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  • Military MOS Lists

Written by: Tom Jackson

Home » Careers » Military MOS Lists

An MOS, or military occupational specialty, involves the breathtakingly wide range of jobs carried out by members of the United States armed forces — more than10,000 different specialties covering a vast array of skills, interests, opportunities, and levels of responsibility.

An MOS can be absolutely precise, a meticulous description of the skills required and job to be performed. Others are purposely generalized.

Moreover, while every MOS has a military function, not every occupation is military-specific. MOS designations can include civilian workplace equivalents, such as administration, engineering, construction, information technology, communications, logistics, maintenance, healthcare, and so on

How Are Military Occupational Specialty Lists Used?

MOS lists are used to define and detail jobs/specialties in the armed forces. Specialties that are similar or related are gathered into branches and categorized within various Career Management Fields. Each job is given a unique designation; related specialties within a category get the same two numbers, followed by a letter assigned to a particular specialty.

Training for each job is as specialized as the specialty itself. Opportunities for advancement are available in each, as are opportunities to move laterally, change to other MOS ratings, and expand skills through training.

Army MOS List

The U.S. Army lists roughly 160 MOS designations available to enlistees, from frontline warriors (infantrymen, field artillery soldiers, combat engineers) to aviators and aviation support (including piloting unmanned drones) to special forces and armor to civil affairs (communications, planning, agency coordinators) to chaplains’ assistants, interpreter/translators, and mechanics and beyond.

Check it out:

Interpreter/Translator (MOS 09L) provides interpreting and translating of foreign languages — spoken and written — into English, and vice versa.

The Infantry Branch comprises the main combat force on the ground. Its assignment: defeat enemy ground troops. Recruits are assigned MOS 11X as enlistees, and are designated as Infantryman (11B) or Indirect Fire Infantryman (11C) during training.

Infantry MOS designations include.

  • Infantryman (MOS 11B): Riflemen assigned to reconnaissance operations, as well as deploy and recover anti-personnel and anti-tank mines.
  • Indirect Fire Infantryman (MOS 11C): Fire and recover anti-personnel and anti-tank mines; locate and neutralize mines in live minefields; navigate between ground points; orient maps; operate and maintain communications equipment.
  • Infantry Senior Sergeant (MOS 11Z): Leaders of infantry troops.

The Corps of Engineers organizes specialists who are equally adept at building and destroying. Their MOS specialties include:

  • Engineer Senior Sergeant (MOS 12A): Leaders skilled in assorted engineering-related roles, among them reconnaissance, demolitions, construction, rescue and training.
  • Combat Engineer (MOS 12B): Supervise and/or assist team members in combat situations on difficult terrain. Must be experts in mobility, counter-mobility, survival and general engineering. Build defenses to protect troops; obliterate obstacles impeding movement of combat troops (including mines and minefields).

Additional MOS 12 designations:

  • Bridge Crewmember (MOS 12C)
  • Diver (MOS 12D)
  • Quarrying Specialist (RC) (MOS 12G)
  • Construction Engineering Supervisor (MOS 12H)
  • Plumber (MOS 12K)
  • Firefighter (MOS 12M)
  • Horizontal Construction Engineer (MOS 12N)
  • Prime Power Production Specialist (MOS 12P)
  • Power Line Distribution Specialist (RD) (MOS 12Q)
  • Interior Electrician (MOS 12R)
  • Technical Engineer (MOS 12T)
  • Concrete and Asphalt Equipment Operator (MOS 12V)
  • Carpentry and Masonry Specialist (MOS 12W)
  • General Engineering Supervisor (MOS 12X)
  • Geospatial Engineer (MOS 12Y)
  • Combat Engineering Senior Sergeant (MOS 12Z)

Field Artillery Soldiers provide big-gun firepower during combat operations by operating various electronics and communications platforms, in addition to weapons systems and munitions. MOS 13 specialties include:

  • Cannon Crewmember (MOS 13B)
  • Field Artillery Automated Tactical Data System Specialist (MOS 13D)
  • Fire Support Specialist (MOS 13F)
  • Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS)/High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) Crewmember (MOS 13M)
  • Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) Operational Fire Direction Specialist (MOS 13P)
  • Field Artillery Firefinder Radar Operator (MS 13R)
  • Field Artillery Surveyor/Meteorological Crew Member (MOS 13T)
  • Field Artillery Senior Sergeant (MOS 13Z)

Air Defense units operate and maintain systems designed to impede or intercept enemy-fired long- and short-range missiles. Patriot Batteries are deployed to such areas of South Korea and Israel to deter and challenge threats of incoming enemy missiles.

Air Defense MOS designations include:

  • Patriot Fire Control Enhanced Operator (MOS 14E)
  • Air Defense Battle Management System Operator (MOS 14G)
  • Air Defense Enhanced Early Warning System Operator (MOS 14H)
  • Air Defense C41 Tactical Operations Center Enhanced Operator-Maintainer (MOS 14J)
  • Air and Missile Defense (AMD) Crewmember (MOS 14S)
  • Patriot Launching Station Enhanced Operator/Maintainer (MOS 14T)
  • Air Defense Artillery Senior Sergeant (MOS 14Z)

Because the modern Army goes airborne, Army Aviation operates and maintains helicopters, planes, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Assignments include transporting equipment and personnel, as well as delivering combat action to enemy ground troops.

MOS 15 specialties include:

  • Aircraft Powerplant Repairer (MOS 15B)
  • Aircraft Powertrain Repairer (MOS 15D)
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems Repairer (MOS 15E)
  • Aircraft Electrician (MOS 15F)
  • Aircraft Structural Repairer (MOS 15G)
  • Aircraft Pneudraulics Repairer (MOS 15H)
  • OH-58D Armament/Electrical/Avionics Systems Repairer (MOS 15J)
  • Aircraft Components Repair Supervisor (MOS 15K)
  • UH-1 Helicopter Repairer (MOS 15M)
  • Avionic Mechanic (MOS 15N)
  • Aviation Operations Specialist (MOS 15P)
  • Air Traffic Control Operator (MOS 15Q)
  • AH-64 Attack Helicopter Repairer (MOS 15R)
  • OH-58D Helicopter Repairer (MOS 15S)
  • UH-60 Helicopter Repairer (MOS 15T)
  • CH-47 Helicopter Repairer (MOS 15U)
  • Observation/Scout Helicopter Repairer (RC) (MOS 15V)
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operator (MOS 15W)
  • AH-64A Armament/Electrical/Avionics System Repairer (MOS15X)
  • AH-64D Armament/Electrical/Avionics Systems Repairer (MOS 15Y)
  • Aircraft Maintenance Senior Sergeant (MOS 15Z)

Cyber Operations Specialists are assigned with protecting Army intelligence and information. Their job is to safeguard digital data from enemy hackers by maintaining security measures such as firewalls and introducing new cyber security. Cyber Operations Specialists are designed MOS 17C.

Army Special Forces train allied troops and engage the enemy in secretive direct-action missions around the world. Army Special Forces members earn the right to wear the prestigious Green Beret upon completion of rigorous qualifications courses.

MOS positions in Special Forces include:

  • Special Forces Weapons Sergeant (MOS 18B)
  • Special Forces Engineer Sergeant (MOS 18C)
  • Special Forces Medical Sergeant (MOS 18D)
  • Special Forces Communications Sergeant (MOS 18E)
  • Special Forces Assistant Operations and Intelligence Sergeant (MOS 18F)
  • Special Forces Enlistment Option (MOS 18X)
  • Special Forces Senior Sergeant (MOS 18Z)

Army Armor officers and crew project American military force through combat operations employing armored vehicles such as the M1 Abrams Tank and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Army Armor specialties include:

  • Calvary Scout (MOS 19D)
  • Armor Crewman (MOS 19K)
  • Armor Senior Sergeant (MOS 19Z)

The Signal Corps ’ task is to provide secure, reliable communications between the soldier on the ground, helicopter over a combat zone, and ground commanders. Signal Corps units also are relied upon to intercept, gather and translate or decipher verbal/nonverbal enemy communications.

Signal Corps specialties include:

  • Information Technology Specialist (MOS 25B)
  • Radio Operator-Maintainer (MOS 25C)
  • Cyber Network Defender (MOS 25D)
  • Electromagnetic Spectrum Manager (MOS 25E)
  • Network Switching Systems Operator-Maintainer (MOS 25F)
  • Cable Systems Installer-Maintainer (MOS 25L)
  • Multimedia Illustrator (MOS 25M)
  • Nodal Network Systems Operator-Maintainer (MOS 25N)
  • Microwave Systems Operator-Maintainer (MOS 25P)
  • Multichannel Transmission Systems Operator-Maintainer (MOS 25Q)
  • Visual Information Equipment Operator-Maintainer (MOS 25R)
  • Satellite Communication Systems Operator-Maintainer (MOS 25S)
  • Satellite/Microwave Systems Chief (MOS 25T)
  • Signal Support Systems Specialist (MOS 25U)
  • Combat Documentation/Production Specialist (MOS 25V)
  • Telecommunications Operations Chief (MOS 25W)
  • Chief Signal NCO (MOS 25X)
  • Visual Information Operations Chief (MOS 25Z)

The Judge Advocate General’s Corps , the legal arm of the U.S. Army, has opportunities for enlistees. A Paralegal Specialist carries the MOS 27D designation.

