What was that you said? Military Jargon for Parents.

June 25, 2008 · Filed Under Parents News 

As a parent, when your child joins the military you go through a wide range of emotions; ranging from extreme pride to high anxiety. The first time you see your child after basic training/boot camp, you expect to see someone tempered by the heat of training (After all, you’ve seen the movies and watched the discovery channel. Even if you haven’t served yourself, you’re aware that military training is “somewhat” difficult.) What you may not expect is to hear your child speaking a different language!

Parents – which piece of slang confused you the first time you heard it? any good stories about that? please share with us!

Remember the military is a profession of arms, and like any profession it has its own, unique, vocabulary. Some of the vocabulary is based on tradition, some of the vocabulary just “is.” One thing is certain, though, if you’ve never been associated with things military, you’ll need a translator to fully understand your child’s conversation. Just like when they were teenagers, or the first time you read a text message.

A lot of “military-ese” consists of acronyms. For some reason, the military wants to shorten just about everything it can into its smallest component part. Don’t ask me why. Perhaps it is a left over from the days when long-distance communications happened with flags or dots & dashes. But for whatever reason, acronyms seem to be a part of military culture that’s here to stay. Here are a few that are often used:

PCS: permanent change of station; a move from one base or garrison to another.

TDY/TAD: temporary duty; a short-term assignment away from a permanent base

AOR/AO: area of responsibility.

OPSEC: operational security

CO: commanding officer.

NCO: non-commissioned officer.

SOP: standard operating procedure.

AAR: after action report.

POC: person in charge

BAH: basic allowance for housing; money given to married members and those with permission to live off-base to defray housing costs.

CONUS: continental United States; within the 48 contiguous states

OCONUS: outside the continental United States; outside the 48 contiguous states

POV: private (or personal) automobile

GOV: government-owned automobile

PX/BX: post (or base) exchange

ROE: rules of engagement

MRE: meals ready to eat

MOS: military operational specialty; what job you do

FUBAR: fouled up (or other appropriate words) beyond all recognition.

SNAFU: situation normal, all fouled (or other appropriate words) up

Sometimes the military also uses a phonetic alphabet when needed to communicate letters clearly, for example when giving map coordinates over the radio. The phonetic alphabet goes “alpha, bravo, charlie, delta . . . .” These phonetic alphabet letters are also sometimes used in acronyms to convey certain meanings, such as:

“Tango Uniform:” torn up or broken

“Sierra Hotel” shoot (or other appropriate word) hot

“Charlie Sierra” chicken stuff (or other appropriate word for excrement)

“Mikes” minutes

Finally, some “military-ese” consists of slang; much of it service-specific. Here’s a few general slang terms:

Butter bar: a second lieutenant

Slick sleeve: in the Air Force, an airman basic; in the Army, a soldier without a combat patch

Shirt, or First Shirt: in the Air Force, the unit’s first sergeant

Old Man: in the Army, the company commander; in the Air Force the squadron commander

Birth Control Glasses: refers to horn-rim government-issued prescription glasses

Civvies: civilian clothing

Chow: food

Class-A uniform: dress uniform (jacket and a tie)

Fast-mover: a jet airplane

Ground-pounder: infantry

Jody: a cadence sung while a soldier marches or runs in formation; also a civilian who steals another’s “significant other” while the soldier is deployed

For More Jargon – the blog roll on the right has links to much much more!


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