Have you ever talked to your soldier and had to ask for him or her to interpret what was just said? The military, like many other professions, has commonly used terms and acronyms. Like any other professional, soldiers have learned the language of their profession.
Here’s a brief list as an introduction to these military acronyms and terms.
I tried to keep these generic to the branches, but each branch of the military will have some specific acronyms and terms. Again, some of these may change according to the branch. I will include more “TLAs” and terms that are deployment specific when we cover that topic.
This is not an exhaustive list. If you have some you would like to add, please feel free to leave them in the comment section. Please indicate in which branch of the military your son or daughter is serving!
Learning military acronyms can seem like a chore, but it will save you from major headaches long term.
Some Common Acronyms and Terms:
AIT – Advanced Individual Training. AIT is the next step after Basic Combat Training for your soldier’s progressive training. In AIT your soldiers will receive specialized training relating to his or her chosen MOS.
BCT – Basic Combat Training. All soldiers, Marines, airmen, and sailors will go through a basic training that is customized for their specific branch of the military.
Cadence - A song that is typically sung by soldiers during physical training exercises and when they are running. Sometimes this will be referred to as a Jody.
CIF – Central Issue Facility. The CIF stocks, issues, exchanges and processes issued items (uniforms, equipment, weapons, etc.).
CO- Commanding Officer. This is the highest ranking officer in a given group (may be company level, brigade level, etc.).
DFAC - Dining Facility. A facility on bases that serves three meals a day for soldiers of all ranks.
DI – Drill Instructor. All DIs are of an NCO rank. The DI is responsible to train your military member during his or her time at BCT.
DoD – Department of Defense. The federal department that encompasses all military forces.
USMEPCOM (MEPS) - United States Military Entrance Processing Command. This is often shortened to “MEPS.” Your soldier will be taken to MEPS for his or her physical, drug testing, interviews, swearing in and any other processing that needs to be done before they are shipped to BCT. Often there are two trips to MEPS, although there could be more if needed. The first one will be shortly after your soldier signs his or her papers to enlist. The second is often on their way to BCT. Your soldier’s recruiter will either arrange for transportation or will take your soldier to and from his or her MEPS appointments. Your closest MEPS station may be in a surrounding state. The military will put your soldier up in a hotel if an overnight stay is needed. Food, lodging and transportation is all provided for MEPS stays.
MOS – Military Occupational Speciality. This is what your soldier does, specifically, in the military.
MRE - Meal Ready Eat. A self-contained, individual ration for use in combat or other field conditions where organized food facilities (DFACS) are not available.
NCO- Non-commissioned officer; general term for sergeants’ ranks.
NCOIC – NCO In Charge. The Sergeant in charge.
OPSEC- Operational Security. OpSec are security measures taken by soldiers and civilians to protect sensitive information about military operations.
OSUT – One Stop Unit Training. Not all soldiers have an OSUT, but if your soldier does this simply means he or she will go through BCT and AIT without a break and in the same company. Your soldier will graduate at the end of AIT instead of at the end of BCT.
PCS - Permanent Change Station. A PCS move is wherever the military sends soldiers and their families.
Phases – (Red, White, Blue) These phases in BCT and AIT (Black and Gold), refer to the level of restrictions and priviliges that are given to your soldier. Red phase is the most restrictive and this is where all BCT classes start. As they advance they earn more priviliges. In AIT the phases are shorter.
PL- Platoon Leader.
PLT- Platoon. A platoon consists of roughly 40 soldiers. Platoons are what make up a company.
POV - Personally Owned Vehicle. This is a vehicle a soldier personally owns. POVs are not allowed in BCT, but some extended AITs may allow a POV after the initial phase. This is determined by the chain of command.
PSG- Platoon Sergeant
Reception Battalion - This is the first stop in BCT. Your soldier will be processed, given ID tags, a hair cut and prepared for his or her entry into BCT. This phase lasts from one to several weeks depending on the cycles of BCT.
SOP- Standard Operating Procedure.
TLA - Three Letter Acronyms. Yes, there is an acronym for the name of the acronyms.
TraDoc - Training and Doctrine Command. TraDoc us charged with overseeing the training of Army forces, the development of operational doctrine and the development and procurement of new weapons systems.
Adrienne May is a military spouse. Her husband is an Army soldier and now is serving in the Army National Guard. Together they have three children from preschool to pre-teen. Adrienne has a Bachelors Degree in Sociology & Non-Profit Management, and is actively involved in family readiness and disaster preparedness on the state level. She spends her free time advocating for military family programs, homecoming transition programs and adequate veterans benefits.
Military Family Central is your community for you to talk, share, relate, help and be helped by other military families and the tips and advice you'll find here.
Adrienne May maintains Military Family Central for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation's leading VA-approved lender. As a mom of three, from toddler to teenager, and wife to a National Guard solider, Adrienne has built up a massive library of resources, tips, articles and contributors for military families of all shapes, sizes and branches!