DIV: 1st Civilian Division, civilian life for service members facing discharge or retirement

ACTIVE DUTY: Full-time duty in the active military service of the United States

AFTER ACTION REPORT: A professional discussion of an event. Focused on performance standards that enables troops to discover what occurred, why it occurred like that, and how to improve on weaknesses. Every mission should have a BDA (see below) and an AAR

AO: Area of Operation

AQ: Al-Qaeda

ASAFP: Like ASAP but sooner, due to the  urgent & necessary F bomb

BACK ON THE BLOCK: When a service member acts more like a civilian and less like the professional war fighter  he/she is

BAMCIS: Begin planning, Arrange Recon, Make the Plan, Complete the Plan, Issue the order, Supervise (USMC)

BCG: Birth Control Glasses. If you need a visual, please tweet us @LimaCharlieEdit

BDA: Battle Damage Assessment. A timely and accurate estimate of damage resulting from the application of military force against an objective or target. Three components of BDA are, PDA: Physical Damage Assessment, FDA: Functional Damage Assessment, and TSA: Target System Assessment

BDL: Bed Down Location

BLOOD AGENT: A chemical compound, including the cyanide group, that affects bodily functions by preventing the normal utilization of oxygen by body tissues

BLOS: Beyond Line of Sight

BOLO: Be On The Lookout. We would patrol the streets of Iraq and prior to going out of the wire, we’d get whatever new intelligence is floating out there. Often we’d get a BOLO for a specific vehicle an insurgent was seen driving or a IED maker.

BOOT: Term for a service member that is new to the fleet, or new to their current posting

BRAVO ZULU: Well Done

BUD/S: Basic underwater Demolition School

BUTTER BAR: A Second Lieutenant, due to the gold color of their rank insignia

CAC: Common Access Card. AKA Military or DOD ID with a chip in it that allows one access to government issued computers.

CAG: Combat Applications Group aka the Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta

CALL SIGN: OPSEC (see below) is of the utmost importance, therefore when talking on the radio, talking within earshot of would be listeners (assume everyone is trying to listen) or transmitting on a digital network, utilize a predetermined CALL SIGN to identify yourself. “Call-sign protocol is born from blood” – Andrews & Wilson. Some notable CALL SIGNS: Iron Man – Mitch Rapp’s CALL SIGN until that asshole, Congressman Rudin told the whole world who he is live on tv on Meet the Press. Others: Pike & Knuckles in Brad Taylor’s Pike Logan series. Evan Smoak is Orphan X aka the Nowhere Man in Gregg Hurwitz Orphan X Series. Court Gentry has a bunch: he’s been known as Sierra Six, Violator & of course The Gray Man, in Mark Greaney’s Gray Man Series. John Dempsey is Mustang in Andrews & Wilson’s Tier One Thriller AMERICAN OPERATOR & his team incorporates appropriate call-signs based on type of mission

CAR: Short for Combat Action Ribbon

CAS: Close Air Support

CASEVAC: Casualty Evacuation

CASUALTY RATE: The number of casualties per 1,000 population at risk

C-DAY: The unnamed day on which a deployment operation commences or is to commence

CENTCOM: Central Command

CHECK FIRE: Order to stop firing due to safety condition, possible error or mistarget

CHOP-CHOP: Hurry up

CF: Cluster Fuck usually pronounced Charlie Foxtrot

CIA: Central Intelligence Agency

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COB: Close of Business, the end of working hours

COG: Corporal of the Guard. The acting corporal (or  near rank) that acts under the SOG – Sergeant of the Guard on watch, radio watch or post

COIN CHALLENGE: Initiated by drawing your coin, then state, scream, shout, or verbally acknowledge that you’re initiating a challenge. Another, less vocal method is to simply slam it on the bar. Next step, those that are being challenged must produce a coin as well in a similar manner. If they cannot produce one, they owe a round of drinks. If everyone does respond properly, YOU owe a round of drinks. Coin checks are permitted, ANY TIME, ANY PLACE!

military-challenge-coin

CONUS: Continental United States

COP: Combat Outpost

COVER: Headgear (a hat)

COUNTERSIGN: A sign, word, phrase, or any other signal  previously agreed upon & required to be exchanged between a sentry or guard and anybody approaching their post. It authenticates the person approaching as a friend and not an enemy combatant

DANGER CLOSE: In close air support, artillery, mortar, and naval gunfire support fires, the term included in the method of engagement segment of a call for fire that indicates that friendly forces are within close proximity if the target

DEAR JOHN: The infamous breakup letter penned to a deployed boyfriend or husband. Also please see “JODY” below

