Military Slang, Acronyms and Terminology

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100mph Tape: Standard issue Army green duct tape.

50 cal: M2 Browning .50 caliber machine gun.

550 Cord/Parachute Cord: Nylon cord used to connect a chute to a chute harness.

9 mil: M9 Berretta pistol.

ADZ: Amphibious Defense  Zone

AFSOC: The Air Force component of a joint force special operations component.

AFSOD: A squadron-size headquarters that could be a composite organization composed of different Air Force special operations assets, normal subordinate to an Air Force special operations component.

AFSOF: Those Active Reserve Component Air Force

ALCT: Airlift Control Team

ALLOREQ: Allocation Request

ALO: Air Liaison Officer

AMC: Air Mobility Command

AMCT: Air Mobility Control Team

AMD: Air Mobility Division

AMLO: Air Mobility Liaison Officer

AMTRAC: APC used by the Marines AO: Area of Operations.

AOR: Area of Responsibility. The assigned area to any given unit.

AR: Air Refueling

ASK KIT: Armor Survivability Kit.

AWR: [Alpha Whiskey Romeo] Allah’s Waiting Room.

Acquire (through non-standard means)/Acquire/Requisition

Ali Baba: Generic Iraqi term for possible threat, insurgent or criminal.

Ate up: Also said as “11 up and 3 down.” See Charlie Foxtrot.

BAF – Bagram Air Field.

BFT: Blue Force Tracker.

BIAP: Baghdad International Airport.

BOLO: Be On the Look Out.

BOHICA: Bend Over Here It Comes Again

Battlefield Airmen: Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC)

Beans, Bullets, and Band-Aids: General reference to supply items, i.e. food, ammunition, and medical supplies.

Bird: Anything that flies, be it fixed or rotary wing.

Blue Canoe: a portable (chemical) toilet.

Blue Falcon: One that is willing to screw his buddy. Also known as Bravo Foxtrot and Buddy Fucker.

Brad or Bradley: M2 Bradley Armored Personnel Carrier (APC).

Bunk: What one sleeps on.

Butter Bar: 2nd Lieutenant/Ensign. Refers to the gold bar of rank.

C-Wire/Concertina Wire: Razor Wire.

CAB: Combat Action Badge (ARMY). Developed in response to number of soldiers performing in a infantry or infantry-like position under the same conditions as the infantry, but do not hold an infantry MOS

CC: Coalition Country: the coalition of the willing allies.

CCP: Casualty collection point. Area closest to immediate action where casualties are triaged.

CHU: Containerized Housing Unit.  Aluminum boxes slightly larger (22′X8′)

CHUville: A base consisting of a large number of CHU’s.

CIB: Combat infantryman’s badge (ARMY).

CP: Check Point.

CSH: Combat Support Hospital.

Camelback: Water bladder usually carried on the back, holds up to 3 liters.

Cannon-Cocker/Gun Bunny: Artilleryman ill tempered.

Charlie Foxtrot: The alphanumeric of the letters C and F. More appropriate than Cluster Fuck.

Charlie Mike: Continue mission. Keep doing what you were doing.

Clearing Barrel: Barrel filled with dirt around the entrances of the FOB.

Cluster Fuck: Essentially when someone or some situation is completely messed up.

CO: Commanding Officer

Crypto: encryption keys for the radio. Computer code that scrambles the signal to prevent unauthorized listening.

DAP: Deltoid auxiliary protection.

DFAC: Dining Facility. Pronounced ‚”d-fack” Others used: mess hall, chow hall. Place where service members eat. DFAC’s are modern looking cafeterias, some decorated with sports memorabilia, movie posters, and televisions with ESPN on.

Death Blossom: The tendency of Iraqi security forces, in response to receiving a little fire from the enemy, to either run away or do the ‚”death blossom” spraying fire indiscriminately in all directions.

Detail: A group of service members sent to do a job.

Dirka Dirka: A phrase used to parody the sound of Arabic. First used in a South Park episode, later gained more widespread use through the movie Team America.

Dirt Sailor: A member of the Navy’s Construction Battalions (Seabees). In Iraq, a sailor playing a part that is not a normal Navy role.

Double Digit Midget: Less than 100 days left down range.

Double Gates: They always cover their nametapes and never call each other by their real names while they’re near detainees.

Down Range: Derived from the term to check on targets on shooting ranges. Refers to anyplace where there’s shooting.

Drager: Rebreather. Closed-Circut Dive Rig.

Drive On: The ethos of the soldier/Marine. Just keep on goin’. Usually used in the phrase ‚”Suck it up and drive on.”

Dummy Cord: (noun or verb) Term denotes the tying down of sensitive

FOB: Forward Operating Base.

FOBBERS, FOBBITS, FOBGOBLINS: Three of the derisive terms used to describe someone who never leaves the FOB. Akin to the Vietnam era “REMF.” REMFland, the rear-echelon areas where support personnel live and work in relative safety – the paradox being that in the Sandbox, unlike Vietnam, REMFland is more a state of mind than a physical location.

