Military Terms and Acronyms


AAFES                         Army and Air Force Exchange Service; also called the BX  Covers the retail stores on the Air Force base available to authorized users (someone who as a valid military ID card, e.g. active duty member, family member, retiree, or spouse of a retiree).

AB                               Air Base (Overseas)

ABU                             Airman Battle Uniform

ABW                            Air Base Wing                                                                  Provides base operating support for an AFB

ACC                             Air Combat Command Accompanied  Tour                        Tour of duty with family members

ACSC    Air Command and Staff College

AD                               Active Duty

ADSC                           Active Duty Service Commitment

Advanced Pay            Payment before actually earned

AEF          Air Expeditionary Force                                                                     Deployed Air Force wings, groups, and squadrons committed to a joint operation.

AETC                           Air Education Training Command

AFAF                            Air Force Assistance Fund                                              Annual campaign to raise money for four official Air Force charitable organizations.

AFAS                           Air Force Aid Society                                                Organization located at the A&FRC that provides emergency financial assistance to active duty, retirees, and their family.

AFB                              Air Force Base

AFI                               Air Force Instruction (Regulations)

AFIT                             Air Force Institute of Technology

AFMC                          Air Force Materiel Command

A&FRC                         Airman & Family Readiness Center

Designs, develops, and conducts quality of life programs according to base and community needs and capabilities. The A&FRC mission is to ensure resources required to support the entire base are available and accessible.

AFRC                           Air Force Reserve Command

AFSC                            Air Force Specialty Code

Allotment                   Designated payment by member to bank or individual

Allowance                  Pay and special compensation

ALS                              Airman Leadership School

AMC                            Air Mobility Command

AMN                           Airman

ANG                            Air National Guard

APO                             Air Post Office (overseas)

ARC                             American Red Cross

Article 15                    Disciplinary action

ASAP                           As Soon As Possible

AT                                Annual Tour

AWOL                         Absent Without Leave                                                          When a military member is away from duty without authorized leave

BAH                             Basic Allowance for Housing                                                The intent of BAH is to provide uniformed service members accurate and equitable housing compensation based on housing costs in local civilian housing markets. Replaced Basic Allowance forQuarters or BAQ.

Barracks                      Where military members who are not accompanied by family members live (Also known as dorms).

BAS                             Basic Allowance for Subsistence                                       Meant to offset costs for a member’s meals. Each year it is adjusted based upon the increase of the price of food as measured by the USDA food cost index.

BDU                             Battle Dress Uniform (Camouflage uniform)

Benefits                      Medical, dental, commissary, BX, etc

Blues                           Dress uniform

Butterbar                   Slang term applying to a Second Lieutenant because their rank insignia are gold bars.

BX/PX                         Base Exchange (Managed through AAFES)

CC                                Commander                                                                            The officer in charge of an entire unit of military members.

CCAF                           Community College of the Air Force

CCC                             Command Chief Master Sergeant

CCF                              First Sergeant

CDC                             Career Development Course

CDC                             Child Development Center

CE                                Civil Engineer

CFC                              Combined Federal Campaign

Annual charity fundraising for multiple charities

Chain of Command   This is the leadership structure of the military established rank for both enlisted members and officers.

Chaplain                     Military minister, priest, rabbi, or pastor

Civilian                        Refers to civilian employees who work for the Department of Defense.

COB                             Close of Business

Code of Conduct       Rules by which military members must live

COLA                           Cost of Living Allowance

Commissary        The base grocery store available to authorized users (someone who has a valid military ID card, e.g. active duty member, family member, retiree, or spouse of a retiree).  No sales tax is added but there is a small surcharge.

CONUS                        Continental United States                                                   Forty-eight adjoining states and the District of Columbia (does not include Alaska or Hawaii)

Court martial             Trial system within the military

CSS                              Commander’s Support Staff (Squadron’s main admin. office)

DeCA                           Defense Commissary Agency (See Commissary)

DCU                             Desert Camouflage Uniform

DEERS                         Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System  Registration system for benefits for military members and their family

Deployment               Relocation of a military unit/member for operation purposes outside the United States for an extended and specific period of time.

DEROS                         Date Estimate Return from Overseas

DFAS                           Defense Finance and Accounting Service             Organization which monitors military pay

Dining In                     Formal dinner for military members only  

Dining Out                                    Formal dinner for military members and spouses

DITY      Do-It-Yourself Move

DOB                             Date of Birth

DoD                             Department of Defense

DoDDS                        Department of Defense Dependent Schools

DOR                             Date of Rank

DOS                             Date of Separation

DPP                             Deferred Payment Plan

DSN                             Defense Switched Network                                         Worldwide military telephone system

EAF                              Expeditionary Aerospace Force

EFMP                           Exceptional Family Member Program                         Enrollment program that works with other military and civilian agencies to provide comprehensive and coordinated community support, housing, educational, medical, and personnel services to families with special needs.

