With so many acronyms in the military, I could probably write an entire year’s worth of articles dedicated to them. Military life all comes down to acronyms, and some have multiple meanings and have to be deciphered based on context of use. Over the next two weeks, I’ll be writing about a few of the acronyms you’re sure to run across whether you’re a Soldier or a Family member.

There is a Department of Defense dictionary solely for acronyms and military definitions you can find online at www.dtic.mil/doctrine/dod_dictionary. In its PDF format, it is 394 pages long. Not all of those will be pertinent to daily life on Fort Bragg, but there are several that you’ll run across on an almost daily basis, even as a Family member.

MOS

This is one that I’ve used when talking to someone about their job as a Soldier, but never knew exactly was it stood for. MOS does mean “job,” but it literally is “military occupational specialty.” All Soldiers have an MOSQ (military occupational specialty qualification) to go through before they can actually be assigned their MOS.

Soldiers are given codes (MOSC) based on their MOS to distinguish what jobs they hold. Enlisted Soldiers have a 9 character code that will tell you exactly what their jobs and rank are. This system is complicated and intense and I’m not going to go into it in too much depth, but basically when you ask a Soldier what their MOS is, they’ll generally answer with the first three characters of the code, because those are what determine their MOS. “11” is the beginning code for an infantry Soldier, so if they tell you their MOS and it starts will 11 you’ll know they are in the infantry. 13 is field artillery, 18 is Special Forces, 21 is engineering.

The letter that comes after the numbers tells you their actual job. For example, an 11B is an infantryman, an 11C is an indirect fire infantryman. If someone tells you their MOS and it ends in an “x”, it generally means that is their enlistment option and they haven’t been given a specific MOS yet.

AAFES

You’ll see “AAFES” at every shopping area on Fort Bragg. AAFES stands for Army and Air Force Exchange Service. AAFES is the retailer for every post exchange on American military bases around the world. PXs and BXs, “base exchanges” as the Air Force calls them, are handled exclusively by AAFES.

Military exchanges were officially established in July of 1895. Before this time, traveling merchants known as sutlers had been selling goods to military personnel. The official establishment of exchanges meant that Soldiers had central locations from which they could buy provisions.

The Army Exchange Service wasn’t fully established until 1941. It became AAFES in 1948, after the formal formation of the Air Force.

AAFES has been involved with humanitarian and disaster relief contingencies. AAFES is 97 percent self funded, while any earnings made from AAFES stores goes back into the military. Two thirds of their revenue support Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs, while a third goes to store maintenance.

OPSEC

Operations Security is a process that identifies critical information and determines if that information can be seen by enemy intelligence. You’ve probably heard the famous propaganda phrase “loose lips sink ships” that was made popular during World War II. That phrase is OPSEC at its most basic level.

OPSEC has become a bit of a challenge in the social media focused world we currently live in. Important information can be gleaned out of what might seem like an innocent status update.

As a Woman’s Army Corps World War II poster says, “Silence means security.”

(If you have any questions you’d like answered, please email me at AHansen@theparaglide.com.)