Military jargon. It is inseparable from military life. For proof, one needs only a brief glance at television or film depictions of the military.
Official abbreviations and acronyms make up the bulk of the military's unique verbal catalogue. Just as unique, however, are the everyday expressions Soldiers create to meet the needs of the modern warrior lifestyle.
Military service has been described as long stretches of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. In such an environment, keeping one's sense of humor becomes a survival tool - almost as much as any training or equipment Soldiers possess.
This unofficial vernacular is often insightful and funny and, occasionally, even profound. As a result, many military expressions have found their way into common usage.
Here are just a few, and a little background on each.
... AND A WAKEUP
Military service often requires Soldiers to sacrifice comfort and convenience. So, it should come as no surprise that counting down the days becomes a common theme. This is just a way to shave a day off those numbers.
Yes? Understood? Anything and everything except "no"? This one is difficult to quantify, since it can do anything from getting a Soldier off the hook to earning him or her pushups. Use with caution.
I'VE GOT YOUR SIX
Like a clock face can be used to indicate direction, this means someone is watching your back.
ZERO DARK THIRTY
No. Not the movie. But, it did borrow its title from this phrase, meaning extremely - possibly unnecessarily - early, where there is NO chance of the sun being up.
Soldiers value their time to the extreme. This can often result in low attendance in any event where their presence is not explicitly ordered, even recreational events. So, sometimes, the fun is by fiat.
A different animal than mandatory fun, a voluntold assignment is technically voluntary. However, it is understood to be mandatory.
... LIKE A SOUP SANDWICH
Picture trying to eat a soup sandwich. Now, apply that poor planning and inefficiency to any similarly impossible mess you can imagine.
HIT THE HEAD
This is not a violent physical act, but the application of naval terminology. The head, on a ship, is its restroom.
ROGER / ROGER THAT
Long ago used by military radio operators to indicate a message had been received, this term is still in use and can now also be used to indicate an affirmative answer.
BOONDOCKS / BOONIES
During operations in the Philippines, American personnel would refer to the untamed parts of the islands as the boondocks, or the boonies. Bundok is the Tagalog word for mountain. Since then, the term has been used to describe any place that is wild, untamed or unreasonably far away.
When designating a landing zone for extraction, Soldiers would drop a smoke grenade to help guide helicopter pilots. This term is synonymous with leaving an area.
FULL BATTLE RATTLE
Full combat gear. The name comes from the sound the equipment makes when walking or running.