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Military Definitions, Terms, and Acronyms

Definition of Terms & Acronyms

Military slang is compiled of an array of colloquial terminology used commonly by military personnel, including slang that is usually unique to the armed forces. It often takes on the form of abbreviations (acronyms) that incorporates various aspects of formal military missions, structure, terms and concepts. Military slang is often utilized to reinforce or convey the friendly and humorous rivalries developed with the service.

The military is a very distinct community that has a language that is unique and different from that of its civilian counterparts. It utilizes many other terms and acronyms that are sometimes foreign to many people. Here is some explanation of some of those terms that you may encounter throughout the website:

Definition of Terms

· Advanced Individual Training. (AIT or “A School”). The hands-on career training and field instruction that each service member receives before being qualified to do a specific military job. This specialized schooling varies by military branch.

· Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). The primary retailer that operates post exchanges on Army and Air Force installations.

· American Disabilities Act (ADA) (2010). Refers to the phrase, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. This term is concerning an individual that has a physical or mental disability that substantially limits at least one, if not more, major life activities.

· Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). A multiple-choice test for prospective recruits to see if they are qualified to join and which military jobs they are qualified for before enlisting.

· Basic Housing Allowance (BAH). Monetary compensation service members receive to cover the cost of housing when government quarters are not provided.

· Blended Retirement System (BRS). The military’s newest retirement system, which extends benefits to the majority of service members. This system uses the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).

· Commanding Officer (CO). The appointed officer in charge of a military unit, like a Lt. Colonel for a Battalion (Army) and squadron commander of a squadron (Air Force).

· CONUS/OCONUS: The continental United States, or CONUS, is the 48 connected states. OCONUS is outside the continental United States.

· Coping. Refers to coping is a mechanism that is developed to deal with stress at an individual level. As shown by Marini (2014), dyadic coping and family systems theory share the core assumption that individuals who are in close relationships have interrelated emotions, behaviors, and experiences; this phenomenon is often referred to as interdependence (p. 5). Interdependence can loosely be defined as the notion that family members exert a mutual influence on one another.

· Cost of Living Allowance (COLA). Monetary compensation service members receive to offset the cost of living in more expensive areas of the U.S.

· Counter Insurgency (COIN). Refers to a term created during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) where the U.S. military engaged in comprehensive military efforts to defeat an insurgency organized to create subversion and violence or to nullify or challenge political control of Iraq (Department of the Army, 2009).

· Department of Defense (DoD). The primary department of the United States government that is responsible for all military operations.

· Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). A primary database of military families to receive TRICARE and other military entitlements.

· Do-It-Yourself (DITY). A personally acquired move, which can save a service member more money moving by doing it themselves. This is often related to moving between the permanent change of stations.

· Executive Officer (XO). The second-in-command to a commanding officer.

· Forward Operating Base (FOB). A temporary, secured operational post that supports strategic goals and tactical objectives.

· Government Issue Bill (G.I. Bill). Refers to a legislative bill formally known as the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944, established during World War II and is a Department of Veterans Affairs education benefit designed to aid military members and eligible veterans to cover the costs of receiving education or training (Veterans Affairs, 2020).

· Joint Chiefs of Staff (JSC). A carefully selected group of senior military leaders who advise the President, the Homeland Security Council, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council concerning military matters.

· Leave and Earning Statement (LES). A bimonthly financial statement that reports earnings, taxes withheld, leave balance, and allotments.

· Military Culture. This refers to the military way of life that creates its own unique culture. Military culture can be defined by its unique beliefs, language, knowledge, habits, customs, and capabilities that are acquired by military members and their families through membership in military organizations. Military culture shapes a shared set of learned values and beliefs that are reinforced through experiencing military service. People who have not directly experienced the military culture often misunderstand this culture through a lack of knowledge (Veterans Affairs, 2020b).