FRAGO: A change in the OPORD that does not require a wholesale change in the OPORD. A FRAGO determines timely changes to an already existing order.

FST : Forward Surgical Team

Farmer Armor / Hillbilly Armor: improvised vehicle armor.

FID: Foreign Internal Defense.

Fourth Point of Contact: Derived from the description of a Parachute Landing Fall (PLF), refers to one’s rumpus.  As in’ “you better get your head outta your fourth point of contact!”

Frankenstein: A Marine Corps monster truck.

Glass House: a mockup of the layout of a target house used to rehearse assaults before a mission.

Goat Trail: dirt or unpaved road.

Green Zone: Heavily guarded area with several former Presidential Palaces in central Bagdad where US coalition and Iraqi authorities live and work. Much of the rest of Iraq is the Red Zone.

Grunt: Infantryman

Gun Truck: Usually a turtle-back Humvee with a weapon system on top (i.e. .50 cal, or Mk-19).

Haji: Service members’ term for indigenous Iraqis or persons of Arabic descent.

Haji Armor: improvised armor, installed by troops hiring Iraqis to update the vehicles by welding any available metal to the sides of Humvees.

Haji Detail: overseeing Iraqi work details on FOBs, mainly day laborers.

Haji Mart: convenience store usually found on FOBs. Usually sell various sundries, from DVD’s to candy bars to cigarettes.

Hardball: paved road.

Hardened Building: A building with sandbags and a roof.

Hesco: big bins filled with dirt used to absorb explosions.

Hooah: The official word and rally cry of the Army.

Hooch: Where one sleeps

Hooyah: The official word of tadpoles going through BUD/s and the Navy SEALs (although not used much after BUD/s.)

Hot-A’s: Hot chow.

ICDC: Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. Forerunner to the ING, disbanded and reformed as the ING due to alleged corruption, incompetence, and collusion with the insurgent forces.

IED: improvised explosive device.

ILO MP: One with an MOS of other than MP, but retrained as one.

ING: Iraqi National Guard.

INTSUM: Intelligence summary. pronounced “ent-some” most of the time, given the day after the events were supposed to happen. It’s nice in that it lets you know what was supposed to happen yesterday.

IP: Iraqi Police

Imshi: Arabic for “move along.”

Indirect: indirect fire, usually referring to mortars and rockets.

Insh’allah: Arabic for ‚”will of God.” Along the lines of ‚”so be it.”

Inside The Wire: inside an enemy combatant detention facility. Working “inside the wire” of the enemy combatant detention facility can lead to stress for the US troops working there.

Istah: Derogatory Arabic for ‚”move along.”

KAF: stands for Kandahar Air Field.

KBR: Kellogg, Brown, and Root.

Kevlar/Kpot/ACH: Helmet.

LHA: Amphibious Assault Ship

Lima Charlie: Loud and Clear.

M1114 /Up-Armor: Factory armored Humvee.

M1: M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank.

M203: 40 mm grenade launcher, usually mounted under the barrel of and M16/M4. Single shot. Usually know as ‚”2-O-3.”

M240: Machine gun. If dismounted, used in pairs with a gunner and assistant gunner (AG).

M249/SAW: Squad automatic weapon.

M4/M16: Standard rifle.

MRE: Meal Ready to Eat.

MSR: Main supply route.

MWR or MWR Tent: Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

Mark 19: Automatic 40mm grenade launcher, belt-fed.

Meet the locals – Acronyms and poorly spoken Iraqi Arabic

Mermite: 1. (n.) container used to transport Hot-A’s from the DFAC to service members. 2. (v.) Moving Hot-A’s’ “We’ll marmite chow out to that OP.”

Midnight Rats/Mid Rats: Late night chow for those that can’t make the DFAC during regular hours.

Mike Mike: Millimeter. Used mainly when referring to the metric caliber of ammunition.

Mike: Minute. As in ‚”I’ll be there in 5 mikes.”

Mu Zien: no good.

Muj (pronounced: Mooj): Short for Mujahadeen. Formally a person who wages jihad, informally used for the Iraqi insurgents starting in 2005.

NCO: Non-commissioned officer. A fancy way of saying sergeant.

NCOIC/OIC: Non-commissioned officer in charge/Officer in charge.

NGO: Non-governmental organization. (Red Cross/Crescent, Doctors without Borders, etc.)

Net: Radio network. Usually unit specific.

O’ Dark Thirty: Far too early in the morning.

OGA: Other Government Agency – CIA

OPORD: Operations Order.

OPSEC: Operational Security. Prevention of plans, troop numbers and strategy from getting to enemy

OTV: (Outer Tactical Vest)/IBA (Individual Body Armor)/Vest- body armor. Usually consists of a Kevlar vest and ceramic plates. Combined, rated to a threat level IV, meaning it can stop a 7.62mm round.

Ooh-Rah: The official word of the Marine Corps.

PCC/PCI: Pre-combat check/inspection.

