Can You Guess These Hard Military Acronyms with a Hint?

John Miller

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

In peacetime and times of war, the United States Armed Forces relies on massive manpower, big guns ... and a truly byzantine legion of acronyms. 

Everyone from high-flying pilots to generals to infantry uses a raft of esoteric alphabetical jumble to quickly communicate ideas and messages that would simply be too hard to describe in normal English. So, rather than say Commander, Air Group every time, you simply say “CAG.” Do you think you know enough about military acronyms to pass this DS (drill sergeant)-level quiz?

You probably already know that CAPT refers to “Captain” and LT is for “Lieutenant,” because they’re used in about every war movie ever made. But did you know that BDE stands for “brigade”?

These days, technology is as important as lead bullets. That’s why America stresses the importance of EW, or electronic warfare. But if all else fails, troops will rely on GBUs (guided bomb units) to destroy their enemies.

Careful with this tough military acronym quiz! If you’re not careful, you’ll be just another wounded warrior who has to be picked up at the CCP (casualty collection point). Ace this thing and use HE (high explosive) rounds to smash an enemy to smithereens!

It’s the acronym used to denote the person who is charge.

The CO is the commanding officer. You’ll salute the CO every day ... or you’ll be spit shining your boots more often than anyone else.

Which famous acronym basically means that a soldier deserted his or her post?

AWOL — it’s one of the most notorious acronyms in the military, and it means "Away Without Leave." If you go AWOL, you can bet your commanding officer will try to track you down.

This acronym is all about the law enforcement personnel on a military base.

"MP" stands for military police. These are the men and women who provide law enforcement throughout military bases, and they’re extremely handy when soldiers run wild.

What acronym referring to exploding shells meant to down enemy aircraft?

All flight crews fear "AA," or ack-ack, anti-aircraft munitions. In intense battles, AA can fill a whole sky with shrapnel.

Which acronym denotes the department that’s in charge of all things military?

The "DOD" is everywhere you go in the military — it’s the Department of Defense, one of the biggest employers on Earth, and it coordinates all U.S. military activities.

In the military, and in life in general, it’s good to be able to know your time of arrival, or at be able to estimate it. Which acronym is most appropriate?

ETA is estimated time of arrival. You can’t conduct efficient military operations if you can’t accurately gauge your ETA.

The movie "Top Gun" was all about:

Naval Aviation Pilots were the focal point of the Tom Cruise movie "Top Gun."

This acronym refers to men and women who are on active duty, as opposed to being in the reserves.

Soldiers who are on "AD," or active duty, could be deployed to just about anywhere at a moment’s notice.

It’s a test all soldiers must pass to prove their physical fitness.

The PFT is the physical fitness test. It’s a necessary rite of passage for any soldier that’s out in the field.

This technology helps military units (and civilians) find their way around unfamiliar areas.

It is the Global Positioning System, or GPS, which uses satellites zooming all around Earth. GPS receivers can help both soldiers and civilians track and monitor location with relative ease.

Which acronym refers to the area which a vehicle will land?

The landing zone, or just LZ, is where vehicles and troops will hit the ground running. In some situations, the LZ is right in the middle of a combat zone.

Which acronym denotes the U.S.’s water-based forces?

The USN is the United States Navy. Many of the acronyms used in the Navy are different than those employed by other branches of the military.

If you’re under fire from the enemy and you need air support now, you need what?

Troops taking fire from the enemy rely on CAS, or close air support, to keep the bad guys at bay. Modern munitions and technologies make CAS more effective than ever before.

It’s boot camp for officers, where candidates really get schooled.

OCS is officer candidate school. It’s where officers learn the fundamental skills that help them lead men and women in war.

If a soldier is killed during a conflict, he or she is _____.

It’s one of the saddest acronyms the military knows — KIA. It means, of course, killed in action.

It’s the acronym that refers to the person in charge of all of America’s armed forces.

The CINC is the Commander-in-Chief, better known as the president of the United States. He’s the guy who ultimately makes the final decisions on American military action.

Which common term denotes explosive devices, often roughly constructed weapons made from easy-to-find parts?

The news has made famous IEDs or improvised explosive devices. U.S. troops, especially in the Middle East, often find themselves "blowed up" by IEDs.

It refers to military lawyers ... and it was also a popular TV show.

JAG is for Judge Advocate General, a fancy term for military lawyers. "JAG" is a TV show about military law that found an audience in the mid-‘90s.

If you get captured and imprisoned by the enemy you are _____.

It’s rarely a good thing if you’re captured by the enemy. It means you’re a POW, or prisoner of war, and there’s no telling what might happen to you.

It’s a base that supports tactical operations on the front lines.

The "FOB" is a forward operating base. It’s where both men and machines are prepped and then sent to engage the enemy.

Which famous acronym denotes soldiers who have gone missing during a battle?

Casualty reports show those killed in action, and also those who are MIA — missing in action. In heavy combat, many soldiers go MIA and are never seen again.

It’s better known as a "big chicken dinner," and it’s bad news for anyone looking to make career out of the military.

It’s a bad conduct discharge — BCD — and better known as a "big chicken dinner." If you’re discharged from the military for bad conduct, the stink may well follow you throughout your career.

If you need the help of the Marines for an amphibious assault, you can look them up with which acronym?

The United States Marine Corps is one of the proudest units in the entire U.S. Armed Forces. The USMC is often the first squad to see fire in an amphibious combat environment.

Which acronym refers to a target with particularly high value?

If your commanding officer tells you to nab an "HVT," or high-value target, you’d best acheive your objective. HVTs are critical to a mission’s success.

It’s a stipend that gives troops their family basic assistance for housing costs.

Solider have basic housing expenses and the "BAH," or basic allowance for housing, covers a good chunk of those costs.

You probably should not discharge a weapon in the _____, lest you trigger an all-out war.

A DMZ, or demilitarized zone, is typically an area between two forces formerly at war. The long-standing DMZ between North and South Korea is one of the most famous DMZs ever.

If you want an explosive weapon to light up an enemy’s day, you want a(n) _____.

An RPG is a rocket-propelled grenade, and a MOAB is the mother of all bombs. Either — or better yet, both — are suitable for blasting your enemy.

Which acronym marks one of America’s elite special forces teams?

SEALs are one of the most elite special forces units on Earth. These Sea, Air and Land teams are trained for the hardest and most complicated missions imaginable.

Airborne troops use which acronym when referring to high-altitude jumps?

HALO stands for high-altitude, low-opening, and paratroopers understand it well. In a HALO jump, troopers jump from high altitude, free fall, and then open their parachutes at a low altitude.

Which acronym refers to low casualty rates?

0K is "zero K," or zero killed. It’s the kind of thing a commander wants to hear from his troops after an engagement.

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