· Military Discharge. Refers to a military member’s obligation of service in the armed forces is either voluntarily or involuntarily fulfilled (i.e., retired, medical, dishonorable, etc.). There are different types and categories of military discharges that may affect future benefits and employment options. Generally, to receive VA benefits and services, the Veteran’s character of discharge or service must be under honorable conditions or be administratively separated or have a long enough service period to qualify (, 2020).

· Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). Where service members take the ASVAB, in process, get a physical, choose their military job, and swear in to enter into military service.

· Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). This is a service member’s specific job and duties in the military, from infantry, artillery, aviation, engineering, intelligence, maintenance, etc.

· Military Veteran. Refers to the definition of a veteran. As shown by Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations, it defines a veteran as an individual who has served as an active member of the military in one of the branches of service and who was discharged or released under honorable conditions. This regulation explains that any individual who has completed a tour of service with any branch of the armed forces is classified as a veteran as long as they were not dishonorably discharged. National Guard and Reservists members who have received DD214 for being deployed can be considered Veterans by serving as an active-duty veteran. Non-deployed National Guard and Reservists do not qualify legally as a Veteran (Smith, 2019).

· Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO). A military officer who is not commissioned, such as sergeant (Army) and warrant officer (Navy).

· Operational Security (OPSEC). The secure process of protecting and identifying information about military operations.

· Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). This refers to a U.S. military operation in Afghanistan that began on October 7, 2001, and ended December 28, 2014 (CNN, 2020).

· Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). This refers to a U.S. military operation in Iraq that began March 20, 2003, and ended on December 18, 2011 (Ford & Vignare, 2015).

· Operation New Dawn (OND). Refers to a specific U.S. military operation in Iraq after September 1, 2010, and ended December 15, 2011 (, 2020).

· Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA). Monetary compensation for service members for housing outside the U.S. when government quarters aren’t available.

· Permanent Change of Station (PCS). The action and relocation of an active-duty service member to a different duty location. Service members usually PCS every few years based on the needs of the military.

· Personally Procured Move (PPM). A move that a service member plans and conducts on their own, instead of the military providing help. PPM expenses are reimbursed by the military.

· Physical Training (PT). One of the main emphasis of military readiness, service members are expected to meet fitness standards throughout their enlistment.

· Point of Contact (POC). The primary person that is contacted about for a specific program or assignment.

· Post 9/11 Veterans. Refers to veterans serving in the U.S. armed forces on active duty after September 11, 2001. These veterans are eligible for education benefits as a result of the Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (Holder, 2018).

· Post Exchange (PX). A shopping center at a military installation that sells merchandise and services to military personnel and authorized civilians.

· Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This refers to a mental health condition classified by the American Psychological Association (APA), which includes flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety about the event that caused the ailment (APA, 2020).

· Privately Owned Vehicle (POV). A service member’s personally owned vehicle that is not owned by the government.

· Reintegration Stress. This refers to military veterans who encounter numerous types of stressors during their reintegration process back into society. As shown by Marek et al. (2014), reintegration presents veterans and their families with unique stressors that impact all aspects of their physical, emotional, cognitive, and social health. The family dynamic must always adjust due to the absence of the Veteran from deployments and readjustments upon return, causing a constant state of stress for all (p. 444).

· Resilience. This refers to resilience as a process that individuals develop to overcome adversities, challenges, and transitions in their lives. Resiliency is the actively achieved outcome of the resilience process. Resiliency is measured by the degree to which individuals can perform their daily routines, while simultaneously, successfully performing their military duties and responsibilities (, 2020).

· Social Resilience. Refers to the prevalence of resilience in the social setting or surroundings. As shown by Pietrzak and Cook (2013), the prevalence of psychological resilience may be correlated with significant changes that occur during military service, trauma, stress, and reintegration related to the dislocation of social networks, retirement, and income reduction and issues of physical functioning. The more individuals experience stressors and trauma, the more enhanced coping skill develops and increases psychological resilience for future encounters. As shown by Marek et al. (2014), veterans respond and cope differently with reintegration stressors. These stressors affect emotional health. Veterans who have reported having lower mental health issues (PTSD, anxiety, stress, and depression) are more likely to experience reintegration issues.

