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.

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

Duration of Deployment
A BDA (see below)
Onward movement
Discussions on: Lessons learned
Success stories
Needed improvements
Troops learn best when they learn from each other and from their leaders. An AAR           helps determine what went right and what went wrong.

AO: Area of Operation

AQ: Al-Qaeda

AWACS: Airborne Warning and Control SystemNATO's Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aeroplanes

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

BAMF: Bad ass Motherfucker aka Joshua Hood.

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

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

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.


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

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

CHOP-CHOP: Hurry up

CF: Cluster Fuck usually pronounced Charlie Foxtrot

CIA: Central Intelligence Agency


CONUS: Continental United States

COP: Combat Outpost

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: Naval Special Warfare Development Group aka Seal Team Six

DHS: Department of Homeland Security

DMZ: Demilitarized Zone

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

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

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

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 described as Green, they’re inexperienced, new in their role, untried, a boot.

GRU: Glavnoye Razvedyvatelnoye Upravlenie. Russian Main Intelligence Administration

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

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

Humvee meets IED.jpg

IFAK: Individual First Aid Kit


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

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

KGB: Soviet Intelligence Service

KIA: Killed in Action


KIDON: A department within Israel’s Mossad. known as the tip of the spear. One of the most capable and lethal special ops units in the world

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

MIA: Missing in Action

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!!!


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

NAVY SEAL CREED: I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.

NCO: Non-Commissioned Officer

NGO: Non-Governmental Organization

NOC: Non-official Cover Operative

NSA: National Security Agency AKA BIG BROTHER!

OCONUS: Outside Continental United States

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

ORM: Operational Risk Management

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


POC: Point of Contact

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

POTUS: President of the United States


RANGERS CREED: Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers.
Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite Soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other Soldier.
Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one-hundred-percent and then some.
Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained Soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.

Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.
Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.
Rangers lead the way!

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 Lead The Way – On 6 June 1944, during the assault landing on Dog White sector of Omaha Beach as part of the invasion of Normandy, then-Brigadier General Norman Cota (assistant CO of the 29th ID) approached Major Max Schneider, CO of the 5th Ranger Battalion and asked, “What outfit is this?”, Schneider answered “5th Rangers, Sir!” To this, Cota replied “Well, goddamnit, if you’re Rangers, lead the way!” From this, the Ranger motto “Rangers lead the way!” was born.

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


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

SAD: Special Activities Division

SAM: Surface-To-Air-Missile


SAPI: Small Arms Protective Insert


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


SECDEF: Secretary of Defense


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

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

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

SITREP: An operational SITREP (Situation Report) is the unit Commander’s certification of a unit’s operational situation to include operational status of forces, manning, intelligence, logistics, and communications

SFMF: Semper Fidelis Mother Fucker (USMC)

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

SOP: Standard Operating Procedure

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

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

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

TOC: Tactical Operations Center

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

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

USAID: United States Agency for International Development

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

NATO Phonetic Alphabet:






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