Read these 41 Acronyms Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Air Force tips and hundreds of other topics.
SM is the abbreviation for the term "Service Member" in the United States Air Force and other branches of the military. While this acronym can be used in all areas of the Air Force, it is most commonly seen in medical records, finance records and some personnel records. SM means any service member, male or female, officer or enlisted. This acronym is most often used as short-hand when a service provider is recounting a conversation, details of a visit with an airman or officer, adding information to a military member's medical record, or writing a narrative of an issue or problem. When transcribed into a typed record or into a computer database, the acronym may either be left as-is, or spelled out.
TDY = Temporary Duty
This is when a member goes away from his/her duty station to accomplish a specific mission. This mission could be a real-world wartime mission, training mission, or humanitarian deployment. TDYs can last anywhere from a week to 6 months. It ALL depends on the mission!
SrA is the United States Air Force abbreviation for the rank of Senior Airman. A senior airman is a junior enlisted person serving in the pay grade of E-4. A senior airman is still learning to be an expert in their career field, and preparing to make the transition from junior enlisted member to non-commissioned officer. The senior airman should be taking on additional responsibilities, showing leadership capabilities and completing the required courses and professional military education needed to promote to staff sergeant (E-5).
The requirements for promotion to senior airman are at least 36 months total time in service and 20 months time in grade as an airman first class, OR 28 months total time in grade as an airman first class, whichever happens first. The distinction is made for those who come into the military at an advanced rank due to college credits, experience or other enlistment incentives.
AB is the abbreviation for the rank of Airman Basic in the United States Air Force. An Airman Basic is a junior enlisted member serving in the pay grade of E-1, the lowest military pay grade. Most members of the Air Force enter military service as an Airman Basic, however, some recruits with college credits or other incentives may enlist at a higher rank. An Airman Basic is focused upon learning and adapting to military culture, and learning what is expected of them as an airman.
Most members will be an Airman Basic during their basic military training and technical training for their job. Depending upon the length of technical training, some airmen may promote to E-2 during technical training. The time in service/time in grade requirement for promotion to E-2 is six months.
AMN or Amn, is the abbreviation for the rank of Airman in the United States Air Force. An Airman is a junior enlisted member serving in the pay grade of E-2. Many Air Force members will promote to Airman during their technical training, or at their first duty station, depending upon how long their technical training is. An Airman is still learning and adapting to the military profession and their particular job in the Air Force. Some members may enter the Air Force as an Airman, depending on how many college credits they have completed and what enlistment incentives they take advantage of. Those who enter the Air Force as an Airman Basic (E-1) must have at least six months time in grade/time in service to promote to Airman (E-2).
BW is the United States Air Force acronym for Bomb Wing. Currently, Air Force bomb wings fly the B-1, B-2 or B-52 bombers. A bomb wing typically has at least one operations squadron that handles flying missions. The wing also has support squadrons as deemed necessary to perform the unit's mission. These support units include a headquarters squadron, medical, personnel, finance and other units as needed.
As of 2012, there are currently seven wings designated specifically as "Bomb Wings" in the United States Air Force. Six of these wings are active-duty units, while one wing is an Air National Guard unit. These units fall under the control of the Strategic Air Command Major Command (MAJCOM).
The acronym "AOR" stands for a military Area of Responsibility. An AOR is used mostly in a wartime context. It refers to the division of geographic regions in a location. Each region has a specific combatant commander assigned to command and direct operations in that location. The commander is responsible for air, ground and sea missions and support operations, as well as personnel assigned to that particular command. Combatant commanders have authority over all military personnel under their command, regardless of branch of service. Areas of Responsibility are established by the President of the United States. This information is contained in the U.S. Unified Command Plan (UCP). The latest version of the UCP was published on December 17, 2008. It names each command's AOR and establishes boundaries of each.
