Steven Capps is a sergeant in U.S. Army National Guard
We’ve all seen it. Hollywood decides to make a war movie, but the actors look nothing like real soldiers. They act like a hardened veteran but talk like a damn civilian. With the recent epidemic of Stolen Valor cases, it’s not hard to notice when someone has never served.
When U.S. veterans hear a supposed “Army Captain” say Hoa-rah, we damn near have an aneurysm. If someone is going to portray our nation’s service-members the least they can do is have a basic understanding of our language.
Here’s a list of some common words and phrases that will let you know the next time someone is faking:
Marines pronounce this as, “Hoa-rah,” with two syllables. The Army pronounces it with only one syllable and no, “r.” This word can mean anything from, “Hell yeah,” to, “It’s not like a really have a choice here, do I, Sir?” Overuse of this word indicates that you’re either a Drill Sergeant, Fuzzy, or faker.
This is a synonym for the rank Private (E-1). Since the first rank in the U.S. Army does not have an insignia, the uniform is left with an open piece of fuzzy Velcro, thus creating this endearing, though slightly derogatory, name for the lowest rank in the Army.
Every enlisted man has been a Fuzzy, so we understand the struggle to have half a brain. Once a Soldier shows some initiative and competence, they are described as high speed. Sometimes this is also referred to as high-speed, low-drag. Essentially, this is a positive phrase that describes anything that does its job well.
The opposite of high speed would lead you to a soup sandwich. Imagine soggy bread and overall nastiness of trying to eat something this screwed up.
The core of this phrase is intended to be the literal concept of a soup sandwich, though it is almost always used to describe something else. Example: “B co is high-speed, but C co is more f***ed up than a soup sandwich.”
If your buddy is looking like a soup sandwich, it is your duty to square that bastard away. Squared away simply means fix. Yes, we understand that our phrase is longer, but the Army isn’t known for being logical. Keep your opinions to yourself.
Originally used as a derogatory term to describe an Infantryman, Grunt has become a compliment and its opposite, POG (Person Other than Grunt) has become the insult. Though many like to think that grunt is a reference to an Infantryman’s lack of intelligence, it actually stems from the Vietnam War.
Infantrymen are required to do long rucks with heavyweight. The runt is the audible sound all infantrymen make when donning a heavy pack for the first time.
This has both formal and informal usage and is generally posed as a question. SitRep stands for Situation Report or otherwise known as an update. In tactical situations, this is a radio report that has a standard format. In informal settings, it is like asking, “What’s up?”
An acronym standing for, “Estimated Time of Arrival.” Just as SitRep is often posed as a question, so is ETA.
Another acronym because the Army is full of them, NCO stands for Non-Commissioned Officer. This includes all of the ranks between Corporal and the Sergeant Major of the Army. Generally, NCO’s are subject-matter experts and are responsible for the hands-on supervision of the Junior Enlisted.
A term used to describe the Junior Enlisted ranks between Private and Specialist. Joe’s are the workforce of the Army, but are not considered terribly bright.
A reference to the senior leadership of a unit, though generally no smaller than a company. Since unit levels vary, Top can refer to a Captain all the way up to a General.
Fire for Effect:
This is primarily used to tell indirect fire elements such as artillery and mortars that they are on target and to continue using the previous adjustments. This is sometimes used in reference to other tasks simply as a way to say, “Keep doing the same thing.”
Zero Dark Thirty :
Though this focuses on time, it does not fit refer to a specific hour. In the simplest terms, it means, “really early,” though this could range from 0100 to anytime before sunrise.
A formal name given to a small unit of Soldiers. Generally, the total consists of 4-5 individuals and is led by a Corporal or Sergeant. This is the smallest element within the Infantry.
A modified position of attention in which a Soldier stand rigid with their hands clasped behind the small of their back. This is the appropriate position to speak to an NCO of a higher rank.
While this is used as a command in drill & ceremony, it is also used to correct behavior. Mistakes are considered a deviation of the group norm, so the term, “fall in,” is used to tell someone to stop causing problems.
This is another term that has many different meanings. On the surface, it refers to the area that targets occupy on a firing range. In a more colloquial sense, it is a reference to the future, specifically a deployment or other time of high pressure.
