Military Phrases You NEED to Know

Here is your guide to the most common military acronyms. From AAF to USN, learn phrases, acronyms, AND their definitions below!

AAF – Army Airfield

Another name for a military installation.


ACS – Army Community Services

These programs support Soldiers, civilian employees and Families in maintaining readiness by coordinating and delivering comprehensive, responsive services that promote self-reliance, resiliency and stability. Learn more here.

AD – Active Duty

Full time service option in each military branch.


ADDP – Active Duty Dental Program

A dental program designed for Active Duty and acvitated Guard/Reserve members.


A&FRC – Airmen and Family Readiness Center

The main family program for the Air Force and Space Force. Learn more here.


AIT – Advanced Individual Training (Army)

After BCT, one of the two options up next is AIT. There, they receive specialized training based on their MOS. Learn more here.


ANG – Air National Guard

A reserve component of the Air Force that consists of part-time employees that perform both a state and federal mission.


ARNG – Army National Guard

A reserve component of the Army that consists of part-time employees that perform both a state and federal mission.


APO – Army Post Office

The Post Office located on Army and Air Force installations. Learn more here.


ASVAB – Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery

A multiple choice timed test to determine qualifications for military service, to determine your best branch placement, and to determine strengths.


AT – Annual Training (National Guard and Reserve Corps)

A two week period of Training in Active Duty status, occurring once a year for ANG, ARNG, and RC members.


BAH – Basic Allowance for Housing

An allowance intended to partially cover housing costs. Read more about BAH here.


Base

Another name for a military installation.


BCT – Basic Combat Training (Army)

Basic Combat Training is a training for new recruits who are enlisting in the Army.


BOP – Base of Preference

Technically, this term is only used for enlisted Air Force members. However, this is sometimes used loosely over all branches. It refers to the top preference base that you wish to be stationed at next.


BMT – Basic Military Training (Air Force, Space Force, & ANG)

Basic Military Training is a training for new recruits who are enlisting in the Air Force, Space Force, Air Force Reserves, and Air National Guard.


BWE – Beneficiary Web Enrollment

An online portal where you can enroll in medical and dental benefits, unenroll, update your PCM, and update your primary address. View this portal when you log into MilConnect.dmdc.osd.mil.


BX – Base Exchange

Department store and/or strip mall located on base. Many have uniform stores, fast food, barber shops, and more. Shop online here.


CAC – Common Access Card

A personal identification card given to service members, dependents, and other eligible employees, reserve members, and veterans.


Casual Status

This is a period of time where the service member get paid but don’t “work” in their job. Sometimes a temporary job is assigned, like cleaning or office work.


CGW-L – Coast Guard Work-Life (Coast Guard)

The objective is to support the well-being of active duty, reserve and civilian employees and family members. Learn more here.


CO – Commanding Officer

A service members superior officer.


Commissary

The grocery store on base. They have all the essentials, and usually at a better price than the local grocery stores. There is also often a gas station nearby.


CONUS – Continental United States

The 48 connected states and D.C.


DA – Department of the Army


DEERS – Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System

This is a database that contains your spouse’s information, as well as all of their dependents. This is how you receive Tricare. When you have a child, this is what they are added to. It is important to keep updated so you are always receiving the correct amount of income, BAH, and any other additional pay.


Dependent

A spouse, any children under age 21, and family members (only in certain cases) of the service member are considered dependents.


DFAS – Defense Finance and Accounting Service

The agency responsible for all Department of Defense finances, such as income, as well as financial management and operations.


DITY – Do It Yourself

You are reimbursed to pack up, drive, and unpack yourself, or hire a moving company to do it for you. Check out my top 10 tips for moving here.


DLA – Dislocation Allowance

A partial reimbursement for expenses made in moving your family through a PCS.


DoD – Department of Defense

United States government agency consisting of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Space Force and Air Force. It is responsible for matters of national security.


DoDEA – Department of Defense Education Activity

A federally-operated school system designed to plan, direct, coordinate, and manage pre-k through 12th grade for military-connected students.


DPS – Defense Personal Property System

A system where you upload your orders and create a shipment(s) for your move with your preferred method of moving (PPM, HHG, etc.)