Electronic Warfare Specialists are designated MOS 29E.

Military Police are assigned the task of protecting lives and property on Army installations domestically and around the world. MPs carry out most of the functions of a city police department or county sheriff’s office. The regulate traffic, help prevent crime, respond to emergencies on and off base, and enforce military laws and regulations. MPs also investigate crimes and have arrest authority. MP canine units detect illegal activities using police dogs and protect their base with bomb-sniffing dogs.

MP MOS designations include:

  • Military Police (MOS 31B)
  • CID Special Agent (MOS 31D)
  • Interment/Resettlement Specialist (MOS 31E)
  • Working Dog Handler (MOS 31K)

Military Intelligence collects and shares essential information with combat soldiers regarding targeting, enemy forces, and capabilities. Methods employed include photos, electronic transmissions and communications, and human counterintelligence.

Military Intelligence specialties include:

  • Intelligence Analyst (MOS 35F)
  • Geospatial Intelligence Imagery Analyst (MOS 35G)
  • Counterintelligence Agent (MOS 35L)
  • Human Intelligence Collector (MOS 35M)
  • Signals Intelligence Analyst (MOS 35N)
  • Cryptologic Linguist (MOS 35P)
  • Cryptologic Network Warfare Specialist (MOS 35Q)
  • Signals Collector/Analyst (MOS 35S)
  • Military Intelligence Systems Maintainer/Integrator (MOS 35T)
  • Signals Intelligence (SIGNIT) Senior Sergeant/SIGINT Chief (MOS 35V)
  • Intelligence Senior Sergeant/Chief Intelligence Sergeant (MOS 35X)
  • Chief Counterintelligence/Human Intelligence Sergeant (MOS 35Y)
  • Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) Senior Sergeant/SIGINT Chief (MOS 35Z)

The Financial Management Technician ’s designation is MOS 36B.

Psychological Operations influence local populations not to join insurgencies plus provide information that helps Army troops on the ground. Persuading enemy combatants to switch sides and leave the battlefield are key assignments of Psychological Operations Specialists.

Psychological Operations Specialists carry the designation MOS 37F.

Civil Affairs involves communications, planning, and coordination with assorted agencies to assist local population in combat zones. Civil Affairs Specialists are designated MOS 38B.

Adjutant General’s Corps includes these designations:

  • Human Resources Specialist (MOS 42A)
  • Musician (MOS 42R)
  • Special Band Musician (MOS 42S)

Public Affairs specialties include:

  • Public Affairs Specialist (MOS 46Q)
  • Public Affairs Broadcast Specialist (MOS 46R)
  • Chief Public Affairs NCO (MOS 46Z)

Army Acquisition Troops includes the Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Contracting NCO (MOS 51C).

Religious Affairs Specialists primarily support worship services, planning religious support operations and certain other duties. A Chaplain Assistant’s designation is MOS 56M.

The Army Healthcare system relies on the support of the well-trained men and women of the Medical Community. Involving the full menu of medical professionals, the Army medical staff is organized to assist in combat zones and stateside hospitals.

Medical Community specialties include:

  • Biomedical Equipment Specialist (MOS 68A)
  • Orthopedic Specialist (MOS 68B)
  • Practical Nursing Specialist (MOS 68C)
  • Operating Room Specialist (MOS 68D)
  • Dental Specialist (MOS 68E)
  • Physical Therapy Specialist (MOS 68F)
  • Patient Administration Specialist (MOS 68G)
  • Optical Laboratory Specialist (MOS 68H)
  • Medical Logistics Specialist (MOS 68J)
  • Medical Laboratory Specialist (MOS 68K)
  • Occupational Therapy Specialist (MOS 68L)
  • Nutrition Care Specialist (MOS 68M)
  • Cardiovascular Specialist (MOS 68N)
  • Radiology Specialist (MOS 68P)
  • Pharmacy Specialist (MOS 68Q)
  • Veterinary Food Inspection Specialist (MOS 68R)
  • Preventative Medicine Specialist (MOS 68S)
  • Animal Care Specialist (MOS 68T)
  • Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Specialist (MOS 68U)
  • Respiratory Specialist (MOS 68V)
  • Health Care Specialist (MOS 68W)
  • Behavioral Health Specialist (MOS 68X)
  • Eye Specialist (MOS 68Y)
  • Chief Medical NCO (MOS 68Z)

The Chemical field includes Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Specialist Recruiting and retention. Its designation is MOS 74D.

Recruiting and Retention (MOS 79) includes these specialties:

  • Recruiter (MOS 79R)
  • Career Counselor (MOS 79S)
  • Recruiting and Retention NCO (Army National Guard of the United States) (MOS 79T)
  • Retention and Transition NCO, USAR (MOS 79V)

Transportation Specialists operate and repair transportation vehicles across the Army arsenal, including air, land, sea and rail. Their specialties include:

  • Cargo Specialist (MOS 88H)
  • Watercraft Operator (MOS 88K)
  • Watercraft Engineer (MOS 88L)
  • Motor Transport Operator (MOS 88M)
  • Transportation Management Coordinator (MOS 88N)
  • Railway Equipment Repairer (RC) (MOS 88P)
  • Trailway Section Repairer (RC) (MOS 88T)
  • Railway Operations Crewmember (RC) (MOS 88U)
  • Transportation Senior Sergeant (MOS 88Z)

Ammunition Specialists are involved in ammunition, mechanical maintenance, and ordinance. Designations include:

  • Ammunition Stock Control and Accounting Specialist (MOS 89A)
  • Ammunition Specialist (MOS 89B)
  • Explosive Ordnance Disposal Specialist (MOS 89D)

Mechanics and Equipment Maintenance involves assorted specialties, including:

  • Abrams Tank System Maintainer (MOS 91A)
  • Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic (MOS 91B)
  • Utilities Equipment Repairer (MOS 91C)
  • Power-Generation Equipment Repairer (MOS 91D)
  • Allied Trades Specialist (MOS 91E)
  • Small Arms/Artillery Repairer (MOS 91F)
  • Fire Control Repairer (MOS 91G)
  • Track Vehicle Repairer (MOS 91H)
  • Quartermaster and Chemical Equipment Repairer (MOS 91J)
  • Armament Repairer (MOS 91K)
  • Construction Equipment Repairer (MOS 91L)
  • Bradley Fighting Vehicle System Maintainer (MOS 91M)
  • Artillery Mechanic (MOS 91P)
  • Stryker Systems Maintainer (MOS 91S)
  • Maintenance Supervisor (MOS 91X)
  • Mechanical Maintenance Supervisor (MOS 91Z)

The Quartermaster Corps provide soldiers with food, water, petroleum, repair parts and other services during operations. Quartermaster specialties include:

  • Automated Logistical Specialist (MOS 92A)
  • Petroleum Supply Specialist (MOS 92F)
  • Food Service Specialist (MOS 92G)
  • Petroleum Laboratory Specialist (MOS 92L)
  • Mortuary Affairs Specialist (MOS 92M)
  • Parachute Rigger (MOS 92R)
  • Shower/Laundry and Clothing Repair Specialist (MOS 92S)
  • Water Treatment Specialist (MOS 92W)
  • Unit Supply Specialist (MOS 92Y)
  • Senior Noncommissioned Logistician (MOS 92Z)

Combat Electronic Systems Repair/Maintenance units take care of extremely technical combat electronic systems. Among these specialties:

  • Land Combat Electronic Missile System Repairer (MOS 94A)
  • Air Traffic Control Equipment Repairer (MOS 94D)
  • Radio and Communications Security (COMSEC) Repairer (MOS 94E)
  • Computer Detection Systems Repairer (MOS 94F)
  • Test, Measurement, and Diagnostic Equipment (TMDE) Maintenance Support Specialist (MOS 94H)
  • Avionic Communications Equipment Repairer (MOS 94L)
  • Radar Repairer (MOS 94M)
  • Multiple Launch Rocket System Repairer (MOS 94P)
  • Avionic and Survivability Equipment Repairer (MOS 94R)
  • Patriot System Repairer (MOS 94S)
  • Avenger System Repairer (MOS 94T)
  • Electronic Maintenance Chief (MOS 94W)
  • Senior Missile Systems Maintainer (MOS 94X)
  • Integrated Family of Test Equipment (IFTE) Operator and Maintainer (MOS 94Y)
  • Senior Electronic Maintenance Chief (MOS 94Z)

Marines MOS List

The Marine Corps employs a four-digit code for its occupational specialties. Upon graduation from boot camp, Marines receive their initial job, the Primary Marine Occupational Special (PMOS). Special skills or duties performed on tours or in training programs are designated Additional MOS (AMOS) or Category II MOS.

Personnel and Administration (01) performs administrative and clerical services in the fields of general administration, postal service and what civilians call “human resources” administration. Qualifications include communication abilities, typing and elementary clerical skills.