Boots on the Ground:
This is used in a similar context to, “downrange.” The primary difference is that this is often shorter term and refers to a direct event rather than a vague future. An example in terms of deployment is: “We’ll have boots on the ground in January.”
An acronym that stands for Forward Operating Base. This is pronounced exactly like the word, “gob,” but with an “f” instead of “g.” A FOB is the location that most troops are stationed in while they are deployed in a combat zone.
The boundary between a FOB and an unsecured combat zone.
Mike is a phonetic word assigned to the letter, “M.” In addition, it is used as shorthand to say minutes. Example: “B Company is en route, ETA 12 mikes.”
Derives from radio terminology, but is used widely in service. It is the equivalent of saying, “I understand.” This is similar to the word, “Roger,” though, “roger,” generally just means yes.
Another term used frequently for radio communication. “Out,” means that you are ending the conversation and do not expect another reply. Generally, this is initiated by whoever has control of the conversation.
A shorthand for the 9 Line Medical Evacuation. This is a standard format used to request medical assistance. Each of the 9 lines represents a set of required information necessary for medical and rescue personnel. Also called a CasEvac (Casualty Evacuation).
This is the nomenclature that is used to describe the standard rifle in the Army. The M4 chambers a 5.56 round and is a gas-cooled, magazine-fed, carbine. The civilian equivalent is called an AR-15.
This is a light machine gun. Its complete name is the M249-SAW. SAW stands for, “Squad Automatic Weapon.” Generally, one person in every fire-team will have a SAW as their standard weapon.
This term is used to refer to a standard infantry company. Their organizational structure will match that outlined in standard infantry doctrine such as FM 3.21-8 (Infantry Field Manual). On average, a line company will have 120-150 Soldiers in it.
A flexible term that refers to any organization within the military. A unit can be any size though most commonly starts at the company level. Also, a unit refers to the people that a Soldier works with on a daily basis.
An element within a company that consists of 30-50 Soldiers. Two or more platoons are needed to create a company. They are led by a Lieutenant and a Sergeant First Class.
An element smaller than a platoon. A full squad in a line infantry company would ideally have nine members. It is led by a Staff Sergeant and two Sergeants that act as individual team leader. This is often the smallest element size that will conduct independent missions or patrols.
This name could not be more misleading. When comparing light infantry to its mechanized, and heavy infantry counterparts it is indeed light.
While the light infantry’s siblings use vehicles such as Humvees, Stryker’s and Bradley’s members of the light infantry walk. They often were rucks that weigh upwards of 75 lbs. and are the epitome of a grunt.
Slang term for ribbons and medals that are worn on a dress uniform. This term can be either applauding or insulting.
No matter how much the Army complains about the Air Force and their delicious food, damn near hotel-like barracks, and their far more applicable job skills, we know we need them. CAS stands for Close Air Support and has meant the difference between life and death for many grunts.
A derogatory term used to describe someone who has not deployed to a combat zone. While this is excusable for the early ranks, it is generally frowned upon once someone progresses into the NCO corp. While a deployment doesn’t make a great leader, who would want to follow someone who hasn’t been through the suck?
Both a derogatory and affectionate term for the Army’s E-4 rank, Specialist. The name stems from the shield-like shape of the rank’s insignia. At this point, a Joe has enough knowledge or time in service that they are not the bottom guy anymore. That said, they often are not given leadership positions, which means they have little responsibility. The word Sham Shield references the act of a Specialist using their position to avoid a work detail.
A derogatory term to describe a 2nd Lieutenant (O-1). Though the name derives from the fact that the golden bar for the rank looks like a stick of butter, it is only derogatory because many Enlistedman dislike the fact that someone with a college degree can join the Army as a much higher rank without ever serving before.
Rations that are used during emergency situations.
An affectionate term for a commissioned officer who has had prior service as an Enlistedman. Though Mustangs do not progress as far into the officer ranks as traditional officers, they often make great leaders and garner respect from both NCO’s and junior enlisted, because they know a Mustang has experienced their struggles.
An abbreviation for Commander. Though the actual rank of a CO changes depending on the unit, it is always the person with absolute authority of every one of their subordinates. Only commissioned officers can be a CO.