DSN – Defense Switched Network

A Department of Defense telephone system, which can only call and accept numbers dialed from the same network.


EFMP – Exceptional Family Member Program

A program within each branch that provides support, assistance, and resources for families with a member that has special medical or educational needs, such as ADHD, Autism, Depression, or Chronic Illness.

Links for each branch: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force/Space Force, Coast Guard equivalent


FEDVIP – Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program

Learn more about dental and vision care.


FFSP – Fleet and Family Support Program

The main Navy program for families. Learn more here.


FPCON – Force Protection Condition

A system put in place by the DoD that describes the level of security on base in response to the current terrorist threat level.


FPO – Fleet Post Office

The Post Office associated with Navy installations and ships. Learn more here.


FRG – Family Readiness Group

This program is now known as SFRG.


Garrison (Army)

Another name for a military installation.


HHG – Household Goods Move

A move completed by a government-provided moving company. During a HHG move, your TSP is responsible for packing all of your belongings and transporting them to your new location.


HPCON – Health Protection Condition

A guideline for installations on handling different levels of health threats.


IA – Individual Augmentee (Navy)

Sailors who support other commands in the Navy, Army, or Marine Corps for a short time using their specific skills


IFT – Initial Flight Training (Air Force)

A flight training program for Air Force members that are training to be Pilots or Combat Systems Officers.


Key Spouse (AF)

A Key Spouse works directly with the unit leadership to provide support to the spouses and families in the unit. They are also the communicator between the unit leadership and its dependent members on deployment return dates, events, etc.

Read more here.


LES – Leave and Earning Statement

The statement that reports all things to do with their paycheck, such as taxes withheld, total money earned, and their leave balance.


MCCS – Marine Corps Community Service

The main family program for the Marine Corps. Learn more here.


MCRT – Marine Corps Recruit Training (Marine Corps)

Recruit Training is a training for new recruits who are enlisting in the Marine Corps.


MCX – Marine Corps Exchange

Department store and/or strip mall located on base. Many have uniform stores, fast food, barber shops, and more. Shop online here.


MFLC – Military and Family Life Counseling

Confidential, non-medical counseling program worldwide. Professionals can help you manage issues such as moving preparations, stress management, and deployment adjustment. Learn more here.


MOS – Military Occupational Specialty (National Guard, Army, Marine Corps)

In the National Guard and Army, MOS refers to your job or carrer choice.


MRE – Meal, Ready to Eat

Individual rationed meals bought by the Department of Defense intended for use out in the field and in other conditions where a food facility is not available.


MTF – Military Treatment Facility

Military hospitals, medical centers, and care facilities located on military installations.


MWR – Morale, Welfare, and Readiness (Navy, Army)

The MWR program is for all navy service members and their families, and it’s purpose is to provide programs and services that contribute to resiliency, retention, readiness, and quality of life.


MyCAA – Military Spouse Career Advacement Account

A scholarship program to help assist military spouses in receiving certificates, associate degrees, and licenses needed for employment. Military spouses of specific ranking service members are eligible. Learn more here.


NAS – Naval Air Station

Air base of the US Navy branch.


NCO – Noncommissioned Officer

A service member who has not yet commissioned (AKA Enlisted or Warrant Officer).


NEX – Navy Exchange (NAVY)

Same as the BX, but on a naval base or air station.


OCONUS – Outside the Continental United States

Anywhere not in the lower 48 states or D.C.


OCS – Officer Candidate School (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard)

A school that allows Enlisted service members to become Officers. Learn more about Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard OCS.


OHA – Overseas Housing Allowance

This is similar to BAH, however, is specifically designed to partially cover overseas housing costs. You can view an estimate here.


Ombudsman (Navy, Coast Guard)

An Ombudsman acts as a liaison between families of the service member and the unit. Learn more about the Coast Guard Ombudsman program.


OPSEC – Operations Security

A process used to keep potential enemies from learning information that could put service members at risk. Read more here.


OTS – Officer Training School (Air Force, Space Force)

A school that allows Enlisted service members to become Officers. Learn more here.


PCM – Primary Care Manager

If you have Tricare Prime, you are always assigned a PCM, which is a doctor on base. They serve as your primary care doctor and are who you make requests through when needing specialized care. Learn more about Tricare here.


