I have long since been retired, after working for nearly fifty years
as an engineer - nearly all of which was in the defense industry. During my nearly
half-century of defense related work, I get accustomed to the innumerable acronyms and
abbreviations employed by our military and the defense industry. Although no longer employed
in the defense industry, I still am a member of a number of professional societies and
regularly receive the technical journals that are published by these organizations. In
reading a recent a recent magazine, The Journal of Electronic Defense, abbreviated
to JED, I was reminded of the enormous number of abbreviations and
acronyms to which I was exposed. In what follows, I offer a brief glimpse into the world
of the U.S. Military and the defense industry in terms of their mystical language – that
of the acronym and the abbreviation.
In what follows, most of the abbreviations and acronyms that I present
are taken from Reference 1. This reference is a magazine published every month by the Association
of Old Crows (AOC), of which I am a retired member. This is a technical
organization that focusses on electronic warfare and electronic defense systems for the
military. The various abbreviations and acronyms are shown in boldface.
According to the AOC mission statement: “The
Association of Old Crows is an organization for individuals who have common interests in
Electronic Warfare (EW), Electromagnetic Spectrum Management
Operations (EMSO), Cyber Electromagnetic Activities
(CEMA), Information Operations (IO), and other
information related capabilities. The Association of Old Crows provides a means of
connecting members and organizations nationally and internationally across government,
defense, industry, and academia to promote the exchange of ideas and information,
and provides a platform to recognize advances and contributions in these fields.”
The name, Association of Old Crows, came into being in the
following way. “It all started as an idea to have a small friendly gathering that
would reunite men tied together through the common bond of having served in the
Strategic Air Command (SAC) as Electronic Countermeasures
(ECM) officers. By September 1964, the reunion idea had grown
too large to be staged as an informal outing, and ended up in a large reception
room at one of the largest hotels in Washington, DC - the original beginnings of
the AOC as a non-profit association.
“During World War II, Allied ECM officers,
tasked to disrupt enemy communications and radars, were given the code name of ‘Raven’
to provide a degree of security to their existence. After WWII, a group of Raven operators
were directed to establish a SAC flying course in ECM
operations at McGuire AFB (Air Force Base), New Jersey. From all
accounts from those present at the time, the students changed the name to ‘Crows’
and those engaged in the profession became known as Old Crows.”
With that background, let’s get down to business. Pay attention
to what follows and if you are able to remember the abbreviated jargon of the military and
the defense industry, you can then pass yourself off as a “member of the club”. All you
will have to do is spout off the various acronyms and abbreviations as if you fully
understood their meaning and you too will be accepted as another military or defense
DOD: Department of Defense. C-UAS: counter-unmanned
aerial system (a system to defeat drones and unmanned aircraft). EW:
Electronic Warfare. ECM: Electronic Countermeasures. RF:
Radio Frequency. OODA: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. EME:
Electromagnetic Environment. JIEDDO: Joint Improvised Explosive Device
Defeat office. CAOC: Combined Air Operations Center.
CENTCOM: Central Command. EMBM: Electromagnetic
Battle management. DARPA: Defense Advanced Projects Agency.
ERI: Electronics Resurgence Initiative. RTC:
Redstone Test Center. WSMR: White Sands Missile Range.
MTO: Microsystems Technology Office. STOVL:
Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing. AI: Artificial Intelligence.
IC: Integrated Circuit. IR: Infrared.
IRCM: Infrared Countermeasure. DIRCM: Directed
Infrared Countermeasure. RATS: Rapid Acquisition of RF Threat
Simulator. RWR: Radar Warning Receiver. TWT:
Travelling Wave Tube. MOD: Ministry of Defence. MEWP:
Maritime Electronic Warfare Programme. EWCM: Electronic Warfare
Countermeasure. IED: Improvised Explosive Device. HPEM:
High Power Electro Magnetic. COMINT: Communication Intelligence.
ELINT: Electronic Intelligence. HUMINT: Human Intelligence.
UAV: Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. EOIR: Electro-optic and
Infrared. LAV: Light Armored Vehicle. MWS: Missile
Warning System. BLOS: Beyond Line of Sight. SIGINT:
Signal Intelligence. EMS: Electromagnetic Spectrum. C2:
Command and Control. ERP: Effective Radiated Power. MPM:
Microwave Power Module. LWIR: Long Wavelength Infrared.
EOD: Explosive Ordnance Disposal. RPG: Rocket
Propelled Grenade. RCS: Radar Cross section. RAM:
Radar Absorbing Material. TACAMO: Take Charge and Move Out.
SAM: Surface to Air Missile. SEAD: Suppression of
Enemy Air Defenses. NBC: Nuclear, Biological and Chemical.
IRST: Infrared Search and Track. RCS: Radar Cross
Section. S/N: Signal to Noise Ratio. ATIRCM:
Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasure. ATGM: Anti-Tank Guided
Missile. HFI: Hostile Fire Indicator.
The list above is but a miniscule portion of the myriad acronyms and
abbreviations employed by the military and the defense industry, but they will get you
started on being recognized as a defense/military expert.
Here’s an example of how to use some of these acronyms and
abbreviations. If you can rattle this off with a knowledgeable air, then you will be
perceived as a member of the club.
The FPGA has been reprogrammed and installed in the updated LWIR ATIRCM
which is now ready for tests against the new ATGM in RTC.
Translation: The Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) has been reprogrammed
and installed in the Long Wavelength Infrared (LWIR) Advanced Threat Infrared
Countermeasure (ATIRCM) system which is now ready for tests against the new Anti-Tank
Guided Missile (ATGM) in the Redstone Test Center (RTC) in Huntsville, Alabama.
- JED – The Journal of Electronic Defense: Vol. 42, Association
of Old Crows, September 2019.
- Association of Old Crows – Mission & History,
https://www.crows.org/page/missionandhistory, Accessed 7 September 2019.