Intelligence (02) includes jobs responsible for gathering, processing and disseminating sensitive classified information. Specialties include geographic intelligence, counterintelligence, image interpretation and analysis. Candidates must have mastery of analytical and technical skills, plus communication, computer and clerical skills.

Infantry (03) includes ground forces trained to locate and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver or repel their assault by fire and close combat. These roles all require high levels of fitness, mental toughness and tactical proficiency.

Logistics (04) Marines provide general and direct support above the organic capabilities of the support element of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF). Marines in the logistics unit may support the MAGTF in assaults and operations ashore.

Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) (05) includes MAGTF Marines, planning specialists, information operations specialists and security forces advisors.

Communications (06) Marines design, install, connect and operate communication networks and information systems. They also operate and perform preventive maintenance on software and hardware systems, including computer systems, radio, telephones and cryptography.

Field Artillery (08) Marines have various areas of responsibility and expertise. Field Artillery includes the following duties: firing battery (moving, loading, firing and maintaining cannon weapons systems); field artillery operations (moving, operating and maintaining equipment that acquires targets); and observation and liaison (checking and analyzing combat plans and communicating advice and operating information).

Training (09) encompasses Marine instructors, including drill, combat, marksmanship, small weapons, water safety and survival, and martial arts instructors.

Utilities (11) Marines plan and provide utilities to support posts and stations. Utilities includes the establishment, operation, maintenance and repair of power generation sites, heating, shower and laundry facilities, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration.

Engineer, Construction, Facilities and Equipment (13) Marines have duties such as welding and metalworking and are responsible for maintenance, operation and repair of heavy engineering equipment.

Tank and Assault Amphibious Vehicle (18) Marines help operate and maintain the vehicle and up-gunned weapons station. Jobs include basic tank and AAV marine, M1A1 tank crewman and ACV marine.

Ground Ordnance Maintenance (21) Marines carry out the inspection, repair and maintenance of weapons systems. Maintenance personnel conduct administrative procedures, repair analysis, technical inspection procedures, testing of ordnance equipment and quality-control methodology.

Ammunition and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (23) Marines undertake the secure disposal of explosive weaponry and ammunition. This MOS has three enlisted positions: basic ammunition and explosive ordnance disposal marine, ammunition technician and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technician.

Signals Intelligence/Ground Electronic Warfare (26) Marines  focus on strategic and tactical intelligence, listening to radio and other broadcasts to determine enemy positions. This MOS  includes jobs such as signals intelligence analysts, cryptanalysts, signals intelligence/electronic warfare and radio reconnaissance.

Linguist (27) Marines supervise and participate in translation and interpretation activities to support military operations and intelligence matters during operations and exercises.

Ground Electronics Maintenance (28) Marines focus on installation, diagnosis, repair, modification and calibration of electronic equipment. The equipment and systems include assorted communication hardware, biological, nuclear and chemical detection electronics and a range of test equipment. Jobs include basic data/communications maintenance marine, technical controller or artillery electronics technician.

Supply Administration and Operations (30) Marines perform ground supply administration and operations, including maintaining supply warehouses, ordering and processing equipment and coordinating the distribution of supplies. Some jobs include basic supply administration and operations marine, warehouse clerk, aviation supply clerk and contract specialist.

Distribution Management (31) Marines coordinate travel and shipments. They assist with the shipping of military and personal property and help marines and their families with moves from base to base , contracting civilian moving companies. They also oversee movement of military equipment and supplies and must know how to handle and store hazardous materials.

Food Service (33) Marines prepare food for other Marines in the garrison and the field. They may help plan how much food is needed for Marines who work and live in the field during deployments.

Financial Management (34) Marines help with budgeting finances and generating spending forecasts. They monitor, reconcile and prepare accounting records and analyze variances between budget plans and execution. Jobs include basic financial management marine, financial technician, non-appropriated fund audit technician and fiscal/budget technician.

Motor Transport (35) is considered a primary MOS and is reserved for Marines holding ranks from Private to Sergeant. Motor Transport Marines are responsible for making sure all vehicles used in the field are inspected, maintained and in top condition. They may oversee repair and maintenance of transport equipment, service fuel and water tankers and HUMVEEs. This field also includes motor vehicle operators who complete motor transportation school to learn to drive a variety of USMC vehicles.

Morale Welfare and Recreation (41) Marines see to the well-being of military families and service members. Jobs in this MOS include basic exchange Marine and Morale, Welfare, Recreation (MWR) specialist.

Public Affairs (43) Marines build understanding, credibility and trust with local and international citizens and media organizations. They are responsible for communicating plans and coordinating and implementing communication strategies to build relationships. They gather news and stories distributed via writing or through television broadcasts. They may conduct interviews or perform minor investigative work to gather information.

Legal Services (44) Marines assist military officers who have studied law and are licensed attorneys. They must understand various military laws and proceedings to help both Marines and civilians. Jobs include basic legal services, legal services specialist and legal services reporter.

Combat Camera (46) Marines use various camera equipment to photograph people, places and deployments for historical intelligence/civil affairs. They also capture videos pertinent to the mission and use software to clean up video and images useful for missions.

Music (55) Marines perform music or music-related activities in support of military ceremonies, official functions, community relations, recruiting and Marine “esprit de corps.”

Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (57) Marines defend against any type of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) attack that could occur in their jurisdiction. They issue and inspect gas masks and related equipment and train Marines on how to use them.

Military Police and Corrections (58) provide commander support by enforcing the law, preventing crime, preserving military control, investigating offenses and apprehending offenders. Marines in this field also may be involved in antiterrorism or the handling and safeguarding prisoners of war, refugees or evacuees. Jobs include military police, working dog handler, military police investigator, criminal investigator CID agent and correctional specialist.

Electronics Maintenance (59) Marines maintain, repair and operate of different types of electronic equipment within the Marine Air Command and Control Systems network, supporting air defense, weaponry, surveillance, radio communication, data monitoring and air traffic control.

Aircraft Maintenance (60/61/62) comprises the 6000 field. The first two numbers designate the primary position of mechanic (60), helicopters (61) and fixed-wing aircraft (62). The aircraft maintenance occupational fields include direct and indirect support of the total airframes as well as power plant pack of all aircraft weapons systems. Marines start as basic aircraft maintenance crew and progress through hard skill MOS. Jobs include helicopter power plants mechanic, airframe mechanic, fixed-wing aircraft mechanic and unmanned aerial vehicle mechanic.

Avionics (63/64) includes direct and indirect support of aviation weapons systems. As the Marine is promoted within the field, repair and administrative requirements for multiple systems take equal importance, until the Marine is placed in a supervisory position. There are a wide variety of jobs in avionics, including unmanned aerial vehicle avionics technician, aircraft avionics technician, communications/navigation systems technician and cryptographic systems technician.

Aviation Ordnance (65) includes organizational and intermediate maintenance of guns, gun pods, aircraft weapons systems, bomb racks, missile launches and aviation ordnance support equipment.

Aviation Logistics (66) encompasses a broad spectrum of network infrastructure and information systems operations and maintenance.

Meteorology and Oceanography (68) Marines collect, assess and disseminate intelligence relevant to friendly and enemy force strengths and vulnerabilities. This includes climatic, atmospheric and hydrologic intelligence.

Airfield Services (70) includes the performance of aviation operations duties, expeditionary aircraft equipment recovery duties and aircraft rescue firefighting. Jobs in airfield services include expeditionary airfield systems technician, aviation operations specialist and aircraft rescue and firefighting specialist.

Air Control/Air Support/Anti-air Warfare/Air Traffic Control (72) includes the operation and management of air command and functions associated with the Marine aircraft wing. It includes jobs such as air control electronics operator and air traffic controller.

Navigation Officer/Enlisted Flight Crews (73) Marines perform duties related to the maintenance and operation of aircraft and helicopters. Jobs include helicopter specialist, unmanned aircraft system operator, tactical systems operator or airborne radio operator.

Miscellaneous Requirements MOS (80) includes assorted jobs, including recruiters, security guards and parachutist/combatant diver Marines.

Air Force AFSC List

The Air Force has 135 jobs available to enlistees. These occupations are designated by a five-character alphanumeric code — the Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC).

Air Force designations fall into nine categories: Operations, Logistics, Support, Medical, Professionals (Chaplain and Legal), Contracting and Financial, Special Investigations, Special Duty Assignments, and Special Reporting Identifiers.

Operations covers the vast majority of Air Force combat activities, and is broken down into nine career fields.

  • Aircrew Operations (1A) duties include resolving problems that can render an aircraft unable to perform. Necessary skills include fixing airborne systems equipment that involve computer systems, radar and radio systems, and surveillance systems operations activities. AFSCs for Aircrew Operations include:

1A0XX In-Flight Refueling

1A1XX Flight Engineer

1A2XX Aircraft Loadmaster

1A3XX Airborne Mission System

1A4XX Airborne Operations

1A6XX Flight Attendant

1A7XX Aerial Gunner

1A8XX Airborne Cryptologic Linguist

1A9X1 Special Missions Aviation

  • Cyberspace Career Field (1B) involves surveillance, combat, reporting, and network-management systems. The goal: Protect data and network systems beyond passive defense measures. Additionally, some operations are in support of intelligence operations. The AFSC is 1B4XX Cyberspace Defense Operations.
  • Command & Control Systems Operations (1C) involve aerospace surveillance and aerospace vehicle detection, including missile warning systems. This career field gets highly involved with close air support and tactical air reconnaissance. Many within this career field assist forward air controllers in tactical air mission planning and operation and provide terminal strike control as interim substitutes for forward air controllers in emergency conditions.

