Below are common military acronyms and their meanings.


Air-to-air describes objects or actions that operate between airborne objects such as aircraft, or from one airborne object to another. For example, air-to-air communication is communication that is sent between two airborne objects.


Anti-aircraft refers to activities, equipment, or weapons used to defend against or destroy enemy aircraft.


Anti-aircraft artillery consists of projectile weapons and related equipment, including both guns and guided missiles, designed to strike airborne aircraft from either the ground or ships. See also AA (anti-aircraft).


The Area Air Defense Commander is responsible for protecting defended assets (DAs) that are crucial to theater operations from aircraft and missiles. To this end, the AADC allocates and coordinates air defense assets to enable them to best counter enemy ballistic missile and air attacks.


The Army and Air Force Exchange Service — also called the PX, the BX, and the Exchange — is the U.S. Air Force and Army’s retailer. It is responsible for providing retail support as well as discounted combat uniforms for soldiers and discounted school lunches for overseas Department of Defense Dependents School students. While the AAFES has branches on Air Force and Army installations all over the world, it is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. 


An Amphibious Assault Vehicle, also referred to as an Assault Amphibian Vehicle, is an armored and armed military vehicle intended to carry assault troops and their equipment from vessels to shore during combat.


An Area Air Defense Commander has a mission to protect a defended asset (DA) from missiles and aircraft.    


The Army is composed of both an Active Component (AC) and Reserve Component (RC). However, the AC consists of soldiers who have a full-time (rather than part-time) occupation of being in the Army. 


The U.S. Air Force has nine Major Commands (MAJCOMs). The Air Combat Command is the command responsible for air combat forces and is second in line to the Tactical Air Command. The ACC is headquartered at Langley Air Force Base, Joint Base Langley–Eustis in Virginia.


The U.S. Air Force has nine Major Commands (MAJCOMs). The Air Education and Training Command is responsible for recruiting, educating, and training soldiers to deliver airpower for the Air Force. AETC is headquartered at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.


The Air Force is the branch of the Military that is responsible for aerial warfare. 


U.S. Africa Command – a geographic combatant command. AFRICOM’s main headquarters is located at Kelley Barracks, in Stuttgart, Germany. The AFRICOM Area of Responsibility (AOR) is three-and-a-half times the size of the U.S. and spans the entire African continent, its island nations, and surrounding waters. AFRICOM is focused on protecting and defending U.S. interests by strengthening the defense capabilities of African nations.


An Armoured Fighting Vehicle is a vehicle used in combat that’s armed and protected with external armor. It has offensive and defensive capabilities, as well as operational mobility since it can either be wheeled or tracked. An IFV and APC are two examples of an AFV.


An Armored Personnel Carrier is a type of vehicle used to transport military equipment and personnel in combat zones.


Auxiliary Power Units are devices used on large aircraft, naval ships, and sometimes land vehicles that provide energy for numerous functions, one being to propel the vehicle. 


An Armoured Recovery Vehicle is a high-strength tank or APC that’s modified for use during combat. It’s typically used to tow or repair an AFV that’s damaged from battle, stuck, or no longer operable. An ARV can usually move swiftly on uneven terrain due to its motorized tracks, similar to a bulldozer or tank. 


An Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle is another term for ARV. See ARV in this glossary for a detailed definition.


A soldier that is Absent Without Leave is absent from their place of duty without official permission but without the intention of deserting.


The Battle Dress Uniform is a uniform printed in camouflage that the U.S. Armed Forces used as their standard combat uniform from the early 1980s to the mid-2000s. The BDU has seen replacements/supplants in every U.S. Armed Forces branch.


Basic Combat Training, also known as “boot camp,” is divided into three phases to teach the traditions, tactics, and methods to new soldiers working to join the Army service.


A Base Defense Operations Center is a command-and-control facility created by a base commander to serve as the center for security and defense operations of a base.


A Base Defense Zone is a guarded zone established around an airbase that’s guarded by short-range air defense weapons.


A Battle Kitchen is a mobile field kitchen that’s mounted on a trailer and moved by an LMTV. It can feed up to 300 military personnel three meals a day.


