You begin learning a new language from the moment you step off the bus at basic training. From the renaming of the floor to a “deck” for Marines and sailors, to soldiers being referred to as “FNGs” at their first unit, you need a 400-page dictionary to fill up all the new terms you might hear in an enlistment.
Of course, there is literally a 400-page dictionary of military terms.
But besides new words and nicknames for gear, there are the acronyms. And the military has a million of them. I went through the DoD dictionary and asked readers for what they thought were the worst of the worst in the acronym department. I should note, however, that unofficial acronyms like “FUBAR” or “BCG” glasses are not included here.
So here they are: the worst military acronyms, which are on this list because they were incredibly long and impossible to remember, or terribly funny, or perhaps a bit of both.
FAP: Short for Family Advocacy Program, this acronym was mentioned quite frequently. It probably has something to do with its double entendre meaning, if I had to guess.
B2C2WG: Boards, Bureaus, Centers, Cells, and Working Groups. Someone actually came up with this damn thing.
PMS: Professor of Military Science. The title of an ROTC instructor, which is used more than once per month.
DOTMLPF: Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, and Facilities. FML.
COC: A Marine Corps acronym for Combat Operations Center, the place where battalion commanders organize command and control of their unit (The Army calls them TOCs, or Tactical Operations Centers). Due to the unfortunate acronym, however, Marines assigned a shift in the COC are sometimes jokingly referred to as “COC Watchers.”
MCPP: Another gem from the Marine Corps, which stands for the Marine Corps Planning Process. This wouldn’t really be all that funny except that most pronounce this acronym as “MC pee-pee.”
POAM: Plan of Action and Milestones. There’s an acronym for what boils down to a plan. Just freaking say “plan.”
JJDIDTIEBUCKLE: A mnemonic acronym taught so Marines can remember their 14 leadership traits: Judgment, Justice, Decisiveness, Initiative, Dependability, Tact, Integrity, Endurance, Bearing, Unselfishness, Courage, Knowledge, Loyalty, Enthusiasm. By the way, this thing works, because I just wrote that out from memory after having learned it 15 years ago.
USAJFKSWCSDFAC: U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School Dining Facility. Yes, the chow hall at Fort Bragg’s school for special operators has the most amazing acronym ever.
Prime BEEF: Obviously someone in the Air Force has a sense of humor, since they are using this to describe personnel that help set up and maintain forward air bases. Started in 1964, the acronym stands for Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force. Can you imagine the frantic calls to the Pentagon? “Sir, what the hell is taking so long? I need that Prime BEEF out here now!”
ANCOC: The Army Advanced Non-commissioned Officers Course. Kinda funny. But then there’s…
MANCOC: Even better! Stands for Maneuver Advanced Noncommissioned Officers Course.
DIC: If you’re under the age of 26 and want to drive on a Marine Corps base, you have to attend the Driver’s Improvement Course and get your Driver Improvement Card. And you better have your DIC on you at all times when you are behind the wheel.
DAGR: This is acronymception — an acronym within an acronym, which stands for the AN/PSN-13 Defense Advanced GPS Receiver, which just about everyone only knows as the “dagger.”
CONEX Box: Not really funny, but it’s included here for the simple reason that you, at one point or another, will be standing outside of one of them and probably won’t ever learn what it actually stands for. It means Container Express. I should also point out that a QUADCON is a quadruple container. The more you know.
And last, but certainly not least, is this selection of Navy acronyms. Unfortunately, there are many, many more.