ARW is the abbreviation for Air Refueling Wing in the United States Air Force. The mission of an Air Refueling Wing is to provide mid-air refueling support to fighter jets and other aircraft. Air Refueling Wing's typically use the KC-135 refueler for this mission. Along with the refueling mission, an Air Refueling Wing contains support elements, like other Air Force wings. These include personnel and administrative support, supply and medical support and other functions that are necessary for day-to-day operation of the wing. Air Refueling Wings are usually commanded by a commissioned officer in the rank of Colonel (pay grade of O-6). There are currently approximately 37 Air Refueling Wings in the Air Force, located across the United States and in several overseas locations.
SNCO is the abbreviation for Senior Non-commissioned Officer in the United States Air Force. There are nine enlisted ranks, separated into three tiers: the junior enlisted or airmen tier (Airman through Senior Airman), the NCO tier (Staff and Technical Sergeants), and the Senior NCO tier. The Senior NCO tier consists of the top three enlisted ranks - Master Sergeant, Senior Master Sergeant and Chief Master Sergeant. These are senior enlisted members in the ranks of E-7, E-8 and E-9. Senior NCOs must uphold the highest standards. In addition to the regular NCO responsibilities, Senior NCOs must be highly-effective leaders, act as liaisons between officers and lower-ranking airmen and NCOs, handle personnel issues, and help leaders make decisions for the unit and personnel assigned.
LOC is the Air Force abbreviation for a Letter of Counseling. An LOC is one of several steps that can be taken when correcting an airman's behavior. The first step is verbal counseling. A verbal counseling can usually correct any issues. However, if the verbal counseling is ineffective and the airman refuses to adhere to standards, the next step is an LOC. An LOC is usually initiated by the first-line supervisor and stays in the airman's personnel file for a period of time. The airman can submit a rebuttal to the LOC. If the behavior is still not corrected, further actions that can be taken are an LOR (Letter of Reprimand), Non-Judicial Punishment in the form of an Article 15, and eventually discharge.
The acronym "MOA" has two separate meanings in the United States Air Force: Military Operations Area, or Memorandum of Agreement.
The first, Military Operations Area, is airspace that is established for military use for routine training and testing flight maneuvers. MOAs are often positioned over rural areas containing farmland and few homes or schools, to mitigate the potential for loss of life in the event of a disaster.
The second, Memorandum of Agreement, is simply a formal document that sets forth terms and conditions that have been previously agreed upon. At least one party to an MOA must be a military agency; the MOA can exist between multiple military agencies, or between military and civilian agencies. Each party must agree to the terms of the MOA and abide by them.
CAPT, or Capt., is the abbreviation for the rank of Captain in the United States Air Force. A Captain is a commissioned officer in the pay grade of O-3. Captains fall in the first tier of commissioned officers, also known as company grade officers. Captains may serve as commanders of small units or on the executive staff at group or wing level. Captains also serve in specialized jobs, such as pilots, attorneys, doctors and other specialties. To promote to Captain, an officer must have at least four total years of military service, and at least two years time in grade as a First Lieutenant. The officer must also have completed Squadron Officer School for promotion to captain.
MAJ is the abbreviation for the rank of Major in the United States Air Force. A Major is a commissioned officer in the rank of O-4. Majors fall in the middle tier of commissioned officer ranks, also called the Field Grade Officer ranks. A major usually serves as a liaison between a unit commander and the members of the unit, but some may also serve as commanders of smaller units in the Air Force, to include flights and some smaller squadrons. To be promoted to the rank of major, a captain must have a total of at least ten years time in service, and at least three years time in grade as a captain. Typically only 80% of eligible captains are promoted to the rank of major.
A Senior Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force is a senior non-commissioned officer in the pay grade of E-8. A Senior Master Sergeant serves as a liaison between lower enlisted troops and commanding officers, passing down orders from higher authority, and handling personnel issues so the commander doesn't have to. Senior Master Sergeants are also operational leaders, highly skilled in their AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code, or career field). To be promoted to Senior Master Sergeant, a Master Sergeant must have completed the Air Force Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy, either in-residence (for all components of the Air Force), or by correspondence (available to Air National Guard senior NCOs only). The SNCO must also have 20 months time in grade as a Master Sergeant, and at least eleven years total time in service to promote to Senior Master Sergeant.