· Social Stigma. This refers to military veterans who are confronted with social labels and stigmas that are placed on them as a result of media-driven encounters and events. Social stigma leads to disenfranchisement and disempowerment of groups, and in the case of the military, this social stigma stems from cultural beliefs and attitudes about mental health that influence negative feelings psychologically distressed service members to have about themselves. (Gibbons et al., 2014, p. 366)

· Temporary Duty Station (TDY). A temporary assignment location that is different from the service member’s permanent assigned duty station.

· Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). Similar to a 401(k), the TSP is a government-sponsored retirement savings and investment plan.

· Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). This refers to a brain condition, whereas the brain is exposed to a blunt force trauma. For this study, this refers to military veterans who may have suffered a TBI from a concussive blast from an IED or other explosive devices while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, or Operation New Dawn (DVBIC, 2020).

· TRICARE: The primary health care program. TRICARE provides health benefits to service members, retirees, and their families.

· Veteran Coping. This refers to an individual’s characteristics and individual effort to manage stressful events. As shown by Knezevic, Krupic, and Sucurovic (2016), in the transactional model of stress and coping, if an event exceeds a person’s coping capacity, it will be perceived as stressful, especially if his/her well-being is recognized as being at stake. People use a variety of coping strategies, which are often divided into engagement and disengagement coping. Many veterans encounter challenges while transitioning from their military, which can be caused by different events like severe combat trauma. There is a strong relationship between traumatic events, like PTSD, and coping strategies that would affect reintegration.

· Veteran Reintegration. This refers to a veteran’s ability to readjust or transition back into their previous environment, either before service or deployment. As shown by Elnitsky, Fisher, and Blevins (2017b), veterans may experience a variety of stress-related challenges when reintegrating from the military back to regular civilian life. Facilitating this reintegration, transition, resilience, readjustment, and coping, and community integration makes it a societal priority. Coping and resilience will ultimately affect this outcome variable of reintegration.


  • 0K – Zero Killed (pronounced OK, as the expression that everything is okay)

  • 1LT – First Lieutenant (U.S. Army) (USMC uses "1Lt" and USAF uses "1st Lt")

  • 2LT – Second Lieutenant (U.S. Army) (USMC uses "2Lt" and USAF uses "2d Lt")

  • 2IC – Second In Command

  • 1SG – First Sergeant (E-8 Army)

  • ‘’’777’’’ – (Pronounced triple 7) Refers to the M777 howitzer. A towed 155 mm artillery weapon. It succeeded the M198 howitzer in the United States Marine Corps and United States Army in 2005. The M777 is also used by the ground forces of Australia, Canada, India and Saudi Arabia. It made its combat debut in the War in Afghanistan.


  • A – Analog

  • A1C – Airman First Class (USAF E-3)

  • A2C2 – Army Airspace Command And Control

  • A-3 – (Operations Directorate (COMAFFOR))

  • A-5 – (Plans Directorate (COMAFFOR))

  • AA – Anti-Aircraft

  • AA – Armed Forces America

  • AA – Assembly Area

  • AA – Assessment Agent

  • AA – Avenue Of Approach

  • AAA – Army Audit Agency

  • AAA – Antiaircraft Artillery

  • AAA – Arrival And Assembly Area

  • AAA – Assign Alternate Area

  • AAAD – Airborne Anti-Armor Defense

  • AAAS – Amphibious Aviation Assault Ship

  • AABB – American Association of Blood Banks

  • AABWS – Amphibious Assault Bulk Water System

  • AAC – Activity Address Code

  • AACG – Arrival Airfield Control Group

  • AADC – Area Air Defense Commander

  • AADP – Area Air Defense Plan

  • AA&E – Arms, Ammunition, And Explosives

  • AAEC – Aeromedical Evacuation Control Team

  • AAFC – Australian Air Force Cadets (Australia)

