Abbreviations and Codes

All large organizations have their own terminology, or seemingly sometimes their own language. The American military establishment is certainly no exception. In fact, being so large and diverse, it has probably more unique terminologythan almost any other. First are the many abbreviations and initials for names of organizations, then there are the acronyms for just about everything, and also the many code words for operations.

Some of the acronyms and code words are included in the database table that is behind this page. A great many more are included in the sources that are linked below.

For initials, first there is GI., from World War II, originally meaning Government Issue, then as a noun meaning the soldiers, the GIs. Another example of abbreviations is the Navy and Marine Corps method of identifying the types of their aircraft squadrons. For example, VT first meant Torpedo Squadron (including VT8, the Navy’s Torpedo Squadron 8, which had all of its planes lost on a single raid during the Battle of Midway.) Modern VT squadrons are training squadrons. In World War II, training squadrons were identified as VN.

Then there is the current FYDP (fiedep), or the Five Year Defense Plan. More complicated are the acronyms, or a kind of shorthand, particularly in the Navy, such as DesRon for Destroyer Squadron and CinCPacFleet, for Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet. .A comprehensive dictionary of terms currently used by the U.S. military establishment is Joint Publication 1-02 (Dod Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms), prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. JCS Pub. 1-02

Another segment of the unique terminology is the code words for operations, probably the most famous of which is Operation Overlord, which was the code name for the invasion of Normandy in 1944. A very good source for information about the code words for operations in World War II is the U.S. Army’s own list. Army Code List

A Gp Army Group Army WW II
A-2 Intelligence Section of Air Staff Army WW II
A.D. African Descent Army Used in Dyer’s Compendium to identify African American units
A.E.F. American Expeditionary Forces (WW I) Also see AEF, WW II
AA Antiaircraft
AAA Antiaircraft artillery
AAA Army Ammunition Activity Army
AAA Army Audit Agency Army Also see USAAA
AAAV Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle MC
AAB Army Air Base Obsolete term. Used when Air Force was part of Army to designate air bases

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