Waging war is a risky, all-encompassing endeavor physically, emotionally, and psychologically. It displays humankind at its best and at its worst, and the war fighter’s slang reflects the bitter, terrible, and inspiring all of it. A quick scan of these phrases illustrates the spectrum: disciplined bravado provides the glitz and glamour; earned camaraderie, the sincerity and warmth; irony, the realist’s edge; scorn, the punishing barb; and insistent vulgarity, a rowdy,leveling earthiness. A little verbal bravado and swagger has genuine utility. Hollywood bravado is little more than chest thumping bluster, but seasoned vets know that disciplined bravado indicates confidence and courage.
(U.S. Army) Issued “Go to War” gear used by Soldiers during training or actual combat.
(U.S. Army) Refers to overwhelming amount of TA-50. For example, “At Ft. Stewart, we got issued TA-100. It’s twice as much.”
(U.S. Air Force) Tactical Air Control Party (pron. TACK-PEA) An Airman that serves with an army unit who is a liaison to the Air Force. Main job is to call in air strikes.
(U.S. Army) Tray-pack field rations. Even though the Tray-packs are obsolete and are no longer issued, the term survives and is used for the UGR (Unitized Group Ration) which replaced the Tray-pack meals.
(U.K.) A term meaning marching at fast pace while carrying a full bergen and rifle (army), similar to yomp.
(U.S. Army) Short for Tactical Officer, whose role in Officer Candidate School and at the U.S. Military Academy is analogous. to a Drill Sergeant for Basic Training.
(U.S. Air Force) A grade of “Unsatisfactory” on a training sortie, derived from the taco-shape of the letter “U”.
(U.S. Army) Pronounced the same as the dish (taco) , it is another form of Tac, but is generally Used in the absence of the Tactical Officer’s presence. Example: “Hey, have you seen the Tac-O around?”
(U.S.) Take Charge And Move Out. TACAMO is also the Pentagon designation for aircraft which are integral to the U.S. nuclear warfare command and control system.
Take a Knee
(U.S. Army) To pause or rest.
(U.S.) NATO phonetic alphabet for the letter “T” and for “Target” (or enemy). Example: “We have two Tango’s at 3 o’clock – I’ll take the right one.”
(U.S.) NATO phonetic alphabet for “Target Down”, i.e., when an enemy or target has been neutralized. Example: “The first guard is Tango Down.”
(U.S.) NATO phonetic alphabet for “Thanks much.”
(U.S.) NATO phonetic alphabet for “Tits Up” also used by the FCC, FAA and DOD to mean killed or destroyed. (Alternative more polite translation: “Toes Up”).
(U.S. Army & U.S. Marine Corps) Not in optimal condition. (e.g., The HUMVEE went Tango Uniform before we even arrived.).
(U.S. Air Force) Dead drunk.
(U.S.) Object Inverted. (Upside Down) (e.g., ‘I’m turning the plane Tango Uniform to get a better look.’) May be used in a more vulgar fashion as “Tits Up”
(INTL) [NATO phonetic alphabet] short for “Thank You.”, commonly used over the radio. Commonly just “Tango” over the radio (for “Thanks”).
(U.K.) NCO rank insignia (i.e., stripes).
Teeny Weeny Airways
(U.K.) Army Air Corps, a reference to the fact that the Regiments are equipped with Helicopters that carry very few men.
(U.S.) Excellent, especially a piece of equipment. Origin: Teflon-coated bullets, widely (but incorrectly) thought to pierce armor.
(U.K.) Nickname for someone who got themselves out of trouble (The shit didn’t stick to their Teflon coating).
(Canada) Refers to the fact that untrained privates and officer cadets can’t be demoted any further for doing something stupid. (If they mess this up, it doesn’t matter since they’re Teflon coated.)
(Singapore) Physical training used as a minor corrective action by instructors, which usually are knock-it-downs; also refers to the process of taking down a peg a Soldier who has attitude. See cycled.
(U.S. Army, Air Force, Marine Corps) A lieutenant colonel.
Tender Vittles, Tender Ho’s
(U.S. Navy) Derogatory term for women that make up crews of repair tenders or dry docks, based on a stereotype that they are promiscuous. Pejorative and offensive.
(U.S.) Used in Vietnam by G.I.’s in reference to the United States.
The Day the Eagle Shits
(U.S.) Payday. Example: “I’m sorry I can’t pay you back until the day the eagle shits.”
(U.S.) Euphemism for “enemy forces” used by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee during the American Civil War. The phrase is still widely used.
(U.S. Marine Corps) An extreme physical exercise routine ordered by DIs upon a recruit or Platoon for making a mistake which could last until complete exhaustion. Puddles of sweat are often the end result.