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Below are common military acronyms and meanings.


ABN: Airborne

ABN refers to military troops and personnel with air transportation training who respond to an assault by parachute. ABN equipment is anything that ABN troops use. The term can also refer to an aircraft’s status. 

ACA: Airspace Control Authority 

An ACA is a commander who formally assumes responsibility for an airspace control system in an airspace control area. 


In reference to counterintelligence, access is a means by which to identify a target. The term can also reference the ability to engage with people, facilities or information to complete a mission. 

ACM: Airspace Coordination Measures

ACM coordinate efficient and effective airspace use. ACM also safeguard friendly forces. 

ACO: Administrative Contractor Officer

An ACO has responsibilities concerning contract administration. 

ACS: Airspace Control System

An ACS is the strategic arrangement of personnel, policies, procedures and facilities that conduct airspace control functions. 

Actionable Intelligence

Actionable intelligence is intelligence available for immediate use without customary intelligence production processes. 

Action Phase

The action phase is the time between the arrival of military forces in an area and the success of a mission. 

Active Defense

Active defense is offensive action (e.g., counterattacks) to deny enemy access. This is also called passive defense.

AD: Active Duty

AD indicates active military service in the U.S., including full-time training and duty. 

Administrative Command Structure 

An administrative command structure is a structure organizing administrative leadership into a hierarchy. 

AECT: Aeromedical Evacuation Control Team

An AECT is a team of air mobility division personnel. They are part of an air operations center. Among other actions, they plan, schedule and execute aeromedical evacuation operations and position ground forces. 

Aeromedical Evacuation Unit 

This is a medical unit focused on managing and moving patients who need air evacuation and transportation. 

AEW: Airborne Early Warning

An AEW is the detection of an enemy air attack via equipment in an airborne vehicle. 

AFRICOM: U.S. Africa Command

AFRICOM is a geographic combatant command. Its main headquarters are at Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. The AFRICOM AOR is 3.5 times the size of the U.S. and spans the African continent, its island nations and the surrounding waters. AFRICOM centers on protecting and defending U.S. interests by strengthening African nations’ defense capabilities.

AFSOF: Air Force Special Operations Forces 

The AFSOF are where personnel train, organize and equip any active or reserve forces to support special operations. 

AGR: Active Guard Reserve

The AGR are Reserve members on active duty who voluntarily provide support to the National Guard, Reserve and active component organizations. Their primary roles are to organize, administer, recruit and train personnel. 

Air Assault Operation

These are operations in which assault forces use rotary-wing assets to engage in combat. 

Airborne Operation 

An airborne operation is a military operation that involves the air and supports any tactical, strategic or operational mission. 

Airspace Control Area 

An airspace control area is an airspace operational area that may be in subdivisions. 

AMC: Airborne Mission Coordinator

An AMC acts as an extension of the airborne commander. 

AOC: Air Operations Center

The AOC is an Air Force senior agency that offers command and control in air and space operations. 

AOR: Area of Responsibility

An AOR is a space in which an organization or department has authority and responsibility.

APC: Armored Personnel Carrier 

An APC is a vehicle type that personnel use to transport military equipment and other personnel in combat zones.

APEX SYSTEM: Adaptive Planning and Execution System

The APEX System is a system for the DOD that handles policies, procedures, processes and reports. Communications technology and information technology support the APEX System for joint military operations. 

APU: Auxiliary Power Units 

APU are devices on large aircraft, naval ships and sometimes land vehicles. APU provide energy for many functions, such as propelling craft or vehicles. 

Assault Phase

An assault phase begins with an air attack during an airborne operation.

ATGM: Anti-Tank Guided Missile

An ATGM — also referred to as an anti-tank missile, anti-armored guided weapon or anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW) — is a guided missile designed to target and destroy heavily armored military vehicles.


BCT: Basic Combat Training 

Also known as “boot camp,” BCT is divided into three phases. These phases teach new soldiers the Army’s traditions, tactics and methods.

BDOC: Base Defense Operations Center 

A BDOC is a command and control facility that a base commander creates. It serves as the center for the base’s security and defense operations.

BDZ: Base Defense Zone

A BDZ is a zone around an airbase that short-range air defense weapons safeguard.