AFSCs for Command & Control Systems Operations:

1C0XX Aviation Resource Management

1C1XX Air Traffic Control

1C2XX Combat Control

1C3XX Command Post

1C4XX Tactical Air Control Party

1C5XX Command and Control Battle Management Operations

1C6XX Space Systems Operations

1C7XX Airfield Management

  • Intelligence (1N) gathers, analyzes, and processes all forms of military intelligence to support combat operations with target acquisition and recognition. Intelligence AFSCs include:

1N0XX Operations Intelligence

1N1XX Geospatial Intelligence

1N2XX Signals Intelligence Analyst

1N3XX Cryptologic Language Analyst

1N4XX Network Intelligence Analyst

  • Aircrew Flight Equipment (1P) Specialists manage, perform, and schedule inspections, maintenance, and adjustments of assigned aircrew flight equipment (AFE), aircrew chemical defense equipment (ACDE), associated supplies, and inventories assets. Providing life support to each aircraft, these Specialists are designated 1POXX Aircrew Flight Equipment.
  • Safety (1S) is not for newcomers. The job demands a seasoned, mature airman to manage and conduct safety programs. Safety Specialists also analyze mishap causes and trends, and assess risk. Duties include risk management and mitigation consultation as well as instruction on safety education. The AFSC designation is 1S0XX Safety.
  • Aircrew Protection (1T) help train and rescue downed pilots through SERE training programs. They also are part of Special Operations Command with Pararescue Airmen. Aircrew Protection helps prepare pilots and crew for the unforeseen, guided by their motto, “So others may live.” Aircrew Protection AFSCs include:

1T0XX Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape

1T2XX Pararescue

  • Unmanned Aerospace Systems (1U) Specialists perform duties as a mission crew member on unmanned aerospace systems. They employ airborne sensors in manual or computer-assisted modes to actively and/or passively acquire, track, and monitor airborne, maritime, and ground objects. UAS Specialists are designated 1U0XX Career RPA Sensor Operator.
  • Weather (1W) Specialists employ a wide array of fixed and deployable meteorological sensors to measure and evaluate atmospheric and space weather conditions. Weather career branch members observe, record, and disseminate weather data and information under the AFSC designation 1W0XX Weather.

Maintenance & Logistics

  • Aerospace Maintenance (2A) airmen perform and supervise aviation equipment maintenance functions and activities. Specialists conduct inspections, repairs, maintenance, and servicing of aviation and support equipment (SE). Aerospace Maintenance AFSC designations include:

2A0XX Avionics Test Station and Components

2A3XX Avionics Systems

2A5XX Aerospace Maintenance

2A6XX Aerospace Propulsion

2A7XX Aircraft Metals Technology

  • Comm-Elec/WireSystems Maintenance (2E) airmen see to the inner workings of computer and electronic systems on and controlling aircraft, both manned and unmanned. Their AFSCs include:

2E1XX Satellite, Wideband and Telemetry Systems

2E2XX Network Infrastructure Systems

2E6XX Communication Cable and Antenna Systems

  • Fuels (2F) ensures maintenance, storage, quality, security, and in-flight refueling equipment function properly, enabling successful conduct of Air Force operations.
  • Logistics Plans (2G) involves moving equipment and people from one place to another, requiring organizational skills and attention to detail to undertake operations around the globe.
  • Missile & Space Systems Maintenance (2M) Specialists monitor, operate, and supervise the operation of consoles, fault display panels, and more. These technicians monitor status of missiles, UAVs, boosters, payloads, subsystems, and support equipment.
  • Precision Measurement (2P) airmen test, measure, and diagnose equipment (TMDE), including precision measurement equipment laboratory (PMEL). They inspect, align, troubleshoot, and repair to PMEL standards.
  • Maintenance Management Systems (2R) Specialists plan and schedule aerospace vehicle maintenance and utilization requirements and develop plans and establish production schedules to meet mission requirements. Areas of responsibility include aerospace vehicles, AGE, munitions, missiles, space systems, and associated support systems through maintenance phases. MMS designations include:

2R0XX Maintenance Management Analysis

2R1XX Maintenance Management Production

  • Material Management (2S)
  • Transportation & Vehicle Maintenance (2T) AFSCs include:

2T0XX Traffic Management

2T1XX Vehicle Operations

2T2XX Air Transportation

2T3XX Vehicle Maintenance

  • Munitions & Weapons (2W) Specialists focus on the maintenance, storage, and repair of highly technical weapons systems and munitions in support of military operations.
  • Information Management (3A)
  • Communication-Computer Systems (3C) AFSCs include:

3C0XX Communication-Computer Systems

3C1XX Information Systems Technology

3C2XX Network Integration

  • Cyberspace Support (3D) Specialists manage planning, coordinating, sharing, and controlling data assets. AFSCs include:

3D0XX Knowledge Operations Management

3D1XX Client Systems

  • Civil Engineering (3E) Specialists build structures, living quarters, water and fuel systems. Additionally, Air Force engineers also perform explosive ordnance disposal. Civil Engineering AFSCs include:

3E0XX Electrical Systems

3E1XX Heating, Ventilation, AC, Refrigeration

3E2XX Pavement and Construction Equipment

3E3XX Structural

3E4XX Water and Fuel Systems Maintenance

3E5XX Engineering

3E6XX Operations Management

3E7XX Fire Protection

3E8XX Explosive Ordnance Disposal

3E9XX Emergency Management

  • Services (3M)
  • Public Affairs (3N) Specialists produce all announcements or media releases authorized by the Air Force. Trained in multimedia communication methods from print, video, audio, and internet/digital, and all forms of media, public affairs personnel enable the Air Force to shape its message and update the public. AFSC designations include:

3N0XX Public Affairs

3N1XX Regional Band

3N2XX Premier Band

  • Security Forces (Military Police) (3P) guard, protect and secure equipment and people on bases all over the world.
  • Mission Support (3S) specialists ensure military manpower needs are fulfilled and current with the necessary training and work support. AFSC designations include:

3S0XX Personnel

3S1XX Equal Opportunity

3S2XX Education and Training

3S3XX Manpower

Medical & Dental

  • Medical (4A-V) Specialists assist doctors, nurses, and hospital administration with their duties. AFSCs in this field include:

4A0XX Health Services Management

4A1XX Medical Material

4A2XX Biomedical Equipment

4B0XX Bioenvironmental Engineering

4C0XX Mental Health Service

4D0XX Diet Therapy

4E0XX Public Health

4H0XX Cardiopulmonary Laboratory

4J0XX Physical Medicine

4M0XX Aerospace and Operational Physiology

4N0XX Aerospace Medical Service

4N1XX Surgical Service

4P0XX Pharmacy

4R0XX Diagnostic Imaging

4T0XX Medical Laboratory

4V0XX Ophthalmic

  • Dental (4Y) Specialists assist health care professionals who provide oral and dental care for all members on base.


  • Paralegal (5J) Specialists support JAG officers (lawyers) as they do their jobs.
  • Chaplain Assistants (5R) support the conduct of religious services and spiritual outreach provided by Air Force Chaplains.


  • Contracting (6C) Specialists obtain data on marketing trends, supply sources, and trade information to advise government and contractor personnel on contracting-related issues.
  • Financial (6F) technicians account for cash, checks, and other negotiable instruments. They process commitments and obligations, payments, and collections as well as serve as financial advisor to commanders and resource managers.

Special Investigations

Special Investigations (OSI) (7S) is not an entry-level position. OSI conducts criminal, fraud, counterintelligence, personal background, and technical services investigations and special inquiries and manage special investigations activities.

Special Duty Assignments

Special Duty Assignments are usually jobs a member performs temporarily, working outside their assigned AFSC. When the special duty tour is completed, members typically return to their primary AFSC (enlisted job). Examples would be a recruiter, first sergeant, or military training instructor.

