Inside: Confused by military acronyms and abbreviations? Let’s simplify. This the ultimate list of acronyms and abbreviations that military spouses may need to know.
“The CO just changed the PRT, but I’m in ACU’s and can’t use my POV. Meet me at the DFAC with PT gear? ETA?”
If you are a military girlfriend or spouse, you have probably received a text message full of acronyms that were completely new and confusing. Maybe you asked what they meant. Or maybe (like me) you confused them for actual words. (What is a pov and why would you want to use it anyway?) One way or another, you probably realized that even though you’re not required to memorize all these new words, being familiar with them certainly helps.
To help you out, here is the giant cheat sheet of acronyms you may encounter as a military significant other or spouse. It doesn’t include every single one, because there are waaayyy too many. And some are specific to just one branch. But this should work for most situations and give you clues to those crazy acronyms your service member keeps dropping into conversations. Soon, you’ll be seasoned enough to just reply Rgr (Roger) to such messages.
ABU- Air Battle Uniform (Air Force)
ACU- Army Combat Uniform (Army) or Airman Combat Uniform (Air Force)
AD- Active Duty
ADM – Admiral
AFSC- Air Force Specialty Code. This designates a service member’s “job” in the Air Force. For other branches, see MOS.
Aft – Toward the stern, or back of the ship
Astern – Behind the ship
AWOL- (pronounced a-wall) Absent Without Leave. Occurs if a member is UA for more than 30 Days. On day 31 he is considered a “deserter” and pay and benefits stop.
BAH- Basic Allowance for Housing. What the military pays each month if you do not live on base. Calculated by rank and zip code. Unmarried service members typically do not receive this.
BAS- Basic Allowances for Subsistence. What the military pays each month for a married service member’s food, since they will not generally eat at the chow hall/mess hall. Unmarried service members do not receive this.
BCGs – Birth Control Glasses. Large, black plastic framed glasses issued during basic training to service members in need of corrective lenses. Generally considered unattractive.
BDU– Battle Dress Uniform. The old-fashioned camouflaged uniforms that are no longer issued.
Billet – Location where the sailor is assigned
Bow – Toward the forward end or front of the ship
BT or BCT– Basic Training
BUPERS – Bureau of Naval Personnel
BX– Base Exchange. A Large mall-like store on an Air Force base.
BZ – Bravo Zulu. Shorthand for “Congratulations, great job!” (Navy Term).
CENTCOM – Central Command
Chit – Request or voucher, typically issued for leave
CIC – Central information center
CINC– Commander in Chief
CO- Commanding Officer of a unit.
COMSEC – COMmunications SECurity
COLA- Cost of Living Allowance, for families stationed overseas or in a remote location without access to base discounts.
CONUS- (pronounced cone-us) The Continental United States
CDC- Child Development Center. On-base daycare at affordable rates.
DAPA – Drug and alcohol programs advisor
DFAC- (pronounced dee-fack) Dining Facility. Also called a mess hall, chow hall (Marines), or galley (Navy)
DI- Drill Instructor
DL – Destroyer Leader
CREDO- (pronounced creed-oh) Chaplain’s Religious Enrichment Development Operation. These are free marriage enrichment retreats offered to military couples.
DEERS- Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. This lists the dependent spouse and children of a service member, and allows them to receive Tricare benefits.
DFAS- (pronounced dee-fas) Defense Finance and Accounting Service. The source of military paychecks.
DitY Move- (pronounced Ditty) Do it Yourself Move. When the service member packs and moves their own belongings to a new duty station, instead of having the military moving company do it. Now referred to as PPM.
DoD- Department of Defense.
DoDS– (pronounced dods) Department of Defense Schools. Overseas duty stations have American schools managed by DoDS.
EOD – Explosive Ordnance Disposal.
EOS or EAS- End of Service or End of Active Service. When a contract ends and a service member leaves the military.
ETA- Estimated Time of Arrival
FMF – Fleet Marine Force
FOB – (pronounced fob) Forward Operating Base. A base that is larger than a COP (Combat Outpost), but smaller than a Main Operating base. They tend to be located in less dangerous areas than a COP and offer luxuries like hot water.
FRG– Family Readiness Group. Military spouses, parents, and children can find support and information in their unit FRG.
FRO– (pronounced froe) Family Readiness Officer (Marine Corps).
FRS – Fleet Replacement Squadron (formerly RAG)
FUBAR – (pronounced foo-bar) *****ed up Beyond All Recognition.
HALO – (pronounced hey-low) High Altitude, Low Opening. Refers to a parachute jump where the parachute opens close to the earth.
HHG– Household Goods. Your furniture, clothes, and belongings that are packed up and then delivered to the next location during a military move.
HM – Hospital Corpsman
IED – Improvised Explosive Device, often used as an attack in the Middle East. IEDs are hidden in a variety of ways and can be detonated remotely.