Berry Amendment Compliant

The Berry Amendment maintains the safety and security of armed forces by restricting the procurement of fabrics, food and clothing from anywhere but the U.S. Congress passed the amendment in 1941.

BH: Biological Hazard

A BH is an organism that threatens the health of humans and/or animals. 

BI: Battle Injury 

A BI is any damage or harm that personnel experience during combat. 

Billeting Shelter 

Billeting shelters are living quarters or medical facilities that provide a safe place for military personnel to rest, recover and recoup. 

Biological Agent

A biological agent (aka chemical agent) is a microorganism that causes disease or material deterioration. 


Biometrics is the recognition of a person using technology that can measure characteristics, such as anatomical, physiological and behavioral traits. 

BK: Battle Kitchen

A BK is a mobile, trailer-mounted field kitchen. An LMTV moves a BK. One BK can feed up to 300 military personnel three meals per day.

BM: Battle Management

BM is activity management for environment-based commands, guidance and directions from leadership. 

BMS: Battlefield Management System

A BMS is a network and/or software system that collects, processes and relays information to give personnel better situational awareness.

BOS: Base Operating Support 

BOS is the direct assistance, maintenance, supply and distribution of supporting forces in an operational location. 

BPLAN: Base Plan 

A BPLAN is an operations plan that describes actions, major forces, sustainment and anticipated timelines for completing a mission. It generally does not list annexes, time-phased forces and deployment data.

Building System

A building system is a structure made of manufactured components that provide a specific building configuration. 

BZ: Buffer Zone

A buffer zone (aka “area of separation”) is an area that a peace operations force protects from hostile parties. It may also be a designated safe area in military operations. 


C2: Command and Control 

C2 stands for the command and control of assigned and attached forces to accomplish a mission, by a commander’s authority and leadership.

C3I: Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence 

C3I are the authority and leadership of a commander over their force to accomplish a mission and allow the flow of information between commanding officers and subordinate personnel to enhance military operations intelligence. 

C4I: Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence

C4I stands for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence.

C4ISR: Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance

C4ISR stands for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.


During combat or natural disasters, a casualty is a lost, dead, missing in action, ill, injured or status-unknown person. The casualty rate is the number of casualties per 1,000 at-risk people. 

Catastrophic Event

A catastrophic event is an event that nature or human activity causes. It results in mass casualties or damages that affect human, environmental and economic well-being.

CBRN Hazard: Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Hazard

An intentional or accidental release causes a CBRN hazard that results in harmful effects. 

CCO: Central Control Officer 

A CCO is the officer who is responsible for coordinating and organizing a waterborne ship-to-shore mission. This task force commander designates the CCO. 

CENTCOM: U.S. Central Command

CENTCOM is a geographic combatant command. Its main headquarters are at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. The CENTCOM AOR spans more than 4 million square miles and primarily builds cooperation among Middle East nations. It also responds to crises, deters and defeats threats and increases regional stability.

Chain of Command

A chain of command is a hierarchy of commanding officers throughout military divisions. 

CHU: Containerized Housing Units

CHU are climate-controlled fabric structures that house two to eight personnel. Customizations allow for amenities such as bathrooms. 

CK: Containerized Kitchens

The military uses CK for mobile food preparation in the field. CK are usually within ISO containers and mounted on a tactical trailer. 


Classification is the organization system for official military information. It determines the required degree of national security per established criteria. 

CO: Commanding Officer 

A CO is a commander of any rank between second lieutenant and colonel who has ultimate authority in a military unit. They can run it as they see fit, within the bounds of law. 

Collateral Damage

Collateral damage is damage or injury to people or property that an unintentional incident causes. 

COTS: Commercially Off-the-Shelf

As the U.S. government and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) define, COTS are products that parties can purchase and use under government contracts. COTS are available in the commercial marketplace.

CS: Call Sign

A CS is a character combination that helps identify a command, authority, activity, unit or facility. It also establishes and aids communication.

CV: Combat Vehicle 

A CV is a self-propelled, weaponized military vehicle that personnel use in combat and warfare operations.

CYBERCOM: U.S. Cyber Command 

CYBERCOM is a functional combatant command located in Fort Meade, Maryland. It defends and advances national interests.


Cybersecurity involves safeguarding and preventing damage (including cyberthreats) to computers and electronic systems and services. Cybersecurity ensures communications are available, authentic and confidential. 



