MILITARY ALPHABET: This world is a multilingual one which makes it more prone to various different types of languages and in those, each language is used in various different slangs which makes it even more diverse. This is the same case in the English language as well. English, being an international language has many slangs based on various communities. One such slang is called as the ‘Military Alphabet’.
Military Alphabet, as the name suggests, is the slang of the military workers, where both men and women use a defined set of special alphabet, phrases, and words to communicate precisely and effectively. These Military Alphabet are similar to that of any technical code languages, which are used by a certain group of people. Let us know more about Military Alphabet, its features, uses, history, and types in this blog.
- 1 WHAT IS A MILITARY ALPHABET?
- 1.1 EVOLUTION OF MILITARY ALPHABET
- 1.2 What is “Able Baker”?
- 1.3 USAGE OF MILITARY ALPHABET
- 1.4 MILITARY ALPHABET IN ARMED FORCES
- 1.5 MILITARY ALPHABET IN RADIO COMMUNICATION
- 1.6 MILITARY ALPHABET OUTSIDE MILITARY
- 1.7 METHODS INVOLVED IN MEMORISING MILITARY ALPHABET
- 1.8 NATO ALPHABET – NUMBERS
- 1.9 MILITARY ALPHABET TRANSLATOR & CONVERTER
- 1.10 CONCLUSION OF MILITARY ALPHABET
WHAT IS A MILITARY ALPHABET?
In the olden days, the military needed a language to carry out their radio communications in such a way that only military professionals understood the conveyed message. Radio communication was the prior need for the evolution of a code language called the Military Alphabet. Another name for Military Alphabet is “International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet [IRSA]” and this term was coined or developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization [ICAO].
Apart from this name, the other names for Military Phonetic Alphabet are Marine Corps Alphabet, Army Alphabet, Lay Enforcement Alphabet, Naval Alphabet, and Radio-telephony Spelling Alphabet. Even Aviation and NATO use Military Alphabet or IRSA for their radio communications. There are around 27 code words in this Military Alphabet which is similar to that of the English Alphabet list.
Military Alphabet Chart | Military Alphabet Code | Phonetic Alphabet Military | Military Letter Codes | Military Alphabet Pdf
A = ALPHA
B = BRAVO
C = CHARLIE
D = DELTA
E = ECHO
F = FOXTROT
G = GOLF
H = HOTEL
I = INDIA
J = JULIET
K = KILO
L = LIMA
M = MIKE
N = NOVEMBER
O = OSCAR
P = PAPA
Q = QUEBEC
R = ROMEO
S = SIERRA
T = TANGO
U = UNIFORM
V = VICTOR
W = WHISKEY
X = X-RAY
Y = YANKEE
Z = ZULU
This Military Alphabet is also known as “Phonetic Alphabet” which does not make the necessary sense as the Military Alphabet does not indicate the phonetics of its own. These Military Alphabet are in fact used only for spelling just to make the communication process easier and therefore, it is only a “Spelling Alphabet” that can be used for communicating orally only. However, the demerit of having various slangs, dialects, and accents, does not affect the usage of the Military Alphabet.
For instance, here are a few acronyms
SNAFU – Situation Normal: All Fucked Up.
BOHICA – Bend Over, Here It Comes Again.
FUBAR – Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition.
The following table will help you identify the first 5 Military letters and also its respective pronunciation. This can be learned by those who are either in the Military or who work in the aviation or anyone who is eager to learn Military Alphabet.
EVOLUTION OF MILITARY ALPHABET
The process in which Military Alphabet was developed is an important aspect to know as it will help one to understand the need and the properties of this code language. Military Alphabet was initially developed by the military in order to make their radio and other telephonic communications effective and efficient.
Here is a timeline of events that took place in the history of developing Military Alphabet – as a military code language
- The first name given to the first developed Military Alphabet was “World War One [WW1]. It was also called the “old Military Alphabet”. Its first appearance was in a journal called “The Bluejackets’ Manual” and this happened during the year of 1913.
