Military Dictionary – Letter A

Military Dictionary Letter AHere are the DOD Dictionary terms beginning with the letter A and organized alphabetically. Browse terms from the official DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms that start with A and view definitions. Read on for military definitions that begin with A such as air supremacy, alert order, antiterrorism, avenue of approach and more.

Military Dictionary A to Z


See also Official DOD Shortened Word Forms.


acceptability — The plan review criterion for assessing whether the contemplated course of action is proportional, worth the cost, consistent with the law of war, and is militarily and politically supportable. See also adequacy; feasibility. 

access — In counterintelligence and intelligence use, a. a way or means of approach to identify a target; or b. exploitable proximity to or ability to approach an individual, facility, or information that enables target to carry out the intended mission.

accompanying supplies — Unit supplies that deploy with forces.

accountability — The obligation imposed by law or lawful order or regulation on an officer or other person for keeping accurate record of property, documents, or funds.

acoustic intelligence — Intelligence derived from the collection and processing of acoustic phenomena. Also called ACINT. 

acquisition and cross-servicing agreement — Agreement, negotiated on a bilateral basis with countries or international organizations, that allow United States forces to exchange most common types of support, including food, fuel, transportation, ammunition, and equipment. Also called ACSA. See also cross-servicing. 

action phase — In amphibious operations, the period of time between the arrival of the landing forces of the amphibious force in the operational area and the accomplishment of their mission. See also amphibious force; amphibious operation; landing force; mission.

activation — Order to active duty (other than for training) in the federal service. See also

active duty; federal service.

active defense — The employment of limited offensive action and counterattacks to deny a contested area or position to the enemy. See also passive defense. 

active duty — Full-time duty in the active military service of the United States, including active duty or full-time training duty in the Reserve Component. See also active duty for training; inactive duty training. 

active duty for training — A tour of active duty that is used for training members of the Reserve Component to provide trained units and qualified persons to fill the needs of the Armed Forces of the United States in time of war or national emergency and such other times as the national security requires.

Active Guard and Reserve — National Guard and Reserve members who are on voluntary active duty providing full-time support to National Guard, Reserve, and Active Component organizations for the purpose of organizing, administering, recruiting, instructing, or training the Reserve Components.

activity — 1. A unit, organization, or installation performing a function or mission. 2. A function, mission, action, or collection of actions.

activity-based intelligence — An analytic method applied to structured data from multiple sources, to discover objects, relationships, or behaviors by resolving significant activity. Also call ABI.

act of mercy — In personnel recovery, assistance rendered to evaders by an individual or elements of the local population who sympathize or empathize with the evaders’ cause or plight. See also evader; evasion; recovery; recovery operations. 

acute radiation dose — Total ionizing radiation dose received at one time and over a period so short that biological recovery cannot occur.

acute radiation syndrome — An acute illness caused by irradiation of the body by a high dose of penetrating radiation in a very short period of time. Also called ARS.

Adaptive Planning and Execution — A Department of Defense enterprise of joint policies, processes, procedures, and reporting structures, supported by communications and information technology, that is used by the joint planning and execution community to monitor, plan, and execute mobilization, deployment, employment, sustainment, redeployment, and demobilization activities associated with joint operations. Also called APEX. 

adequacy — The plan review criterion for assessing whether the scope and concept of planned operations can accomplish the assigned mission and comply with the planning guidance provided. See also acceptability; feasibility.

administrative contracting officer — Contracting officer whose primary duties involve contract administration. Also called ACO. See also contracting officer; procuring contracting officer.

administrative control — Direction or exercise of authority over subordinate or other organizations in respect to administration and support. Also called ADCON.

administrative loading — A loading method that gives primary consideration to achieving maximum utilization of troop and cargo space without regard to tactical considerations. Also called commercial loading. 

advanced force operations — Operations conducted to refine the location of specific, identified targets and further develop the operational environment for near-term missions. Also called AFO.

