Military Acronyms and Abbreviations

The military uses a lot of acronyms to save time and energy. These acronyms can be confusing for civilians not familiar with military culture. Sometimes, it feels like the military speaks a different language with its own set of acronyms and abbreviations. Trying to keep up with your service member’s lingo can be difficult, but you don’t have to. Use this guide to learn the most common military acronyms and abbreviations so you can understand more of what they’re talking about.

The military has many famous acronyms that are recognized by anyone who has served in it. Probably the most well-known is FUBAR, which stands for “Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition or Repair.” This can be used to describe a person, place, or situation. It’s actually part of a larger family of descriptive acronyms that include SNAFU (Situation Normal All Fucked Up), TARFU (Things Are Really Fucked Up) and BUFU (Boy, You’re Fucked Up).

A few other famous military acronyms include:

HESCO: Hescos are big bins filled with dirt to absorb explosions.

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

MOS: Military Occupational Specialty. The job you are trained for when you join the military.

PiCAT: Pending Internet Computerized Adaptive Test, an untimed version of the ASVAB that can be taken online.

LCPL: Lance Corporal, the lowest non-NCO rank in the Marines.

BFT: Blue Force Tracker, a cool piece of equipment that allows a vehicle to link up with a satellite and give locations of friendly and enemy units.

Semper I – A slur used to insult a fellow Marine for not performing his duties. Normally used in conjunction with Semper Fi.

AWOL: Absent Without Leave. A common phrase that means a service member has left their unit for an extended period of time. This can be for personal reasons, training, or other military purposes.

AFC: Air Force Combat Control. A term that has been used since the Vietnam War to describe Air Force personnel who work in command, control, and communications roles.

CCP: Casualty Collection Point. The area of a battle where wounded service members are triaged and treated.

Fucking New Guy/Girl: A not-so-nice way of describing someone who is new to a unit. Usually refers to an attitude problem or other issues that are not welcome in a unit.

Wiley X’s: Protective eyewear that is issued to all service members while in theater.

CSMO or CWMO: Close Station, March Out. A common military order to get everyone out of their stations and off the base after a mission is complete.

LCPLs are notorious for looking for obviously non-existent batteries for the chemical light sticks (chem lights). This is called “chem light hunting.” If you hear a new Marine complaining about having to ‘hunt’ for chem light batteries, you know they’re a green Marine.

A Glossary of the Most Common Military Acronyms and Abbreviations

A Glossary of the Most Common Military Acronyms and Abbreviations


  • ACU: Army Combat Uniform
  • AD: Air Defense
  • AAR: After Action Review
  • AAV: Amphibious Assault Vehicle
  • ABM: Anti-Ballistic Missile
  • AC-130: Aircraft Gunship
  • ADA: Air Defense Artillery
  • ADF: Automatic Direction Finder
  • AFG: Afghanistan
  • AFSOC: Air Force Special Operations Command
  • AGM: Air-to-Ground Missile
  • AH-64: Apache Attack Helicopter
  • AIT: Advanced Individual Training
  • AMC: Air Mobility Command
  • AO: Area of Operations
  • AOR: Area of Responsibility
  • APU: Auxiliary Power Unit
  • AR: Army Regulation
  • AROTC: Army Reserve Officer Training Corps
  • ASVAB: Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
  • AWACS: Airborne Warning and Control System


  • BCT: Brigade Combat Team
  • BDU: Battle Dress Uniform
  • BMP: Infantry Fighting Vehicle (Russian: Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty)
  • BMT: Basic Military Training
  • BOLO: Be On the LookOut
  • CAC: Common Access Card
  • CBRN: Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear
  • CCW: Concealed Carry Weapon
  • CQB: Close Quarters Battle
  • COIN: Counterinsurgency
  • CONUS: Continental United States
  • COSCOM: Corps Support Command
  • CP: Command Post
  • CQ: Charge of Quarters
  • CSAR: Combat Search and Rescue
  • CT: Counterterrorism
  • CTR: Cooperative Threat Reduction
  • CVN: Aircraft Carrier (Nuclear)
  • CWO: Chief Warrant Officer


  • D-Day: Designated Day of an Operation
  • DCU: Desert Combat Uniform
  • DFAC: Dining Facility
  • DOD: Department of Defense
  • DoD: Department of Defense
  • DPICM: Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munition
  • DMR: Designated Marksman Rifle
  • DRMO: Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office
  • DS: Drill Sergeant
  • DUI: Distinctive Unit Insignia
  • EOD: Explosive Ordnance Disposal
  • EW: Electronic Warfare


  • FARP: Forward Arming and Refueling Point
  • FOB: Forward Operating Base
  • FTX: Field Training Exercise
  • FUBAR: Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition
  • FY: Fiscal Year


  • GPS: Global Positioning System
  • GPMG: General Purpose Machine Gun
  • GTMO: Guantanamo Bay Naval Base
  • GUI: Graphic User Interface


  • HMMWV: High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (Humvee)
  • HVT: High-Value Target


  • ICBM: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
  • IED: Improvised Explosive Device
  • IO: Information Operations
  • ISR: Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance


  • JAG: Judge Advocate General (Legal Corps)
  • JRTC: Joint Readiness Training Center


  • LAT: Light Anti-Tank
  • LAV: Light Armored Vehicle
  • LCAC: Landing Craft Air Cushion
  • LRRP: Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol
  • LAV: Light Armored Vehicle


  • MIA: Missing in Action
  • MRE: Meal, Ready-to-Eat
  • MOS: Military Occupational Specialty
  • MP: Military Police
  • MRAP: Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected
  • MWD: Military Working Dog


  • NATO: North Atlantic Treaty Organization
  • NBC: Nuclear, Biological, Chemical
  • NCO: Non-Commissioned Officer
  • NORAD: North American Aerospace Defense Command
  • NROTC: Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps


  • OPSEC: Operational Security
  • OIF: Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • OEF: Operation Enduring Freedom
  • OSI: Office of Special Investigations


  • PPE: Personal Protective Equipment
  • POW: Prisoner of War


  • RPG: Rocket-Propelled Grenade
  • ROE: Rules of Engagement
  • ROTC: Reserve Officer Training Corps


  • SAR: Search and Rescue
  • SF: Special Forces
  • SOP: Standard Operating Procedure


  • TACP: Tactical Air Control Party
  • TOE: Table of Organization and Equipment


  • UAV: Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
  • UCMJ: Uniform Code of Military Justice
  • USMC: United States Marine Corps


  • VC: Viet Cong
  • VFW: Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • VIP: Very Important Person


  • WMD: Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • WTU: Warrior Transition Unit

Please remember that this list is not exhaustive and is subject to updates and changes based on evolving military practices and terminology.