The British Forces are going to war with acronyms. The defense minister, Stuart Andrew, has banned the use of acronyms and abbreviations in his office. Smart move, or will it all go FUBAR?

The Sunday Times reported Andrew wants initials to go MIA - missing in action. Too many Ministry of Defence conversations are being conducted with a myriad of abbreviations.

402 pages worth, to be exact. My initial thought was to list them on this blog. Instead, I’ll give you a handy link… Ministry of Defence acronyms and abbreviations.

Andrew joked about his experience coming into office this summer at a recent DVD - defense vehicles dynamics - event:

“I’ve now been in the job for a couple of months but I’m still coming to terms with the army jargon. I thought DVD had something to do with movies!”

When it comes to readability, we are fully behind the move to rid communication of acronyms, abbreviations and jargons.

However, soldiers have a long history of using acronyms, which has created a language of its own. Any changes will surely be hard to make in a culture where they are so deeply embedded.

Use of military acronyms was born for the need to communicate quickly in dangerous situations. When used well, they saved time and saved lives.

But, a quick scan through a selection of acronyms shows how they can be confusing to the untrained. Such as myself.

Some common military acronyms and abbreviations

  • 2IC -second in command
  • 7P’S - prior planning and preparation prevents a pretty poor performance
  • ACE - allied command Europe
  • ACV - acquisition command vehicle
  • ADJT - adjutant
  • AFCENT - allied forces central European
  • AFV - armoured family of vehicle
  • AMS - acquisition management system / army medical services
  • AWOL - absent without leave
  • DGAMS - director general army medical services
  • FUBAR - f**ked up beyond any repair
  • JANKERS - on a charge or in the camp jail
  • LRATGW - long range anti tank guided weapon
  • LSDI - large scale deliberate intervention
  • LSDIS - light and special division interim sensor
  • NOMW - not on my watch
  • POETS - push off early tomorrow's Saturday
  • QARANC - queen Alexandra's royal army nursing corps
  • RAMC - royal army medical corps
  • RCZ - rear combat zone / rear control zone
  • ROE - rules of engagement
  • RSOI - reception, staging, onward-movement and integration
  • RTM - ready to move / read the manual
  • RTU - remote transmitter unit / returned or return to unit
  • SOS - secure open system / silicon on sapphire / staff officer seamanship / system of systems
  • SPROG - a recruit or someone who has newly passed out and is new to a unit
  • SPROGO - staff programming officer
  • VP - virtual prototyping / voice procedure / vulnerable point

Hands up, I’ll admit that FUBAR is a US Forces acronym and not a British one. But, it is fun to type.

Steve Linney

Steve Linney was part of the Readable team until July 2019.