  • AAFES – Army and Air Force Exchange Service

  • AAFIF – Automated Air Facility Information File

  • AAFS – Amphibious Assault Fuel System

  • AAFSF – Amphibious Assault Fuel Supply Facility

  • AAGS – Army Air-Ground System

  • AAI – Air-To-Air Interface

  • AAM – Air-To-Air Missile

  • AAMDC – US Army Air And Missile Defense Command

  • AAOE – Arrival And Assembly Operations Element

  • AAOG – Arrival And Assembly Operations Group

  • AAP – Allied Administrative Publication

  • AAP – Assign Alternate Parent

  • AAR – After Action Report

  • AAR – After Action Review

  • AAS – Army Apprentice School (Australia)

  • AAST – Aeromedical Evacuation Administrative Support Team

  • AAT – Automatic Analog Test

  • AAT – Aviation Advisory Team

  • AAU – Analog Applique Unit

  • AAV – Amphibious Assault Vehicle

  • AAW – Antiair Warfare

  • AB – Airbase

  • AB – Airman Basic (USAF E-1)

  • ABCA – American, British, Canadian, Australian Armies Program

  • ABCS – Army Battle Command System

  • ABD – Airbase Defense

  • ABU – Airman Battle Uniform (U.S. Air Force)

  • ABV – Assault Breacher Vehicle (U.S. Army)

  • ABFC – Advanced Base Functional Component

  • ACU – Army Combat Uniform (U.S. Army)

  • ADOS – Active Duty, Operational Support

  • ADSW – Active Duty, Special Work

  • AE – Armed Forces Europe

  • AEW&C – Airborne Early Warning And Control

  • AFI – Awaiting Further Instruction/Air Force Instruction (requirement guide)

  • AFMC – Armed Forces Medical College

  • AFOQT – Air Force Officer Qualifying Test

  • AFOSI – United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations

  • AFSC – Air Force Specialty Code

  • AHA – Ammunition Holding Area

  • AIM – Airborne Intercept Missile (U.S. Military)

  • AIPD – Army Institute For Professional Development

  • AIS – Automated Information System

  • AIT – Advanced Individual Training (U.S. Army)

  • Amn – Airman (USAF E-2)

  • ALCON – All Concerned (U.S. Military)

  • AMU – Aircraft Maintenance Unit

  • AMXG – Aircraft Maintenance Group

  • AMXS – Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

  • ANG – Air National Guard (USAF)

  • AOC – Air Operations Center

  • AOL – Absent Over Leave (U.S. Navy)

  • AO – Area Of Operations

  • A&P – Administrative And Personnel

  • AP – Armed Forces Pacific

  • AP – Armor-Piercing

  • APC – Armored Personnel Carrier

  • APFSDS – Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot

  • APFT – Army Physical Fitness Test (U.S. Army)

  • APFU – Army Physical Fitness Uniform (U.S. Army)

  • APO – Army Post Office; See Also FPO

  • APPN – Appropriation Number (U.S. Military)

  • APRT – Army Physical Readiness Test (U.S. Army)

  • ARCENT/TUSA – US Army Forces Central Command (CENTCOM)/Hq Third US Army (TUSA)

  • ARPANET – Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (e.g., 1969 to 1989; antecedent of the information superhighway; now DARPA)

  • ARM – Anti-Radar Missile

  • ARM – Anti-Radiation Missile

  • ARMS – Automated Recruit Management System (U.S. Military)

  • ARMS – Aviation Resource Management System (USAF)

  • ARNG – Army National Guard (U.S. Army)

  • ARS – Air Refueling Store

  • ART – Alarm Response Team (USAF)

  • ARVN – Army Of The Republic Of (South) Viet Nam (U.S. Military)

  • ASAP – Army Substance Abuse Program (U.S. Military)