A-10: A highly maneuverable U.S. Air Force close-air support aircraft used primarily to support ground forces; nicknamed the “Warthog”

Abu Ghraib: A U.S.-controlled prison east of Baghdad; it was subjected to intense scrutiny after evidence of prisoner abuse surfaced

Aerovac: Aeromedical evacuation

AH-64 / Apache: U.S. attack helicopter

Aide-de-camp: A subordinate military officer acting as a confidential assistant, usually to a general officer or admiral

AK-47: Russian automatic rifle, a Kalashnikov

Al Asad: An air force base in al-Anbar province, Iraq

Anaconda: A large combat operation in Afghanistan involving approximately 2,000 troops.

Apache: See AH-64

AQAM: Al-Qaeda associated militants

Ba’ath Party (also Ba’th): Arab political party advocating socialism and formation of a single Arab nation

Balad: Iraqi city, approximately fifty miles north of Baghdad

Basra: Iraqi city near the union of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers

Berm: A fortification, often made of dirt or debris

Black Hawk: See UH-60

Bradley: A U.S. mechanized infantry combat vehicle

Breach: To penetrate or create a gap, such as in a wall or a berm

C-5: A large transport U.S. aircraft (also known as Galaxies).

C-17: A U.S. Air Force military aircraft (also known as Globemasters) capable of carrying large amounts of equipment, supplies, or troops

C-130: A Hercules aircraft capable of operating from rough dirt airstrips

Camp Duke: A military base near Najaf, Iraq

Camp Leatherneck: A U.S. Marine camp in Helmand Province, Afghanistan

Camp Liberty: A large military base south of Baghdad, Iraq, previously one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces

CH-47 / Chinook: U.S. Army cargo helicopter

Coalition Provisional Authority: A transitional political government in Iraq organized under the auspices of United Nations resolutions but primarily administered by U.S. official

COP: Combat Outpost

CPA: See Coalition Provisional Authority

Deploy / Deployment: To be assigned for duty outside of the United States, generally refers to overseas assignments.

Desert Shield / Desert Storm: See Gulf War

Diyala Province: A province in eastern Iraq

DoD: U.S. Department of Defense

F-15: A versatile U.S. fighter aircraft

Fallujah: Iraqi city involved in several conflicts with U.S. and Coalition forces

Firebase: A small military camp from which direct and indirect fire (artillery, rocket, and mortar) can be directed against enemy forces.

Flak Vest: An outer vest worn to protect against shrapnel; also known as a flak jacket.

FOB: Forward Operating Base

Fort Benning: A large U.S. Army post in Georgia

Fort Bliss: A U.S. Army installation located near El Paso, Texas

Fort Bragg: A U.S. Army installation located in North Carolina, west of Fayetteville

Fort Hood: A large U.S. military post named after Confederate General John Bell Hood located near Killeen, Texas

Governorate: A separate government or administrative unit, especially in the Middle East

Gulf War: A U.S.-led war waged by thirty-five nations to remove Iraq from occupying Kuwait. The Gulf War (August 2, 1990, to February 28, 1991) had two phases: (1) Operation Desert Shield (August 2, 1990, to January 17, 1991), a coalition troop buildup to defend Saudi Arabia and subsequently attack, and (2) Operation Desert Storm (January 17, 1991, to February 28, 1991), a codename for the combat phase.

Helmand Province: A province in southern Afghanistan

HHC: Headquarters and headquarters company

Hīt: Iraqi town; near Ramadi

HMMWV / HUMMER / HUMVEE: High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle; nicknames include Hummer and Humvee

IED: Improvised explosive device

ISAF: International Security Assistance Force

JAG: Judge Advocate General, military legal staff

Jalalabad: A town in eastern Afghanistan

Jamila: A Shi‘ite district in Baghdad, Iraq

Judge Advocate: Military lawyer

Kabul: Capital of Afghanistan

Kamdesh: Afghan district in Nuristan Province

Kandahar: City in southeastern Afghanistan

KC-10: One of the few jet aircraft in the world configured to haul military cargo, conduct aerial refueling missions, and transport personnel

Kiowa: See OH-58D

Klicks: Military slang for kilometers

Kurdistan: A region in northern Iraq and eastern Turkey primarily inhabited by Kurdish peoples