EFMP-FS                                Exceptional Family Member Program – Family Support Housed in the Airman & Family Readiness Center and designed to provide support to those with special needs.

Enlisted                       An individual who is not commissioned (see NCO); either an Airman (rank of E-1 to E-4) or an NCO (non-commissioned officer, rank of E-5 to E-9).

EPR                              Enlisted Performance Report

ESC                              Enlisted Spouses Club

Esprit de Corps          Morale within unit or organization

ETS                              Expiration of Term of Service                                     Scheduled date of separation from active duty

Family Advocacy        Program that addresses family issues and concerns.

Field Grade                 Majors, Lieutenant Colonels, and Colonels

First Sergeant             A key member of every squadron, the First Sergeant (or “Shirt” as sometimes called) is a senior NCO (see below), who has received specialized training in dealing with “people issues.” The First Sergeant works directly for and with the Squadron Commander. He/she is knowledgeable about on-base resources available to assist in finding answers/solving problems, as well as managing the recognition of active duty military members’ superior performances. The First Sergeant also responds to emergencies within his/her squadron.

FCC                              Family Child Care                                                                  Child care provided in a licensed provider’s home.

FLT                               Flight

Formation                  Gathering of military in a prescribed way

GI Bill                          Education entitlement

GOV                            Government Owned Vehicle

GS                                General Schedule (Civil Service employee)

GSU                             Geographically Separated Unit

HAWC                         Health and Wellness Center

HHG                             Household Goods

Hold Baggage             Unaccompanied baggage or personal belongings

Housing Office           Responsible for managing base housing

HQ                               Headquarters (Generally Wing Commander’s office)

IAW                             In Accordance With

ID Card                        Identification card issued to legally recognized member of military family.

IG                                 Inspector General

JAG                              Judge Advocate General (also known as the Base Legal Office)

K-9                               Dogs specifically trained for military service; also known as Military Working Dogs (MWD).

Key Spouse                 Outreach program that uses Squadron Commander- or First Sergeant- appointed spouses in units to help address concerns and issues of the families. These volunteers offer support, information and a personal connection to available resources, as well as act as the liaison between the Commander and the families.

Last 4                          The last four numbers of a person’s Social Security number.

Leave                          Approved time away from duty.

LES                              Leave and Earnings Statement   Pay stub

Mess Dress                  Formal attire for the military member

MFLC                           Military and Family Life Consultant

MPS                            Military Personnel Section (formerly MPF/Military Personnel Flight)

MRE                            Meal, Ready to Eat

MTF                             Military Treatment Facility (Base Clinic/Hospital)

MWR                           Morale, Welfare, and Recreation

NATO                          North Atlantic Treaty Organization

NCO                            Non-Commissioned Officer                                            Enlisted, an individual who is not commissioned, rank of E-5 to E-9

NCOA                          Non-Commissioned Officer Academy

NCOIC                         Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge

NLT                              Not Later Than

OCONUS                     Outside the Continental United States                         Overseas tour, INCLUDES Alaska and Hawaii

Officer                         An individual who is commissioned, holding the rank of Second Lieutenant (O-1) through General (O-10).

OIC                              Officer in Charge

OJT                              On the Job Training

OPR                             Officer Performance Report

OPR                             Office of Primary Responsibility

OPSEC                         Operational Security

OPTEMPO                   Operational Tempo                                                                 The pace of an operation or operations; includes all of the activities the unit is conducting; can be a single activity or series of operations.

ORI                              Operational Readiness Inspection

Orders                         Spoken or written instructions to military/civilian members (usually for TDY, deployments, or PCS)

OSC                             Officers’ Spouses Club

OSI                              Office of Special Investigations

OTS                             Officer Training School

PCM                            Primary Care Manager (Assigned by Medical Group)

PCS                              Permanent Change of Station                                      Reassignment to a different duty station

Per Diem                     Compensation for the extra expenses incurred while on temporary duty away from one’s home station.

PFMP                          Personal Financial Management Program                    Provides personal financial counseling to all military branches including retirees and widows of service members and GS civilians. The goal of PFMP is the creation of a comprehensive financial management assistance service which will guide individuals and families through the lifecycle of financial wellness.

PME                            Professional Military Education

POA                             Power of Attorney                                                                Legal document permitting a person to act on behalf of another.