Decontamination involves removing or neutralizing harmful chemical and biological agents to create a safe space for people and items. It is also a process to remove radioactive materials.

DEPORD: Deployment Order

A DEPORD is an order from the secretary of defense. It authorizes and directs forces to transfer between combatant commands through reassignment or attachment.

DFAC: Dining Facility

A DFAC (aka “chow hall”) is an area for soldiers in the Army, Marines or Air Force to eat prepared meals.

Displaced Person

A displaced person is a human, such as an evacuee or refugee, who an entity has removed or relocated from their home (see Evacuees).

DOD: Department of Defense 

The DOD is a U.S. government entity that is responsible for military operations. 

Domestic Emergencies

Domestic emergencies are natural disasters, civil disturbances or civil defense emergencies that affect the safety and welfare of the U.S. public. 

Drop Zone

A drop zone is an area where personnel airdrop troops, supplies, medical equipment and military equipment. 


E3: Electromagnetic Environmental Effects

E3 refers to the impact that an electromagnetic environment has on the usability of military equipment, systems and forces. 

ECU: Environmental Control Unit

An ECU, or military HVAC unit, is rugged to provide temperature-controlled areas to support troops and operations in areas that need heating or air conditioning. Manufacturers design military ECU for portability and rapid deployment. 

EH: Explosive Hazard

An EH is any explosive component that causes a hazardous environment, such as a land mine or booby trap. 

Electromagnetic Radiation

Electromagnetic radiation is radiation that electric and magnetic fields generate from the speed of light. 

Electronic Reconnaissance

Electronic reconnaissance involves detecting, locating and evaluating foreign electromagnetic radiation.

Emergency Authority

During emergency situations, the emergency authority is the federal military commanding authority. The emergency authority is responsible for making decisions that prevent loss of life. It is also a presidential authorization to manage emergencies. 

EOC: Emergency Operations Center 

An EOC is a physical location that manages military incident activity. EOC are the primary C3I facilities that incident management teams use. An EOC also may be a facility (temporary or permanent) where personnel coordinate information and resources to support domestic incidents. 

EP: Emergency Preparedness

Personnel take EP measures to prepare for an emergency before it occurs. EP reduces casualties and involves preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery.

ESM: Electronic Support Measures 

ESM are a functional duty of military intelligence involving a range of electromagnetic surveillance and collection devices. These devices detect, intercept, locate, identify, record, study and provide insights to authorities for immediate threat recognition. 

EUCOM: U.S. European Command

EUCOM is a geographic combatant command. Its main headquarters are at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. The EUCOM AOR covers over 13 million square miles and includes 83 European and Asian countries and territories. Working with NATO and partner nations, EUCOM centers on security and defense in Europe and parts of the Middle East and Eurasia.


Evacuation involves removing people, animals and/or materials to prevent loss of life, injury and casualty.


An evacuee is a person who an entity has displaced or removed from a location for their protection, safety and security.

EW: Early Warning

EW is an advanced notification of an attack or invasion by armed, hostile entities. 


An exercise is an activity or training mission to prepare personnel for military operations. 


FAC: Forward Air Controller

A FAC is an aviator or pilot officer who manages tactical air support from a forward ground position or an airborne location. 


A facility is a building or structure that personnel use for maintenance, hygiene, dining, housing and storage (e.g., supplies, vehicles). 

FAR: Federal Acquisition Regulation

The FAR is a set of rules dictating government procurement and contracts that the U.S. military, NASA and U.S. civilian federal agencies issue.

FEZ: Federal Engagement Zone

An FEZ is an air defense term that describes a zone where aircraft engage in air attacks and defend against airborne threats. 

FGS: Final Governing Standards

The FGS comprehensively manage a country’s environmental rules and regulations. 

FI: Foreign Intelligence 

FI is international information that includes the intentions, activities and/or details from foreign governments, organizations and/or terrorists. 

First Responder

A first responder is a primary health care provider who treats evacuees and other patients. 

FIST: Fire Support Team

A FIST coordinates fire support and response in the field. 

FOB: Forward Operating Base 

A military FOB is a guarded and secured military base that supports strategic objectives. It is more permanent than a FOS and often contains maintenance and repair facilities, mobile field hospitals, airfields and more. 