  • Special Duty Identifiers (8X) are assigned to the various auxiliary jobs within the Air Force. These jobs, including Postal Service, recruiting, and Honor Guards for ceremonies, require special training. AFSCs include:

8A1XX Career Assistance Adviser

8A2XX Enlisted Aide

8B0XX Military Training Instructor

8B1XX Military Training Leader

8B2XX Academy Military Training NCO

8C0XX Airmen/Family Readiness Center

8D0XX Strategic Debriefer

8F0XX First Sergeant

8G0XX Honor Guard

8H0XX Airman Dorm Leader

8M0XX Postal

8P0XX Courier

8P1XX Defense Attaché

8R0XX Enlisted Accessions Recruiter

8R2XX Second-Tier Recruiter

8R3XX Third-Tier Recruiter

8S0XX Missile Facility Manager

8T0XX Professional Military Education Instructor

  • Special Reporting Identifiers (9X) : Special codes are provided to identify the status of airmen in unusual circumstances. These include:

9A0XX Awaiting Retraining — Reasons Beyond Control

9A1XX Awaiting Retraining — Reasons Within Control

9A2XX Awaiting Discharge, Separation, Retirement for Reasons Within Their Control

9A3XX Awaiting Discharge, Separation, Retirement for Reasons Beyond Their Control

9C0XX Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force

9D0XX Dormitory Manager

9E0XX Command Chief Master Sergeant

9F0XX First Term Airmen Center

9G1XX Group Superintendent

9J0XX Prisoner

9L0XX Interpreter/Translator

9P0XX Patient

9R0XX Civil Air Patrol-USAF Reserve Assistance NCO

9S1XX Scientific Applications Specialist

9T0XX Basic Enlisted Airman

9T1XX Officer Trainee

9T2XX Pre-Cadet Assignee

9WOXX Wounded Warrior

Navy Rating List

When is an MOS not an MOS? When it goes by the title “rating,” which is how the U.S. Navy classifies its occupational branches and individual jobs. The Navy’s 93 ratings are organized into groups known as communities, such as aviation, medical, security, submarine, surface operations, nuclear, administration, and so on.

Ratings identify general enlisted occupations consisting of specific skills and abilities. Specialty badges are assigned to each naval rating, and worn on the left sleeve of the uniform.

The Navy’s ratings include:


The Administration Community provides oversight and direction for the Navy as a whole. Administration jobs include:

  • Legalmen (LN) (Paralegals) provide legal assistance to fellow sailors and prepare records for proceedings such as courts-martial and courts of inquiry. They also assist personnel in filing claims and conducting investigations.
  • Mass Communications (MC) Specialists serve as the Navy’s public relations wing. They write, edit, and produce news articles; shoot, edit and publish video; design content for online and print; arrange, manage and conduct interviews; act as public affairs officers.
  • Navy Counselor (NC) sailors interview personnel, prepare and deliver talks, establish and maintain liaison with local media, and recruit civilian personnel into the Navy. Because it requires a deep understanding of the Navy and its operations, the position of Navy Counselor is not available to new enlistees.
  • Personnel Specialists (PS) serve as the Navy’s human resource coordinators. Personnel Specialists are sources for information and counseling about Navy occupations, education and job training, requirements for promotion, and rights and benefits.
  • Yeomen (YN) are charged with assorted personnel administration duties, including maintenance of records and official publications, as well as providing administrative functions for legal proceedings.

Aviation community ratings blanket a vast array of responsibilities, including aviation mechanics, supply and logistics, and air traffic control.

  • Air Traffic Controllers (AC) , similar to their civilian counterparts, direct and control the movement of Navy aircraft, instructing pilots via radio communications.
  • Aviation Machinist’s (AD) Mates are aircraft mechanics, performing maintenance, repairs, and updates to aircraft.
  • Aviation Electrician ’s (AE) Mates bring technical and electronics expertise to their assignments, providing repairs and updates to aircraft. They also perform in-flight duties, including operating radar and weapons systems.
  • Aerographer’s (AG) Mates (Weather and Oceanography) apply their training in meteorology and oceanography to the measurement and monitoring of conditions such as air pressure, humidity, and wind speed, distributing the information to aircraft, ships, and shore facilities.
  • Aviation Ordnancemen (AO) handle and service weapons and ammunition carried on Navy aircraft.
  • Aviation Electronics (AT) Technicians repair and maintain navigation, infrared detection, and radar, as well as other complex electronics systems.

Cryptology (Information Warfare)

Information Warfare sailors receive, decode, and analyze intelligence from foreign nations’ electronic communications (radio, internet, written, spoken, email, etc.). Most CT ratings are Cryptologic Technicians. Specializations include interpretation, maintenance, networks (maintaining and monitoring tech infrastructure), collection, and technical.

  • Information System (IT) Technicians operate and maintain the Navy’s satellite telecommunications systems, mainframe computers, local and wide area networks, and micro-computer systems.


The Office of Naval Intelligence collects, analyzes, and produces scientific, technical, geopolitical, military, and maritime intelligence. The Intelligence Community spans the globe with more than 3,000 military, civilian, reservist, and contractor personnel.

  • Intelligence Specialists (IS) analyze intelligence data, prepare and present intelligence briefings, produce image data, and maintain intelligence databases.

Medical and Dental

All specialties of the medical and dental communities branch off from the Hospital Corpsman rating.

  • Navy Hospital (HM) Corpsmen can pursue dental, neurology, cardiology, surgical, combat, or special operations medics, to name just a few medical specialties available.

Because they’ll be hands-on operators of nuclear reactors, applicants for this highly competitive field must be well-qualified in math and science. The Nuclear Field (NF) offers three ratings:

  • Machinist ’ s Mate (MM)
  • Electrician ’ s Mate (EM)
  • Electronics Technician (ET)

Builders: The SEABEE Community

The construction branch of the Navy, SEABEE comes from the abbreviation CB for “Construction Brigade.” Beyond their work as builders, however, Navy construction workers and engineers are warriors, trained in combat tactics and maneuvering in defense of their positions and construction sites.

  • Builders (BU) operate as carpenters, plasterers, roofers, concrete finishers, masons, painters, bricklayers, and cabinet makers.
  • Construction Electricians (CE) build, maintain, and operate Navy power production facilities and electrical distribution systems.
  • Construction Mechanics (CM) repair and maintain heavy construction and automotive equipment, including buses, dump trucks, bulldozers, and tactical vehicles.
  • Engineering Aides (EA) conduct land surveys, prepare maps and sketches for construction sites, and estimate costs for building projects.

Security (Military Police)

At bases and forward operating sites, Military Police and the Naval Master at Arms ratings are assigned the task of maintaining safety and keeping the peace by establishing security procedures, controlling access, enforcing existing laws, and deploying defensive tactics as necessary.

Master at Arms (MA) responsibilities include running security patrols and law enforcement operations, operating brigs (jails),  and providing protection for high-ranking dignitaries and government officials.

Special Warfare/Special Operations

Operating in small teams assigned complicated missions, members of the Special Warfare and Special Operations Community tackle salvage operations, IED (improvised explosive device) disposal, hostage rescue, and small boat operations.

  • Explosives and Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technicians dispose of explosives and ordnance. Sometimes their expertise is summoned to assist civilian law enforcement with disposal efforts.
  • Navy Divers (ND) perform underwater salvage, repair, and maintenance on ships; submarine rescue; and serve in support of explosive ordnance disposal.
  • Special Warfare Operator (SO) , or SEALs, comprise an elite fighting team, organized, trained, and equipped to carry out special operations and missions.

Nuclear-powered submarines command some of the Navy’s most highly skilled workers. Among the specialists in the Submarine Community:

  • Culinary Specialists ( CS) prepare onboard meals
  • Storekeepers (SK) maintain repair parts and other supplies.
  • Fire Control Technicians (FT) oversee the submarine’s computer and control mechanisms used in weapons systems and other programs.
  • Sonar Technicians (STS) operate the submarine’s sonar and oceanographic equipment and maintain sonar and related equipment.
  • Yeoman (YN) handles clerical and other related work aboard the submarine.

Surface Combat Systems

Among the ratings within the Navy’s Surface Combat Community:

  • Boatswain’s Mates (BM) direct and supervise maintenance duties in the upkeep of ship’s external structure, rigging, deck equipment, and boats. This all-purpose position handles a variety of duties, including standing as helmsmen and lookouts, or as security watches. They may also serve in damage control, emergency, or as part of a security alert team.
  • Gunner’s Mates (GM) are responsible for guided missile launching systems, gun mounts, and other ordnance equipment, including small arms and magazines.
  • Minemen (MN) serve aboard minesweeping ships, seeking and neutralizing underwater mines. When ashore, Minemen test, assemble, and maintain underwater explosive devices.
  • Quartermasters (QM) are trained to be navigation experts, standing watch as assistants to officers of the deck and the navigator. They also serve as helmsman and perform ship control, navigation, and bridge watch duties.

Surface Engineering

Ratings for the engineers and mechanics who take care of the engines powering the ships of the Navy include:

  • Electricians Mates (EM) look after all things electrical on their ship: power generation, lighting, electrical equipment, and electrical appliances.
  • Enginemen (EN) see to the good operation, service, and repair of internal combustion engines that power ships and most Navy small craft.
  • Hull Maintenance Technicians (HT) are responsible for the upkeep and repair of ships’ structures, as well as shipboard plumbing and marine sanitation systems; they also repair small boats, among other duties.

Coast Guard Rating List

The U.S. Coast Guard also calls its occupational assignments ratings, and, like the Navy, categorizes them by responsibility. The Coast Guard has nearly two dozen ratings for enlistees.