POG: Generally  refers to anyone that is a poor excuse for a soldier.

POO Site: Point of origin site.

PRT: This stands for Provincial Reconstruction Team.

PSD: Personal Security Detail-private security contractors.

Plugger: PLGR (Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver); a GPS unit.

Pogey Bait: derived from POG, refers to candy, sweets, or any other food that the Army does not issue but tastes good (any food the Army doesn’t issue.)

Pop Smoke: Leave.

Pucker Factor: not necessarily a number, but generally refers to the intensity of fear felt during any given situation. Derived from the involuntary clenching of the buttocks during high-stress situations.

QRF: Quick Reaction Force. On standby to react to any situation.

ROE: Rules of Engagement. The rules given to every service member on when to engage targets. Changes dependent upon the situation.

RPG: Rocket Propelled grenade. Insurgents like to fire these at coalition forces.

RTO: Radio telephone operator (Army) or RO-radio operator (Marines). The person working the radio, usually either in a combat maneuver element or at the TOC (see below).

Red on Red: Enemy-on-enemy fire. Roger, Roger That: From radio parlance, a word for ‘understood.’

S-1: Personnel.

S-2: Intelligence.

S-3: Operations.

S-4: Logistics and supply.

S-Shops: Battalion-level organizations that handle administrative duties. Usually there are only 4, but can be more, dependent upon the level of command. Many times referred to as ‘shops’ as in the ’3 shop’ (operations)

SAPI: Small arms protective insert, usually pronounced “sappy.” Ceramic plates inserted into the front and back of the IBA/OTV

SINGARS: Radio SP/RP (start point/release point): used to call in departure (SP) and arrival (RP). Almost always used in acronym form, and can be either noun (the SP is at checkpoint 12) or verb (We RP’d about 20 minutes ago.)

Sadiki: Friend.

Salaam Aleikim: A more formal Arabic phrase for hello. Translates to ‘peace be upon you.’ Response: Aleikum salaam; and upon you, peace.

Sandbox: Almost any desert area of operations, or middle eastern country.

Shake and Bake: First used during Vietnam War and revived in Iraq to refer to attacks using a combination of conventional bombs, cluster bombs (CBU), and napalm.

Sham Shield (Army only): a designation for the rank of specialist, E-4.

Sham: To shirk one’s duties. Usually used when referring to one that avoids unpleasant, non-life threatening work. When used as a noun, shammer.

Snivel Gear: Any article of clothing used to prevent troops from sniveling when the conditions get too wet or cold. This category includes Gore-Tex parkas, gloves, balaclavas, neck gaiters, etc.

Soft-Skin: unarmored vehicle. Primary vehicle for OIF/OEF I, many later had armor added on, either as ASK kits, or salvaged metal found by digging through local landfills and welded on (hillbilly/farmer armor).

Spoon: a cook or someone who serves food as their job.

Stryker: 8 wheeled APC.

Sustainer Theater: AAFES’ motion picture team has assembled an opening lineup of movies for the Balad Camp Anaconda theater dubbed “Sustainer.”

TCN: Third Country National

TCP: Traffic Control Point.

TOC: Tactical Operations Center. Usually pronounced ‘tock.’ Where command elements are primarily located.

Tent City: More often seen in Kuwait or in beginning of OIF, essentially a large collection of tents

Terp: Interpreter.

The Joys of Life Downrange: Everyday lingo.

Turtleback: Swimming on your back while watching the direction you came from and typically a compass-board.

Turtleback Humvee: a Humvee that does not have an open back. Usually a M1114 or M1025

U-1/2/3: Codes given for level of troop protection on the FOB

U-1: No body armor or helmet required, must have weapon and magazine of ammo.

U-2: Must have body armor, helmet, weapon and magazine whenever out side a hardened building or trailer. Usually for a specified time period.

U-3: Same as above, but open-ended, without any specific time period ending.

UXO: Unexploded Ordnance. Anything that has the potential to blow up, but hasn’t.

VBIED: vehicle borne IED. Car bomb. Usually either spelled out or stated as ‚”V-bed’

Washington’s Driver: Someone who’s been in the service a very long time. As in the person is old enough to have been Washington’s driver.

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot, over?: Alphanumeric abbreviation in the form of a radio communication. Literally translated: What the Fuck, over? Used when things devolve into a Charlie Foxtrot.

Wileys/Wiley-X’s: protective eyewear issued to all soldiers in theater.

XO: Executive Officer.

Zulu Time: Greenwich Mean Time.


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About 2LT Website Administrator

Retired health resources analyst and county level emergency manager with specialized training in NIMS/BICS/IICS/Executive ICS/Multi-agency Coordination. Still relatively young I left the service of the federal government due to increasing concerns.

2 thoughts on “Military Slang, Acronyms and Terminology

  1. Love these! Re: Sham, … my fave is the identifier ‘Sham artist’ for those who made a science out of avoiding ANY kind of work! . (ARMY ’74-’78)

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