US Marine Corps Acronym-ese

MCRD San Diego Charlie Company SignAfter my husband left the Air Force in 1991, it took years to quit speaking in acronyms.  Our post-military friends looked at us with bewilderment in their eyes when we spat out terms like AFSC, MWR and PCS.  Now that our son has started his career with the US Marine Corps, we’ve fallen right back into the habit.

Acronym-speak can seem a little intimidating for those getting their first taste of military life, so I’ve prepared a list of acronyms and slang. If I need to add anything, post a comment!

These are the terms a new recruit will use most often. There are hundreds, if not thousands, more. I have not included the, uh, more colorful terms.

Visit Wikipedia for a good illustration of Marine Corps ranks and abbreviations. I’m still trying to work out all the chevrons and rockers of the enlisted ranks.

  • BCGs:  Birth Control Glasses, issued to recruits needing vision correction; so named because the recruit has zero chance of getting a date while wearing the abysmally ugly frames
  • Billet: a specific job
  • CFT: Combat Fitness Training   
  • Chevron: a sign of enlisted rank above private
  • Chow hall: the cafeteria (also called mess hall)
  • CI: Combat Instructor  
  • Cover: anything on his head     
  • DI: Drill Instructor, at boot camp; “Drill Sergeant” is incorrect
  • Firewatch: sentry duty
  • Go-fasters: sneakers
  • Grunt: an infantryman
  • Head: bathroom
  • High ‘n tight: a typical Marine-style haircut
  • Hump: a difficult hike while carrying heavy gear
  • IT: incentive or individual training; physical training meted out as punishment
  • Leatherneck: a nickname for Marines, based on the dress blue uniform stiff collar (originally made of leather)
  • MCMAP: Marine Corps Martial Arts Program   
  • MCRD: Marine Corps Recruit Depot; one in San Diego (for recruits living west of the Mississippi) and one at Parris Island, SC (for those living east of the river and all female recruits)       
  • MCT: Military Combat Training; a foreshortened infantry school for Marines not entering the infanty   
  • MEF: Marine Expeditionary Force          
  • MEPS: Military Entrance Processing Station; located throughout the country
  • Mess hall: cafeteria (also called chow hall)         
  • MOS: Military Occupational Specialty; the Marine’s job after attending tech school       
  • MRE: Meals Ready to Eat; field rations
  • NCO: non-commissioned officer; a corporal or sergeant
  • O-course: obstacle course        
  • OCS: Officer Candidate School
  • Oo-rah: the Marines’ spirit cry
  • PCS: Permanent Change of Station; a “permanent” (as much as possible in the military) move to a new base    
  • PFT: Physical Fitness Test          
  • Pickle suit: service A uniform, so called due to its color
  • Pizza box: Marksman weapons qualification badge; so named because it’s square
  • POG: Person Other than Grunt; a Marine not going into the infantry; rhymes with “rogue” not “frog”
  • PT: physical training     
  • PX: Post Exchange; the department store on base        
  • Rack: bunk or bed         
  • SDI: Senior Drill Instructor         
  • Seabag: the green duffel issued to Marines to carry their gear 
  • Semper Fi: short for the Marines’ motto of Semper Fidelis, “always faithful”
  • Shirt stays: elastic bands worn under the uniform to keep the shirt tight and tucked in
  • SOI: School of Infantry
  • Squad bay: enlisted quarters, mostly during boot camp and infantry school; a large open room with multiple bunks and a shared head (unlike barracks, which have individual rooms)
  • TDY: Temporary Duty; the military version of a business trip     
  • UCMJ: Uniform Code of Military Justice; civil and criminal law for armed services personnel
  • USO: United Services Organization; provides morale and recreation services for those on active duty; also operates lounges in major airports
  • Utilities: field uniforms (the Army and Air Force call them BDUs)
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Posted on September 14, 2011, in Military Parent, US Marine Corps and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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