Technically, an XO is the number two person a unit, though often the senior NCO will preform the more of the second in command duties. XO stands for Executive Officer and their primary duties focus on the logistical side of a unit.
This is a word that describes active engagement with the enemy. While this doesn’t have to be an intuition of small arms fire, it often is. Simply watching an enemy from a concealed location is still considered contact, but is often called, “eyes on,” to avoid confusion.
Though there are several ways to tell a faker from the real deal, if you ever have a suspicion but don’t want to come out and say it. Try to steer the conversation towards one of these topics. If they are lost in sauce, then you have a pretty good idea you are talking to a fake.
A pollywog is a sailor who’s never crossed the equator.
These are systems that warn pilots about life-threatening situations. The phrase originated from anthropomorphizing GPS systems.
In all my time, I have never actually heard someone use this term in a conversation. Like everything in the Army, it is an acronym. It stands for Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition and can be used interchangeably with Soup Sandwich.
This is a term that got its start during the Vietnam War and means out of whack or screwy.
Fragmentation Order is the actual term for this piece of slang. It essentially means a change of plans, though it can also be an addition to a previous mission. Regardless, they’re dumb and the only frago’s Grunts like are the one’s that somehow let us eat hot chow. We get tired of MREs, okay?
A rain locker is a shower, because of the shape and the fact that you’re standing with water pouring down on you – like rain.
Snivel gear refers to the clothing you’re issued for cold weather conditions.
Person-Other-than-Grunt. This is an extremely derogatory term when used by an Infantryman. It is essentially belittling all of the jobs in military that are not Infantry.
My personal opinion on the subject is that we were all part of the fight, and I am damn sure that if there weren’t people in finance getting me my paycheck, the would have been a whole hell of a lot of shit I wouldn’t have put up with as a Grunt.
This is the Marine Corps slang term for a pen.
Counselings are formal meetings between leaders and subordinates to discuss behavior. It is rare that anyone fills out extra paperwork unless something big happened. Though this can be either positive or negative, it is almost always negative.
A wall-to-wall counseling is used to describe the use of physical violence to punish a behavior. In my entire time, I have only heard of this happening once. Big Army does not take this kind of thing lightly, and it does end careers.
Birth Control Glasses (BCG):
When a recruit starts Basic Training, they go through a week of medical exams, if it is determined that they need glasses, they are given some massive 1980’s brown-rimmed goggles as their standard issue.
After a nuclear holocaust, these things will be chilling with cockroaches. The hideous aesthetics of BCG’s are proven to be 432% more effective than a double wrapped-condom. Ugly is the best birth control.
Life in the military is about being a member of the team, striving for a purpose bigger than yourself, and watching the backs of your friends on your left and right. Blue Falcon literally means, “Buddy F*cker.”
These types of people are selfish and are willing to throw their peers under the bus if it can somehow benefit them. I would rather be called the antichrist himself, than be seriously called a Blue Flacon.
Barney style stems from the old kid’s show. The lessons that they were taught were so dumbed down that a three-year old could understand. During my time as an instructor, this was one of the more common sayings. Barney style means an incredibly simplified lesson in order to unsure that Soldiers understand exactly what is being taught.
A way of doing things that is considered particularly strange.
Stay in Your Lane:
Upon assaulting an objective, infantrymen are taught to walk in a straight line rather than gaggling into the heat of the action. This keeps troops spread out and provides better security as the unit is covering a larger area. In a vernacular setting, “Stay in your lane,” is the same as telling someone to mind their own business.
Day(s) and a wake-up:
So many parts of the military are filled with sleeping in the cold, fighting mosquitoes the size of helicopters, and going weeks without a shower.
Though we often get used to these conditions, we almost always count the days before we get to do something else. The last day of an assignment generally only involves waking up, so the countdown is often phrased like, “2 days and a wake-up.”
Stealing. This simply means stealing. Though it is frowned upon, it is somewhat of a common occurrence with government property.
It is in extremely poor taste to tactically acquire equipment issued to someone in your own unit, and you’d be a Blue Falcon to steal someone’s personal property. Tactically acquiring another unit’s guidon (flag) is a completely different matter.
Living in the field, really means that you are living from a ruck. This means limited space, so every piece of gear has to be essential. Field stripping is the act of prepping all of your equipment until you only have the cannot-live-without essentials.