advance guard — Detachment sent ahead of the main force to ensure its uninterrupted advance; to protect the main body against surprise; to facilitate the advance by removing obstacles and repairing roads and bridges; and to cover the deployment of the main body if it is committed to action.

adversary — A party acknowledged as potentially hostile to a friendly party and against which the use of force may be envisaged.

adversary template — A model based on an adversary’s known or postulated preferred methods of operation illustrating the disposition and activity of adversary forces and assets conducting a particular operation unconstrained by the impact of the operational environment.

aerial port — An airfield that has been designated for the sustained air movement of personnel and materiel, as well as an authorized port for entrance into or departure from the country where located. See also port of debarkation; port of embarkation.

aeromedical evacuation — The movement of patients under medical supervision to and between medical treatment facilities by air transportation. Also called AE.

aeromedical evacuation control team — A core team assigned to a component-numbered Air Force air operations center air mobility division that provides operational planning, scheduling, and execution of theater aeromedical evacuation missions and positioning of aeromedical evacuation ground forces. Also called AECT. See also aeromedical evacuation; air mobility division.

aerospace defense — Defensive measures designed to destroy or nullify attacking enemy aircraft and missiles and also negate hostile space systems. See also air defense; space defense.

afloat pre-positioning force — Shipping maintained in full operational status to afloat pre- position military equipment and supplies in support of combatant commanders’ operation plans, consisting of the three maritime pre-positioning ships squadrons, the Army’s afloat pre-positioning stocks-3 ships, and the Defense Logistics Agency, and the Air Force ships. Also called APF. See also maritime pre-positioning ships.

afloat pre-positioning operations — Pre-positioning of ships, preloaded with equipment and supplies that provides for an alternative to land-based programs. See also operation.

agency — In intelligence usage, an organization or individual that collects and/or processes information. Also called collection agency. See also agent; intelligence process; source.

agent — In intelligence usage, one who is authorized or instructed to obtain or to assist in obtaining information for intelligence or counterintelligence purposes.

aimpoint — 1. A point associated with a target and assigned for a specific weapon impact. 2. A prominent radar-significant feature used to assist an aircrew in navigating and delivering their weapons. See also desired point of impact. 

air and missile defense — Direct [active and passive] defensive actions taken to destroy, nullify, or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air and ballistic missile threats against friendly forces and assets. Also called AMD.

air apportionment — The determination and assignment of the total expected effort by percentage and/or by priority that should be devoted to the various air operations for a given period of time.

air assault — The movement of friendly assault forces by rotary-wing or tiltrotor aircraft to engage and destroy enemy forces or to seize and hold key terrain.. See also assault.

air assault force — A force composed primarily of ground and rotary-wing air units organized, equipped, and trained for air assault operations.

air assault operation — An operation in which assault forces, using the mobility of rotary- wing or tiltrotor aircraft and the total integration of available fires, maneuver under the control of a ground or air maneuver commander to engage enemy forces or to seize and hold key terrain.

airborne — 1. In relation to personnel, troops especially trained to effect, following transport by air, an assault debarkation, either by parachuting or touchdown. 2. In relation to equipment, pieces of equipment that have been especially designed for use by airborne troops during or after an assault debarkation, as well as some aeronautical equipment used to accomplish a particular mission. 3. When applied to materiel, items that form an integral part of the aircraft. 4. The state of an aircraft, from the instant it becomes entirely sustained by air until it ceases to be so sustained.

airborne alert — A state of aircraft readiness wherein combat-equipped aircraft are airborne and ready for immediate action to reduce reaction time and to increase survivability. See also combat air patrol; ground alert.

airborne assault — The use of airborne forces to parachute into an objective area to attack and eliminate armed resistance and secure designated objectives.

airborne early warning — The detection of enemy air or surface units by radar or other equipment carried in an airborne vehicle, and the transmitting of a warning to friendly units. Also called AEW.