COL is the Air Force abbreviation for Colonel. A Colonel is a commissioned officer in the pay grade of O-6. Colonels are usually unit commanders at the Group level or higher. To be promoted to the rank of Colonel, an officer must have at least 21 years of total military service, and at least three years in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In addition, a Colonel select must have completed Air War College, either by correspondence course or in residence. Only 50% of officers who are eligible for promotion to Colonel actually receive a promotion to this rank. Those who are not selected for promotion can continue as a Lieutenant Colonel, or be separated from the service. The Secretary of the Air Force must approve promotion orders for officers selected for O-6.
CMSgt is the abbreviation for the rank of Chief Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force. CMSgt is the highest enlisted Air Force rank, and earns the pay grade of E-9. Chief Master Sergeants are enlisted leaders and are responsible for overseeing airmen assigned to them. Chief Master Sergeants do perform their AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code, or job), but most of their time is spent handling personnel issues, training and scheduling. CMSgts also serve as mentors to junior commissioned officers - while they can never be in charge of an officer, they can give advice and help the officer learn the ropes. To earn a promotion to CMSgt, an airman must have at least 14 years total time in service, and at least 21 months time in grade as a SMSgt (Senior Master Sergeant).
The acronym "LOR" can have two meanings. The first, and better of the two, is Letter of Recommendation. Letters of recommendation can be written by any member about an airman, but usually are written by the airman's supervisor or commander. This is simply a letter stating all the good aspects of the airman and why they should be promoted or hired for a different job or special duty.
LOR can also mean a letter of reprimand. Any airman can receive a Letter of Reprimand, regardless of rank. This is a letter from the airman's supervisor or commander, reprimanding them for bad behavior and listing the steps they must take to correct it. If the airman does not straighten themselves out, harsher punishments will follow. A Letter of Reprimand goes into the airman's personnel file.
A Staff Sergeant, abbreviated as SSgt, is a Non-Commissioned Officer in the United States Air Force in the pay grade of E-5. Staff Sergeants occupy the first of the NCO ranks, and are making the transition from airman to NCO. Staff Sergeants begin to take on additional duties and responsibilities, and are expected to become technical experts in their chosen AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code, or career field). Staff Sergeants must also be willing to accept extra duties and responsibilities, and be self-starters and self-motivated. Staff Sergeants should also strive to further their education, both on and off-duty. To be promoted to Staff Sergeant, an airman must have three total years of military service, and six months time in grade as a Senior Airman (E-4). The airman must also have obtained a 5 skill level in their AFSC. In addition, the airman must complete ALS (Airman Leadership School), prior to promotion to Staff Sergeant, or shortly thereafter.
MPF is the abbreviation for Military Personnel Flight in the United States Air Force. The MPF handles all personnel-related transactions for both commissioned officers and enlisted airmen. Promotions and testing for promotions are handled by the MPF. Military retirements, separations and re-enlistments are handled at the MPF. The MPF also handles testing for commissioning and other career enhancement programs. The MPF also helps airmen with civilian education issues, such as enrolling in classes, degree conversions, tuition assistance and GI Bill issues. The MPF also deals with Community College of the Air Force degrees and transcripts. The MPF also issues military ID cards to service members, spouses and eligible dependents. The MPF also assists with life insurance (SGLI) benefits and enrollment and disenrollment from Tricare (military health insurance). Each active-duty base has an MPF, as do Reserve and Air National Guard bases.
An IW, or Intelligence Wing, is a unit in the Air Force that deals with gathering intelligence and acting upon the information or passing it on to other agencies that can act upon it. An Intelligence Wing usually consists of at least one Intelligence Squadron, one Operations Squadron, and support functions such as a Services Squadron, Medical Squadron and other supporting squadrons as deemed necessary for the mission. As of 2012, there are three Intelligence Wings in the Air Force; one in Kansas, one in Indiana, and one in Massachusetts. Each of these wings are part of the Air National Guard and perform a dual mission of state and federal assignments. The first Intelligence Wing was formed at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas in 2007, with the unit at Terre Haute, Indiana following soon after.
