List of Common Military Acronyms

Military acronyms and abbreviations are a big part of the language used by service members. These terms are often used to communicate quickly and accurately. This is a list of initialisms, acronyms, and abbreviations commonly used by the government and military of the United States. This is not an exhaustive list but an attempt to represent a broad scope of military-related terms and acronyms.

Many military acronyms have become famous and well-known due to their humorous or derogatory meanings. Some of the most popular military acronyms include COB — Chief of the Boat, or senior chief petty officer aboard a ship; COP — Combat Outpost, usually referring to small bases located in hostile locations; and FAN — Feet, Ass, and Nuts. Other notable military acronyms include CSMO — Close Station, March Order or Collect your **** and Move Out; DART — Dumb Ass Radio/Radar Troop; and DONSA — Day of no scheduled activity.


A Glossary of Military Acronyms and Abbreviations


  1. AFSOC – Air Force Special Operations Command: A specialized unit of the U.S. Air Force responsible for conducting unconventional warfare, counter-terrorism, and other special operations missions.
  2. AWOL – Absent Without Leave: A term used to describe a service member who is absent from their assigned duty without proper authorization.


  1. BCT – Basic Combat Training: The initial training program for new U.S. Army recruits teaches fundamental military skills.
  2. BDU – Battle Dress Uniform: A type of military uniform worn for combat and field operations.


  1. CO – Commanding Officer: The officer in charge of a military unit, such as a company or battalion.
  2. CQC – Close Quarters Combat: A type of combat that occurs in tight or confined spaces, often requiring specialized training.


  1. DMZ – Demilitarized Zone: A buffer area between two hostile forces, typically established as part of a ceasefire agreement.
  2. DOD – Department of Defense: The U.S. government agency responsible for the country’s national security and military forces.


  1. EOD – Explosive Ordnance Disposal: A specialized team trained to locate, disarm, and dispose of explosive devices and munitions.
  2. ETD – Estimated Time of Departure: The projected time when a military operation or movement is expected to begin.


  1. FUBAR – F***ed Up Beyond All Recognition: A slang term used to describe a situation that has gone horribly wrong.
  2. F-35 – Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II: A multi-role stealth fighter aircraft used by several branches of the U.S. military.


  1. GI – Government Issue: A term referring to military equipment and supplies provided by the government.
  2. G-2 – Intelligence Officer: The officer responsible for intelligence and security within a military unit.


  1. HMMWV – High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle: A versatile military vehicle commonly known as the Humvee.
  2. HQ – Headquarters: The main command center for a military unit or organization.


  1. IED – Improvised Explosive Device: A homemade bomb or explosive device used by insurgents and terrorists.
  2. ISR – Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance: The collection of information through various means to support military operations.


  1. JAG – Judge Advocate General: The legal branch of the U.S. military responsible for providing legal counsel and services to service members.
  2. JP – Joint Publication: A document that provides guidance and doctrine for joint military operations.


  1. KIA – Killed in Action: A term used to describe a service member who has been killed during combat.
  2. KP – Kitchen Patrol: A duty assigned to service members involving kitchen and dining facility duties.


  1. LOA – Letter of Authorization: A document that grants permission for a specific action or operation.
  2. LZ – Landing Zone: A designated area for helicopters or aircraft to land during military operations.


  1. MIA – Missing in Action: A term used to describe a service member whose whereabouts are unknown after a combat mission.
  2. MRE – Meal, Ready-to-Eat: Packaged field rations used by the military for sustenance during field operations.


  1. NCO – Non-Commissioned Officer: A service member who holds a leadership position but does not hold a commission as an officer.
  2. NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organization: A political and military alliance of 30 countries designed for collective defense.


  1. OCP – Operational Camouflage Pattern: A type of camouflage uniform used by the U.S. military.
  2. OPSEC – Operational Security: Measures taken to protect sensitive information and activities from enemy intelligence.


  1. PT – Physical Training: Exercise and fitness routines designed to maintain and improve physical readiness among service members.
  2. POW – Prisoner of War: A service member captured and held by the enemy during armed conflict.


  1. QRF – Quick Reaction Force: A rapidly deployable military unit designed to respond to emergencies and crises.
  2. QUADCON – Quadruple Container: A standardized shipping container used for transporting military equipment.


  1. RPG – Rocket-Propelled Grenade: A shoulder-fired anti-tank weapon used by insurgents and militaries around the world.
  2. ROTC – Reserve Officers’ Training Corps: A program that trains college students to become commissioned officers in the U.S. military.


  1. SOP – Standard Operating Procedure: Established guidelines and procedures that dictate how specific tasks should be performed.
  2. SEAL – Sea, Air, Land: The U.S. Navy’s elite special operations force member.


  1. TOE – Table of Organization and Equipment: A document that outlines the structure and equipment of a military unit.
  2. TACAN – Tactical Air Navigation: A radio navigation system used by military aircraft.


  1. USO – United Service Organizations: A nonprofit organization that provides entertainment and support to U.S. military personnel.
  2. UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle: A remotely piloted aircraft used for reconnaissance and surveillance.


  1. VA – Department of Veterans Affairs: A U.S. government agency that provides healthcare and benefits to veterans.
  2. VFW – Veterans of Foreign Wars: A nonprofit organization that supports and advocates for veterans.


  1. WMD – Weapons of Mass Destruction: Weapons capable of causing widespread destruction and loss of life, such as nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.
  2. WO – Warrant Officer: A rank in the military hierarchy between enlisted personnel and commissioned officers, often with specialized expertise.