airborne mission coordinator — The designated individual that serves as an airborne extension of the component commander or supported commander responsible for the personnel recovery mission. Also called AMC. See also combat search and rescue; personnel recovery coordination cell.

airborne operation — An operation involving the air movement into an objective area of combat forces and their logistic support for execution of a tactical, operational, or strategic mission. See also assault; assault phase.

air-capable ship — A ship other than an aircraft carrier, nuclear; amphibious assault ship (general purpose); or amphibious assault ship (multipurpose) from which aircraft can take off, be recovered, or routinely receive and transfer logistic support. Also called ACS.

air corridor — A restricted air route of travel specified for use by friendly aircraft and established for the purpose of preventing friendly aircraft from being fired on by friendly forces.

aircraft carrier — A warship designed to support and operate aircraft, engage in attacks on targets afloat or ashore, and engage in sustained operations in support of other forces. Also called CV or CVN.

air defense — Defensive measures designed to destroy attacking enemy aircraft or aerodynamic missiles, or to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of such attack. Also called AD. See also aerospace defense.

air defense area — 1. overseas — A specifically defined airspace for which air defense must be planned and provided. 2. United States — Airspace of defined dimensions designated by the appropriate agency within which the ready control of airborne vehicles is required in the interest of national security during an air defense emergency.

air defense artillery — Weapons and equipment for actively combating air targets from the ground. Also called ADA.

air defense identification zone — Airspace of defined dimensions within which the ready identification, location, and control of airborne vehicles are required. Also called ADIZ.

air defense region — A geographical subdivision of an air defense area.

air defense sector — A geographical subdivision of an air defense region.

air defense warning condition — An air defense warning given in the form of a color code corresponding to the degree of air raid probability with yellow standing for when an attack by hostile aircraft or missiles is probable; red for when an attack by hostile aircraft or missiles is imminent or is in progress; and white for when an attack by hostile aircraft or missiles is improbable. Also called ADWC.

air domain — The atmosphere, beginning at the Earth’s surface, extending to the altitude where its effects upon operations become negligible.

airdrop — The unloading of personnel or materiel from aircraft in flight. See also air movement; free drop; free fall; high velocity drop; low velocity drop. 

air expeditionary task force — A deployed numbered air force or command echelon immediately subordinate to a numbered air force provided as the United States Air Force component command committed to a joint operation. Also called AETF.

airfield — An area prepared for the accommodation (including any buildings, installations, and equipment), landing, and takeoff of aircraft. See also departure airfield; landing area; landing site.

Air Force special operations air component — The Air Force component of a joint special operations force, normally composed of a special operations wing, special operations group, or squadron, and element of an Air Force special tactics personnel. Also called AFSOAC.

Air Force special operations air detachment — A squadron-size headquarters that could be a composite organization composed of different Air Force special operations assets, normally subordinate to an Air Force special operations air component, joint special operations air component, joint special operations task force, or a joint task force. Also called AFSOAD.

Air Force special operations forces — Those Active and Reserve Component Air Force forces designated by the Secretary of Defense that are specifically organized, trained, and equipped to conduct  and  support  special  operations.  Also  called  AFSOF.

airhead — A lodgment that, when seized and held, ensures the continuous air landing of troops and materiel and provides the maneuver space necessary for projected operations. See also beachhead.

airhead line — A line denoting the limits of the objective area for an airborne assault. See also airhead; assault phase; objective area.

air interdiction — Air operations conducted to divert, disrupt, delay, or destroy the enemy’s military surface capabilities before it can be brought to bear effectively against friendly forces, or to otherwise achieve objectives that are conducted at such distances from friendly forces that detailed integration of each air mission with the fire and movement of friendly forces is not required. Also called AI.

airland — Move by air and disembark, or unload, after the aircraft has landed or while an aircraft is hovering. See also air movement.

airland operation — An operation involving movement by air with a designated destination for further ground deployment of units and personnel and/or further ground distribution of supplies. See also airland.

