Let’s play TAG: The Acronym Game

Chalkboard that reads "AAD Acronyms and Definition"
Chalkboard that reads "AAD Acronyms and Definition"

Let’s play TAG: The Acronym Game

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Okinawa

Military acronyms are essentially their own language. To the unsuspecting non-service-affiliated person, it sounds like a bunch of random letters and vowels smushed together, often resulting in a panicked, deer-in-the-headlights look. As a contractor working at the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) during our first assignment, I was completely lost during my first few days. After getting frustrated, I decided to write them down for reference. I ended up with almost seven pages.

If you’re new to the military life, here’s an easy sentence: “Can you swing by the CDC for pick-up and BX on your way home? I think AAFES restocked the new OCPs and ACUs.” Most of us who have been around the military awhile know exactly what is being asked in this acronym-laden sentence. If you’re left scratching your head, here’s a small sampling of commonly used acronyms and abbreviations to help with the translation.

AAFES – Army and Air Force Exchange Service

ACS – Army Community Services

ACU – Army combat uniform

ADSC – Active-duty service commitment

AFAFRICA – Air Forces Africa

AFI – Air Force instruction

AFRC – Airman and Family Readiness Center

AFSC – Air Force service code

AMC – Air Mobility Command

ANG – Air National Guard

ARNG – Army National Guard

BAH – Basic allowance for housing (for stateside assignments)

BRS – Blended Retirement System

BX – Base Exchange (Air Force)

CAC – Common access card

CBT – Computer-based training

CDC – Child Development Center

CO – Commanding officer

COA – Course of action

COLA – Cost of living allowance

CONUS – Continental United States (often referred to as “stateside”)

DeCA – Defense Commissary Agency

DEERS – Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (personnel database)

DEFCON – Defense Condition

DEROS – Date of estimated return from overseas

DFAC – Dining facility (formerly known as “chow hall”)

DFAS – Defense Finance and Accounting System (simply known as “Finance”)

DITY – Do-it-Yourself (used when moving locations)

DLA – Dislocation allowance

DOD – Department of Defense

DODEA – Department of Defense Educational Activity (formerly DoDDS)

EFMP – Exceptional Family Member Program

ERD – Early return of dependents

FCC – Family child care (child care operated in private on-base homes)

FOB – Forward operating base

FOD – Foreign object disposal

FPCON – Force protection condition

FRG – Family Readiness Group (Army, Navy, Marines)

FSA – Family separation allowance

FSS – Force Support Squadron (Air Force)

GS – General Schedule (a type of civilian position)

LOA – Letter of authority

LOC – Launch operations center, or letter of counseling

LOR – Launch on remote, or letter of reprimand

MACOM – Major command (Army)

MAJCOM – Major Command (Air Force)

MCCS – Marine Corps Community Services

MCX – Marine Corps exchange

MEPS – Military entrance processing station

MGIB – Montgomery G.I. Bill

MOS – Military occupation specialty (Army and Marines)

MOU – Memorandum of understanding

MRE – Meal(s), ready-to-eat

MTF – Military treatment facility

MWR – Morale, Wellness and Recreation

NAF – Non-appropriated fund

NEX – Navy exchange

OCONUS – Outside the continental United States (commonly referred to as “overseas”)

OCP – Operational camouflage pattern or operational combat uniform

OCS/OTS – Officer Candidate School/Officer Training School

OHA – Overseas housing allowance

OPSEC – Operation security

PA – Public Affairs

PCA – Permanent change of assignment (moving to a new assignment in the same location)

PCS – Permanent change of station (moving to a different location for a new assignment)

PCM – Primary care manager

POC – Point of contact

POV – Privately-owned vehicle

PT – Physical training

PX – Post exchange

ROE – Rules of engagement

RNLTD – Report no-later than date

SCRA – Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

SECAF – Secretary of the Air Force

SECARMY – Secretary of the Army

SECDEF – Secretary of Defense

SECNAV – Secretary of the Navy

TA – Tuition assistance, or threat assessment

TAD – Temporary additional duty (Navy and Marines)

TDY – Temporary duty assignment (Army and Air Force)

TLA – Temporary lodging allowance

TLE – Temporary lodging expense

TMO – Transportation management office

TSP – Thrift Savings Plan

USAFE – United States Air Force Europe

USAFRICOM (AFRICOM) – United States Africa Command

USEUCOM (EUCOM) – United States European Command

VA – Department of Veterans Affairs

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