Ridiculous Acronyms and the People Who Use Them

I had cause recently to dwell upon the insane acronyms I encountered during my time in the Army., mostly because I recently found out that the Army had come up with one for e-cigarettes that sounded about right (i.e. stupid): Electronic Nicotine Delivery System, which is ENDS.

Many comments were made on the post where I learned this, informing me of what might be a Soldier-made acronym for the same thing: Personal Electronic Nicotine Inhalation System.

The best part about acronyms is that they are not always pronounced letter by letter , but often as a single insane word.

The Army is swimming in ridiculous acronyms. I remember having a serious conversation about work while deployed and realizing that most people would not be able to follow along at all. They’re so infused into military culture that Soldiers make them up (FUBAR is a famous one).

Here are some that are pronounced as one word:

RLIRU- Routing Logic Radio Interface Unit.

SHORAD- Short Range Air Defense.

HIMAD- High-to-Medium Air Defense. (Intuitive, right?)

AADC- Area Air Defense Commander.

THAAD- Terminal High Altitude Air Defense.

POV- Personally Owned Vehicle. (As many letters as car, twice as long to pronounce).

IPERMS- Interactive Personnel Electronic Records Management System.

ASRAAM- Advanced Short Range Air-Air Missile. (Yup.)

BMOA-Ballistic Missile Operational Area.

MANPADS- Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems.

There are many. Honorable mention goes to Patriot, which may or may not be an acronym anymore, no one seems to know. It certainly started out as one (Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target). Clearly there was a time where the Pentagon liked these…puns is not the right word. Very technical descriptions that spell out cool words (VTDSOCW?).

Presently, they’re just technical descriptions that may be pronounceable but probably aren’t words. THAAD, as listed above, for instance. It is very dull but super serious and lacking all poetic verve, as we all must be in the military presently. (“reading fiction is a waste of time”, “studying military history before the 20th century is useless”- my officer corps cultural experience.)

I wish weapons systems were named after cool things again. They could do the VTDSOCW method again. Who doesn’t want to direct something called, for instance, THORS HAMMER? Everyone wants to do that. Even LT Ring-knocker-lacks-an-imagination.

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