The scene from Black Hawk Down where the Ranger leaves his back plate at the FOB (horrible decision, as we all saw) is essentially a form of field stripping.
Another derogatory term, though is used to describe Soldier who deploys, but never leaves the wire. Though they are in country, being called a Fobbit means that you essentially did nothing for a deployment.
This is almost self-explanatory but with one humorous addition. Soldiers pull security in order to stay alert of any enemy threats. This mitigates ambushes and also allows our forces to capitalize on targets as they present themselves.
Since security is so important, it is always the right answer. If there is ever a tactical question a Private doesn’t know, the smart one’s will always answer, “Pull security.” Even if I was asking about the damn weather, I’d let an answer like that slide.
Full Battle Rattle:
When a Soldier dons every piece of equipment, ACH (Helmet), IOT-B (Vest), combat load (seven topped-off magazines), rifle, water, and pretty much anything else they could need on a mission, they are wearing Full Battle Rattle. This amounts to about 50-75 lbs. of extra weight, and is why Call of Duty is ridiculous. No one can run like that.
Make a hole:
The military is compromised of a massive amount of people. Trying to move through such a crowd is nearly impossible, so the phrase, “Make a hole,” means that everyone in the group should step aside to open a path in the sea of Soldiers.
Everyone knows that work has a set amount of hours. Mandatory fun is not work, because it does not occur during working hours, it does not deal with your job (usually it is like a dinner or picnic), but you are still required to attend these, “fun,” events.
Imagine a massive line of young twenty something’s as if they were going to play red rover. This line moves across an area of land looking for anything from trash to some lost NVG’s (one of the worst experiences in my service). This activity is called a police call, and it stems from how law enforcement will canvass a scene for evidence.
Hangfire means to wait for your next set of instructions or orders.
The formal use of this phrase means to use a smoke grenade, which will provide concealment for a unit’s movement. Often, this occurs when a unit is breaking contact (retreating) from an enemy. In everyday usage, “popping smoke,” means to sneak away before you get in trouble for something.
A derogatory term that describes a soldier who only does the right thing when an authority figure is present, this often indicates a lack of integrity with an individual.
Nut to Butt:
To form a tight, straight line in which everyone is close together…very close together. One’s nuts are extremely close to the butt of the man in front of them.
Secret Squirrel Mission:
There are some things that leaders shouldn’t ask their subordinates to complete. Stealing a Major’s PC is one of these tasks. If this task would be given, it is made clear that if the subordinate is caught then they were pulling the prank out of their own free will.
While secret squirrel missions have been the cause of many Article 15’s, successful ones often live in infamy for years to come.
A rainbow is a new recruit in basic training.
This is the formal name for a non-judicial punishment. This type of punishment can be as little as a bit of extra duty or it can involve a demotion, forfeiture of pay, and confinement up to 30 days. It isn’t uncommon for soldiers to be given an Article 15 at least once in their career.
This is a navy term that refers to a locked strongbox where sailors can submit anonymous suggestions.
Okay, so Alpha Charlie is a term derived from the military alphabet. (alpha meaning ‘A’ and Charlie being ‘C’). What does it mean? Well, it refers to an ‘ass chewing’ and means you’re being verbally reprimanded.
Cluster F***. Something is a complete mess.
This one’s pretty obvious. A bang bang is a firearm – either a rifle or a pistol.
A bird is a helicopter.
Oh boy, here’s one you don’t want to hear. If you hear ‘black’ in reference to a particular resource i.e. “we’re black on fuel.” it means you’re out of fuel. Black on ammo, no ammo left. Black on water…you get the idea.
This is a term that refers to your military base’s loudspeaker it warns about everything from attacks to ordnance disposal.
A Bullwinkle badge is another name for the Air Assault Badge.
Another navy term, a crank refers to a sailor who’s working in the kitchen.
This is kind of a sad one. A dear John refers to a boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse breaking things off with a member of the armed forces – hence the term ‘dear John letter’.
This is an army term that refers to radio operators who are trained to use Morse code.
Dope on a Rope:
An insult aimed at air assault troops, referring to them coming down on ropes.