A Base Plan is a level-two contingency plan created by a Combatant Commander (CCDR) and Joint Force Commander in anticipation of a crisis. A BPLAN describes the Concept of Operations (CONOPS), concepts of support, major forces, and expected timelines to complete a particular mission. However, it usually does not include Time-Phased Force and Deployment Data (TPFDD) or annexes. 


Beyond Visual Range is a missile that’s able to engage at ranges of 37 km or beyond. 


Command and control of assigned and attached forces to accomplish a mission, by the authority and leadership of a commander.


Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence is the authority and leadership of a commander over their force to accomplish a mission and allows the flow of information between commanding officers and subordinate military personnel to enhance the intelligence of military operations. 


Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence.


Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.


A Combatant Commander is a commander of a unified or specified combatant. A CCDR holds the power to develop contingency plans as well as direct orders. Their authority is nontransferable and cannot be delegated. 


U.S. Central Command – a geographic combatant command. CENTCOM’s main headquarters are located at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. The CENTCOM Area of Responsibility (AOR) spans more than 4 million square miles and is focused on building cooperation among Middle East nations, responding to crises, deterring and defeating threats, and increasing regional stability.


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


A Concept of Operations is a graphic or verbal statement describing what a commander assumes or intends in regard to a single or series of operations. 


A Concept Plan is a level-three contingency plan that is operational at its core but must be considerably expanded and altered in order to convert into an Operational Plan (OPLAN) for missions. It can produce TPFDD in applicable scenarios.


Defined by the U.S. government and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), Commercial Off-The-Shelf or Commercially Available Off-The-Shelf are products that can be purchased and used under government contracts and are available in the commercial marketplace.


Containerized Kitchens are used for mobile food preparation while in the field. They’re integrated into ISO containers and typically mounted on a tactical trailer. 


A Combat Vehicle is a military vehicle that’s self-propelled and weaponized for use in combat warfare operations. 


U.S. Cyber Command – a functional combatant command located at Fort Meade in Maryland. CYBERCOM is tasked with defending and advancing national interests.


A Defended Asset is usually a seaport, airport, an area with a concentrated number of civilians, or an area with vital/important government installations.


A Deployment Order is an order from the Secretary of Defense that authorizes and directs forces to transfer between combatant commands through reassignment or attachment. 


A Dining Facility is an area for soldiers in the armed forces to eat prepared meals. Also commonly called “chow halls.”


The Department of Defense is a department of the United States Government that’s responsible for military operations. 


Environmental Control Units, or “Military HVAC units,” are ruggedized to provide temperature-controlled areas to support troops and military operations in deployed locations that require heating or air conditioning. Military ECUs are designed for portability and rapid deployments. 


An Emergency Operations Center is a physical location that manages military incident activity. An EOC is the primary C3I facility used by Incident Management teams.


Electronic Support Measures are a functional duty of military intelligence involving a range of electromagnetic surveillance and collection devices to detect, intercept, locate, identify, record, study, and provide insight to authorities for the purpose of immediate threat recognition. 


U.S. European Command – a geographic combatant command. EUCOM’s main headquarters are located at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. The EUCOM Area of Responsibility (AOR) covers more than 13 million square miles and includes 83 countries and territories in Europe and Asia. Working with NATO and partner nations, EUCOM is focused on security and defense in Europe and parts of the Middle East and Eurasia.


Federal Acquisition Regulation is a set of rules governing government procurement and contracts issued by the U.S. Military, NASA, as well as U.S. civilian federal agencies.


A Military FOB, or Forward Operating Base, is a guarded and secured military base that supports strategic objectives. It’s more permanent than a military forward operating site (FOS) and often contains maintenance and repair facilities, mobile field hospitals, airfields, and more. 


The Food Sanitation Center provides cleaning capabilities performed after food service in the field. They operate with containerized kitchen units and consist of sanitation equipment, including sinks, racks, water heating equipment, and more. 


A Forward Operating Site (Military FOS), also known as a Forward Operating Location (Military FOL), is a term used for facilities that can support and sustain military operations. A military FOS has less of a permanent presence than a FOB.  


