Military Terminology & Acronyms

These terms may be useful to social workers who work with service members, veterans, and their families. For an extensive list of terminology, see the Department of Defense Terminology Dictionary.

  • AD: Active Duty
  • AWOL: Absent Without Official Leave (or Unauthorized Absence)
  • BDU: Battle Dress Uniform
  • BCT: Basic Combat Training
  • CO: Commanding Officer
  • CoC: Chain of Command
  • CONUS/OCONUS: Continental United States or Outside Continental United States
  • DA: Department of the Army
  • DEERS: Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System
  • DFAS: Defense Finance and Accounting Services
  • DMPO: Defense Military Pay Office
  • DoD: Department of Defense
  • DFAC: Dining Facility (Mess Hall)
  • DS: Drill Sergeant
  • IBA: Individual Body Armor
  • Leave: Off Duty
  • MOS: Military Occupational Specialty (Formal job classification, usually expressed as a number or number/letter combination)
  • MP: Military Police
  • MRE: Meal Ready to Eat
  • NCO: Non-Commissioned Officer
  • NECL Navy Enlisted Classification
  • OEF: Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)
  • OIF: Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq)
  • OND: Operation New Dawn (Iraq)
  • PCS: Permanent Change of Station
  • RITA: Relocation Income Tax Allowance
  • TDY: Temporary Duty
  • TLA: Temporary Lodging Allowance
  • TLE: Temporary Lodging Expense
  • USA: United States Army
  • USAF: United States Air Force
  • USCG: United States Coast Guard
  • USMC: United States Marine Corps
  • USN: United States Navy
  • WO: Warrant Officer
  • XO: Executive Officer

Military Statistics

Military Ranks

  • Department of Defense Insignias
  • Enlisted Personnel (E-1 to E-9): Includes noncommissioned officers and petty officers
  • Warrant Officers (W-1 to W-5): Highly specialized experts
  • Commissioned Officers (O-1 to O-10): Highest ranks

Military Status

  • Active Duty: Full-time employees who are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days per year; permanent force of the military
  • National Guard and Reserve: Considered part-time employees (two weeks per year and one weekend per month) but may be called suddenly to active duty for deployment