FOL: Forward Operating Location 

A FOL is a term interchangeable with FOS. Personnel use “FOL” to classify remote facilities that support military field operations.

FOS: Forward Operating Site 

A FOS, aka a FOL, is a term for facilities that can support and sustain military operations. A military FOS has less of a permanent presence than a FOB and doesn’t require as much security. 

Four-Season Military Tents 

Four-season military tents are multifunctional structures for camp systems that manufacturers can also market as emergency shelters for disaster response. They are rapidly deployable, portable and durable.

FSA: Fire Support Area 

An FSA is a maneuvering area that the naval force commander assigns to fire support ships. From the FSA, they can deliver gunfire support during an amphibious operation.

FSC: Food Sanitation Center 

An FSC provides cleaning capabilities after food service in the field. It operates with CK and consists of sanitation equipment, including sinks, racks and water heaters. 

FSCC: Fire Support Coordination Center

An FSCC is a location where centralized communications take place to coordinate fire support for military divisions. 

FSS: Fire Support Station

An FSS is a designated area for fire support during military operations and missions. 



In the U.S. Army, “garrisons” refer to more permanent military establishments. The Army generally places troops in garrisons to protect nearby targeted locations and to fortify the area. Among military branches, both garrisons and barracks offer similar uses. 

GATES: Global Air Transportation Execution System

GATES is an air mobility command system for managing and processing cargo and passengers. GATES reports in-transit data to the Global Transportation Network. 

Geographic Coordinates

Geographic coordinates are the latitude and longitude that identify anything’s position on the Earth’s surface. 

GFM: Global Force Management

GFM is the coordination of support force assignments and allocations to commanders for national defense strategy. 

GPS: Global Positioning System

A GPS is a radio navigation system based on satellite data that the DOD collects and manages to provide precise locations.

GS: General Support

GS is backup for military forces during a tactical artillery mission. 



A hazard is any condition that causes a risk of injury, illness, death and/or damage to equipment, people or property. 

HCS: Helicopter Coordination Section

The HCS is a section of the Navy that coordinates tactical air traffic control centers and rotary-wing air operations. 

HD: Homeland Defense 

HD is the protection of sovereignty, territory, domestic population and critical defense infrastructure in the U.S. from outside threats.

HOC: Humanitarian Operations Center

An HOC is an international strategy for assistance, relief and recovery operations. 

Homeland Security

Homeland security is a national effort to prevent terrorist attacks in the U.S. and to reduce the nation’s vulnerability to disasters and emergencies. 

HSS: Health Service Support

HSS refers to any medical service that protects the physical health and well-being of military personnel and civilians. 

Hygiene Services

Hygiene services are personal hygiene facilities and collection areas for waste management during deployment.


I2: Identity Intelligence

I2 references identity intelligence.


Identification is a process by which personnel determine whether unknown forces are friendly or hostile. 

IFF: Identification Friend or Foe 

IFF references identifying another force as a friend or foe.

IGO: Intergovernmental Organization

A formal agreement between two or more global governments establishes an IGO. Its intent is to protect national security interests.

INDOPACOM: U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

INDOPACOM is a geographic combatant command. Its main headquarters are at Camp H.M. Smith in Hawaii. Its AOR covers more of the globe than any other geographic combatant command, stretching from the waters off the U.S. west coast to the western border of India and from Antarctica to the North Pole. INDOPACOM works with its partners to promote development, enhance security, deter aggression and provide humanitarian assistance.


Intelligence encompasses the results of information collected to identify foreign nations, hostile forces and details about military operations, activities and missions. 

INTREP: Intelligence Report 

An INTREP is an informative report in tactical operations that focuses on a specific item. 

ISO: International Organization for Standardization

The ISO sets standards for the intermodal transport of equipment. Many military bases use ISO-standard intermodal containers.

ISR: Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance

ISR activities provide surveillance and direct support for integrated intelligence and military operations. 


JFO: Joint Field Office 

A JFO is a temporary federal coordination center with multiple agencies. It facilitates the management of domestic incident activities regarding prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. 

JOC: Joint Operations Center 

A JOC is the headquarters for a joint force commander to plan, coordinate and execute a commander’s decisions. 

Joint Force

Joint force generally refers to a functional force of two or more military departments that operate and report to a single joint force commander. 