POC                             Point of Contact

POV                             Privately Owned Vehicle

PRF                              Promotion Recommendation Form (for officers)

Protocol                     Military customs and courtesies

Rank                            Official title/grade of member

Remote                       An overseas assignment, usually 12 to 18 months; in which families cannot accompany the active-duty member.

Retreat                       Flag lowering ceremony at end of the day

Reveille                     Flag raising ceremony at the beginning of the day

RIF   Reduction in Force

ROTC                           Reserve Officer Training Corps

SBP                              Survivor’s Benefit Plan

SF                                Security Forces

SGLI                             Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance

Shirt/First Shirt          First Sergeant

SME                             Subject Matter Expert

SNCOA                        Senior NCO Academy

SOP                             Standard Operating Procedure

Sortie                          A flight or single flying mission

SOS                             Squadron Officer School

Space A                       Space Available-Referring to available seats on aircraft/billeting

Sponsor                      A person assigned to assist an in-bound or newly arrived person to a base.

Squadron                   An Air Force unit which has a First Sergeant and a Commander.Squadrons are usually identified both numerically, and by function. For example: 18th FSS (Force Support Squadron)

SSN/SSAN                  Social Security Number

STEP                            Stripes for Exceptional Performers (for enlisted)

TAP                             Transition Assistance Program                                        Established to meet the needs of separating service members during their period of transition into civilian life by offering job-search assistance and related services.

TDY                              Temporary Duty                                                            Relocation of a military member from their base of assignment to a different duty location or station, such as attending Air Force Leadership School, or specific technical training, for a specific period of time.

Tech School                Formal school training for a military job.

TLA                              Temporary Living Allowance

TLE                              Temporary Lodging Expenses

TLF                               Temporary Living Facility

TMO                            Traffic Management Office                                       Organization responsible to handle the movement of a military member’s belongings to a new duty location.

TRICARE                      The health insurance program for military members and their families.

TSP                              Thrift Savings Plan

UCI                              Unit Compliance Inspection

UCMJ                           Uniform Code of Military Justice  Military’s set of laws

Unit                             Group of military members, both officer and enlisted personnel, assigned to work together with a common vision, mission, and goals.

USAF                           United States Air Force

USAFE                         United States Air Force –Europe

VA                               Veteran’s Administration

WAPS                          Weighted Airman Promotion System (for enlisted)

WIC                             Women, Infants, and Children’s program; also available Overseas.

Wing Down Day         A day off for military members, not counted against leave


Military Time

1:00 am = 0100 “oh-one hundred” or “oh-one-hundred hours”
2:00 am = 0200
3:00 am = 0300
4:00 am = 0400
5:00 am = 0500
The above times are also known as “oh-dark-thirty”
6:00 am = 0600
7:00 am = 0700
8:00 am = 0800
9:00 am = 0900
10:00 am = 1000  “ten hundred” or “ten hundred hours”
11:00 am = 1100
12:00 noon = 1200
1:00 pm = 1300  “thirteen hundred” or “thirteen hundred hours”
2:00 pm = 1400
3:00 pm =     1500
4:00 pm = 1600
5:00 pm = 1700
6:00 pm = 1800
7:00 pm = 1900
8:00 pm = 2000  “twenty hundred” or “twenty hundred hours”
9:00 pm = 2100
10:00 pm = 2200
11:00 pm = 2300

12:00 midnight =      2400




Elmendorf AFB NEBRASKA Offutt AFB
Luke AFB Creech AFB
Edwards AFB Kirtland AFB
Los Angeles AFB
Travis AFB
Vandenberg AFB
Peterson AFB Seymour Johnson AFB
Schriever AFB NORTH DAKOTA Grand Forks AFB
USAF Academy Minot AFB
DISTRICT OF Bolling AFB OHIO Wright Patterson AFB
Hurlburt Field Vance AFB
Patrick AFB Shaw AFB
Tyndall AFB SOUTH DAKOTA Ellsworth AFB
Robins AFB TEXAS Brooks AFB
IDAHO Mt Home AFB Goodfellow AFB
KANSAS McConnell AFB Laughlin AFB
LOUISIANA Barksdale AFB Randolph AFB
MARYLAND Andrews AFB Sheppard AFB
Keesler AFB WASHINGTON Fairchild AFB
McChord AFB




Andersen AFB, Guam

Kadena AB, Japan

Kunsan AB, South Korea

Misawa AB, Japan

Osan AB, South Korea

Yokota AB, Japan



Aviano AB, Italy

Incirlik AB, Turkey

Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal

Ramstein AB, Germany

RAF Alconbury, UK

RAF Croughton, UK

RAF Lakenheath, UK

RAF Menwith Hill, UK

RAF Mildenhall, UK

RAF Molesworth, UK

Spangdahlem AB, Germany