FW is the Air Force abbreviation for Fighter Wing. An Air Force fighter wing flies fighter aircraft. Current fighter jets used by the Air Force are be F-15 Eagle, F-15E Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-22 Raptor models. The F-35 Lightning II will enter active service in 2014. The A-10 Thunderbolt is also utilized by some fighter wings. Within each fighter wing are a number of squadrons, usually consisting of at least one fighter squadron, one operations squadron, a medical squadron, a support squadron, a headquarters element, and other squadrons as deemed necessary by mission requirements and the needs of the Air Force. Fighter Wings are an essential part of the Air Force and are utilized in both peacetime efforts and wartime missions, in both the United States and foreign countries.
MAJCOM is the abbreviation for "Major Command" in the United States Air Force. A MAJCOM is the highest command level, one level below Headquarters, Air Force (HAF) and one level above Numbered Air Forces (NAFs). There are currently ten MAJCOMs in the USAF, and these are based upon mission or location. The current MAJCOMs are:
* Air Combat Command (ACC), headquartered at Langley AFB, VA
* Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), headquartered at Hickam AFB, HI
* United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), headquartered at Ramstein AB, Germany
* Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), headquartered at Hurlburt Field, FL
* Air Education & Training Command (AETC), headquartered at Randolph AFB, TX
* Air Mobility Command (AMC), headquartered at Scott AFB, IL
* Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), headquartered at Barksdale AFB, LA
* Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), headquartered at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH
* Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC), headquartered at Robins AFB, GA
* Air Force Space Command (AFSC), headquartered at Peterson AFB, CO
An NCOIC in the Air Force is the Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of a work center, duty section, work detail or other small element of enlisted airmen. NCOICs can be any Non-commissioned Officer, from the rank of Staff Sergeant (E-5), through the rank of Chief Master Sergeant (E-9). NCOICs are in charge of passing on the orders of the commander or OIC (Officer in Charge) to the people they supervise, delegating duties and assigning work, and handling personnel issues that may arise with their airmen. NCOICs also act as liaisons between their airmen and other offices on base, handling any issues at the lowest level before passing them on to other agencies. An NCOIC is appointed verbally or on an appointment letter by the Commander of their unit.
An OIC, or Officer in Charge, is the senior officer in charge of a detail or duty section in the Air Force. This title is given to officers who have not been officially appointed as commanding officers, but are still in charge of a group of airmen. An Officer in Charge can be any commissioned officer, regardless of rank. While commanding officers are appointed on official orders by the Air Force, when the officer has not been officially appointed commanding officer, the designation of OIC allows them some of the same benefits and responsibilities of commanding officers without the orders. OICs are verbally appointed by their respective commanders. An officer can be in charge of lower-ranking officers, non-commissioned officers and junior enlisted airmen.
The ASVAB, or Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, is the exam given to military applicants to determine their fitness for military service. These test scores are also used to determine which types of jobs the individual is qualified to perform in the military. The ASVAB is currently offered at over 14,000 schools and miltary locations across the United States. The written exam takes three to four hours and consists of nine different subsections, while the computer-based exam consists of ten different subsections. Once the exam is complete, an AFQT score is computed - this score determines fitness for military service, and a score that is too low can disqualify an individual. Each branch of the military computes and utilizes the scores differently, but scores are used to determine occupational aptitude.
A BX, or Base Exchange, is a store located on Air Force bases and run by AAFES (Army & Air Force Exchange Service), with profits going to benefit military service members and MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) programs. BXs range in size from smaller stores offering convenience goods and limited uniform items, to larger shopping malls. These shopping malls feature a food court with several different fast food restaurants. Also in these malls are large military clothing shops, barber shops, hair salons, optical shops, a nutrition & vitamin store, and other vendors as deemed appropriate by the base commander and local AAFES management. Most new BXs offer designer handbags, clothing, shoes and accessories, as well as household goods and furniture, electronics, automotive parts and installation, as well as other items you might find at a big-box civilian retailer or local shopping mall.