Maintenance chief for the F-15 Eagle fighter planes, he’s the guy that leads the maintenance crews that work on the F-15s.
A fashion show sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Well…maybe not if you’re in the Navy. In the Navy, a fashion show is a punishment that sees sailors changing into each of their different uniforms over a period of time – usually a couple of hours.
A slang term for the display of ribbons and medals on a serviceman’s dress uniform.
Someone who spends a ridiculous amount of money on gear regardless of whether or not it’s needed…in other words, they focus more on being ‘tacticool’ than practical (they focus more on form and less on function).
We’ve all heard the phrase: “Elvis has left the building”. It stands to reason then that this refers to a soldier who’s gone missing in action; they’ve gone Elvis.
This refers to operations that play out the same way even when you try to change. The name, of course, comes from the movie of the same name.
This term refers to scavenging items from a working item and using them to repair something else.
A plane that’s kept aside specifically for extra parts for other planes.
Hit the Silk:
Ejecting from a plane and using a parachute.
Named after the desert-dwellers of Tattooine in Star Wars, a Jawa refers to a soldier posted to a desert area.
Left-Handed Monkey Wrench:
Let me ask you something, have you ever heard of a left-handed monkey wrench? No? Well, that’s because it doesn’t exist. Wrenches don’t have left or right-handed versions, they’re just wrenches.
The left-handed monkey wrench is often a prank that more experienced members will play on the less experienced guys. For example: “Can you find the upside-down screwdriver for me?”
What the heck is an upside-down screwdriver?! It’s a screwdriver; a piece of steel with one pointy end and a handle. There is no upside-down screwdriver.
An area where military personnel, infrastructure, and equipment are banned.
A digit midget is a countdown. Before a soldier goes on leave or retires from active duty there’s a countdown (i.e. 5 days ‘til Joe retires).
Officer of the Deck:
An officer who’s been put in charge of a ship is called the officer of the deck. This can be any officer in the crew and he or she would still report to a superior officer (unless they’re the top dog, obviously).
Someone who is useless and/or talks too much is usually referred to as an oxygen thief because they don’t do anything constructive.
A shellback is the opposite of a pollywog; a sailor who’s crossed the equator. These men and women are in charge of making the pollywogs into shellbacks.
If you’re a member of the US Special Forces, you’re a snake eater.
An air force term for receiving an unsatisfactory grade on a training exercise. Kind of like in school, you’re aiming for, say, an A and you get a D or an F, well you just got a taco…and not a good one.
Let’s break this one down. Your target is the person or place you want/need to attack. Discrimination, in this context, is the ability to tell one thing from another. Target discrimination is, therefore, the ability of military guidance systems to differentiate between targets.
Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club:
A Navy term used to describe the U.S. Coast Guard. This is because the Coast Guard is mostly helping out marine wildlife and doing drug busts on boats. They use boats where the Navy uses ships.
This term can best be described as a “you don’t have to but” type of thing. A good example is your high school English teacher giving you a project. Now, you don’t have to do the project, it’s voluntary. On the other hand, if you want full marks, you’ll do the project.
“You don’t have to do the project but it’s 67% of your grade so if you want to pass…”
An insulting term for a Marine referring to their work – fighting on the front line. The term refers to a sandbag’s ability to catch bullets (that’s what sandbags are used for – to catch and stop bullets). If you’re on the front line, you’re catching and stopping bullets quite a bit.
Fast movers are jet fighters, so named because of how fast a jet fighter moves.
A trench monkey is a member of the army (although, the term can refer to any member of the armed forces). The term ‘trench monkey’ carries some negative connotations with it and is largely considered a derogatory descriptor.
Five-Sided Puzzle Palace:
A slang term that refers to the Pentagon. Why? Well, because it’s the Pentagon (it has five sides).
Warm and Fuzzy:
When someone understands something or is feeling good.
SNAFU, SUSFU, and TARFU:
SNAFU hit the mainstream a while back, it’s an acronym (obviously) that stands for Situation Normal, All F***ed up. There was even a series of cartoons about it called the Three Brothers series that was aired for the Navy and guess who makes a cameo…BUGS BUNNY!
SUSFU is another acronym but isn’t as widely used by civilians. The acronym stands for Situation Unchanged, Still F***ed Up.