air liaison officer — The senior tactical air control party member attached to a ground unit who functions as the primary advisor to the ground commander on air power. Also called ALO.

airlift capability — The total capacity expressed in terms of number of passengers and/or weight/cubic displacement of cargo that can be carried at any one time to a given destination by available airlift. See also airlift requirement.

airlift control team — A core team within the joint air operations center with intratheater airlift functional expertise to plan, coordinate, manage, and execute intratheater airlift operations in support of the joint force air component commander. Also called ALCT. See also air operations center; air mobility division; intratheater airlift.

airlift mission commander — A commander designated when airlift aircraft are participating in airlift operations specified in the implementing directive. See also joint force air component commander.

airlift requirement — The total number of passengers and/or weight/cubic displacement of cargo required to be carried by air for a specific task. See also airlift capability.

air mobility — The rapid movement of personnel, materiel, and forces to and from or within a theater by air. See also air refueling.

Air Mobility Command — The Air Force component command of the United States Transportation Command. Also called AMC.

air mobility control team — A core team within the joint air operations center that directs or redirects air mobility forces in response to requirements changes, higher priorities, or immediate execution requirements. Also called AMCT. See also air operations center; air mobility; air mobility division.

air mobility division — Located in the joint air operations center to plan, coordinate, task, and execute the air mobility mission consisting of the air mobility control team, airlift control team, air refueling control team, and aeromedical evacuation control team. Also called AMD. See also air mobility; joint air operations center.

air mobility liaison officer — A rated United States Air Force mobility air forces officer selected, trained, and equipped to assess, train, advise, and assist with mobility air forces and ground force integration for air movement and sustainment. Also called AMLO.

air movement — Air transport of units, personnel, supplies, and equipment, including airdrops and air landings. See also airdrop; airland.

air operations center — The senior agency of the Air Force component commander that provides command and control of Air Force air and space operations and coordinates with other components and Services. Also called AOC.

air refueling — The refueling of an aircraft in flight by another aircraft. Also called AR.

air refueling control team — A core team within the joint air operations center that coordinates aerial refueling to support combat air operations or to support a strategic airbridge. Also called ARCT. See also air operations center; air mobility division; air refueling.

air route — The navigable airspace between two points, identified to the extent necessary for the application of flight rules.

air sovereignty — A nation’s inherent right to exercise absolute control and authority over the airspace above its territory.

airspace control — Capabilities and procedures used to increase operational effectiveness by promoting the safe, efficient, and flexible use of airspace.

airspace control area — Airspace that is laterally defined by the boundaries of the operational area and may be subdivided into sectors.

airspace control authority — The commander designated to assume overall responsibility for the operation of the airspace control system in the airspace control area. Also called ACA. See also airspace control; airspace control area; airspace control system; control; operation.

airspace control order — An order implementing the airspace control plan that provides the details of the approved requests for airspace coordinating measures. Also called ACO.

airspace control plan — The document approved by the joint force commander that provides specific planning guidance and procedures for the airspace control system for the joint force operational area. Also called ACP. See also airspace control system; joint force commander.

airspace control procedures — Rules, mechanisms, and directions that facilitate the control and use of airspace of specified dimensions. See also airspace control authority; airspace control order; airspace control plan.

airspace control system — An arrangement of those organizations, personnel, policies, procedures, and facilities required to perform airspace control functions. Also called ACS.

airspace coordinating measures — Measures employed to facilitate the efficient use of airspace to accomplish missions and simultaneously provide safeguards for friendly forces. Also called ACMs. See also airspace control area; airspace coordination area; high-density airspace control zone; weapons engagement zone.

airspace coordination area — A three-dimensional block of airspace in a target area, established by the appropriate commander, in which friendly aircraft are reasonably safe from friendly surface fires. Also called ACA.

airspace management — The coordination, integration, and regulation of the use of airspace of defined dimensions.

