Army Talk (Part Three)

Lawyers with guns: Rest easy, America.

This is the third of a three-part series.  To read Part One, click here.  To read Part Two, click here.

The military (known in the biz as “DoD”) has it own lingo.  The Army (“DoA”) is further sub-specialized.  Here are some more aspects of Army culture and Armyspeak that I find amusing:

Army branches — Everyone is trained to do a specialized job.  These jobs fall into four categories:



  • Infantry — You are a foot soldier.  Your best friends are your boots and your M-16.
  • Armor — Tankers.  You are the biggest weapon on the field of battle.  Flipside: you are also the biggest target.
  • Field Artillery (FA) — Big guns throwing big pieces of ammunition far down range.  You may have to speak up around this crew as their hearing is not what it used to be.
  • Air Defense Artillery (ADA) — You shoot down the bad guys.  Also affectionately known as duck hunters.
  • Aviation — Helicopter pilots and crews.  Think Robert Duval in Apocalyse Now.
  • Special Forces — Sneaky, behind-the-lines type stuff.  Think John Wayne in The Green Berets.
  • Corps of Engineers — You build stuff so the other guy can blow it up.


  • Signal Corps — it started with flags.  Now, it’s IT and mobile subscriber communications.
  • Military Police — The Po-po.  Just like it sounds.  But you get enemy prisoners of war (EPWs) as well.
  • Military Intelligence — We’ve all heard the Hawkeye Pierce line from M*A*S*H about MI being an oxymoron.  But, these guys have an important mission — it’s their job to know what’s going to happen before it happens.
  • Civil Affairs — After we blow up your town, these guys roll in and turn on the water, electricity, pay the police and make society function again.
  • Chemical Corps — cough, cough Is that gas I smell?


  • Adjutant General’s Corps — It’s a funky name for H.R., folks.
  • Finance Corps — They screw up more soldiers’ pay before 9:00 than most payroll services do in a year.
  • Transportation Corps — Make no mistake about it → these guys are the Audie Murphy of Iraq.
  • Ordnance Corps — We’re here with your bombs, Ma’am.  Where should we put them?
  • Quartermaster Corps — They’re the butt of your jokes until you have no clean sheets.

Judge Advocate Generals Corps Crest


  • Judge Advocate General’s Corps — Yeah, it’s not like on TV.  No flying jet planes.  But, we do get to cross-examine Jack Nicholson every once in a while.
  • Chaplain Corps — Give me 10 Hail Marys and 20 push ups.
  • Medical Corps — Doing our four years before we get to make the really big bucks as MDs.
  • Veterinary Corps — I assure you, General, your cat is going to be just fine.
  • Army Medical Specialists — Saving your ass on the battlefield since 1775.
  • Army Nurse Corps — Not all of them are Hot Lips Houlihan.  Some are men who WILL kick your butt.
  • Medical Service Corps — If you want to know why so much Jello is served at Army hospitals, ask these guys.

Chain of command — Very few people are aware of how this works and they often use these terms (if at all) interchangeably.  The smallest unit in the Army is a fireteam, led by a Sergeant and composed of four or fewer members.  From there the units get bigger:

  • Squad — Staff Sergeant, 8-13 soldiers.
  • Platoon — Lieutenant, 26-55 soldiers.
  • Company — Captain, 80-225 soldiers.  In Field Artillery and Air Defense Artillery, this unit is called a battery.  In Air and Land Cavalry, it is called a troop.
  • Battalion — Lieutenant Colonel, 300-1,300 soldiers.
  • Brigade — Colonel, 3,000-5,000 soldiers.  Sometimes this unit is called a regiment.
  • Division — Major General (two stars) 10,000-15,000 soldiers.
  • Corps — Lieutenant General (three stars) 20,000-45,000 soldiers.
  • Major Command (MACOM) — General (four stars) It depends on the mission.  In the past, the equivalent level was called an Army.

But, wait.  What’s this?  In doing my research, I just learned that the term MACOM is no longer being used.  Thus, the Army has moved on and I’m standing on the platform watching it chug away down the tracks.

Those of you who are World War II buffs will note that the force structure was entirely different during that era.  The units were generally smaller and commanded by lower ranking officers.

Going up beyond the levels described above, the chain of command would next go to the Army Chief of Staff (the top uniformed officer in the service), the civilian Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of Defense and then to the Commander-in-Chief (the President).

Al didnt pronouce "Hooah" correctly in the film. But take note of the great fruit salad on his dress blues.

Hooah and its myriad meanings — Where to begin on this one?  I was afraid that I’d missing one of the many meanings of this staple of the Army verbal diet.  So I turned to Wikipedia.

Some popular usages of hooah include:

  • “Heard, understood and acknowledged” (backronym as “HUA”)
  • What to say when at a loss for words
  • “Good copy”
  • “Roger,” “solid copy,” “good,” “great,” “message received,” “understood,” “acknowledged”
  • “Glad to meet you,” “welcome”
  • “All right!”
  • “Thank you”
  • “You’ve taken the correct action”
  • “Outstanding!”
  • “That’s cool” or “that’s OK.” As in, “That’s hooah.”
  • To motivate another soldier.
  • Did not hear what was said, but not going to ask to repeat.
  • Anything and everything except “no.”

Hooah can also:

  • describe a dedicated soldier. As in, “He’s hooah-hooah.”
  • be used a call and response cheer, with one soldier exclaiming, “hooah!,” and other soldiers responding in like.
  • be uttered at random and in a group in order to boost morale. One or a few soldiers will begin chanting “hooah!,” and then others join in.
  • describe Army Rangers. As in “The hooah-hooahs.”
  • be used as a sarcastic remark for something specific to the Army. Sometimes used sarcastically. As in, “This detail is about as hoo-ah as it gets.”

There are more meanings, I’m sure.

I started the first part of this post with a reference to POV meaning c-a-r.  If you are wondering, POV stands for “privately-owned vehicle.”  This would be distinguished from the GOV issued to you.  Government-owned vehicles are characterized by the plain, white “U.S. Government” license plates and their near-complete lack of cruise control, a CD player or any other amenity.

— The Major


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