Homeland Defense is the protection of sovereignty, territory, domestic population, and critical defense infrastructure in the United States from outside threats.


An Infantry Fighting Vehicle, also referred to as a Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle (MICV), is a type of AFV that’s used to carry infantry or foot soldiers directly into battle as well as provide support for direct fire. An IFV is armed with a cannon and sometimes a missile launcher and is distinct from an APC, which is strictly used for defense and transporting personnel (not engineered for offensive operations). 


U.S. Indo-Pacific Command – a geographic combatant command. INDOPACOM’s main headquarters is located at Camp H.M. Smith, in Hawaii. The INDOPACOM Area of Responsibility (AOR) covers more of the globe than any other geographic combatant command, stretching from the waters off the west coast of the U.S. 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.


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


A Joint Field Office is a temporary federal coordination center with multiple agencies that facilitates the management of domestic incident activities relating to prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery. 


Large Area Maintenance Shelters are large structures used for military hangars and Aircraft Maintenance (LAMS-AM) and Vehicle Maintenance (LAMS-VM).  


Line of Communications refers to the route that connects a supply base to an operating military unit.


Light Medium Tactical Vehicles are in 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. 


A Landing Zone is the area where military aircraft such as planes or helicopters can land.


A Major Command is a major subdivision of the U.S. Air Force that has a specific mission and consists of tactical, strategic, defense, or flying forces. There are nine MAJCOMs, including Air Combat Command (ACC), Air Education and Training Command (AETC), Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC), Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), Air Mobility Command (AMC), Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), and United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA). All the MAJCOMs provide complementary defensive, offensive, and support elements.


Military Housing Areas represent a geographic area where military service members can seek community housing. 


A Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle is another term for IFV. See IFV in this glossary for a detailed definition.


Military Construction is any construction or development project, as well as a conversion or extension project related to temporary, semi-permanent, or permanent military installations, including land acquisition and road construction for defense access. 


Military Department pertains to the three military departments under the DoD, which include the Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, and Department of the Air Force. Each department’s authority, function, and organization are established in Title 10 within the U.S. Code.


Military Personnel is anyone who serves in the military’s armed forces or is a member of a military force. 


Military Specification is often referred to as a military standard, and it’s used to strive for or achieve objective standards from the U.S. Department of Defense. 


Military Standard Transportation and Movement Procedures is a standard established by the DoD for all cargo movements, and pertains to the data, documentation, and control procedures of military cargo.  


Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment is a system that allows soldiers to safely carry tactical combat gear on them 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, and more. 


Military Occupational Specialty is a military service member’s specific job in the force, which can range from aviation and artillery to intelligence and engineering. 


Mission Support Elements supports the command by providing administrative and logistical support.


Mobile Security Force is a security force dedicated to defeating Level 1 and 2 threats on a military base or a group of military bases.  


A Medical Treatment Facility involves the clinics, military field hospitals, and other treatment centers found on military bases and posts throughout the world. 


A Multi-Temperature Refrigerated Container System allows for the safe transport and storage of refrigerated or frozen products in a single ISO intermodal container. These containers are equipped with an engine refrigeration unit and can carry up to three days of food rations for up to 800 military personnel. 


Morale, Welfare & Recreation is a program that promotes the quality of life for military personnel. A variety of activities and services are made available to military personnel to support their well-being, their families, and the community. 


The National Military Strategy in the U.S. is composed of three military objectives. The first is to “deter, deny, and defeat state adversaries”; the second is to “disrupt, degrade, and defeat violent extremist organizations”; and the third is to “strengthen our global network of partners and allies.” 


U.S. Northern Command – a geographic combatant command. NORTHCOM’s main headquarters is located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. The NORTHCOM Area of Responsibility (AOR) encompasses the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico and the surrounding air, land, and sea approaches. NORTHCOM is focused on homeland defense – deterring, detecting, and defeating threats to the United States. It also conducts security cooperation activities with allies and partners and supports civil authorities.


Operational Control is the authority of a commanding officer to direct subordinate military personnel by assigning tasks, establishing objectives, and giving direction to accomplish a mission or other military operation.


Operational Security is the process of identifying and protecting any information about military operations.