DEPENDA: A military spouse who it under the impression she wears her spouses’ rank

DEVGRU: The United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group commonly known as Seal Team Six

DHS: Department of Homeland Security

DPRK: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

DMZ: Demilitarized Zone

DNI: Director of National Intelligence

DOD: Department of Defense

DOJ: Department of Justice

DZ: Drop Zone

ECP: Entry Control Point

EDC: Everyday Cary. Many people have an extensive collection of guns & knives, but their EDC rarely changes due to comfort & concealment

EMBRACE THE SUCK: The situation is bad, but deal with it

EMP: Electromagnetic Pulse

EOD: Explosive Ordnance Disposal AKA BALLS OF STEEL

ETA: Estimated Time of Arrival

EXERCISE: A military maneuver or simulated wartime operation involving planning, preparation, and execution that is carried out for the purpose of training and evaluation

EXFIL: Exfiltration. The removal of personnel or units from areas under enemy control by stealth, deception, surprise, or clandestine means

FARP: Forward Arming & Refueling / Rearming Point

FIELD ARTILLERY: Equipment, supplies, ammunition, and personnel involved in the use of cannon, rocket, or surface-to-surface missile launchers

FITREP: Fitness Report

FOB: Forward Operating Base

FOBBITS: Derogatory term for troops  that never leave the FOB (never leave the wire, or exit friendly lines)

FUBAR: Fucked up beyond all recognition

GERONIMO: Phrase dates to the earliest U.S. Army Paratroopers shouting the term as they exited an aircraft to show presence of mind and lack of fear

GO/NO-GO: A critical point at which a decision to proceed or not must be made

GPS: GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM. A satellite-based radio navigation system operated by the Department of Defense to provide all military, civil, and commercial users with precise positioning, navigation, and timing

GREEN: When someone is referred to as Green, it means the person has little to no experience in their current field

GRU: Russian Main Intelligence Directorate

GUNG HO: Someone who is endlessly enthusiastic to achieve their aim. Originated in the Pacific Theater of WWII, actual translation is: “Work Together” by the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Major Evans Carlson

HMMWV: High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (pronounced Humvee)

HOOAH: U.S. Army & U.S. Air Force Battle Cry (Air Force does battle?)

HOOYA: U.S. Navy & U.S. Coast Guard battle Cry

HUMINT: Human Intelligence, information than can be gathered from human sources

HVT: High Value Target

IDF: Israeli Defense Forces

IED: Improvised Explosive Device. During the height of the insurgency, these were their deadliest weapons against coalition forces

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IFAK: Individual First Aid Kit

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IMINT: Imagery intelligence, gathering intel via satellite & aerial photography. The movie “Behind Enemy Lines” portrays IMINT very well

IRGC: Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is a branch of Iran’s Armed Forces

IS: Islamic State

ISA: Intelligence Support Activity, the Army’s secret spy service

ISR: Intelligence, Surveillance, & Reconnaissance

JODY: The man, the myth, the legend… that is home screwing your girlfriend/wife while you’re busy sowing that blanket of freedom in the SUCK

JSOC: Joint Special Operations Command

JUMPMASTER: The assigned airborne qualified individual who controls paratroops from the time they enter the aircraft until they exit

JWICS: Joint Worldwide Communication System

KGB: Soviet Intelligence Service

KIA: Killed in Action

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KILL BOX: A three-dimensional permissive fire support coordination measure with an associated airspace coordinating measure use to facilitate the integration of fires

KNESSET: Means ‘the gathering’ or ‘assembly.’ It is the  unicameral national legislature of Israel

LAR: Light Armored Reconnaissance – fast and mobilized armored terrestrial reconnaissance units that conduct reconnaissance-in-force (RIF) ahead of the battalion landing teams or division infantry forces. They mainly provide the Marine Air-Ground Task Force and the Marine Expeditionary Unit commanders vital intelligence of the enemy.

LIMA CHARLIE: Loud & Clear

LIMA ECHO: Law Enforcement

LBV: Load Bearing Vest

LOW VELOCITY DROP: A drop procedure in which the drop velocity does not exceed 30 feet per second

LZ: Landing Zone, any specified zone used from landing an aircraft

M16: US Military adaptation of the ArmaLite AR-15 5.56 mm caliber rifle. Introduced in 1964, still used  today

M16

M4 CARBINE: Shorter & lighter variant of the M16 assault rifle. Also a 5.56 x 45mm air cooled, direct impingement, gas-operated, magazine fed carbine

M4

M249 SAW LMG: Squad Automatic Weapon /Light Machine Gun. In service since 1984 – Present. A gas operated, air-cooled, belt or magazine fed, automatic weapon that fires from the open-bolt position. Maximum range: 3,600 meters