  • Aviation Maintenance Technicians (AMT) maintain and crew Coast Guard aircraft.
  • Aviation Survival Technicians (AST) save lives, provide emergency medical support, and maintain the survival equipment shipmates Rey on in emergencies.
  • Avionics Electrical Technicians (AET) troubleshoot and repair complex avionics and electrical systems on assigned aircraft.
  • Boatswain’s Mates (BM) are the true sailors of Coast Guard ships, essential to the operation of every CG mission.
  • Culinary Specialists (CS) , the chefs of the Coast Guard, are trained in all facets of food preparation, accounting and purchasing, inventory management, nutrition and time management.
  • Damage Controlmen (DC) specialize in maintenance and emergency repair.
  • Divers (DV) sweep ports and waterways during coastal security missions. Divers also survey coral reefs and environmentally sensitive areas; repair, maintain, and place aids to navigation.
  • Electrician’s Mates (EM) keep the Coast Guard’s electrical systems connects and operating smoothly.
  • Electronics Technicians (ET) maintain virtually all the Coast Guard’s electronics systems, from navigation to command, control, and communications.
  • Gunner’s Mates (GM) are trained in the technical inner-workings of small arms, weapons systems, and pyrotechnics.
  • Health Services Technicians (HS) are trained to care for individuals in distress or life-threatening situations.
  • Information Systems Technicians (IT) oversee the critical information and data systems for the Coast Guard.
  • Intelligence Specialists (IS) perform a vast array of duties associated with the collection, analysis, processing, and dissemination of intelligence in support of Coast Guard operational missions.
  • Machinery Technicians (MK) maintain engineering systems at virtually every Coast Guard unit, actively participating in operational missions.
  • Marine Science Technicians (MST) perform a variety of duties, all linked to enforcing regulations for the safety of the marine environment and the security of the port.
  • Maritime Enforcement Specialists (ME) play a central role in protecting the public from all maritime threats and hazards through command and control of boats, cutters, aircraft and personnel. YEs craft search-and-rescue plans to save mariners in danger, oversee law enforcement operations, and gather and apply intelligence information.
  • Musicians (MU) compose and play music for Coast Guard bands, which recruits highly skilled musicians through a competitive audition process.
  • Operations Specialists (OS) work in the ship’s combat center, collecting, processing, displaying, evaluating, and swiftly disseminating tactical combat information.
  • Public Affairs Specialists (PA) apply media training and skills while serving as the main link between the Coast Guard and the public.
  • Storekeepers (SK) procure, store, preserve, and package supplies, spare parts, provisions, technical items, and all other necessary supplies and services. They also track inventories, prepare requisitions, and check incoming supplies.
  • Yeomen (YN) serve the human resources function of the Coast Guard as key problem-solvers, counselors, and sources of information to personnel on questions ranging from career moves, entitlements, and incentive programs to retirement options and veterans’ benefits.

Job Specialty Selection Process

Clearly, the U.S. military offers a wide variety of occupations, responsibilities, and experiences, many that thoroughly prepare an armed services veteran for significant opportunities in the civilian world.

Potential enlistees, as well as active-duty personnel considering a job change, should make themselves well-acquainted with the job requirements of the fields that interest them before talking to a recruiter or military career counselor. Know what you’re thinking about getting into.

To help ascertain a prospect’s fitness and suitability, the several military branches require applicants to pass certain tests. How well the candidate scores plays a critical role in determining whether (s)he gets the job of her/his choice.

  • Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) is where the action begins. Recruits are examined to determine whether they are medically qualified to join. Forms and paperwork are reviewed at MEPS.
  • Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) determines those jobs for which the recruit qualifies. Scoring well on the ASVAB may well determine whether enlistee gets his/her top choice after boot camp or basic training. Practice tests are available.
  • Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB) must be passed if the recruit seeks a job requiring foreign language skills.
  • Physical Profile is a designation of the recruit’s medical condition in a variety of areas. Certain assignments, including Army Ranger. Navy SEAL, Marine RECON, or Air Force PJ, demand superb physical conditioning.

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How would you respond if you heard someone say, “I’m a 90A, and I just finished up as the S1 for the 728th. I ran the battalion PAC and was responsible for OERs, NCOERs, awards and all MILPO actions”?

The military jargon used to communicate systems, positions, geography and terminology is plentiful. Within the military, it’s a shorthand that makes communication more efficient, although to civilian listeners, it can be confusing to say the least.

The U.S. military uses many unique items and concepts that civilians aren't exposed to. Because of this and the need for expedient, clear communication, service members are immersed in a linguistic world apart from the daily life of a civilian. Some are self-explanatory and others are completely cryptic, but they each have a specific and important (sometimes) meaning.

Be sure to check out Military.com's Glossary of Military Acronyms .

If you want to know more, check out our complete guide to the military alphabet .

What is Military Slang?

Military slang refers to the unique jargon and expressions commonly used by service members in the armed forces. Military slang is a way for soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coasties to not only communicate more efficiently, but also as a way to build camaraderie with “insider” language.

Military slang typically includes abbreviations and other shortened ways of saying things, such as acronyms, nicknames for equipment, and more. It’s often direct and tinged with dark humor, reflecting the culture.

Military jargon and slang can change from region to region, and sometimes evolve over time and with different missions.

Military Terms, Slang, and Jargon

11 Bullet Catcher/Bang-Bang -- An Army infantryman.

40 Mike-Mike -- An M203 grenade launcher, usually mounted under an M-16 or similar weapon.

Air Picket -- Any airborne system tasked with detecting, reporting and tracking enemy aerial movements within a certain area of operation.

Alpha Charlie -- Military alphabet used to represent ass chewing. Defines getting verbally reprimanded.

Anymouse -- A lockbox on Navy ships where sailors may drop anonymous suggestions.

Ass -- Armored vehicles such as Strykers and Tanks.

Ate-Up -- Describes a service member who follows regulations so closely that they disregard the context of the situation. Conversely, may describe a service member who doesn't understand regulations at all.

Band-Aid -- A Vietnam-era term for a medic.

Bang-bang -- An Army term describing a pistol or rifle.

Big Voice -- Term used to describe the loudspeaker on a military base. The Big Voice warns of everything from incoming attacks to scheduled ordnance disposal.

Bird -- Helicopter.

Bitchin' Betty -- Most U.S. military aircraft feature warning systems that frequently utilize female voices. The phrase is derived from the same anthropomorphizing applied to GPS units in cars, only Bitchin' Betty's alert pilots to life-threatening situations.

'Black' on ammo, fuel, water, etc. -- A common phrase denoting a particular resource is gone.

Blowed up -- The state of being hit by an IED.

Blue Falcon -- A euphemism for buddy **** or buddy ****er, which is slang for a backstabber.

Bolo -- A derogatory remark for recruits who cannot pass marksmanship training. The idea being that if one cannot use a rifle, one must resort to a bolo.

Bone -- A B-1 bomber.

Bull**** Bomb -- A package intended to disperse propaganda leaflets.

Bullwinkle Badge -- Another name for the Air Assault Badge.

Burn Bag -- A bag used to hold shredded documents, designed to be burned. May also refer to a useless person.

Cannibalize -- The act of taking workable parts of one item and using them in another.

Chancre Mechanic -- Medical officer who checks service members for venereal diseases.

Charlie Foxtrot -- Commonly used expression utilizing the military alphabet to stand for clusterf***.

Chem-Light Batteries -- A mythical object that would be extremely, functionally pointless. Often the source of fruitless hunts embarked upon by hapless privates.

Chest Candy -- Ribbons and medals worn on a uniform. Can be insulting or applauding.

Chicken plates -- Sheets of protective material, called Small Arms Protective Inserts, which are used in the Interceptor body armor system.

Comics -- Term used to describe maps presented by military intelligence. The term is fairly derogatory in nature as a slight against the accuracy of the maps. It also refers to the brightly colored layouts and symbols usually included.

Commo -- Communications equipment or the individuals who operate it. Usually given to communications officers on U.S. Navy vessels.

CONUS -- Continental United States, the 48 states on the U.S. mainland (not including Alaska or Hawaii.)

Crank -- Navy term for a sailor pulling temporary duty in the galley.

Crumb Catcher -- Military slang describing the mouth.

Crusher -- Hats worn by pilots during World War II. The hat's wide top brim would need to be crushed down to allow for headsets to be worn.

DD 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty) -- Every separated service member receives a Department of Defense (DD) Form 214 upon retirement, separation, or discharge from military service. This document states all the information related to their time of service (such as assignments, awards, dates of service, etc.) as well as the type and characterization of the discharge.

Dear John -- Common term referring to a significant other breaking up with a service member through a letter.

Demilitarized Zone -- A specific area in which any type of military force -- including but not limited to personnel, hardware and infrastructure -- are banned.

Digit Midget -- Usually used with a number as a prefix. X digit midget refers to the number of days till an individual goes on leave or retires.

Digies -- Digital camouflage worn by soldiers and Marines.

Dittybopper -- A term in the Army referring to signals intelligence radio operators trained to utilize Morse code. Also used as a verb to describe soldiers marching out of synch with a cadence.

Dope on a Rope -- Derogatory term used for air-assault soldiers.

Dust-off -- Specifically, a medical evacuation by helicopter.

Duty Station -- the geographic location at which a service member is conducting official duties. This may be a temporary location for professional military education or training, or it may be permanent (i.e., home station).

Dynamited Chicken -- Term originating in the Navy referring to chicken cacciatore or chicken a la king.

Embed -- When a reporter stays with the military in order to conduct journalistic business. They typically are provided with security and basic necessities provided by the unit they are embedded with.