- After the implication of a new code language in the military forces, it became popular internationally which increased its users’ count.
- WW1 was not a single language input but was a mixture of 2 international code languages. One being the evolved one, the other international language was called the “Alphabetical Code Flags” which was popular for its pictorial representation of words.
- Apart from these 2 international code languages, there was another universal code developed by the Aviation industry which was merged with WW1 in order to develop one single phonetic language called the “Military Alphabet”. This evolution happened in 1927.
- However, the implementation of the Military Phonetic Alphabet was only during the times of World War II and not before that.
- A new form of communication called the “Able Baker” was created and coined during 1941 by the U.S. This system enabled the U.S. armed forces to use the alphabet of Joint Army/Navy radiotelephony in order to ensure that the flow of communication among these armed forces was based on particular standards which proved efficiency and effectiveness.
- Even the Royal Air Force followed a form of communication which sounded similar to that of “Able Baker”. The term “Able Baker” was created after the “A” and “B”, present in the English Alphabet list.
- However, “Able Baker” was not a language that was used internationally as different nations used their own forms or versions of radio communications. This situation prevailed only till 1943 as in 1943, “Able Baker” was a bit modified to suit the communication channels of the allied nations. This modification was carried out by the armed forces of 3 powerful countries, namely: the U.S., Australia, and the U.K.
- Able Baker became a universal code language only after World War II as only after that drastic war, many nations started using “Able Baker” but after some modifications. These modifications were necessary as the phonetic sounds that prevailed in the “Able Baker” language were very different and seemed unique to those who spoke English.
- This brought in the need for developing a code language that was fit to be used on an international level and especially that could be adapted by different languages like French, Spanish, English, and many more.
- This driving need enabled the language experts to modify the existing “Able Baker” into a language which was called as “The Military Phonetic Alphabet” in 1957. This language was however tested for its efficiency and flexibility to adapt, by involving 31 different native-language speakers from across the world in the test.
- The code language developed in 1957 by the International Civil Aviation Organisation [ICAO] was officially termed as “International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet [IRSA]”.
- The users of IRSA are both NATO and the U.S.
NOTE: The “Able Baker” language is still used on certain occasions only for using certain words like Victor, Mike, X-Ray, and also Charlie. This is the short synopsis on how “Military Alphabet” took its form and its place in the universal military forum.
Here’s a list of ICAO Phonetic Alphabet which was initially used by the U.S. and the U.K. military forces
What is “Able Baker”?
Able Baker is a code language that was used prior to the usage of the phonetic language developed by ICAO, in 1941. Both the U.K. and the U.S. forces were using a different military code language and they are RAF Alphabet and Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet, respectively. The term Able Baker was coined by U.S. military agencies. This type referred to the phonetic language the Americans were using before.
This new change in the American’s code language encouraged even the Britishers to indulge in such an activity and this resulted in the initiation of a modified phonetic Alphabet in 1943. The properties of the newly revised Alphabet by the Britishers were very similar to that of the American’s “Able Baker”.
Apart from the Britishers, even the Latin American’s brought in a change in the “Able Maker” phonetic language which was termed as “Ana Brazil Alphabet”. This new form was brought to existence and was used as the phonetics involved in the “Able Maker” alphabet were mostly new and different from that of the English phonetic sounds.
All of these variations and custom-made versions of “Able Baker” motivated the International Air Transport Association [IATA] to create a language that carries universality in it. The newly created alphabet was developed in 1947 with phonetics that were commonly used in different languages like English, Spanish, and French. This new type, which had an element of universality was presented to ICAO in order to encourage its world-wide recognition and usage.
However, this was not the final form of the Military Alphabet as there was another modification that was made to it during the year, 1951. This new alphabet was called the “Military Alphabet” and it carried a lot of variations and revisions in its phonetics and this variation was approved by many agencies that vary on linguistic bases.
Here is a table that represents the alphabet of the revised “Able Baker”
The Modern Military Alphabet sounds like what?