TARFU is another acronym that isn’t really used by civilians (unless they know the term). This one has two meanings to it:
- Totally and Royally F***ed Up
- Things are Really F***ed Up
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Another term using the military alphabet (W, T, and F), the meaning is simple; what the f***.
When you’re going to go to sleep, you’re going to rack out.
Good Idea Fairy:
We’ve all heard of the tooth fairy, but have you heard of the good idea fairy? No? Well, the good idea fairy is someone who usually has bad ideas but offers an opinion anyway.
Okay…as funny as it sounds, this one refers to a fuel nozzle.
Unhealthy treats. Things like sweets or desserts, for example.
Take a Knee:
To rest or take a break.
Absent without leave. Another high school analogy: an unexcused absence.
A zoomie is someone who flies planes, in other words; a pilot. Why? Because when they’re flying they go zooming past everyone!
C Rats are your combat rations.
A good cookie is a medal given for good conduct.
A member of the Marine Corps.
A soldier who is unlikely or expected to die from sustained injuries.
FNG is an acronym that stands for F***ing new guy.
A jeep is the opposite of a rainbow. Where a rainbow is a recruit in basic training, a jeep is a soldier who’s just come out of basic training.
A helicopter pilot (because the blades on a helicopter are called rotors).
A John Wayne is a can opener that you get with your rations.
A naval term, people tank is a submarine.
Moving like Pond Water:
To move slowly. Pond water is typically still, so if you’re moving like pond water you’re moving very, very slowly.
This piece of paper is the Holy Grail for most service members. It indicates that a soldier has successfully completed their service, and is now a veteran.
My name is Steven Capps, and I am currently serving as an Infantry Sergeant in the U.S. Army National Guard. Don’t imagine some badass, because I’m far from it. If the skinny kid from Superbad (Michael Cerra Google tells me) played an NCO in Saving Private Ryan, you’d get SGT Capps. I have a B.A. in English: Writing from the American Military University and have been published in Fiction, The Bird & Dog, and been awarded an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future contest.
25 thoughts on “61 Military Slang, Sayings, and Terms That’d Be Cool to Know”
It’s all good but…..I did serve, three years active duty and many of those terms I have never heard….they were not in the GI vocab when I was in….then again, I have no reason to pose and imagine a dedicated poser would get himself squared away with current lingo. Point is, calling someone out based on lingo alone, not a good barometer all the time. But a good base line…..
Served in the US Navy from 1979-85 and I never heard of most of these terms, as many are army or new.
We have our own lingo and even the new navy speak is different from some of the older stuff.
So to non vets trying to determine who’s a vet and who’s not, there are better and more,subtle ways to figure that out. But you’d have to be a vet to really tell the faker from the vet.
Being a viet vet, I have seen and heard enough with these posers that it gives rise to feelings such as “I really don’t give a rat’s ass if some moron wants to pretend to be something he is not” because that is precisely how I feel. The same with the donning of uniform pieces.
If they really knew what being in the military truly meant, they wouldn’t be so eager to proclaim or display anything from the branches. We don’t/didn’t get paid anywhere near enough for what was required. We were/are subjected to abuse from both domestic and foreign allies. We have to steel ourselves for the most boring of routines for almost all of the time in and yet also be prepared to lose our friends right in front our faces in a split second. We never are the same person after a stint in the service. And we have to do this for those who do not deserve any allegiance…namely, politicians and similar liars and murderers! Those same azoles who deny and strip benefits from us “as a cost-cutting measure”!!! (I have not seen their salaries and benefits go down! Ever!!!)
So, if some idiot wants to play dress up and play war, f**k him…let him. Give them the most menial jobs in the place. Let them muck bathrooms and clean passageways for their below anyone they know wages. If they asks why, tell them. Since they insist on acting like an idiot, they’ll get treated like one. Any complaints, they can take their fake ass on out the door. Simple as that.
Amen, brother. I couldn’t have said it better.
I am not a veteran. I did spend decades in the responsible militia movement, where I met and dealt with a number of military veterans from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. There is in-fact more than enough self-respect in this truthful relationship and experience. An individual has to be an absolute low-life to claim vet status falsely.