Expectant -- A casualty who is expected to pass die.

Eagle Keeper -- Maintenance crew chief of an F-15 .

Fang -- A verb to describe being rebuked, called out or otherwise disparaged.

Fangs -- A Marine Corps term for one's teeth.

Fart Sack -- Refers to a sleeping bag or an airman's flight suit.

Farts and Darts -- Refers to the clouds and lightning bolt embellishments found on Air Force officer caps.

Fashion Show -- A Naval punishment where a sailor is required to dress in each of his uniforms over a period of several hours.

Fast Mover -- A jet fighter. Aptly named due to the rapidity of a jet fighter's movement.

First Light -- The time of nautical twilight when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon.

Flaming ***hole -- An Air Force term to describe the fiery effect of a jet plane turning on its afterburners during combat or any other military operation.

Flight Suit Insert -- Air Force slang for a pilot.

Fitty -- An M2 .50 caliber machine gun.

Five-Sided Puzzle Palace -- The Pentagon.

FOB (Forward Operating Base) -- Larger than a COP (smaller base located in a particularly hostile area.) A FOB typically offers more resources and comfort provisions such as hot meals, hot water and laundry facilities.

Football Bat -- An individual or way of doing things that is particularly odd.

Force Projection -- The ability of a nation-state to extend military force beyond their borders.

Fourth Point of Contact -- From rolling after a successful parachute drop: a term to describe an individual's buttocks. The first three points are feet, calves and back of the thigh.

Fruit Salad -- Slang for a service member's display of medals and ribbons on a dress uniform.

Fugazi -- Completely out of whack, ****ed up, screwy. This term originated during the Vietnam War and experienced limited use by civilians.

Galloping Dandruff -- An Army term used since World War I to refer to crab lice.

Geardo -- An Army term for a soldier who spends an inordinate amount of money on gear, regardless of actual need.

Gedunk -- Refers to snack foods, such as candy and chips, as well as the place they're sold. Associated with the Navy and can be used in the phrase "gedunk sailor" as a pejorative remark for inexperienced sailors.

Gofasters -- A term for sneakers used in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

GOFO -- Literally stands for "grasp of the ****ing obvious."

Gone Elvis -- A service member who is missing in action.

Grape -- A term with two meanings; one for the Air Force and one for the Navy. A Navy Grape is an individual who refuels aircraft. An Air Force Grape, on the other hand, refers to an easy assignment and can be used as a compliment when a service member makes something look easy.

Great Mistakes -- The name sailors have given the Great Lakes Naval Training Center north of Chicago. It references the closing of two other training facilities in San Diego and Orlando, which both feature far more enjoyable weather.

Grid Squares -- A nonexistent item recruits typically are told to go find.

Groundhog Day -- Term originating from the titular movie that refers to deployment s that seem to proceed in the exact same way despite attempts to change them.

Gum Shoe -- Navy slang for a sailor cryptology technician. The first CT school was located on top of a building where tar would get stuck to the bottom of students' shoes.

Gun -- Term for a mortar or artillery piece. Must never be used within the military to describe a pistol or rifle.

Gunner -- A service member who operates a crew-served weapon, such as a piece of artillery or ship's cannon.  

Hangar Queen -- An aircraft that is used primarily for spare parts to repair other planes.

Hardball -- A hard-surfaced road.

Hardened Site -- A structure usually built under rock or concrete designed to withstand conventional, nuclear, biological and chemical attack.

Hat Up -- To change one's location. Refers to the need to wear a hat for the intended destination.

Hawk -- Term for cold weather. Commonly referred to as "the hawk."

Helo -- Short-hand term for a helicopter.

High Speed -- An individual who is highly motivated and at or near peak efficacy. Can be used sarcastically.

Hit the Silk -- Ejecting from an aircraft and utilizing a parachute.

IED (Improvised Explosive Device) -- A popular weapon with insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, IEDs are roughly-organized, inexpensive bombs that are be easily modified to exploit an enemy’s vulnerabilities.

Inactive Status -- Members of the Reserves who are unable to train for points, receive pay and cannot be considered for promotion.

Ink Stick -- Marine Corps term for a pen.

Iron Rations -- Rations used in an emergency survival situation.

Jawa -- Term for an Army soldier who is stationed in a desert area, named after the desert-dwelling aliens of "Star Wars."

Jesus Slippers -- Military-issued shower footwear.

Jockstrap Medal -- Derogatory term for medals given by the military to active CIA members.

Joe -- Army term for a soldier. Shortened from G.I. Joe.

Joint Operation Planning -- All type of planning involving joint military forces in regard to military operations, including, but not limited to, mobilization, deployment and sustainment.

Kinetic -- Slang adjective meaning violent.

Klicks -- Kilometers.

Latrine Queen -- Air Force specific term for a trainee in basic who is in charge of the team responsible for cleaning bathrooms.

Left-Handed Monkey Wrench -- A nonexistent tool. Often the object of fruitless searches undertaken by recruits at the behest of more experienced service members.

Long Pig -- Slang for when a human being is used as a source of food. Typically this happens in extremely desperate situations.

Major Nuclear Power -- Any nation-state with a nuclear arsenal capable of being delivered to any other nation in the world.

Meat Identifier -- A dish or sauce that identifies what type of meat is being served. For example, cranberry sauce indicates turkey while applesauce indicates pork chops.

Meat Wagon -- Slang for an ambulance or any other medical emergency vehicle.

Moonbeam -- Marine term for flashlight.

MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) – Military jobs are classified by codes that attach to their specialty. The Army, Marines and Coast Guard call this an MOS (military occupational specialty) or MOC (military occupation code); the Air Force calls them Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSC). The Navy uses a system of ratings and the Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC) system. The Department of Defense lists more than 7,000 codes representing various job skills someone might perform while on duty.

Moving Like Pond Water -- Moving so slowly that a unique term is required to describe it.

Mustang -- Term referring to any officer who was promoted from the enlisted ranks. Can be used respectfully or pejoratively.

Nut to Butt -- The instruction used to tell soldiers to line up in a tight, forward-facing line wherein one's nuts are in extreme proximity to the butt of the soldier before them.

OCONUS – “Outside of the Continental United States”

OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom) – The combat operation that Veterans may have deployed to in support of the War on Terror, where the theater of operations was in Afghanistan.

Officer's Candy -- Navy term used by sailors to describe the scented cake placed in urinals.

Officer of the Deck -- Any officer charged with the operation of a ship. Reports to the commanding officer, executive officer and navigator for relevant issues and concerns.

OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) -- The combat operation that Veterans may have deployed to in support of the War on Terror where the theater of operations was in Iraq.

Over the Hill -- Missing in action or someone who officially has gone missing from their post.

Oxygen Thief -- A biting piece of slang for someone who's useless or talks too much.

Pad Eye Remover -- A nonexistent item used by sailors to trick new service members into a fruitless search. Pad-eyes are used to secure airplanes with chains.

PCS (Permanent Change of Station) -- When a service member and their family from one geographic unit location to another due to orders for a new assignment. This is not temporary; thus, the use of the word “permanent.

People Tank -- A U.S. Navy term for the inner hull of a submarine.

Pill Pusher -- A U.S. Navy term for a hospital corpsman.

Pink Mist -- A distinct effect created by certain types of gunshot wounds.

Pogey Bait -- Snack food. A "pogue" is an individual who does not serve on the frontlines and performs non-combat-oriented roles. "Pogey bait" is, subsequently, a bribe given to these individuals in exchange for expedited or high-quality services.

Pollywog -- A sailor who has not crossed the equator on a U.S. Navy ship.

Puddle Pirate -- Member of the Coast Guard . So called due to a fallacious belief that the Coast Guard never operates in deep water.

PX Ranger -- An individual who purchases, from the Post Exchange, paraphernalia unique to certain prestigious ranks or occupations and passes them off as though they earned the items.

Quay -- A man-made structure between a shore and land that can be used by ships to berth and is typically an area for handling cargo.

Rainbow -- A new recruit in basic training.

Red Team -- A body of experts on a specific topic who are instructed to research and suggest alternative methods regarding a planned course of action.

Remington Raider -- A somewhat derogatory term used for Marines given the harrowing task of performing office duties.

Rocks and Shoals -- U.S. Navy rules and regulations.

Rotorhead -- A helicopter pilot.

Ruck Up -- "Ruck" is short for "ruck sack," which refers to backpacks service members sometimes wear. To "ruck up" is to get through a particularly challenging or stressful situation.

Salad Bar -- Service ribbons found on a military uniform.

Sandbox – A desert area, specifically either Iraq or Kuwait. To say this is a short list is an understatement. Having a “cheat sheet” of commonly used terms is helpful for your hiring managers to refer to and use in interviewing and hiring. As an employer, work with your veteran hires to teach them common lingo and jargon for your company and industry, and accept that it might take time for your veteran employees to break old habits.

Scrambled Eggs -- The embellishments found on some officer's caps.

Self-Propelled Sandbags -- A derogatory term for a Marine based on their emphasis on fighting on the front lines.

