An airman pauses for a photo with an unprocessed CAC, or Common Access Card. The military really needs to find a new acronym for that. US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner.
The military is a veritable beacon of efficiency (stop laughing). Anything and everything in the military that can be shortened into an acronym has been because, frankly, our armed forces are just too damn busy being awesome and defending freedom to do things like properly communicate. ’Merica.
As with most things in the military, a few of those abbreviations ended up being a little … off, and somehow, no one ever really caught on. We’re not entirely sure what fresh-faced LT or smartass E-4 came up with these, but whether the humor was intentional or not, we’re sure as hell glad that they did. Here are eight of the funniest military acronyms we could get our hands on.
The United States military Family Advocacy Program (FAP) helps service members and their families with the challenges that come with military service. The program also assists those facing domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect. It’s a fantastic program that does good work, and every service member should be aware of it. On the off chance that anyone influential to the FAP sees this — “fap” is modern slang for masturbation. Don’t shoot the messenger; we think you all do great work, but maybe change your program’s name, for … obvious reasons.
The Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile, or ASRAAM, is a high-speed, heat-seeking missile used for air-to-air combat by fighter jets in the British and Australian Air Forces. On Dec. 14, 2021, while operating against the Islamic State group in southern Syria, the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force ASRAAM’d an enemy drone out of the sky. That was the first successful ASRAAM’ing the RAF had performed since the Falklands War. Good job, Brits!
The Common Access Card, or CAC, is a form of identification commonly used by the United States military and Department of Defense personnel. A service member’s CAC is a very important piece of equipment and will likely be pulled out and used on a daily basis. Service members must maintain control of their CACs at all times, keep their CACs in good condition, and ensure that their CACs never fall into the wrong hands.
Service members and DOD personnel must present their CACs to enter military installations, prove their identities, and gain access to DOD computer systems by inserting them into virtual access gateways, or VAGs. Some jokes write themselves.
Although FUBAR is not an “official” acronym recognized by the United States military, everyone who has ever served knows exactly what this one means. Most commonly used to describe virtually anything or any single occurrence in the military, FUBAR means Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition (or Repair).
FUBAR can describe an object, a person, a place, or anything else. It can be used to succinctly describe a situation and is actually part of a family of descriptive acronyms, along with SNAFU (Situation Normal All Fucked Up) and TARFU (Things Are Really Fucked Up).
Guys. We need to talk. There’s no shame in carrying a little extra protection. As we age, our bodies naturally go through some changes that make the good fight a little bit tougher for us to wage. Enter, MANPADS.
MANPADS, or Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems, are portable surface-to-air missiles carried by troops on the ground for the purpose of taking out low-flying aircraft. Should an enemy helo squirt its way through your defenses, don’t be caught unaware; knock it out of the sky with MANPADS.
It’s important to remember that there are no thieves in the military. Thieves steal, and service members don’t steal. We do, however, STEAL, but that’s something totally different. STEAL, or Strategic Transfer of Equipment to Alternate Locations, is yet another off-the-books acronym that still gets daily usage among the ranks. STEALing is a common tactic used by service members for procuring equipment outside of traditional supply lines, and it is absolutely not stealing … just don’t get caught.
Both an acronym and a symbol of one’s begrudging embrace of the girthsome green weenie, BOHICA is a slang term that means “Bend Over, Here It Comes Again.” Used most commonly at the sight of a pain-in-the-ass leader, BOHICA is less of a warning and more of a way of saying “Something really fucking stupid is about to happen; might as well relax and go with it.”
Who doesn’t love a FISTer? FISTers, or Fire Support Specialists, are soldiers who act as forward observers for artillery units on the battlefield. Capable of calling in fire support from fixed and rotary-wing assets, FISTers are regularly attached to infantry and cavalry units to provide them with an added advantage on the battlefield and to do the lion’s share of their work for them.
“Oh, we’ve got a positive ID on some bad guys? Gunfights are hard. Go ahead and drop $120K-worth of ordnance on those two bad guys for us, big FIST. Thanksssss.”
There’s not a FISTer in the Army who doesn’t bring up the word “FISTer” at least once a day, have a litany of unfortunate jokes about fists, or at least have the FISTer flag hanging in his barracks. Gotta love ’em.
Eric Miller is a former Army Combat Medic from Parkersburg, West Virginia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and has worked with homeless populations and veteran services throughout the state. He is an avid outdoorsman and has recently become interested in woodworking.
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