AAFES is the abbreviation for the Army & Air Force Exchange Service. AAFES runs the Post Exchange (PX) which is a store on Army posts, and the Base Exchange (BX) which is the counterpart on Air Force bases. The BX and PX are similar to Walmart or Target. Newer BXs and PXs are set up like shopping malls with departments that carry shoes, clothing, electronic, household goods, furniture, select automotive parts and high-end designer goods. Each BX and PX also features a military clothing store, alterations shop, barber shop, hair salon, optical shop and food courts. AAFES also contracts with local vendors who set up kiosks of goods and services for sale inside the BX/PX. AAFES also runs an online website with goods and services including military clothing. AAFES services and shopping are only available to military members, authorized dependents, and authorized civilians who work for the Department of Defense.
The AFOQT, or Air Force Officer Qualification Test, is an exam given to individuals who wish to apply for an officer commission with the United States Air Force. The exam is given at specific testing locations to include ROTC units and MEPS locations, and tests on a wide variety of concepts. There are twelve sections in the AFOQT and the exam takes approximately three hours to complete. The scores from each of the twelve sections are compiled to create five separate scores, measuring an applicant's fitness in the areas of Pilot, Navigator, Verbal, Academic Aptitude, and a Quantitative Score. These scores are then used to determine an applicant's fitness for service in the United States Air Force as a commissioned officer, and what specific officer jobs the applicant is qualified to perform.
A Lieutenant Colonel, abbreviated Lt. Col., is a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force in the pay grade of O-5. Lieutenant Colonels are in the middle tier of officers, known as field grade officers. Lieutenant Colonels can serve as commanders of units up to and including the wing level. Lieutenant Colonels can also serve as staff members and assistants to general officers at higher commands, such as the Pentagon. A Lieutenant Colonel can be recognized by the distinctive silver oak leaf rank insignia on dress uniforms, or subdued black oak leaf rank insignia on working uniforms such as the ABU (Airman Battle Uniform) and flight suits. An officer must have at least 16 years total time in service, and three years time in grade as a Major (O-4), to be eligible for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
A1C is the abbreviation for the rank of Airman First Class in the United States Air Force. An A1C is an enlisted airman in the pay grade of E-3. This is the third rank in the enlisted tier. Promotion to A1C is usually received after completion of Basic Military Training and Technical Training, however, some select recruits may come into the Air Force as an E-3 if they have college credits or an Associate's Degree.
An A1C is usually new to their duty section and is receiving hands-on training in their chosen career field. As a result, they don't have a lot of extra duties or assignments outside of their everyday job. An A1C has a skill level of "3" in their career field and is working on upgrading to a skill level of "5" so they can take on more responsibility and further themselves in their career.
A Master Sergeant, or MSgt, is a Senior Noncommissioned Officer in the enlisted pay grade of E-7. Air Force members must have at least eight total years of military service and at least 24 months time in grade as a Technical Sergeant (E-6), to be eligible for promotion to Master Sergeant. Members must also have a 7 skill level in their primary AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code) to be promoted to Master Sergeant. Master Sergeants are expected to not only be technical experts in their chosen career field, but to also be leaders and supervisors. Master Sergeants must be willing to voluntarily accept extra duties and responsibilities to help their unit and their fellow airmen. Master Sergeants also act as liaisons between officers and junior airmen.
AFRC, or Air Force Reserve Command, is the branch of the United States Air Force that oversees the Air Force Reserve and some functions of the Air National Guard. The Air Force Reserve Command was established in 1997 as a Major Command of the Air Force and is headquartered at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. The Air Force Reserve Command is tasked with training and administration of Reserve and Air National Guard members. In addition, the Air Force Reserve handles the mobilization of Reserve and Guard personnel and assets to supplement the mission of the active duty Air Force in the event of a shortfall in active duty Air Force assets. The Air Force Reserve Command also features some functions that are not performed by the active duty Air Force, such as counter-drug operations and weather reconnaissance missions.