On the subject of fakes: CONUS deployments are a convenient way for the government to categorize unit location and pay, not a reason to have a parade/welcome home party/celebration. The VSO in my county told me about his “deployments” and I laughed in his face.
A solid list! I was in the Army (enlisted, 37 series) mid-2000’s and by 4 months in, had heard almost all of these. “Blue Falcon” we learned very early on, at Reception. Definitely NOT cool to be one. The others, not so much at BCT (Benning) where every day was about as “Barney-Style” as possible, but definitely at SWC, where things went “high-speed” pretty quickly (relatively speaking.) All of these terms were utilized to one degree or another; especially “FRAGO!” and “embrace the suck.” I still find myself using these terms reflexively – most civilians can quickly grasp the meaning of “embrace the suck” or “make a hole!” or “stay in your lane.” Others like “FRAGO,” not so much… “I would rather be called the Antichrist himself…” LMFAO!!!
Oh, and for calling out frauds? Using “hooah” after every sentence is certainly a good sign. If a suspected poseur is grating on your last nerve, an excellent tactic is to ask them to recite the Soldier’s Creed and Warrior’s Ethos – literally, every soldier knows this. It’s also a trick question! Ask them to recite the NCO creed if they are calling themselves “Sarge” or the Ranger Creed if they’re telling you they’re a Ranger. There are literally 10 million ways to catch a poseur spouting BS, and these are just a few very perfunctory methods. Long and short? Don’t be a POSEUR – you WILL be found out in about 3 seconds when you run into a real soldier/marine/sailor/airman.
ok 2 wrong “Top” is the First Sgt in a line company. and Firld Strip is from the smoking day when you finished a cigarette you took off the filter if you were a pussy filter smoke and put it in your pocket and stripped the paper down the side distributed it on ground , you did this to nake “Police Call in the AM when the jr ems policed up the area!
I cannot figure out why I do not remember any of those “Creeds” that you spoke of. Probably it is because my memories are starting to resemble swiss cheese just from being an old fart with all of the less important memories dropping out over time. BTW, I got my draft notice for Nam (after they got rid of the education deferment) and stayed in as a lifer. Now, I am glad I did, because I could not survive easily without the 3 government checks (Army Retirement, 100% Disabled Vet P&T, and Social Security) and the VA Healthcare (I still have one kid in college).
I recognize most of the jargon listed above, except for the new ones used by the “Desert Warrior” generation, like that ‘Hooah’ thing and the velcro stuff for example.
Reciting the Soldiers Creed or Ranger Creed might be a good “test” for you 20 somethings who are still in or who recently separated but from a 60+ year old who hasn’t worn the uniform since 1999 and hasn’t recited any military creed since the 8 weeks of basic in ’89, I can tell you that literally every soldier does NOT know it well enough to recite. If I heard them I could definitely identify them but as far as recite it….might as well call me a 12 Bravo if that’s your test.
Agree and disagree with some of this. A lot of this lingo has to do with the time and where you served, I was in the Army from mid 70s to 83 and I remember FUBAR being used a lot when we were overseas. We did not have SAWs but M60s, M16s and not M4s, we said Booyah and not Hoaah in our unit which meant in your face or Boo Hoo to you. I could possibly tell you the serial numbers of my weapons but could not recite the Soldier’s Creed anymore so that suggestion is only good for those who just got out. Us old timers have problems remembering what we had for breakfast most of the time. Top for us meant the First Sergeant and not any officer. Shoot the Germans called theirs Mutter (Mother). For me it depends on what branch of service the person I am talking to served in as I will swap between Army, Navy, and Marine lingo as I have worked with them all in different situations depending on mission. I usually unmask a poser by asking them about were and when they served, if it was somewhere I have been and in a time frame I know about I ask them about local issues or localities at the time and find they quickly change the story with they misspoke.
LOL, I taught some of these to my kids when they were kids. Picture a guy in a crowded Walmart aisle when suddenly he says “make a hole” and the kids do. Always some smiles and comments. I never tell anyone that I was in and to this day, I can’t think of it separate from the College Fund, and the much shorter line at financial aid. It was good for some skills and a paycheck that didn’t involve fast food drudgery but I will never understand why people fake it???? That’s just bizarre. Never seen one of these types but if I did I’m sure that I would razz them about looking like bozo the clown, because fools should get public acclaim.
