Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared on the blog of Angry Staff Officer.

I know you all are like me; you get excited when new doctrine gets released. Giddy, even. So I know that when the Army released Army Doctrine Reference Publication 1-02 Terms and Military Symbols you immediately downloaded the whole thing and had a good read. Or not.

One thing always strikes me when going through this work is that without context, military operational symbols could look like some really silly things. So, without any more preamble, here is a selection of ADRP 1-02, as seen by extremely literal people.


What it looks like: “Peppermint stick cannon being fired by man in sombrero.”

What it is: “Border Patrol.”


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What it looks like: “This box is happy.”

What it is: “Civil Military Cooperation in NATO.”


What it looks like: “Pizza is here!”

What it is: “Coordination Point.”


What it looks like: “Get in the box.”

What it is: “Customs Service.”


What it looks like: “Be on the lookout for giant handguns on skateboards.”

What it means: “Drive by Shooting.”


What it looks like: “Sun wearing sunglasses, ironically.”

What it is: “Friendly Forces Encircled.”


What it looks like: “Absolutely no seagulls allowed!”

What it is: “Airborne infantry unit.”


What it looks like: “Guy with sunglasses and cigarette is unhappy.”

What it means: “Launcher unmanned aerial system.”


What it looks like: “We don’t know what this thing is, but it is pissed OFF.”

What it is: “Marine Expeditionary Force.”

… That’s actually spot-on.


What it looks like: “Bring your coat hangers.”

What it is: “Mine Clearing.”


What it looks like: “Giant bugs here; stay away.”

What it is: “Mine laying.”


What it looks like: “We got a box of aliens.”

What it is: “Minefield, anti-personnel.”


What it looks like: “Absolutely no damn tents allowed.”

What it is: “Mountain infantry unit.”


What it looks like: “We fenced in this fir tree, but just this one.”

What it is: “Multiple rocket launcher.”



What it looks like: “Pirates!”

What it is: “Pirates.”

… Huh?



What it looks like: “Happy sunglasses wearers.”

What it is: “Recovery unmanned aerial system.”


What it looks like: “BEAR CLAW!”

What it is: “Rock throwing.”


What it looks like: “Possible rain in Michigan, bring your crappy umbrella.”

What it is: “Signals intelligence.”


What it looks like: “Top hats worn here.”

What it is: “Surface shelter.”




What it looks like: “Shepherds abiding in their fields.”

What it is: “Flamethrower.”


What it looks like: “Mandatory wear of bow ties.”

What it is: “Army aviation.”


What it looks like: “The wear of nautical themed bow ties is strictly prohibited.”

What it is: “Air naval gunfire liaison company.”


What it looks like: “Very surprised emoji in use in this area.”

What it is: “Air defense gun.”

This article, “Military Graphics: What They SHOULD Mean,” was originally published on the blog of Angry Staff Officer.

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