Special Forces Jargon and Terminology

Provided by Mike McCombs


A soldier's world is filled with equipment and concepts peculiar
to his occupation and life style. There is no way to express the
thoughts and actions of the soldier I was then without that
jargon. Here is what I think you'll need:

     '16, M-16 - standard military rifle
     122 - enemy weapon, 122 mm rocket
     123, C-123 - two engine cargo aircraft
     130, C-130 - four engine cargo aircraft
     20, 20 mm - mini-canon used on aircraft
     .22 - 22 caliber weapon - light pistol
     203, M-203 - 40 mm grenade launcher mounted under a rifle barrel
     .45 - 45 caliber pistol
     4.2 - "four deuce", 4.2 inch mortar
     .50 - 50 caliber machine gun
     .51 - enemy weapon, 51 caliber machine gun
     '60, M-60 - 7.62 mm machine gun
     7.62 mini - 7.62 mm mini-gun
     80 - 80 mm mortar
     AA - anti-aircraft
     AK, AK-47 - enemy weapon, standard Warsaw Pact rifle
     AO - acronym, Area of Operations
     Arclight - B-52 strike
     ARvn - acronym, Army of the Republic of Viet Nam
     BDA - acronym, Bomb Damage Assessment
     Berm - a defensive wall of earth
     Bird - an aircraft, usually a helicopter
     Black Bird - USAF aircraft for special operations, named for   
                  black paint job
     Bouncing betty - type of mine blown into the air before    
                      detonation to increase casualties
     Browning - a 9 mm pistol
     Bru - a tribe of Montagnards, q.v.
     Bunker - a protective shelter
     C & C - Command and Control, see "Special Project"
     CAR, CAR-15 - rifle, carbine version of the M-16
     CCC, CCN, CCS - acronyms for military units, see "Special 
     Civvies - civilian attire
     Claymore - a directional mine
     Cobra - a military helicopter used as a gun platform
     Conex - metal military container, large.
     Cork - a drug to prevent defecation, used in the field with small
     Cover one's six - watch the rear
     Covey - the name of the USAF detachment that flew our radio     
     Crud, the - various fungi and rashes common to soldiers in warm 
     DEROS - acronym, Date of Expected Return from Overseas
     Didi - Vietnamese, flee or leave rapidly
     E & E - acronym, Escape and Evasion
     Exfil - exfiltration, point of exit from AO
     FAC - acronym, Forward Air Controller
     Fast mover - a jet, usually an F-4
     Firebase - a remote artillery position, usually quite isolated
     Fire fan - the field of fire of a larger gun or mortar
     First shirt - military slang for First Sergeant, usually the    
                   highest enlisted grade in a company
     FNG - acronym, Fucking New Guy
     Grease - slang, to kill
     Hillsboro - an air force command and control aircraft
     Hootch - see "Hootch"
     HQ - acronym, HeadQuarters
     IA - acronym, Immediate Action
     IG - acronym, Inspector General
     Insert - insertion, point of entrance into AO
     Intel - intelligence information
     Jarai - a tribe of Montagnards, q.v.
     K, klick - a kilometer, the U.S. military uses the metric system
     Khaki - a sandish color, used in uniforms
     KIA - acronym, Killed In Action
     LTC - rank, Lieutenant Colonel
     LZ - acronym, Landing Zone, a site for a helicopter to land
     LZ watcher - an enemy soldier assigned to guard and report on  
                  activities on an LZ
     Medivac - medical evacuation, of injured personnel
     Mess, messhall - a military dining facility
     MIA - acronym, Missing In Action
     Mike Force - an allied reaction team, usually larger than a    
     Mini-pounder - small radar transmitter user to mark locations on
                    the ground for radar-carrying aircraft
     Montagnard - one of the indigenous hill people of Southeast Asia
     Moonbeam - nighttime name of Hillsboro, q.v.
     MOS - acronym, Military Occupational Specialty - one's job title
     MPC - acronym, Military Payment Certificate, used in lieu of cash
     MSG - rank, Master Sergeant
     NCO - acronym, Non-Commissioned Officer
     NVA - acronym, North Vietnamese Army
     O-2 - a light observation aircraft
     O2 and benedryl - oxygen and a strong antihistamine, for  
     OAS - acronym, Organization of American States
     OFM(cap) - Catholic religious order, Order of Friars Minor 
     OP - acronym, Observation Post
     Otter - light observation aircraft, an O-1
     P, piaster - monetary units of Rvn
     PH - acronym, Purple Heart, awarded for wounds received in action
     Phantom - air force fighter aircraft, the F-4
     Point, point man - the soldier who walks first in formation and 
                        scouts the area ahead
     POW - acronym, Prisoner Of War
     Reckless - slang, a recoilless rifle, small artillery piece
     RON - acronym, Remain OverNight, a nighttime position
     RPD - enemy weapon, light squad machine gun
     RT - acronym, Recon Team
     RTO - acronym, Radio-Telephone Operator, the soldier who carries
           the radio
     Rvn - acronym, Republic of Viet Nam
     SEA - acronym, SouthEast Asia
     SF - acronym, Special Forces
     SFC - rank, Sergeant First Class
     SFTG - acronym, Special Forces Training Group
     SKS - enemy weapon, bolt action rifle
     Slick - troop transport helicopter, UH-1
     Slow mover - propeller driven air force fighter aircraft
     Snake - slang, a Cobra helicopter
     SOG - acronym, Special Operations Group, see "Special Project"
     SOP - acronym, Standing Operating Procedures
     SSG - rank, Staff Sergeant
     Stabo rig - special web gear allowing the wearer to be picked up
                 by the harness
     Straphang - operate with a team other than one's own
     Tail - the soldier who walks last in formation and covers the  
     TOC - acronym, Tactical Operations Center
     TO&E, TOE - acronym, Table of Organization and Equipment, the way
                 a military unit is organized
     Tracer - military round that leaves a visible trail as it travels
     Tri-border - that area of SEA around the point where Viet Nam, 
                  Cambodia and Laos meet
     V Corps - "Five Corps", see "Special Project"
     Ville - slang, village, particularly a Montagnard village
     Watcher - see LZ watcher
     White mouse - derogatory term for the national police of Rvn
     WP, willie pete - a white phosphorus round or grenade
     'Yard - slang, Montagnard, q.v.
     Zero week - an unassigned first week before the commencement of a
                 school, frequently spent on details

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