How to speak Army

I left a comment over at Pajama Momma’s place that went right over her head:

25th ID, 1st AD, 4th ID.

Like just about every other job, the Army has its own jargon. Lots and lots of it. Virtually everything in the Army is reduced to  jargon and incomprehensible to outsiders. I’ve tried hard not to use “MilSpeak” here because the whole point is to help civilians understand just what their Army is and does.

The comment I left at PJ’s was a resume, if you will. In shorthand. My first duty assignment after basic training was with the 25th Infantry Division, in Schofield Barraks, HI. After leaving the Army and going to college for a couple of (miserable) years, I rejoined and was assigned to the 1st Armored Division, headquartered in Ansbach, Germany (Armored Divisions have four battalions of infantry). Following that tour, I made a PCS (permanent change of station) to the 4th Infantry Division, in Fort Carson, CO, just next to the lovely town of Colorado Springs.

Now, I could have written it all out like this, but the shorthand conveys most of the information to anyone who would care. It’s enough background to play the old Army game of “who do you know”.

I’m drafting a post on how units are designated and how to translate that so you know where it is that your son/daughter, cousin, buddy, whomever is assigned. Of course, if you have any questions, just let me know.

11 thoughts on “How to speak Army”

  1. Brad – You should have seen me try to explain what a Force Master Chief is to a non-Navy type? Sometimes we just assume that folks know what we mean and they have not a clue.

  2. Master Chief, As I told PJ, that’s the whole point here. At my last big company, we dealt with arcane technical and legal issues with clients who didn’t understand them. They paid us to do that for them. And yet, when my coworkers would deal with the clients, they would use jargon, legal terms, and inhouse terminology. The clients would be confused and frustrated. It wasn’t hard to put things in plain English, which lead to much happier clients. When the clients were happy, my boss was happy, which made me happier.

  3. Jargon is like the anti-English these days. As the world converges on one language we diverge with our little jargon village dialects. Military, engineering, legal, medical, computing, does it end?

    When i first came to Castle Argghhh I could even follow half the posts.

  4. Argent, thanks for stopping by. To some extent, though, we need jargon. My dad’s last job in the Navy was Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff to the Commander, Medium Attack, Tactical Electronic Warfare Wing, Pacific Fleet. You want to say that everytime, or just say, “The Wing”? We need a shorthand.

    Still, we tend to forget, and I’d like to try to make things clear to folks.

  5. No worries. Yes we need it. It simplifies and localises language. I wonder if it’s a form of anticommunication when first used. I’ve been reading on that nutsy idea and I still don’t fully get it.

    I’ve an engineering background and to actually say and contextualise the full versions take fantastic, tongue twisting amounts of time and effort. So I completely understand. I guess you talking to normals means you’ll be doing a bit of just that.

  6. Well, Argent, we do tend to need jargon, to a certain extent. As you say, in many times and places, it would be almost impossible to communicate without it. Having said that, the dreaded buzzword bingo raises its ugly head. In the last 10-15 years, it has even swamped the military. CDR Salamanderhas an excellent spoof up on his header. I’ve seen statements almost as bad that weren’t spoofs. People that write like that should be shot. Using a fifty cent word when a five cent word will do is an almost unpardonable sin when you need to ensure clear communication.

    Believe it or not, the Army actually has a regulation called “The Army Effective Writing Program” that lays out the standards for memos, letters, policy statements and other written communications. They teach it to every Sergeant facing promotion to Staff Sergeant. Too bad that nobody pays attention to it.

  7. I was looking for a site that teach. How speak in army codes. Such as Alpha 1 Alpha or Tango 3-2 to Charlie 1-1 do you copy. Those were just examples. But i wanna know if there is more to it.

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