LTC: Army abbreviation for lieutenant colonel

M1: U.S. main battle tank, also known as an Abrams

M16: A 5.56 mm-caliber, gas-operated, clip-fed assault rifle, first used by U.S. troops during the Vietnam War

M203: Grenade-launching attachment to various personal weapons, such as assault rifles

M3P: A single barrel .50-caliber machine gun

M4 Carbines: An automatic or semi-automatic, shoulder-fired, magazine-fed, air-cooled weapon with a collapsible stock

Marez (FOB): A forward operating base near Mosul airfield in Iraq

Maverick: A laser-guided missile

MIA: Missing in action

Mosul: A city located on the Tigris River in northern Iraq

MP: Military Police

MRE: Meal, Ready-to-Eat

MSR: Main Supply Routes

Najaf: A city in central Iraq; south of Baghda

Nangarhar: A province in eastern Afghanistan

Nuristan: A province in eastern Afghanistan

OA-10: See A-10

OEF: Operation Enduring Freedom

OH-58D / Kiowa: A U.S. attack helicopter

OIF: Operation Iraqi Freedom

Operation Desert Shield: See Gulf War

Operation Desert Storm: See Gulf War

Operation Enduring Freedom: “Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) is a multinational coalition military operation initiated in October 2001 to counter terrorism and bring security to Afghanistan in collaboration with Afghan forces. OEF operations led to the collapse of the Taliban regime and helped bring a measure of security and stability to Afghanistan for the first time in a generation. Operation Enduring Freedom involves troops from over 20 nations.”[1]

Operation Iraqi Freedom: The “Iraq War, also called Second Persian Gulf War (2003–11), conflict in Iraq that consisted of two phases. The first of these was a brief, conventionally fought war in March–April 2003, in which a combined force of troops from the United States and Great Britain (with smaller contingents from several other countries) invaded Iraq and rapidly defeated Iraqi military and paramilitary forces. It was followed by a longer second phase in which a U.S.-led occupation of Iraq was opposed by an insurgency. After violence began to decline in 2007, the United States gradually reduced its military presence in Iraq, formally completing its withdrawal in December 2011.”[2]

Operation Just Cause: A December 1989 U.S. military operation in which the U.S. invaded Panama with the primary purpose of deposing Manuel Noriega, the military dictator

Ordnance: Military supplies such as weapons, ammunition, equipment, vehicles, etc

Patriot Roll: A green wool Army blanket

Patrol Base / PB: A squad or platoon intended to be occupied for an extended period

POW: Prisoner of war

Ramadi: A city in central Iraq

Riyadh: Capital of Saudi Arabia

RPG: Rocket-propelled grenade; a shoulder-launched weapon

Sadr City: A large district in Baghdad

Safwan: A town in southeastern Iraq; the site of cease-fire talks between U.S. General Norman Schwartzkopf and Iraqi military leaders

Scud: A series of tactical ballistic missiles built and exported by the Soviet Union

SFC: Sergeant first class

SGT: Sergeant; a noncommissioned officer

Shia / Shi‘ite: A major branch of Islam

Sitrep: A situation report

Sortie: One combat aircraft on a single mission

Strafe Pass: An attack of machine-gun or cannon fire from a low-flying aircraft

Sunni: A major branch of Islam

T-72: A second-generation Soviet main battle tank

The Wire: Military slang for a defensive perimeter

Theater: An area of the world involved in a war. The “theater of war” includes the entire region that may become involved in a war, such as the Middle East. The “theater of operations” refers to areas where war is actively being fought, such as Afghanistan.

Tikrit: A city in north-central Iraq

UH-60 / Black Hawk: A U.S. Army multipurpose utility helicopter

Uruzgan Province: A province in central Afghanistan

Wadi: A valley, gully, or streambed that remains dry except during the rainy season

Walter Reed: A military medical center in Bethesda, Maryland

Warhorse (FOB): A forward operating base near Baquba Airfield in Iraq

Warrior Forge: A U.S. Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) exercise that every cadet must successfully complete prior to being commissioned as an officer.

XO: Executive officer


[1] “Operation Enduring Freedom,” U.S. Department of State Archive.

[2] Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. “Iraq War.”