air superiority — That degree of control of the air by one force that permits the conduct of its operations at a given time and place without prohibitive interference from air and missile threats.

air support control section — In amphibious operations, the section of the Navy tactical air control center designated to coordinate, control, and integrate all direct-support aircraft and assault-support operations. Also called ASCS.

air support operations center — The principal air control agency of the theater air control system responsible for the direction and control of air operations directly supporting the ground combat element. Also called ASOC. See also close air support; operation; tactical air control center.

air support request — A means to request preplanned and immediate close air support, air interdiction, air reconnaissance, surveillance, escort, helicopter airlift, and other aircraft missions. Also called AIRSUPREQ.

air supremacy — That degree of control of the air wherein the opposing force is incapable of effective interference within the operational area using air and missile threats.

air tasking order — A method used to task and disseminate to components, subordinate units, and command and control agencies projected sorties, capabilities and/or forces to targets and specific missions. Also called ATO.

air terminal — A facility on an airfield that functions as an air transportation hub and accommodates the loading and unloading of airlift aircraft and the in-transit processing of traffic.

air traffic control section — In amphibious operations, the section of the Navy tactical air control center designed to provide initial safe passage, radar control, and surveillance for close air support aircraft in the operational area. Also called ATCS.

alert order — 1. A planning directive normally associated with a crisis, issued by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on behalf of the President or Secretary of Defense, that provides essential planning guidance and directs the development, adaptation, or refinement of a plan/order after the directing authority approves a military course of action. 2. A planning directive that provides essential planning guidance, directs the initiation of planning after the directing authority approves a military course of action, but does not authorize execution. Also called ALERTORD. See also course of action.

alliance — The relationship that results from a formal agreement between two or more nations for broad, long-term objectives that further the common interests of the members. See also multinational.

Allied System for Geospatial Intelligence — A partnership between five nations (United States and allied partners Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom) to advance the geospatial intelligence mission with a common analytic environment to provide a common geospatial intelligence picture. Also called ASG.

allocation — 1. Distribution of limited forces and resources for employment among competing requirements. 2. The temporary transfer of forces to meet the operational demand of combatant commanders, including rotational requirements and requests for capabilities or forces (unit or individual) in response to crisis or emergent contingencies. See also apportionment.

allocation request — A daily message that provides an estimate of the total air effort, to identify any excess and joint force general support aircraft sorties, and to identify unfilled air requirements for preplanned missions. Also called ALLOREQ.

allowable cabin load — The maximum payload that can be carried on an individual sortie. Also called ACL.

all-source intelligence — 1. Intelligence products and/or organizations and activities that incorporate all sources of information in the production of finished intelligence. 2. In intelligence collection, a phrase that indicates that in the satisfaction of intelligence requirements, all collection, processing, exploitation, and reporting systems and resources are identified for possible use and those most capable are tasked. See also intelligence. 

ammunition lot — A quantity of homogeneous ammunition, identified by a unique lot number, which is manufactured, assembled, or renovated by one producer under uniform conditions and which is expected to function in a uniform manner.

amphibian — A small craft, propelled by propellers and wheels or by air cushions for the purpose of moving on both land and water.

amphibious advance force — A temporary support force assigned to the amphibious force that conducts shaping operations in the amphibious objective area or operational area prior to the arrival of the amphibious force.

amphibious air traffic control center — The centralized air traffic control agency on an amphibious warfare ship responsible for operational control of aircraft departing from and recovering on the ship and tactical control of airborne helicopters in support of amphibious assaults. Also called AATCC.

amphibious assault — A type of amphibious operation that involves establishing a force on a hostile or potentially hostile shore. See also assault; assault phase.

amphibious assault vehicle launching area — An area, in the vicinity of and to seaward of the line of departure, to which landing ships proceed and launch amphibious assault vehicles.

amphibious breaching — The conduct of a deliberate breaching operation specifically planned to overcome antilanding defenses to conduct amphibious operations.