M249

M2 .50 CALIBER MACHINE GUN: The M2 is an air-cooled, belt-fed machine gun, fires from a closed bolt, operated on the short recoil principle. The M2 fires the .50 BMG cartridge, which offers long range, accuracy and immense stopping power. Maximum range:6,764 meters

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M240B: US Military 7.62 mm Caliber Machine Gun. The M240B is a belt-fed, air-cooled, gas-operated, fully automatic machine gun that fires from the open bolt position. Maximum range: 3725 meters

M240b

MARSOC: U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command

MASS CASUALTY: Any number of human casualties produced across a period of time that exceeds available medical support capabilities

MEDEVAC: Medical Evacuation

MEF: Marine Expeditionary Force

MIA: Missing in Action

MiG: Any member of a family of Soviet military fighter aircraft

MOS: Military Occupational Specialty. They’re called Grunts, Rifle-Man, Infantryman, Dogface, and much more. But in the Marine’s they’re an 0311 and Army 11B.

MOSSAD: Israel’s Foreign Intelligence & Espionage Service

MOUT: Military  Operations in Urban Terrain. A general description for house-to-house searches, raids, and patrols in an urban area

MRAP: Mine Resistant Ambush Protected. A small upgrade from a Humvee

MRE: Meal Ready to Eat. Or sometimes valuable currency!!!

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MSR: Main Supply Route

NATO: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization AKA the North Atlantic Alliance. Founded April 4th, 1949, signed by twelve nations initially. Currently has 29 members

NCO: Non-Commissioned Officer

NCTC: National Counterterrorism Center

NGO: Non-Governmental Organization

NINE-LINE: A medevac request when troops are injured on the battlefield

NOC: Non-official Cover Operative

NSA: National Security Agency AKA BIG BROTHER!

OCONUS: Outside Continental United States

OFP: Own Fucking Program. A service member that does his own thing, disregards the rules

OGA: Other Government Agency. Often used when someone is trying to be vague

OIC: Officer in Charge

OIF/OEF: Operation Iraqi Freedom / Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan Campaign)

Campaign Badges

OORAH: USMC Battle Cry. Most commonly used to respond to a verbal greeting or as an expression of enthusiasm

OPORD: Operations Order

OPSEC: Operational Security, you never know who is listening or watching. The official purpose in the US Military is to reduce the vulnerability of U.S. and multinational forces from successful adversary exploitation of critical information

ORM: Operational Risk Management

ORPHAN: A weapon! Used for solo, offline covert operations. Each Orphan is given a letter of the alphabet as their “call sign.” Created by Gregg Hurwitz & Orphan X is the best the program produced.

PDB: President’s Daily Brief

PID: Positive Identification. You NEVER fire your weapon unless you have PID. PID means you have reasonable certainty that the proposed target is a legitimate target

PKM: PK 7.62 MM Russian Made Machine gun

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POC: Point of Contact

POG: Person Other than Grunt. All non-combatants  MOS’s

POTUS: President of the United States

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QRF: Quick Reaction Force. An armed military unit capable of rapidly responding to developing situations, typically to assist allied units in need of such assistance

RAIDS: Are operations to temporarily seize an area, usually through forcible entry, in order to secure information, confuse an enemy, capture personnel or equipment, or destroy an objective or capability. – Joint publication 3-0; U.S. DOCTRINE FOR JOINT OPERATIONS, 27 JANUARY 2017, UPDATED 22 OCTOBER 2018

REVEILLE: A signal, as of a drum or bugle, sounded early in the morning to awaken military personnel and to alert them for assembly

RLTW: Rangers Motto – Rangers Lead  the Way

ROE: Rules of Engagement – In many third-world countries throughout the world, many men and even kids, some as young as ten years old will walk around carrying a weapon. ROE’s are important so that our troops have a good understanding when to engage in combat. As a former Marine myself, patrolling the streets of Iraq, this was very stressful. Knowing how insurgents work, hiding among innocent men, women, and children. One second they’re a farmer with a shovel in hand, the next they’re a combatant because they’re pointing and/or firing a weapon in your direction

RPA: Remotely Piloted Aircraft or Drone

RPG: Rocket-Propelled Grenade

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RUF: Revolutionary United Front, a rebel army that fought an  eleven year war in Sierra Leone, Africa

SAC: Special Agent in Charge

SAD: Special Activities Division

SAFETY BRIEF: Usually given by an officer or Senior Enlisted Staff NCO to junior enlisted Service Members prior to being released for  liberty (If you drink don’t drive, if you drive don’t drink. Wrap it before you tap it)