PCS – Permanent Change of Station

Relocation to a new permanent duty station for at least 20 weeks on orders.


Per Diem Pay

When traveling to your next assignment or duty station, as well as during training, your service member will receive “per diem” pay. It is intended to assist in housing and food costs. Find your estimated per diem rates here.


POS – Point of Service

An option while covered under Tricare Prime where you do not need a referral, but pay a small out-of-pocket fee. Learn more here.


Post (ARMY)

Another name for a military installation.


POV – Privately Owned Vehicle

A vehicle not owned by the Government.


POW/MIA – Prisoner of War/Missing in Action

This phrase refers to those service members who have been prisoners of war or missing in action throughout our Nation’s wars and conflicts. There is a POW/MIA Recognition day on the third Friday every September.


PPM – Personally Procured Move

You are reimbursed to pack up, drive, and unpack yourself, or hire a moving company to do it for you. Check out my top 10 tips for moving here. Another name is DITY.


PT – Physical Training

Service members are expected to meet specific standards of physical health. PT is a function designed to accomplish this.


PTO – Paid Time Off

This is a type of leave where you still continue to get paid. (Ex. Maternity/paternity leave)


PX – Post Exchange (ARMY)

Same as the BX, but on a post.


QLE – Qualifying Life Event

A Qualifying Life Event is an event that might change your healthcare options, such as a birth, marriage, death, or move. Read about all QLE’s here.


Rank/Grade

A service members hierarchy in their respective branch.


RAPIDS – Real-time Automated Personnel Identification System


RC – Reserve Component

An organization within a branch consisting of part-time service members who can augment the active duty component when needed.


ROM – Restriction of Movement

This is a period of time where your service member is asked to limit activities and actions in order to obey local directives or to protect physical health.


ROTC – Reserve Officers’ Training Corps

A program for college students offered by the Army, Air Force, and Navy/Marines. In exchange for a full-tuition scholarship, plus additional monthly stipends, the student commits to return service to the Military.


RTC – Recruit Training Command (Navy)

Recruit Training is a training for new recruits who are enlisting in the Navy.


SFRG – Soldier and Family Readiness Group (Army)

The SFRG program is a unit-sponsored official program that helps soldiers and their families find resources and assistance during deployment, as well as enhance overall readiness. Learn more here.


TAD – Temporary Additional Duty (Navy)

Another name for TDY or TCS, a temporary change of station from your permanent duty station, always on orders.


TAO – Tricare Area Office

When using Tricare Overseas, the Tricare Area Offices can help solve complex issues and represents the management organization for the overseas contractor. Find a list of phone numbers here.


TCS – Temporary Change of Station

A temporary change of station from your permanent duty station, always on orders. Also know as TDY or TAD.


TDP – Tricare Dental Program

The Tricare Dental Program (TDP) is a voluntary dental program for military families. Learn more here.


TDY – Temporary Duty Station

A temporary change of station from your permanent duty station, always on orders.


TOP – Tricare Overseas Program

A healthcare program for uniform service members, retirees, and their families living outside of the United States. Learn more here.


Tricare

A worldwide health care program run by the Department of Defense for uniformed service members, retirees, and their families. Learn the basics here.


TSP – Thrift Savings Plan

A retirement savings and investment plan for government employees and service members.


TSP (moving) – Transportation Service Provider

A government furnished moving company that packs your belongings and moves them to your new location.


UCMJ – Uniform Code of Military Justice

A special set of laws that all Active Duty, National Guard, Reserve, and academy members are required to follow.


UPFRP – Unit, Personal & Family Readiness Program (Marine Corps)

Program designed to help Marine Corps members and families thrive in the military lifestyle. Learn more here.


USAF – United States Air Force


UB – Unaccompanied Baggage

An option for shipments where a small portion of your belongings are expedited to your new location, typically while you wait for the rest of your belongings to arrive at a later date.


USCG – United States Coast Guard


USID – Uniformed Service ID

An ID card for military dependents, retirees, and reserve members.


USMC – United States Marine Corps


USN – United States Navy


USSF – United States Space Force


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