What did they just say? Review the following list of common military acronyms and slang to learn how to “translate” a military conversation.
About face – The drill movement where a person or group turns and faces the opposite direction.
ACU – The acronym for Army Combat Uniform. It is the daily work uniform, as opposed to dress uniform (for Army personnel).
AWOL – The acronym for Absent Without Official Leave, which means to leave duty without permission.
Bravo Zulu – Praise for a good job or “well done.”
Blues – Blue dress uniform (for Marine Corps and Air Force).
Bubblehead – Any person serving on a submarine or in the submarine service.
Doolie – Nickname for a first-year Air Force Academy cadet.
EOD – The acronym for Explosive Ordnance Disposal, responsible for the safe handling, deactivation and removal of unexploded ordnance – the military version of a bomb squad.
EPW – The acronym for Enemy Prisoner of War.
File 13 – The garbage can
Galley – The kitchen aboard ship.
Gitmo – U.S. Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Head – The bathroom or latrine aboard a ship.
HMMWV (Pronounced “Humvee”) – High-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle.
IED – The acronym for Improvised Explosive Device, which is a type of homemade bomb used in unconventional warfare.
IRR – The acronym for Individual Ready Reserve, which is a Reserve component of the Armed Forces made up of former active duty or reserve personnel.
JTF – The acronym for Joint Task Force.
KIA – The acronym for Killed In Action.
MEDEVAC or Medivac – Removing a wounded person by using designated ambulance equipment, vehicles or aircraft.
MOS – The acronym for Military Occupational Specialty, a job classification.
MP – Acronym for Military Police.
NCO – Acronym for Noncommissioned Officer.
OCS/OTS – Acronyms for Officer Candidate School/Officer Training School.
Oorah/Hooah – Marines’/Army’s (respectively) spirited cries. It’s usually said to respond to a verbal greeting or as an expression of enthusiasm.
PCS – Permanent Change of Station; relocate to another base.
PFT – Acronym for Physical Fitness Test.
POC – Acronym for Point Of Contact, the person to connect with on a given matter.
PT – The acronym for Physical Training, physical exercise to build or maintain strength, agility and flexibility.
ROTC – The acronym for Reserve Officer Training Corps.
Sandbox – Iraq or other desert area.
SEALs – United States Navy SEALs (stands for SEa, Air, Land).
TAD/TDY – The acronym for Temporary Additional Duty/Temporary Duty.
Topside – The upper deck of a ship.
UA – The acronym for Unauthorized Absence (similar to AWOL).
UAV – The acronym for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.