Military Jargon

written by Larry Pierce

As a writer, it’s very important to be as accurate as possible while still telling your story. I read a lot of books and one of my biggest pet peeves is inaccuracy in depicting scenes that involve military. Whether you’re referring to weaponry, branches of service, or just standard acronyms, accuracy is important. I might love a book but when it comes time to give it a review it won’t get 4 or 5 stars because of the author’s misuse of technical terms.

First and foremost, if you don’t know the difference between weapons, for example, an M1 Carbine and an M4, please feel free to use the internet because the list is too long to include in this article. The military has been around for centuries and therefore there is a lot of information available if you know what you are looking for. Now I know what you’re thinking, ‘So what, nobody will notice if I equip a modern soldier with a WWII armament.’ That statement could not be further from the truth. I have seen good books get two stars on Amazon due to inaccuracies in something as insignificant as the arms (weapons) that characters carry into battle.

Secondly, learn the branches of the military, police or whatever type of enforcement you are using in the book. While most of the branches of the military are similar, there are enough differences to really upset someone who is familiar with them. For example, the USAF (Air Force), does not have ground troops, so using the term grunts when referring to the Air Force is a NO-NO. Another good example would be the USMC (Marines), they are Jarheads, Devil Dogs, and Leather Necks. They are very proud of these nicknames and take offense at calling them anything other than those. I’m sure there are more but I was in the Air Force and we didn’t call them anything but sir or ma’am.Also, there is the detail of rank, Privates are the lowest rank in the Army and Marines, Airmen are the lowest rank in the Air Force and Seaman is the lowest rank in the Navy. The rank of officers is the same in the Army, Marines and Air Force. The

Also, there is the detail of rank, Privates are the lowest rank in the Army and Marines, Airmen are the lowest rank in the Air Force and Seaman is the lowest rank in the Navy. The rank of officers is the same in the Army, Marines and Air Force. The Navy, however, has different titles for their commissioned officers. Once again a quick turn to the internet will provide you with the proper ranks and titles.

Lastly, make sure that your acronyms are correct. The military has an acronym for just about everything and it’s mostly a universal language no matter the branch of service. I’ll give a few examples but some are not quite family-friendly so I’ll only throw one or two of those in this article and a couple you’ll recognize because they have made their way into the civilian world. For Example, SNAFU (Situation Normal All Fked UP), FUBAR (Fked Up Beyond All Recognition). Those are some of the more colorful ones. Common ones like AWOL (Absent Without Leave), for the older soldiers BDU (Battle Dress Uniform), and for the newer soldiers, ACU (Army Combat Uniform) and MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) are universal amongst all the branches. Like I said earlier in the article, if you don’t know don’t be afraid to ask someone or head to the internet.

I know that all these things seem trivial to those on the outside of the military but, trust me, the smallest inaccuracies can be a major difference to those who know.


Author Notes

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