Tactical And Military Language | Terms And Slang

Feature | Military and Tactical Language | Terms and Slang

Anyone deep into firearm culture or shooting as a hobby has probably come across several military tactical terms flung around by those already in the know.

Want to figure out what your buddies at the range are talking about without giving up the fact that you’re clueless? No worries – here’s a quick rundown of some key military language you can brush up on before next time.

Military Language and Jargon to Learn


ACU: Army Combat Uniform

ALS: Automatic Locking System

AOR: Area of Responsibility. This is essentially the area assigned to a military unit for patrol or an operation.

Artillery: a massive firearm/engine that discharges huge, explosive projectiles

Artillery battery: a collection or group of artillery


BDU: Battle Dress Uniform

BOLO: Be on the lookout; it’s used by law enforcement to tell their officers to check for specific vehicles or individuals related to a nearby or recent crime


Cal: short for caliber i.e. 50 cal, which means .50 caliber

Camo: an abbreviation for camouflage

Camelback: this is a water bladder carried on the back with a flexible drinking tube that can reach your mouth

CCW: Concealed Carry Weapon

CF: Carbon Fiber

CP: Check Point

Cuffs: a shortened version of “handcuffs”


DFAC: Dining Facility, which is also sometimes called a mess hall

Detail: a group of military service members sent for a particular task/operation. Sometimes used interchangeably with a squad

Downrange: the area of a shooting range where the targets are set up

Dustoff: evacuation of personnel from a combat zone, usually to receive medical treatment


E&E: Escape and Evasion

EDC: Every Day Carry, or everyday supplies you carry around

EMS: Emergency Medical Services

EP: Extraction Point, a place picked for extraction of troops and personnel from a combat zone


Fathom: the unit of measurement used to determine the depth from sea level to seafloor

File: a single line/column of soldiers, i.e. single-file line

FOB: Forward Operating Base


Goat Trail: an unpaved or dirt road

Grunt: slang term for an infantryman

Guerilla tactics: sometimes mispronounced as “gorilla” tactics, it describes a hit-and-run strategy to harass an enemy force without fully engaging face-to-face


IED: Improvised Explosive Device

INTSUM: Intelligence Summary

Incendiary: a weapon that causes damage through fire or extreme heat; think napalm or flamethrowers

Interdiction: an attack with the express intent to disrupt or stall an enemy force

IWB: Inside the Waistband, usually used when referring to concealed carry weapons


LE/LEO: Law Enforcement or Law Enforcement Officer, respectively

Leave: a term for vacation time away from duty i.e. “on leave”

LED: Light-Emitting Diode


Mag: abbreviation for a firearm magazine

MRE: Meal, Ready to Eat or military rations

Mike Mike: a type of millimeter used to determine the metric caliber of ammunition

Munitions: term for weapons/explosives


NCO: Non-Commissioned Officer/Sergeant

NGO: Non-Government Organization like the Red Cross


O’ Dark Thirty: any time that’s too early in the morning (before sunrise)

Overwatch: an act when a smaller unit supports another, normally bigger unit


PDU: Patrol Dress Uniform

POO Site: Point of Origin Site

PDS: Personal Security Detail


Quarters: a term for the standard morning assembly of all hands on deck were in a unit


Rampart: the first and foremost defensive wall of the fort or defensive position

ROE: Rules of Engagement

RPG: Rocket-Propelled Grenade

RLS: Rapid Light System, usually a focused beam of light on a weapon

Rout: a total victory or disorderly withdrawal of troops from a combat zone


S-1: military code referring to personnel

S-2: military code referring to intelligence

S-3: military code referring to operations

S-4: military code referring to logistics and supply

Siege: a military blockade of a fortification, city, or another enemy territory, preventing resupply or reinforcements


Taps: military slang for “lights out”. Accompanied on base by the famous “Taps” song

TDU: Tactical Dress Uniform

TOC: Tactical Operations Center

Terp: military slang for an interpreter of another language


UXO: Unexploded Explosive Ordnance that could still be dangerous


XO: Executive Officer, or second-in-command of a unit or battalion


Zulu Time: another term for Greenwich Mean Time

Was that fun or what? Do you have other military language or jargon you'd like to share with us? Please write it down in the comments section!

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