The Modern Military Alphabet as a result of the limitations of the different versions of Able Baker which made it hard for people to understand the difference between certain words like Extra and Delta. Apart from this limitation, many were finding it difficult to understand the communicated words as radio communication was very poor back then.
These limitations not only made the professionals develop a new form of Military Alphabet but also made the users go back in time as they started using the original version of Able Baker.
However, the new or the modern version of the Military Alphabet had a few variations like the letters C, M, N, X, and U were changed in the alphabet itself. Once these changes were made, ICAO made sure to get the new alphabet recorded in order to send it to various member states and this mission was carried out in 1955. However, it took ICAO a year to draft the new version of the Military Alphabet / the modern version, and therefore, the new version was launched for use only in 1956.
Only in 1959 did the ITU make it a rule or made it compulsory for all the civilians, amateur radio operators, and also the military forces to use this modern Military Alphabet for any kind of radio communications. This practice continues even now.
The following table will show you the Modern Military Phonetic Alphabet list
NOTE: The Highlighted Words are the Revised Words.
The reason for the revision of certain words in the modern version of the Military Alphabet is:
- Certain words in the old list had similar sounds with other words which made it difficult for many users to find differentiation. This limitation brought in ‘new code words’ which did not merge or sound similar to other words.
- Another reason for this revision is the limitation of how certain phonetic sounds of the old version were unavailable in certain languages which made it impossible to frame the words in their language framework and this disturbed their flow of communication.
USAGE OF MILITARY ALPHABET
The Allies to use Military Alphabet has developed a course of terminology that deals with the methods/steps that can be used for the usage of the Military Alphabet among various nations and services. Its terminology was however printed in a memo of the post-WWII NATO. This memo carried certain terms from the newly developed terminology and they were:
- INTRA: Intra refers to the use of the Military Alphabet within a nation’s single service and strictly not among a nation’s different services.
- COMBINED: This term includes the use of the language between various nation’s various services. This term, however, does not support the use of language between a nation’s different services.
- JOINT: This term allows the use of the Military Alphabet among various services present in one single country.
According to the new terminology, the Combined Communications Board [CCB] spelling alphabet was made compulsory for all the users of the military Alphabet. However there were restrictions on its usage as only when the U.S. Military branch, which works in the absence of British forces, wants to communicate with any of the one military branches of the U.K, the CCB Alphabet can be used.
In case both the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy get to work in the same operation, they can only use the “Joint Army/Navy spelling alphabet”. However, in certain cases, the U.S. Army will function with the absence of U.S. Navy forces and during those times, the language/alphabet used will have its own spelling alphabet. This custom-made alphabet set might have spellings that are similar to one another or might be different as well.
MILITARY ALPHABET IN ARMED FORCES
Use of Military Alphabet seems necessary in the Armed forces due to the limitations of using the normal similar-sounded English litters. This demerit might cause the life of a soldier as well, as a mis-interrupted message will sound as a crucial mistake on part of the soldier or anyone in the armed forces. In such cases, the use of the Military Alphabet ensures clear-cut messages despite any noise or any interruptions during radio communications. Apart from this, many armed forces soldiers use, the “Alpha Bravo Charlie” alphabet as part of their slang. Here are a few famous expressions or phrases:
|1||TANGO DELTA||Used to refer to a dead enemy or “target down”.|
|2||OSCAR-MIKE||Something that is moving among various positions or “on the move”.|
|3||LIMA CHARLIE||To show confirmation for the received message or “loud and clear”.|
|4||CHARLIE MIKE||A message that instructs the resume of the mission after a pause or “continue mission”.|
There are certain rules and standards that need to be followed while communicating using Military Alphabet, in order to make the message easily understood, and they are:
- The conveyed message should be short and brief. It should also be containing only the important message and nothing except those.
- The time limit to convey any message is only up to 30 seconds.
- Apart from these basic rules, there are 3 other principles like Accuracy, Brevity, and Clarity which have to be met while communicating.
MILITARY ALPHABET IN RADIO COMMUNICATION
One of the main functions of the Military Alphabet is to be used in radio communication and it is also the base reason for its evolution.