Well hoorah is from the Corps . It came about during Korea and is a term used by Turkish fighters there . It literally means kill in Turkish . In times of the Crusades they would pound their shields yelling hoorah . So Marines took it up . ‘2nd Marine division ‘ And scuttlebutt does not mean drinking fountain it is gossip passed around about ‘ where we are going ‘ or be home by Christmas.’ For civilians they get gossip around a drinking fountain, but not the military . It is from word of mouth .
Tango? Click? Friendly? Incoming?
“Saddle up, ladies” L.P.C. (leather personnel carrier)
Don’t mean nothing……….drive on. ruck up and shut up.
Ain’t no use in looking back, Jodie’s got your Cadillac,
Ain’t no using in going home, Jodie’s got your girl and gone, I used to be a teenage queen, now I tote an M-14.
“Our 1Sgt he’s got class, he’s got a mug like a bulldogs a– ”
“Everywhere we go……….. people wanna know………. who we are, where we come from…….” and of course…………
“Over hill, over dale, as we hit the dusty trail, and those Cassions go rolling along…………..
A C130 rolling down the strip, combat engineers on a one way trip. Hoaah!!
The jargon I remember most is all the word that was passed over the 1MC every day and every day. The first six months you didn’t have a clue what was being said. Everybody would take off running and you didn’t know which way you were supposed to go or if you should just stay put.
This is the nomenclature that is used to describe the standard rifle in the Army. The M4 chambers a 5.56 round and is a gas cooled, magazine fed, carbine. The civilian equivalent is called an AR-15.”
WRONG. It is GAS-OPERATED, AIR-COOLED.
(Unless your M4 had a rail attachment for a canister of liquid nitrogen, that vents directly on the bolt carrier group…you know, that other BCG.).
I’ll take a side order of ranch dressing for my crayons.
I served 4 years in the US Navy, ETS’d in 1976 and – after I swore I would never wear a uniform again – enlisted and served another 29 years in the US Army. I never heard a lot of that s—tuff. World is full of all kinds of phonies today. Half of em are serving as elected officials in our Congress – on both sides of the isle. It’s all in your heart. Most who have really been there – done that – have the t-shirt and scars – can pick out the bullshit instantly. Best ignored until the bullshit becomes stolen valor. Then we bring em down hard. SGM out.
I served 1995-1999 as SGT on our beloved M1A1 Abrams -3/67AR 2AD & 4ID. Loved the article. Really brings me back. Couple things, CO stands for “Commanding Officer”, not commander. Just like XO is for “Executive Officer”. However, it most often refers to Company Commander. “Old Man” is most often the Battalion Commander. Also, “Top” is for the senior NCO at the company level -typically as a familiar title for the First Sergeant or acting First Sergeant. Never would you refer to a commissioned officer as “Top” -neither would it ever be appropriate to call a Sergeant Major or Command Sergeant Major “Top” even for other senior NCO’s. Maybe “Top Brass” for senior commissioned officers, but that would imply see our level policy makers at the General Office level or at the Pentagon and that term reeks of Hollywood and I don’t think I ever heard it used.
Every unit is different, and I understand specialized units, Special Forces for example, have totally different unwritten rules.
Things also change over time. The Platoon Sergeant used to be called “Platoon Daddy”… but that would never have flown in Bill Clinton’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era.
Anyone who is not airborne qualified is referred to as a “leg”
Well I served in the Australian army, & over here the military slang is quite different. There are some words we use as you guys do, but mostly we have our own sayings. & I also agree with most of the comments, you can tell if someone had served or not by their demeanour & their bearing.
When I was in the Army a slick sleeve, was an E1. No rank on their sleeves.
TOP is the “top” level enlisted (NCO) in a company or in most companies a First Sergeant (E-8) depending on the company or attachment size there may not be an E-8 NCO position, in which case “Top” would be a Sergeant First Class (E-7).
Serving proudly for 10 years in the US Army (1989-1999), I have never heard of anything other than the above referred to as “Top” and in no case is an officer referred to as “Top”….99.9% of the time “Top” refers to the First Sergeant/Top NCO in the company.