amphibious bulk liquid transfer system — Hose-reel system providing capability to deliver fuel and/or water from ship to shore. Also called ABLTS.

amphibious construction battalion — A permanently commissioned naval unit, subordinate to the commander, naval beach group, designed to provide an administrative unit from which personnel and equipment are formed in tactical elements and made available to appropriate commanders to operate causeways, transfer barges, warping tugs, and assault bulk fuel systems and to meet salvage requirements of the naval beach party. Also called PHIBCB.

amphibious defense zone — The area encompassing the amphibious objective area and the adjoining airspace required by accompanying naval forces for the purpose of air defense. Also called an ADZ.

amphibious demonstration — A type of amphibious operation conducted for the purpose of deceiving the enemy by a show of force with the expectation of deluding the enemy into following an unfavorable course of action.

amphibious force — An amphibious task force and a landing force together with other forces that are trained, organized, and equipped for amphibious operations. Also called AF. See also amphibious operation; amphibious task force; landing force.

amphibious objective area — A geographical area of sufficient size for conducting necessary sea, air, and land operations and within which is located the objective(s) to be secured by the amphibious force. Also called AOA. See also amphibious force; mission.

amphibious operation — A military operation launched from the sea by an amphibious force to conduct landing force operations within the littorals. Also called PHIBOP. See also amphibious force; landing force; mission; operation.

amphibious raid — A type of amphibious operation involving swift incursion into, or temporary occupation of, an objective area followed by a planned withdrawal. See also amphibious operation.

amphibious ready group — A Navy task organization formed to conduct amphibious operations, commanded by an amphibious squadron commander. Also called ARG.

amphibious squadron — A tactical and administrative organization composed of amphibious warfare ships used to transport troops and their equipment for an amphibious operation. Also called PHIBRON.

amphibious task force — A Navy task organization formed to conduct amphibious operations. Also called ATF. See also amphibious force; amphibious operation; landing force.

amphibious vehicle — A wheeled or tracked vehicle capable of operating on both land and water. See also landing craft.

amphibious vehicle availability table — A tabulation of the type and number of amphibious vehicles available primarily for assault landings and for support of other elements of the operation.

amphibious vehicle employment plan — A plan showing, in tabular form, the planned employment of amphibious vehicles during landing operations, to include initial movement to the beach.

amphibious warfare ship — A combatant ship having organic capability to embark, land, and support landing forces in amphibious operations and which has characteristics enabling long-duration operations on the high seas.

amphibious withdrawal — A type of amphibious operation involving the extraction of forces by sea in ships or craft from a hostile or potentially hostile shore. See also amphibious operation. 

analysis and production — In intelligence usage, the conversion of processed information into intelligence through the integration, evaluation, analysis, and interpretation of all source data and the preparation of intelligence products in support of known or anticipated user requirements. See also intelligence process.

antiaccess — Action, activity, or capability, usually long-range, designed to prevent an advancing enemy force from entering an operational area. Also called A2.

Antideficiency Act violations — The incurring of obligations or the making of expenditure (outlays) in violation of appropriation law as to purpose, time, and amounts as specified in the defense appropriation or appropriations of funds.

antiradiation missile — A missile which homes passively on a radiation source. Also called ARM. See also guided missile.

antisubmarine warfare — Operations conducted with the intention of denying the enemy the effective use of submarines. Also called ASW.

antiterrorism — Defensive measures used to reduce the vulnerability of individuals and property to terrorist acts, to include rapid containment by local military and civilian forces. Also called AT. See also counterterrorism; terrorism.

anti-vehicle land mine — A mine designed to immobilize or destroy a vehicle. Also called AVL.

application — 1. The system or problem to which a computer is applied. 2. In the intelligence context, the direct extraction and tailoring of information from an existing foundation of intelligence and near real time reporting.

apportionment — The quantities of force capabilities and resources provided for planning purposes only, but not necessarily an identification of the actual forces that may be allocated for use when a plan transitions to execution. See also allocation.