Shavetail -- Second lieutenants in the U.S. Army. It primarily refers to the haircuts received in Officer Candidate School. The term's origins date to the time when the Army used pack animals, and handlers shaved the tail of newly broken animals to distinguish them from those more seasoned.

Shellback -- A sailor who has crossed the equator on a U.S. Navy ship. Responsible for turning all Pollywogs into Shellbacks once they cross the equator themselves.

Snake Eater -- Member of the U.S. Army Special Forces .

S*** on a Shingle -- A piece of toast with gravy.

Sky Blossom -- A deployed parachute.

Slick Sleeve -- A sailor who has not yet earned a rank that requires decoration on the sleeves.

Smoke -- To punish a service member with excessive physical work due to a minor infraction.

Snivel Gear -- Any equipment meant for use in cold weather.  

Soap chips -- A psychological operations (PSYOPS) tactic where fake letters from an enemy's home country are written and placed on bodies and battle wreckage. They include sentimental content, hint at the infidelity of loved ones back home and are designed to demoralize combatants.

Soup Sandwich -- An individual, object, situation or mission that has gone horribly wrong. The thrust of the term's meaning derives from the fact that it is incredibly difficult, some would say impossible, to make a sandwich out of soup.

Swoop -- Marine term for a weekend trip off base.

Taco -- An Air Force term for receiving an "unsatisfactory" grade on a training exercise due to the vague taco-shape of the letter "u."

Tango Uniform -- Slang for "tits up," which is the position dead bodies tend to face. The term can be applied to the deceased as well as broken pieces of equipment.

Target Discrimination -- The capability of a surveillance or guidance system to choose certain targets when multiple options are presented.

Trench Monkey -- A derogatory term referring to a member of the U.S. Army.

Twidget -- A sailor who repairs electronic equipment. Suggested by user X-USN-DS1 .

Un-Ass -- To move immediately or leave one's current position.

Uncle Sam's Canoe Club -- A U.S. Navy term for the U.S. Coast Guard.

Unit Identification Code -- An alphanumeric, six-character string that identifies all active, reserve, and guard units of the United States military.

Voice in the Sky -- Term referring to military base announcements broadcast over speakers.

Voluntold -- An assignment that is technically voluntary but understood to be mandatory.

Weapons of Mass Destruction -- Weapons that can cause destruction or death beyond the ability of conventional weapons. These typically are nuclear, biological, chemical, radiological or high-yield explosive in nature. This definition does not include the vehicle, or transportation method, of delivering the weapon.

Zone of Action -- A smaller section of a larger area. Typically these are under the purview of a tactical unit, usually during an offensive maneuver.

Zoomie -- Term used by non-flying service members for anyone who operates a flying vehicle.

Lida Citroën and Tiffini Theisen contributed to this report. 

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Military TDY: Temporary Duty Assignment Explained

military tdy

The U.S. Armed Forces issue different types of military travel orders to personnel.

Your military travel orders pertain to changes in your duty location and the duration, and may also impact your military pay.

Military TDY (Temporary Duty) is one common type of military travel order .

Get all your questions answered about Temporary Duty (TDY) status and what you can expect to experience with this type of order.

Related Article – Military Child Care: 8 Great Options

Table of Contents

What is TDY?

temporary duty assignment

The U.S. Military has three primary types of military travel orders:

  • Permanent Change of Station (PCS)
  • Temporary Duty (TDY)
  • Deployments Orders

It is important to keep in mind that the three types of military assignment orders are not the same and each has its own characteristics.

Your military orders may affect how long you serve at the post, the specific location, and special duty pay.

Temporary Duty (TDY) is defined by the Department of Defense as:

Duty at one or more locations, away from the permanent duty station (PDS), under an order, providing for further assignment or pending further assignment, to return to the old PDS or to proceed to a new PDS.

Military branches under the U.S. Armed Forces have different references for Military TDY, like TAD (temporary additional duty) or TCS (temporary change of station).

However, they all mean basically the same thing that your military orders are temporary.

The primary difference between Military TDY and other orders is that it grants authorization for a service member to perform work away from the permanent duty station.

The Department of Defense requires the label Military TDY (or one of its variants) to approve travel pay, per diem, and coverage of other expenses to assist the soldier.

Since the assignment is temporary, the service member can expect a shorter stay than a permanent station assignment, however, the length of the orders may vary.

The individual details of TDY orders are fleshed out with each commitment.

The specifics of your Military TDY outline expected duration, amount of travel pay, coverage of expenses, housing and food support, transportation, and other forms of assistance.

How long is a TDY?

Military TDY is temporary for military orders, so the length is generally not longer than 180 days.

Temporary duty orders may range anywhere from a few days to a half year.

Long-term TDY is any orders which specify longer than 30 days.

TDY per diem rates depend on the location you have orders for. It will also include reimbursement for lodging, meals, and incidentals. 

Use this calculator to determine how much you can expect to receive. 

Military TDY is a stark contrast from Permanent Duty Assignments and Deployments, which have commitments of several months or years.

The Department of Defense authorizes TDY through Joint Travel Regulations.

Related Article – 10 Benefits Of Being A Military Wife (and 5 not-so good things)

Is TDY considered a deployment?

tcs order

Technically there is a difference between a temporary duty assignment (TDY) and Deployment, even though they are both military orders.

Deployments are similar to military TDY, except that the service member is assigned to a specific operation.

Therefore, deployments usually reference combat operations that take place overseas.

When most civilians think of military orders, they commonly associate everything with being deployed, though that’s not always the case based on the actual military definition.

Deployment refers to assigning military personnel from a home station to somewhere outside the continental United States.

Mobilizations are also classified as deployments under the Department of Defense guidelines.

How does a TDY differ from a deployment?

The biggest difference between deployments and temporary duty assignments is the length of the orders.

Military TDY is short-term, with even longer stints requiring less than a half year of commitment.

On the other hand, deployments are typically longer and involve assignments outside the United States.

Additionally, deployments involve assignments to specific operations and usually in combat situations.

However, both types of military orders have similarities.

For example, military personnel must leave their home station for a different location under each type of order.

Military TDY is not always as serious as deployments.

For instance, a temporary duty assignment could mean nothing more than attending school, conferences, or a military-sponsored event.

Or it could pertain to a regular part of military duty where frequent travel is mandatory and the service member hopes to receive some form of compensation for their travel exs.

There are cases where military personnel earn TDY status even when working in the same geographic area as the home base to justify lodging and meal expenses associated with the duty.

Soldiers also rely on military TDY for house hunting and other searches when considering a new permanent change of station or out-processing from military service.

Can I go with my husband/wife on a TDY?

tdy army

One of the many perks of temporary duty assignments is that you can occasionally bring along the family.

The same is not true of deployments where it would put your spouse or other family members in danger.

If given the chance to bring along a spouse for your temporary duty assignment, you should welcome the opportunity, but keep in mind that pier diem rates are only calculated for the service member.

Military personnel often spend months away from family and friends, so having a unique opportunity like this to spend with a loved one is rare and special.

MilitaryShoppers.com put together a great resource on the topic.

It explains the pros and cons of tagging along with a significant other while he or she is on TDY.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that while you can live with your spouse while on temporary duty assignment, his or her time is still limited and it might drain your budget quickly.

Other than that, it’s an enticing opportunity to catch up after potentially months of separation.

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Will I get paid extra during a TDY?

Despite having to leave your home station, there is nothing more rewarding than a little extra pay in freedom.

It is exactly what temporary duty assignments provide to service members.

In fact, the reason that military personnel may request or seek TDY is the opportunity to put more in their wallet.

Military TDY usually grants per diem pay, which helps cover lodging, meals, and incidental expenses.

You get a set per diem pay regardless of what you actually spend each day on daily expenses.

As a result, if you budget accordingly, you can earn extra cash by pocketing whatever per diem you don’t spend on daily living expenses.

What kind of accommodations can I expect during a TDY?

deployment orders

The accommodations of temporary duty assignments are nothing to brag about yet offer incentives that most military personnel don’t get to enjoy.

For example, the potential opportunity to take your significant other along with you when TDY is a major advantage for some.

Military personnel may get the opportunity to stay at furnished apartments or long-term stay hotels.

Long-term stays help save you money on your per diem since you can cook your own meals as opposed to dining out all of the time.

Furnished apartments may also include laundry and other housing services to save even more money.

Service members on TDY may also request a cash advance of 60-80% of the total value.

It helps cover move-in costs as opposed to spending out of their own pocket.

Some military organizations deem anything over 30 consecutive calendar days. 

For this reason, it allows partial reimbursement of living expenses prior to concluding the assignment.

Military TDY, or temporary duty assignments, refer to relatively short-term military travel orders away from a home station.

Temporary duty assignments range from a couple of days to under six months.

Military TDY is a good thing for soldiers despite the travel arrangements, as it helps cover lodging, food, and transportation regarding the orders.

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    standing of military obligation: 15077 (9) Prepare statement of under­ standing upon enlistment in USMCR and assignment to the 11 Six Months Training Program": 15078 • ( l 0) Prepare Application for En­ listment and Individual Data Card: 15089 • (11) Prepare EnlistmentContract-· and Re~rd ~IAYMC 118(Z:)-f>D t~.


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