JTF: Joint Task Force 

A JTF is a combination of joint forces. The secretary of defense, a JTF commander, a combatant commander or a subunified commander designates a JTF. 


Key Position

During wartime or national emergencies, a key position is a position that civilians hold and cannot abandon. 

Keystone Publications

Keystone publications are joint-concept publications that establish a publication hierarchy. 

Key Terrain

Key terrain is an area or location that is beneficial for combatants after seizure or acquisition. 


LAMS: Large Area Maintenance Shelters

LAMS are large structures that function as military hangars and aircraft maintenance (LAMS-AM) and vehicle maintenance (LAMS-VM).

LEA: Law Enforcement Agency 

LEA stands for law enforcement agency.

LF: Landing Force

An LF is a task organization in the Marine Corps or Army. 

LMTV: Light Medium Tactical Vehicles 

LMTV are part of a series of military vehicles that vary in their payload and mission requirements. They meet U.S. Army requirements, one of which is a 50% minimum of U.S. content for their manufacturing. 

LOC: Line of Communications 

LOC references the route that connects a supply base to an operating military unit.


Logistics involves planning movement and relocation to provide support forces.

LZ: Landing Zone 

An LZ is an area where military aircraft can land (e.g., planes, helicopters).


MHA: Military Housing Area 

An MHA is a geographic area where military service members can seek community housing. 

MILCON: Military Construction 

MILCON is any military construction or development project. It also comprises conversion or extension projects related to temporary, semipermanent or permanent military installations, including land acquisition and road construction for defense access. 

MILDEP: Military Department 

MILDEP pertains to the three military departments under the DOD: the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy and the Department of the Air Force. Title 10 within the U.S. Code establishes each department’s authority, function and organization.

MILPERS: Military Personnel 

MILPERS are people who serve in the armed forces or are members of a military force. 

MILSPEC: Military Specification 

A MILSPEC is often deemed a military standard, and the military uses it to strive for DOD objective standards.

MILSTAMP: Military Standard Transportation and Movement Procedures

The MILSTAMP are standards that the DOD established for all cargo movements. MILSTAMP pertain to military cargo data, documentation and control procedures.

MOLLE: Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment 

MOLLE is a system that allows personnel to safely carry tactical combat gear in preparation for field combat. It has many components, including a fighting load carrier that can attach to releasable body armor and pockets to hold a radio, GPS device and more. 

MOS: Military Occupational Specialty

MOS is a military service member’s specific job in the force. It can range from aviation and artillery to intelligence and engineering. 

MSE: Mission Support Elements

MSE provide a standard supply of resources for operations.

MSF: Mobile Security Force

An MSF is a security force dedicated to defeating Level 1 and 2 threats on one or more military bases.

MSS: Multipurpose Shelter System

An MSS is an interchangeable building system that can serve various functions. 

MTF: Medical Treatment Facility 

An MTF involves the clinics, military field hospital facilities and other treatment centers on military bases worldwide. 

MTRCS: Multi-Temperature Refrigerated Container System

An MTRCS allows for the safe transport and storage of refrigerated or frozen products in a single ISO intermodal container. These containers have an engine refrigeration unit and can carry up to three days of food rations for up to 800 personnel. 

MWR: Morale, Welfare and Recreation 

MWR is a program that promotes quality of life for military personnel. A variety of activities and services are available to military personnel to support their well-being, families and communities. 


National Emergency

A national emergency affects the entire U.S. The U.S. president or Congress can declare a national emergency.

National Policy

A national policy is a course of action that a government adopts to guide its nation’s objectives, standards and affairs.

National Security

National security references the U.S. national defense plan and foreign affairs to gain an advantage over opposing nations. 

NDS: National Defense Strategy 

An NDS is a plan that coordinates U.S. Armed Forces with DOD divisions to accomplish national security objectives. The secretary of defense approves an NDS.

NEO: Noncombatant Evacuation Operation 

An NEO is similar to a safe haven (see Safe Haven).

NGO: Nongovernmental Organization

An NGO is any organization that is both a private and self-governing nonprofit organization. It centers on reducing and alleviating human suffering. An NGO may also promote health care, public education, environmental protection and conservation, human rights, economic development and conflict resolution. 

NMS: National Military Strategy 

The U.S. NMS comprises