approach schedule — In amphibious operations, a schedule that indicates, for each scheduled wave, the time of departure from the rendezvous area, from the line of departure and from other control points, and the time of arrival at the beach.

apron — A defined area on an airfield intended to accommodate aircraft for purposes of loading or unloading passengers or cargo, refueling, parking, or maintenance.

area air defense commander — The component commander with the preponderance of air  defense  capability  and  the  required  command,  control,  and  communications capabilities who is assigned by the joint force commander to plan and execute integrated air defense operations. Also called AADC.

area command — A command that is composed of elements of one or more of the Services, organized and placed under a single commander and designated to operate in a specific geographical area. See also command.

area damage control — Measures taken before, during, or after hostile action or natural or manmade disasters, to reduce the probability of damage and minimize its effects. Also called ADC.

area denial — Action, activity, or capability, usually short-range, designed to limit an enemy force’s freedom of action within an operational area. Also called AD.

area of influence — A geographical area wherein a commander is directly capable of influencing operations by maneuver or fire support systems normally under the commander’s command or control.

area of interest — That area of concern to the commander, including the area of influence, areas adjacent thereto, and extending into enemy territory. Also called AOI. See also area of influence.

area of operations — An operational area defined by a commander for land and maritime forces that should be large enough to accomplish their missions and protect their forces. Also called AO. See also area of responsibility; joint operations area; joint special operations area.

area of responsibility — The geographical area associated with a combatant command within which a geographic combatant commander has authority to plan and conduct operations. Also called AOR. See also combatant command.

area search — Visual reconnaissance of limited or defined areas.

Armed Forces of the United States — A term used to denote collectively all components of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard (when mobilized under Title 10, United States Code, to augment the Navy). See also United States Armed Forces.

arming — As applied to explosives, weapons, and ammunition, the changing from a safe condition to a state of readiness for initiation.

Army air-ground system — The Army system which provides for interface between Army and tactical air support agencies of other Services in the planning, evaluating, processing, and coordinating of air support requirements and operations. Also called AAGS.

Army corps — An intermediate headquarters between divisions and the theater army consisting of two or more divisions together with supporting brigades.

Army Service component command — Command responsible for recommendations to the joint force commander on the allocation and employment of Army forces within a combatant command. Also called ASCC.

Army special operations forces — Those Active and Reserve Component Army forces designated by the Secretary of Defense that are specifically organized, trained, and equipped to conduct and support special operations. Also called ARSOF.

Army support area — The specific support area for a theater Army that is outside of a division or corps’s operational area established primarily for the positioning, employment, and protection of theater support units; and where the majority of the sustaining operations occur.

arrival zone — In counterdrug operations, the area in or adjacent to the United States where smuggling concludes and domestic distribution begins (by air, an airstrip; by sea, an offload point on land or transfer to small boats). See also transit zone.

ascent phase — That portion of the flight of a ballistic missile or space vehicle that begins after powered flight and ends just prior to apogee.

assault — 1. In an amphibious operation, the period of time between the arrival of the major assault forces of the amphibious task force in the objective area and the accomplishment of the amphibious task force mission. 2. To make a short, violent, but well-ordered attack against a local objective, such as a gun emplacement, a fort, or a machine gun nest. 3. A phase of an airborne operation beginning with delivery by air of the assault echelon of the force into the objective area and extending through attack of assault objectives and consolidation of the initial airhead. See also assault phase.

assault breaching — A part of amphibious breaching in support of an amphibious assault involving a fire support mission using precision-guided munitions to neutralize mines and obstacles in the surf zone and on the beach.

assault craft unit — A permanently commissioned naval organization, subordinate to the commander, naval beach group, that contains landing craft and crews necessary to provide lighterage required in an amphibious operation. Also called ACU.

assault echelon — In amphibious operations, the element of a force comprised of tailored units and aircraft assigned to conduct the initial assault on the operational area. Also called AE. See also amphibious operation.