TSgt is the abbreviation for the rank of Technical Sergeant in the United States Air Force. A Technical Sergeant is an enlisted, Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) in the pay grade of E-6. This rank may also be abbreviated as "Tech Sgt." The proper form of address for a Technical Sergeant is "Sergeant," "Tech Sergeant," or "Technical Sergeant."
Technical Sergeants are generally tasked with being first-line supervisors to a small group of airmen and even junior Non-Commissioned Officers in the rank of Staff Sergeant. Technical Sergeants must lead, supervise and train their subordinates and mold them into better airmen and NCOs. Technical Sergeants must also be technical experts in their respective career fields and spend time pursuing training and military and civilian educational opportunities to better themselves and prepare themselves for promotion to the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer ranks. Technical Sergeants must also be willing to take on extra duties at work, as well as be involved in their communities. The rank of Technical Sergeant is a stepping stone on the way from junior NCO to Senior NCO and Technical Sergeants must prove themselves worthy of such a promotion.
AGR, or Active Guard and Reserve employees are full-time military members of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. The Guard and Reserve consists of mostly "traditional" members, or those who work one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer (though this is becoming less-common as Guard and Reserve units are being tasked with more missions and members are able to work days during the month). However, each Guard and Reserve unit has a small contingency of AGR employees who maintain the facilities, handle administration, training and personnel issues and other tasks during the months between scheduled Unit Training Assemblies. These AGR employees usually consist of the unit commander(s) and a small support staff. These employees keep the units functioning smoothly and take a large burden off of traditional members who have a short amount of time each month to handle a lot of training requirements and other tasks.
The ANG, or Air National Guard, is a reserve function of the United States Air Force similar to the Air Force Reserve. The Air National Guard performs a dual mission, both federal and state. In peacetime, the Air National Guard performs state missions under Title 32 of the United States Code, and by direction of the Governors of each individual state. These state missions include training, disaster assistance to local communities, and peacekeeping missions in the United States. During a time of declared war, the Air National Guard performs a federal mission under Title 10 of the United States Code and under direction of the President of the United States. Air National Guard members may be mobilized for contingencies as individual members, as smaller units, or as entire wings, depending upon the needs of the Air Force and the United States.
Air National Guard members enjoy the same benefits as their active-duty counterparts, to include military commissary and base exchange shopping privileges. Guard members are also entitled to the Montgomery GI Bill for educational expenses. In addition to these benefits, many states offer free tuition at state colleges and universities to their Air National Guard members as well as other benefits that vary state to state. Guard members also receive the same job training and skills that their active-duty counterparts receive, and are held to the same standards of conduct and training.
Gone are the days of the "weekend warriors" - many traditional (part-time) Guard members perform more than the typical one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer since the Guard is being called upon to supplement active duty resources more often. It is also possible to work full-time in the Air National Guard, as an AGR (Active Guard and Reserve) employee, or State Technician. Air National Guard service allows an Air Force member to serve their country and still keep up with commitments to family, community and self.
An NCO, or Non-Commissioned Officer, is any Air Force member in the pay grade of E-5 through E-9. The Non-Commissioned Officer rank titles end with the word "Sergeant." This includes Staff Sergeant, Technical Sergeant, Master Sergeant, Senior Master Sergeant and Chief Master Sergeant. NCOs are mid-tier leaders, acting as immediate supervisors to lower-ranking personnel and liaisons between lower enlisted airmen and commissioned officers. As NCOs progress through the ranks, they take on more duties and responsibilities, beginning with first-line and section supervisor duties, and progressing to include section chief, flight chief, squadron superintendent and Manager responsibilities, and culminating with the duty title of "Chief" for those highest enlisted leaders at high-level Air Force commands. NCOs are held to the highest standards of conduct and face harsh penalties for misconduct. NCOs are expected to lead by example and set the standard for other airmen to follow.