- In any radio communication, CALL SIGNS is an essential ingredient as this helps one to identify the sender of the message. These activities for individuals, companies, squads, higher officials, leaders, and even to platoons. These Call Signs should be unique and different from the usual variety of names in order to avoid any disturbance from their enemies and also to keep the message and information short and secretive. It is, however, important to follow the same level of Call Signs till the very end.
- In order to ensure that the communication via radio is perfect and error-free, the need for RADIO CHECKS is necessary, as it works to check if all the Call Signs are working effectively and efficiently and these checks happen on a periodic basis. In order to prevent any mistakes, these Radio Checks can be used right before and after each communication.
- There are certain sets of words which are called ad PROWORDS which refers to “procedural words” and these should be used in radio communication. However, it is a rule to not use the word “repeat” as this might confuse the receiver of the message in case of any disturbing message. Some of the Prowords are Copy, Break, I Verify, Do Not Answer, Correction, I Say Again, Execute/Immediate Execute, Negative, More to Follow, and Out. There are also 4 other Prowords like Negative, Over, Roger, and Break which talk about the conveyed message’s nature.
MILITARY ALPHABET OUTSIDE MILITARY
According to the theories, Military Alphabet was initially developed by ICAO which does not restrict the use of this alphabet only to Military forces but also to other non-military forces like Aircraft Communications where the Pilot depends on the Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS) which is a type of Military Alphabet. Apart from ATIS, even Aircraft Transponder Codes/Squawk Codes that are used by the professionals to make differentiations based on Air Traffic Control between flights and aircraft.
Apart from the Aircraft department, even the Finance Industry uses Military Alphabet in order to enable the banks to get their customer information verified and also to have their security codes shared. In other words, any trade that takes place between traders or financers or banks involves the use of Military Alphabets and especially during bulk or huge transactions.
METHODS INVOLVED IN MEMORISING MILITARY ALPHABET
In order to easily memorize the Military Alphabet follow the following tips:
- The best way to memorize something is to write it down every day from your memory. This will boost your skill to remember terms.
- In order to have a handy material that reminds you of the Prowords or the other necessary terms have the 26 letters written in 26 Flashcards along with its definitions.
- Keep a regular track of the Military Alphabet. Keep them in regular use and always fresh in your memory.
- Once you are quite familiar with the Military Alphabet, you can get your friend or any other person to test you regarding this.
- Listening is a powerful tool that can be used here. Get a recorded version of the Military Alphabet and all the necessary information along with it and keep it in your mobile or PC or laptop and listen to it regularly.
- You can also confuse the order of the letters, and lay more focus on the areas which are difficult for you to remember.
- Going through the Military Alphabet every day, right before going to sleep is necessary.
NATO ALPHABET – NUMBERS
Letters are not the only coded language in NATO or Military language, as even numbers are coded in order to avoid any noise or complication while communicating them. In order to ensure this, the pronunciation of the numbers is also neatly drafted by the professionals.
The following table will elucidate you with the numbers and its respective pronunciations used in Military Alphabet or NATO
MILITARY ALPHABET TRANSLATOR & CONVERTER
Professionals have also created an application or function that helps one to get their message or words get converted into the transcript of the Military Alphabet. This reduces the errors that might happen when someone new or someone who is not a professional in using Military Alphabet, uses Military Alphabet to communicate.
Link 1: https://bit.ly/2JzClUa
Link 2: https://bit.ly/347GSGV
NOTE: More links will be available on Google or in any other search platform on the internet.
CONCLUSION OF MILITARY ALPHABET
Military Alphabet is a ‘spelling alphabet’ which has grown since its initiation and is now one of the top-most used languages, especially for radio and telephonic communications. It has also become a universal phenomenon and is used not just in military forces and agencies but also in other non-military agencies for their benefits. Military Alphabet only makes communication easier with its own transcript and has been successful in remaining in this world even after several transformations and editions. This makes it an important tool and also an efficient one which can be used by common men and women as well.