ITT– Information, Tickets, and Tours. Discounted entertainment services available to military families. This is where you get your military discount Disneyland tickets.
JAG – Judge Advocate General; Legal representation for military members
KIA- Killed in Action
KISS- Keep it Simple Stupid
LCS – Littoral Combat Ship
LES– Leave and Earnings Statement. A 1-page paper that can be printed from the MyPay website, showing all the pay, benefits, taxes, and deductions from the paycheck for the next month.
LT– a Lieutenant
LZ – Landing Zone
MEPS – Military Entrance Processing Center; first stop for recruits entering the military
MIA– Missing in Action
MCRD – Marine Corps Recruit Depot
MilSo- Military Significant Other. A girlfriend, boyfriend, fiancé, fiancée, or anyone in a relationship with a service member who is not yet married.
MOS– Military Occupational Specialty. Someone’s ‘job’ in the military, usually defined by a 4- digit number. A common example: 0311 is a Rifleman.
MP– Military Police
MRE – Meal Ready to Eat. A 3,600 calorie meal with a heating system packaged in one plastic brick. Universally despised.
MWR– Morale, Welfare, and Recreation. This office handles events and entertainment on military bases, and may manage some base facilities like gyms and swimming pools.
NAVSUP – Naval Supply Systems Command
NAVTRA – Chief of Naval Training
NCIS – Naval Criminal Investigative Service
NCO– Non-Commissioned Officer. An enlisted person of the rank E-4 through E-6 (depending on branch). A Staff Non-Commissioned Officer is SNCO.
NEX– (pronounced as the word nex) A large mall-like store on base (Navy)
NVGs– Night Vision Goggles
OCONUS- (pronounced oh-cone-us) Outside the Continental United States. These overseas locations include Hawaii and Alaska.
OCS– Officer Candidate School
OIC– Officer in Charge
OOD– Officer of the Day; Officer of the Deck; the one on Duty
OPNAV – Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
OPR– Officer Performance Report
OPSEC- (pronounced opp-seck) Operational Security. This means protect information about the unit and troop movements. I.e., don’t announce the Homecoming date on social media.
PERSEC- (pronounced purr-seck) Personal Security. Information about your own whereabouts and identity, which you should always protect.
PCS- Permanent Change of Station. When the service member receives orders to move to another base.
PFC– Private First Class, an E2
PII– Personally Identifiable Information. Data such as social security number, driver’s license, birthday, etc. that can be used to steal your identity. These must be safeguarded and treated carefully.
PoA- Power of Attorney. The paperwork that allows a service member to delegate authority to a spouse or family member to handle their finances and legal matters while they are away. Also known as the paper you need to get anything done during a deployment!
POC– Point of Contact
POOW – Petty Officer of the Watch
POV – Privately Owned Vehicle
POW– Prisoner of War
PPM– Personally Procured Move. The new term for a Do-it-Yourself move, formerly called DitY.
PRT or PFT– Physical Readiness Test or Physical Fitness Test. Annual physical fitness test used for most branches. Slightly different from a CFT, which is a Combat Fitness Test.
PT– Physical Training, aka mandatory exercise.
PX– Post Exchange. A large store on base. (Army and Marine Corps)
ROTC– (often pronounced rott-sea) Reserve Officer Training Corps. Students who begin part-time military training during college, then receive an officer commission at graduation.
RPG– Rocket Propelled Grenade
RTC – Recruit Training Command
SECDEF – US Secretary of Defense
SECNAV – US Secretary of Navy
SERE – (pronounced sear) Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape. A survival school for specific military occupational specialties training.
SGLI– Servicemember’s Group Life Insurance. Service members are automatically enrolled, but they can adjust their rates and add family members
SNAFU – (pronounced sna-foo) Situation Normal All ****ed up.
SNCO- Staff Non-Commissioned Officer. An enlisted person of the ranks E-7 through E-9 (except in the Marine Corps where it is E-6)
SSN- Social Security Number. Memorize your spouse’s. You will need it for everything. Not even kidding.
TDY or TAD- Temporary Duty. A short-term assignment.
TOPGUN – US Navy Fighter Weapons School
TSP- Thrift Savings Plan. The military 401(k) plan that service members can add to for retirement savings.
UA- Unauthorized Absence. Illegally going on leave without approval. After 30 days UA, someone is considered a ‘deserter.’
UCMJ- Uniform Code of Military Justice. The rule of law that applies to all service members.
UOTD- Uniform of the Day. The required military uniform for a given date or event.
VA- Office of Veteran Affairs, which manages health care and benefits for veterans.
WilCo- Will Comply (as a text message or email response).
XO – Executive Officer
Want more on military life?
- The Ultimate Guide to Military Space A Travel
- The Ultimate Guide to Deployment Resources for Military Kids
- 47 Things No One Tells You About Being a Military Wife
- The GIANT Gift Guide of Vet and Military Spouse Owned Businesses