Operation Plan is the conduct of joint operations and can be used as a foundation for developing operation orders.


Officer in Tactical Command is a NATO term pertaining to an officer who is in command of a task unit, task group, or task force. 


Permanent Change of Station is when an assignment, detail, or member of a unit is transferred to a different duty station under an order.


Personal Protective Equipment refers to combat helmets, gloves, footwear, eye protection, tactical vests, body armor, respiratory devices, and more worn by military personnel during training or combat operations. 


The Reserve Component of the Army consists of soldiers who serve part-time rather than full-time. However, they can serve full-time if ordered to.


Reception, Staging, Onward-Movement & Integration (also abbreviated as RSO&I) is the ability to rapidly deploy equipment and personnel to a contingency area where they transition from being cargo and passengers to achieve combat readiness and integrate their capability into a military force to accomplish a mission.


U.S. Special Operations Command – a functional combatant command located at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. SOCOM oversees the various special operations components of the armed forces.


U.S. Southern Command – a geographic combatant command. SOUTHCOM’s main headquarters is in Miami, Florida. The SOUTHCOM Area of Responsibility (AOR) includes 31 countries, 16 dependencies and areas of special sovereignty in Central and South America. Working with allies and partners across the region, SOUTHCOM is focused on enhancing peace, promoting human rights, deterring illegal activities, and conducting multinational military exercises.


Standard Operating Procedure is indicative of a set of instructions or way to do something that’s set as a standard without loss of effectiveness and is assumed as the right procedure for any operating task in the military. 


U.S. Space Command – a geographic combatant command. SPACECOM’s main headquarters is located at Fort Meade in Maryland. SPACECOM’s Area of Responsibility (AOR) includes operations in, from, and to space. The newest command, SPACECOM is focused on deterring conflict and, if necessary, defeating aggression, delivering space combat power for the joint/combined force, and defending U.S. vital interests with allies and partners.


U.S. Strategic Command – a functional combatant command located at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. STRATCOM operates globally to deter and detect strategic attacks against the United States.


Surface Warfare is when warfare relating to the surface, air, or submarine components blends as a unit to achieve a particular strategic military objective.


Temporary Duty Station is a location where temporary assignments take place, rather than a military service member’s permanent duty station. 


A Task Force is an established formation of personnel to work on a single defined task or activity. A TF is divided into Task Groups (TG), and TGs are divided into Task Units (TU). TGs and TUs are organized by a commander or higher authority.


A Tactical Operations Center is the command and control (C2) hub for planning, directing, and tracking the operations of a mission. A Military TOC is designed for rapid deployments and scalability to support company- to division-sized task forces.


Time-Phased Forced and Deployment Data contains special data on military forces and units regarding scheduled overtime, cargo data, and movement data for an OPLAN. TPFDD also includes data on personnel that aren’t part of units.


The U.S. Transportation Command – a functional combatant command. Focused on providing support to all 10 combatant commands in the U.S., defense agencies and military services, as well as government agencies. They establish mobility operations around the world to enable the Joint Force to project and sustain national objectives. 


Task Units are a component of a Task Group organized by a commander or higher authority. 


A Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, also known as an Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV), combat drone, or battlefield UAV, is an unmanned drone equipped with aircraft ordnance such as missiles, Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM), or bombs.


An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is a component of an unmanned aircraft system (including a ground-based controller and system of communications) and is commonly referred to as a drone; the aircraft flies without a human pilot, crew, or passengers on board. 


The Unified Command Plan is a classified document prepared, reviewed, and presented to the President by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) every two years. The UCP establishes the missions, responsibilities, and geographic areas of responsibility for commanders of the four functional (CYBERCOM, SOCOM, STRATCOM, TRANSCOM) and seven geographic combatant commands (CENTCOM, AFRICOM, EUCOM, NORTHCOM, INDOPACOM, SOUTHCOM, and SPACECOM).


  • William Hansen

    William Hansen is the marketing director for Alaska Defense™. Growing up in a military family, he is used to change. With an analytical focus and keen ability to adapt to shifting markets, William understands how rapidly deployable military shelter systems are used to build, enhance, and sustain mission readiness.

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