Soldier lingo has a tendency to reference things that only exist in the Army. Here are some terms outsiders probably don’t know.

  • Private News Network: The rumor mill or soldier gossip.
  • Grab some real estate: This is a command to get on the ground and start exercising, usually with pushups. It’s issued as a punishment for a minor infraction. The command can also be stated as, “beat your face.”

  • LEG/NAP: Acronyms for any soldier who is not trained to parachute from airplanes. LEG, or low-entry ground soldier, is considered offensive. Non-airborne personnel, or NAP, is the accepted term. Most NAP are quick to point out that airborne soldiers, once they reach the ground, are little different from their peers.
  • Fister: An artillery scout. The term refers to the soldier being part of the Fire Support Team, or FiST. These soldiers direct cannon fire. The symbol of the artillery scouts is a fist clutching a lightning bolt.
  • Beat feet: To move from your current location quickly.
  • Don’t get wrapped around the axle: Refers to how vehicles can be halted or destroyed when something, like wire, wraps around the axle. It means a soldier needs to steer clear of the little problems and move on to the real issues.
  • Azimuth check: Azimuth checks are a procedure in land navigation when a soldier makes sure they haven’t wandered off course. Outside of patrols or land navigation courses, azimuth check means to stop and make sure the current task is being done right.
  • “Acquired” gear: Equipment that may have been, but probably wasn’t, obtained through proper channels.
  • Good Idea Fairy: Like the tooth fairy, except it creates work for junior soldiers. It suggests to officers and sergeants that they should grab the closest soldiers and make them do something like build new shelves, clean out a storage unit, or mow grass with office scissors.
  • Why the sky is blue: Soldiers, even the noncombat ones, are trained starting in basic training that the sky is not blue because air particles transmit blue light. It’s blue because infantry soldiers are denoted by blue cords, discs, and badges, and God loves the infantry.
  • Fourth point of contact: A butt. In Airborne Training, future paratroopers are trained to fall through five points of contact. First, they hit the balls of their feet, then they roll across the ground on their calf muscle, thigh, buttocks, and finally torso.
  • Come up on the net: Communicate with your unit what is going on with your personal life or the mission.
  • Joes: Slang term for soldiers, usually referring to the junior enlisted personnel. Can also be used as “Private Joe Snuffy” to refer to a single soldier generically.
  • PX Ranger: A soldier who has a lot of unnecessary gear that they bought for themselves from a post exchange or other shop.
  • CAB Chaser: Noncombat soldiers who try to get into a minor engagement to earn a combat action badge. They generally do this by volunteering for patrols and convoys where they aren’t needed.
  • Beat your boots: A physical exercise. A soldier stands with their legs shoulder-width apart, hands on hips. They then lower at the waist, hit their boots or shoes with their hands, return to the start position, and repeat. Generally used for punishing minor infractions.
  • Dash ten: The user manual. Army publications are all assigned a number. Technical manuals, the closest thing to a civilian user/owner manual, are usually assigned a number that ends in “-10.”
  • Sham shield: Derogatory name for the rank of specialist. Specialists are expected to shirk some duties and the symbol for a specialist is shaped like a small shield.
Photo: US Army Spc. Elisha Dawkins