SAM: Surface-To-Air-Missile

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SAPI: Small Arms Protective Insert

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SAS: Special Air Service – British special forces, one of the most well trained combatants on the planet

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SCIF:  Pronounced “skiff” A Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. An enclosed area within a facility that is used to process sensitive compartmented information

SDV: Seal Delivery Vehicle. Manned submersible swimmer delivery vehicle used to deliver Navy SEAL’s & their equipment for special operations missions

SEAL: Sea, Air, & Land Teams

SEAL TRIDENT: Official name is “The Special Warfare Insignia.” Also known as “The Budweiser.” Recognizes those members of the United States Navy who have completed the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training, completed SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) and have been designated as U.S. Navy SEALs. It is one of the most recognizable breast insignia of the U.S. Navy.

SECDEF: Secretary of Defense

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SECRET SQUIRREL: A term applied for all things classified in the Military and Intelligence community

SEER: Survive, Evade, Escape, & Resist. Required training for all Military, US DOD Civilians & Private contractors that are expected to operate in a area of known conflict

SEIZE: To employ combat forces to occupy physically and to control a designated area

SERVICE: A branch of the Armed Forces of the United States, established by act of Congress, which are: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard

SHOOT – MOVE – COMMUNICATE: These basic skills provide a unit’s ability to fight as a team. When collectively applied by a fire team, squad, or platoon, these skills translate into combat power allowing a small unit to gain fire superiority over undisciplined larger enemy forces

SIGINT: Signal Intelligence, intel gathered by interception of signals, see also NSA

SITREP: A periodic report of the current situation

SFMF: Semper Fidelis Mother Fucker (USMC)

SKATE: Avoiding work by finding excuse to be elsewhere or unavailable by doing something easier, but important enough to avoid re-tasking

SNAFU: Traces back to the American Military during WWII, stands for “Situational normal: all fucked up” When a less than desirable situation becomes the norm in the given environment

SOCOM: Special Operations Command

SOF: Special Operations Forces

SOG: Sergeant of the Guard

SOP: Standard Operating Procedure

SOPMOD: Special Operations Peculiar MODification kit for the M4-Carbine & other weapons

SPACE FORCES: The space and terrestrial systems, equipment, facilities, organizations, and personnel, or combination thereof, necessary to conduct space operations

SPETSNAZ: Umbrella term used for Russian Special Forces

SQT: Seal Qualification Training

SSGN: Nuclear-Powered Cruise Missile Submarine

STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES: SOP’S are a set of instructions applicable to those features of operations that lend themselves to a definite or standardized procedure without loss of effectiveness

SUPPORT: The action of a force that aids another force in accordance with a directive requiring such action. Support elements may consist of communication, supplies, intelligence, transportation, indirect fire, etc..

TAD: Temporary Additional Duty

TBI: Traumatic Brain Injury. One of the most common non-visible injuries sustained by service members mostly due to IED’s

THEATER: The geographical area for which a commander of a geographic combatant command has been assigned responsibility

TIWG: Terrorist Incident Work Group

TIME ON TARGET: The actual time at which munitions impact the target

TTP: Tactics, Techniques, & Procedures. Tactics meaning the science or art behind maneuvering a force in combat. Techniques or a way to do something utilizing special knowledge or skill. And, Procedures – a series of actions done in a certain way.

TAC: Tactical Air Command

UAV: Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

UN: United Nations

UNIT: Any military element whose structure is prescribed by competent authority

UNSAT: Abbreviation for unsatisfactory

USAID: United States Agency for International Development

USMC: United States Marine Corps

USN: U.S. Navy

VALHALLA: The great hall in Norse mythology where heroes slain in battle are received, a place of honor & glory

VBIED: Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device. The very first recorded VBIED used as a terrorist attack was the 1983 bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut. Many authors, such as the late Vince Flynn, often used this tragedy as a driving factor in their plots

WHO: World Health Organization

WILCO: Radio talk for message received and will comply

WMD: Weapon of Mass Destruction

YUT: A motivational saying similar to Oorah, actual meaning – you undisciplined turd

NATO Phonetic Alphabet:

A – ALFA
B – BRAVO
C – CHARLIE
D – DELTA
E – ECHO
F – FOXTROT
G – GOLF
H – HOTEL
I – INDIA
J – JULIETT
K – KILO
L – LIMA
M – MIKE
N – NOVEMBER
O – OSCAR
P – PAPA
Q – QUEBEC
R – ROMEO
S – SIERRA
T – TANGO
U – UNIFORM
V – VICTOR
W – WHISKEY
X – X-RAY
Y – YANKEE
Z – ZULU

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