assault follow-on echelon — In amphibious operations, that echelon of the assault troops, vehicles, aircraft, equipment, and supplies that, though not needed to initiate the assault, is required to support and sustain the assault. Also called AFOE.

assault phase — In an airborne operation, a phase beginning with delivery by air of the assault echelon of the force into the objective area and extending through attack of assault objectives and consolidation of the initial airhead. See also assault.

assault schedule — In amphibious operations, a schedule that provides the formation, composition, and timing of waves landing over the beach.

assessment — 1. A continuous process that measures the overall effectiveness of employing capabilities during military operations. 2. Determination of the progress toward accomplishing a task, creating a condition, or achieving an objective. 3. Analysis of the security, effectiveness, and potential of an existing or planned intelligence activity. 4. Judgment of the motives, qualifications, and characteristics of present or prospective employees or “agents.”

assessment agent — The organization responsible for conducting an assessment of an approved joint publication. Also called AA. 

asset validation — In intelligence use, the process used to determine the asset authenticity, reliability, utility, suitability, and degree of control the case officer or others have.

asset visibility — Provides users with information on the location, movement, status and identity of units, personnel, equipment, and supplies. Also called AV.

assign — 1. To place units or personnel in an organization where such placement is relatively permanent, and/or where such organization controls and administers the units or personnel for the primary function, or greater portion of the functions, of the unit or personnel. 2. To detail individuals to specific duties or functions where such duties or functions are primary and/or relatively permanent. See also attach.

assumption — A specific supposition of the operational environment that is assumed to be true, in the absence of positive proof, essential for the continuation of planning.

atmospheric environment — The envelope of air surrounding the Earth, including its interfaces and interactions with the Earth’s solid or liquid surface.

attach — 1. The placement of units or personnel in an organization where such placement is relatively temporary. 2. The detailing of individuals to specific functions where such functions are secondary or relatively temporary. See also assign.

attack group — A subordinate task organization of the Navy forces of an amphibious task force composed of amphibious warfare ships and supporting naval units designated to transport, protect, land, and initially support a landing group.

attack heading — 1. The interceptor heading during the attack phase that will achieve the desired track-crossing angle. 2. The assigned magnetic compass heading to be flown by aircraft during the delivery phase of an air strike.

attack position — The last position occupied by the assault echelon before crossing the line of departure.

audience — In public affairs, a broadly-defined group that contains stakeholders and/or publics relevant to military operations.

authentication — 1. A security measure designed to protect a communications system against acceptance of a fraudulent transmission or simulation by establishing the validity of a transmission, message, or originator. 2. A means of identifying individuals and verifying their eligibility to receive specific categories of information. 3. Evidence by proper signature or seal that a document is genuine and official. 4. In personnel recovery missions, the process whereby the identity of an isolated person is confirmed. See also evader; evasion; recovery operations; security.

authorized departure — A procedure, short of ordered departure, by which mission employees or dependents or both, are permitted to leave post in advance of normal rotation when the national interests or imminent threat to life require it.

Automated Repatriation Reporting System — A Defense Manpower Data Center system used to track the status of noncombatant evacuees after they have arrived in an initial safe haven in the United States.

automatic identification technology — A suite of technologies enabling the automatic capture of data, thereby enhancing the ability to identify, track, document, and control assets (e.g., materiel), deploying and redeploying forces, equipment, personnel, and sustainment cargo. Also called AIT.

autonomous operation — In air defense, the mode of operation assumed by a unit after it has lost all communications with higher echelons forcing the unit commander to assume full responsibility for control of weapons and engagement of hostile targets.

avenue of approach — An air or ground route of an attacking force of a given size leading to its objective or to key terrain in its path. Also called AA.

aviation medicine — The special field of medicine that is related to the biological and psychological problems of flight.

Military Dictionary A to Z


See also Official DOD Shortened Word Forms.

Source: Official DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms.