Military Dictionary – Letter D

Military Dictionary Letter DHere are the DOD Dictionary terms beginning with the letter D and organized alphabetically. Browse terms from the official DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms that start with D and view definitions. Read on for military definitions that begin with D such as detainee operations, double agent, dynamic threat assessment and more.

Military Dictionary A to Z


See also Official DOD Shortened Word Forms.


damage assessment — 1. The determination of the effect of engagements on targets. 2. A determination of the effect of a compromise of classified information on national security.

damage criteria — The critical levels of various weapons effects required to create specified levels of damage.

danger close — In close air support, artillery, mortar, and naval gunfire support fires, the term included in the method of engagement segment of a call for fire that indicates that friendly forces are within close proximity of the target. See also final protective fire.

dangerous cargo — Cargo that is subject to special regulations for its transport because of its dangerous properties.

data element — 1. A basic unit of information built on standard structures having a unique meaning and distinct units or values. 2. In electronic recordkeeping, a combination of characters or bytes referring to one separate item of information, such as name, address, or age.

datum (geodetic) — 1. A reference surface consisting of five quantities: the latitude and longitude of an initial point, the azimuth of a line from that point, and the parameters of the reference ellipsoid. 2. The mathematical model of the Earth used to calculate the coordinates on any map. Different nations use different datum for printing coordinates on their maps.

D-day — The unnamed day on which a particular operation commences or is to commence.

de-arming — An operation in which a weapon is changed from a state of readiness for initiation to a safe condition. Also called safing.

debarkation — The unloading of troops, equipment, or supplies from a ship or aircraft.

debarkation schedule — A schedule that provides for the timely and orderly debarkation of troops and equipment and emergency supplies for the waterborne ship-to-shore movement.

decedent effects — Personal effects found on human remains. Also called DE.

decentralized control — In air defense, the normal mode whereby a higher echelon monitors unit actions, making direct target assignments to units only when necessary to ensure proper fire distribution or to prevent engagement of friendly aircraft. See also centralized control. 

decentralized execution Delegation of execution authority to subordinate commanders.

deception action — A collection of related deception events that form a major component of a deception operation.

deception concept — The deception course of action forwarded to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for review as part of the combatant commander’s strategic concept.

deception event — A deception means executed at a specific time and location in support of a deception operation.

deception goal — Commander’s statement of the purpose of military deception as it contributes to the successful accomplishment of the assigned mission.

deception means — Methods, resources, and techniques that can be used to convey information to the deception target.

deception objective — The desired result of a deception operation expressed in terms of what the adversary is to do or not to do at the critical time and/or location.

deception story — A scenario that outlines the friendly actions that will be portrayed to cause the deception target to adopt the desired perception.

deception target — The adversary decision maker with the authority to make the decision that will achieve the deception objective.

decision — In an estimate of the situation, a clear and concise statement of the line of action intended to be followed by the commander as the one most favorable to the successful accomplishment of the assigned mission.

decision point — A point in space and time when the commander or staff anticipates making a key decision concerning a specific course of action. See also course of action; decision support template; target area of interest.

decision support template — A combined intelligence and operations graphic based on the results of wargaming that depicts decision points, timelines associated with movement of forces and the flow of the operation, and other key items of information required to execute a specific friendly course of action. Also called DST. See also course of action; decision point.

decisive point — A geographic place, specific key event, critical factor, or function that, when acted upon, allows commanders to gain a marked advantage over an enemy or contribute materially to achieving success. See also center of gravity.

deck status light — A three-colored light (red, amber, green) controlled from the primary flight control. Navy — The light displays the status of the ship to support flight operations. United States Coast Guard — The light displays clearance for a helicopter to conduct a given evolution.

decompression — In personnel recovery, the process of normalizing psychological and behavioral reactions that recovered isolated personnel experienced or are currently experiencing as a result of their isolation and recovery.

decontamination — The process of making any person, object, or area safe by destroying, neutralizing, making harmless, or absorbing and removing chemical or biological agents or by removing radioactive material clinging to or around it.

decoy — An imitation in any sense of a person, object, or phenomenon that is intended to deceive enemy surveillance devices or mislead enemy evaluation. Also called dummy.

defended asset list — A listing of those assets from the critical asset list prioritized by the joint force commander to be defended with the resources available. Also called DAL.

defense coordinating element — Staff and military liaison officers who assist the defense coordinating officer in facilitating coordination and support to activated emergency support functions. Also called DCE.

defense coordinating officer — Department of Defense single point of contact for domestic emergencies who is assigned to a joint field office to process requirements for military support; forward mission assignments through proper channels to the appropriate military organizations; and assign military liaisons, as appropriate, to activated emergency support functions. Also called DCO.

defense critical infrastructure — Department of Defense and non-Department of Defense networked assets and facilities essential to project, support, and sustain military forces and operations worldwide. Also called DCI.

defense human intelligence executor — The senior Department of Defense intelligence official as designated by the head of each of the Department of Defense components who are authorized to conduct human intelligence and related intelligence activities. Also called DHE.

defense industrial base — The Department of Defense, government, and private sector worldwide industrial complex with capabilities to perform research and development and design, produce, and maintain military weapon systems, subsystems, components, or parts to meet military requirements. Also called DIB.

Defense Information Systems Network — The integrated network, centrally managed and configured by the Defense Information Systems Agency to provide dedicated point-to-point, switched voice and data, imagery, and video teleconferencing services for all Department of Defense activities. Also called DISN.

defense institution building — Security cooperation conducted to establish or reform the capacity and capabilities of a partner nation’s defense institutions at the ministerial/department, military staff, and service headquarters levels. Also called DIB.

Defense Strategic Guidance — A document approved by the Secretary of Defense for applying the Armed Forces of the United States in coordination with Department of Defense agencies and other instruments of national power to achieve national security strategy objectives. Also called DSG.

Defense Switched Network — The component of the Defense Communications System that handles Department of Defense voice, data, and video communications. Also called DSN.

Defense Transportation System — That portion of the worldwide transportation infrastructure that supports Department of Defense transportation needs. Also called DTS. See also common-user transportation; transportation system.

defensive counterair — All defensive measures designed to neutralize or destroy enemy forces attempting to penetrate or attack through friendly airspace. Also called DCA. See also counterair; offensive counterair.

defensive cyberspace operations — Missions to preserve the ability to utilize blue cyberspace capabilities and protect data, networks, cyberspace-enabled devices, and other designated systems by defeating on-going or imminent malicious cyberspace activity. Also called DCO.

defensive cyberspace operations-internal defensive measures — Operations in which authorized defense actions occur within the defended portion of cyberspace. Also called DCO-IDM.

defensive cyberspace operations-response actions Operations that are part of a defensive cyberspace operations mission that are taken external to the defended network or portion of cyberspace without the permission of the owner of the affected system. Also called DCO-RA.

defensive minefield — 1. In naval mine warfare, a minefield laid in international waters or international straits with the declared intention of controlling shipping in defense of sea communications. 2. In land mine warfare, a minefield laid in accordance with an established plan to prevent a penetration between positions and to strengthen the defense of the positions themselves. See also minefield.

defensive space control — Active and passive measures taken to protect friendly space capabilities from attack, interference, or unintentional hazards. Also called  DSC.

defilade — 1. Protection from hostile observation and fire provided by an obstacle such as a hill, ridge, or bank. 2. A vertical distance by which a position is concealed from enemy observation. 3. To shield from enemy fire or observation by using natural or artificial obstacles.

definitive care — Care rendered to conclusively manage a patient’s condition, such as full range of preventive, curative acute, convalescent, restorative, and rehabilitative medical care.

degaussing — The process whereby a ship’s magnetic field is reduced by the use of electromagnetic coils, permanent magnets, or other means.

delayed entry program — A program under which an individual may enlist in a Reserve Component of a Service and specify a future reporting date for entry on active duty that would coincide with availability of training spaces and with personal plans. Also called DEP. See also active duty.

delaying operation — An operation in which a force under pressure trades space for time by slowing down the enemy’s momentum and inflicting maximum damage on the enemy without, in principle, becoming decisively engaged.

delegation of authority — The action by which a commander assigns part of his or her authority, commensurate with the assigned task, to a subordinate commander.

demobilization — 1. The process of transitioning a conflict or wartime military establishment and defense-based civilian economy to a peacetime configuration while maintaining national security and economic vitality. 2. The process necessary to release from active duty, or federal service, units and Reserve Component members who were ordered to active duty or called to federal service. See also mobilization.

demonstration — In military deception, a show of force similar to a feint without actual contact with the adversary, in an area where a decision is not sought that is made to deceive an adversary.

denial measure — An action to hinder or deny the enemy the use of territory, personnel, or facilities to include destruction, removal, contamination, or erection of obstructions.

denied area — An area under enemy or unfriendly control in which friendly forces cannot expect to operate successfully within existing operational constraints and force capabilities.

Department of Defense civilian — A Federal civilian employee of the Department of Defense directly hired and paid from appropriated or nonappropriated funds, under permanent or temporary appointment.

Department of Defense components — The Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Military Departments, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Joint Staff, the combatant commands, the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, the Department of Defense agencies, Department of Defense field activities, and all other organizational entities in the Department of Defense.

Department of Defense construction agent — United States Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, or other such approved Department of Defense activity, that is assigned design or execution responsibilities associated with military construction programs, facilities support, or civil engineering support to the combatant commanders in contingency operations. See also contingency operation.

Department of Defense container system — All Department of Defense owned, leased, and controlled 20- or 40-foot intermodal International Organization for Standardization containers and flatracks, supporting equipment such as generator sets and chassis, container handling equipment, information systems, the 463L system, and other infrastructure that supports Department of Defense transportation and logistic operations, including commercially provided transportation services. See also container-handling equipment.

Department of Defense information network — The set of information capabilities, and associated processes for collecting, processing, storing, disseminating, and managing information on-demand to warfighters, policy makers, and support personnel, whether interconnected or stand-alone, including owned and leased communications and computing systems and services, software (including applications), data, security services, other associated services, and national security systems. Also called DODIN.

Department of Defense information network operations — Operations to secure, configure, operate, extend, maintain, and sustain Department of Defense cyberspace to create and preserve the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of the Department of Defense information network. Also called DODIN operations.

Department of Defense Intelligence Information System — The combination of Department of Defense personnel, procedures, equipment, computer programs, and supporting communications that support the timely and comprehensive preparation and presentation of intelligence and information to military commanders and national-level decision makers. Also called DODIIS.

Department of Defense support to counterdrug operations — Support provided by the Department of Defense to law enforcement agencies to detect, monitor, and counter the production, trafficking, and use of illicit drugs. See also counterdrug operations.

Department of the Air Force — The executive part of the Department of the Air Force at the seat of government and all field headquarters, forces, Reserve Component, installations, activities, and functions under the control or supervision of the Secretary of the Air Force. Also called DAF. See also Military Department.

Department of the Army — The executive part of the Department of the Army at the seat of government and all field headquarters, forces, Reserve Component, installations, activities, and functions under the control or supervision of the Secretary of the Army. Also called DA. See also Military Department.

Department of the Navy — The executive part of the Department of the Navy at the seat of government; the headquarters, United States Marine Corps; the entire operating forces of the United States Navy and of the United States Marine Corps, including the Reserve Component of such forces; all field activities, headquarters, forces, bases, installations, activities, and functions under the control or supervision of the Secretary of the Navy; and the United States Coast Guard when operating as a part of the Navy pursuant to law. Also called DON. See also Military Department.

departure airfield — An airfield on which troops and/or materiel are enplaned for flight. See also airfield.

departure point — A navigational check point used by aircraft as a marker for setting course.

dependents — An employee’s spouse; children who are unmarried and under age 21 years or who, regardless of age, are physically or mentally incapable of self-support; dependent parents, including step and legally adoptive parents of the employee’s spouse; and dependent brothers and sisters, including step and legally adoptive brothers and sisters of the employee’s spouse who are unmarried and under 21 years of age or who, regardless of age, are physically or mentally incapable of self-support.

deployment — The movement of forces into and out of an operational area. See also deployment order; deployment planning; prepare to deploy order.

deployment health surveillance — The regular or repeated collection, analysis, archiving, interpretation, and distribution of health-related data used for monitoring the health of a population or of individuals, and for intervening in a timely manner to prevent, treat, or control the occurrence of disease or injury, which includes occupational and environmental health surveillance and medical surveillance subcomponents.

deployment order — 1. A directive for the deployments of forces for operations or exercises. 2. A directive from the Secretary of Defense, issued by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that authorizes the transfer of forces between combatant commanders, Services, and Department of Defense agencies and specifies the authorities the gaining combatant commander will exercise over the specific forces to be transferred. Also called DEPORD. See also deployment; deployment planning; prepare to deploy order.

deployment planning Operational planning directed toward the movement of forces and sustainment resources from their original locations to a specific operational area for conducting the operations contemplated in a given plan. See also deployment; deployment order; prepare to deploy order.

depot — 1. supply—An activity for the receipt, classification, storage, accounting, issue, maintenance, procurement, manufacture, assembly, research, salvage, or disposal of material. 2. personnel—An activity for the reception, processing, training, assignment, and forwarding of personnel replacements.

design basis threat — The threat against which buildings and other structures must be protected and upon which the protective system’s design is based. Also called DBT.

desired mean point of impact — A point designated as the center for impact of multiple weapons or area munitions to create a desired effect on a mobile, transportable, or area target and normally defined by grid reference or geolocation. Also called  DMPI.

desired perception — In military deception, what the deception target must believe for it to make the decision that will achieve the deception objective.

desired point of impact — A precise point associated with a target and assigned as the impact point for a single unitary weapon to create a desired effect. Also called DPI. See also aimpoint.

detainee — Any person captured, detained, or otherwise under the control of Department of Defense personnel.

detainee collection point — A facility or other location where detainees are assembled for subsequent movement to a detainee holding area. Also called DCP.

detainee debriefing — The process of using direct questions to elicit intelligence information from a cooperative  detainee to  satisfy   intelligence  requirements.

detainee holding area — A facility or other location where detainees are administratively processed and provided custodial care pending disposition and subsequent release, transfer, or movement to a theater detention facility. Also called DHA.

detainee operations — A broad term that encompasses the capture, initial detention and screening, transportation, treatment and protection, housing, transfer, and release of the wide range of persons who could be categorized as detainees

detection — 1. In tactical operations, the perception of an object of possible military interest but unconfirmed by recognition. 2. In surveillance, the determination and transmission by a surveillance system that an event has occurred. 3. In arms control, the first step in the process of ascertaining the occurrence of a violation of an arms control agreement. 4. In chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear environments, the act of locating chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear hazards by use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear detectors or monitoring and/or survey teams. See also hazard.

deterrence — The prevention of action by the existence of a credible threat of unacceptable counteraction and/or belief that the cost of action outweighs the perceived benefits.

direct action — Short-duration strikes and other small-scale offensive actions conducted as a special operation in hostile, denied, or diplomatically sensitive environments and which employ specialized military capabilities to seize, destroy, capture, exploit, recover, or damage designated targets. Also called DA. See also special operations; special operations forces.

direct air support center — The principal air control agency of the United States Marine Corps air command and control system responsible for the direction and control of air operations directly supporting the ground combat element. Also called DASC. See also Marine air command and control system; tactical air operations center.

direct air support center (airborne) — An airborne aircraft equipped with the necessary staff personnel, communications, and operations facilities to function as a direct air support center. Also called DASC(A). See also direct air support center.

directed energy An umbrella term covering technologies that relate to the production of a beam of concentrated electromagnetic energy or atomic or subatomic particles. Also called DE. See also directed-energy device; directed-energy weapon.

directed-energy device — A system using directed energy primarily for a purpose other than as a weapon. See also directed energy; directed-energy weapon.

directed-energy warfare — Military action involving the use of directed-energy weapons, devices, and countermeasures. Also called DEW. See also directed energy; directed-energy device; directed-energy weapon; electromagnetic spectrum; electronic warfare.

directed-energy weapon — A weapon or system that uses directed energy to incapacitate, damage, or destroy enemy equipment, facilities, and/or personnel. See also directed energy; directed-energy device.

direct fire — Fire delivered on a target using the target itself as a point of aim for either the weapon or the director.

direction finding — A procedure for obtaining bearings of radio frequency emitters by using a highly directional antenna and a display unit on an intercept receiver or ancillary equipment. Also called DF.

directive authority for cyberspace operations — The authority to issue orders and directives to all Department of Defense components to execute global Department of Defense information network operations and defensive cyberspace operations internal defensive measures. Also called DACO.

directive authority for logistics — Combatant commander authority to issue directives to subordinate commanders to ensure the effective execution of approved operation plans, optimize the use or reallocation of available resources, and prevent or eliminate redundant facilities and/or overlapping functions among the Service component commands. Also called DAFL. See also combatant command (command authority); logistics.

direct liaison authorized — That authority granted by a commander (any level) to a subordinate to directly consult or coordinate an action with a command or agency within or outside of the granting command. Also called DIRLAUTH.

director of mobility forces — The designated agent for all air mobility issues in the area of responsibility or joint operations area exercising coordinating authority between the air operations center (or appropriate theater command and control node), the 618th Air Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center), and the joint deployment and distribution operations center or joint movement center to expedite the resolution of air mobility issues. Also called DIRMOBFOR. See also air operations center; coordinating authority.

direct support — A mission requiring a force to support another specific force and authorizing it to answer directly to the supported force’s request for assistance. Also called DS. See also close support; general support; mission; mutual support; support.

disaster assistance response team — A team deployed by the United States Agency for International Development, if a large-scale, urgent, and/or extended response is necessary, to provide specialists to assist the chief of mission and the United States Agency for International Development mission (where present) with the management of the United States Government response to a disaster. Also called DART. See also foreign disaster; foreign disaster relief.

disease and nonbattle injury — All illnesses and injuries not resulting from hostile action or terrorist activity or caused by conflict. Also called DNBI.

dislocated civilian — A broad term primarily used by the Department of Defense that includes a displaced person, an evacuee, an internally displaced person, a migrant, a refugee, or a stateless person. Also called DC. See also displaced person; evacuee; internally displaced person; migrant; refugee; stateless person.

dispersal — Relocation of forces for the purpose of increasing survivability.

dispersion — 1. The spreading or separating of troops, materiel, establishments, or activities, which are usually concentrated in limited areas to reduce vulnerability. 2. In chemical and biological operations, the dissemination of agents in liquid or aerosol form. 3. In airdrop operations, the scatter of personnel and/or cargo on the drop zone. 4. In naval control of shipping, the reberthing of a ship in the periphery of the port area or in the vicinity of the port for its own protection in order to minimize the risk of damage from attack.

displaced person A broad term used to refer to internally and externally displaced persons collectively. See also evacuee; refugee.

display — In military deception, a static portrayal of an activity, force, or equipment intended to deceive the adversary’s visual observation.

dissemination — In intelligence usage, the delivery of intelligence to users in a suitable form. See also intelligence process.

distant retirement area — In amphibious operations, the sea area located to seaward of the landing area to which assault ships may retire and operate in the event of adverse weather or to prevent concentration of ships in the landing area. See also amphibious operation; landing area.

distressed person — An individual who requires search and rescue assistance to remove he or she from life-threatening or isolating circumstances in a permissive environment.

distribution — 1. The arrangement of troops for any purpose, such as a battle, march, or maneuver. 2. A planned pattern of projectiles about a point. 3. A planned spread of fire to cover a desired frontage or depth. 4. An official delivery of anything, such as orders or supplies. 5. The operational process of synchronizing all elements of the logistic system to deliver the “right things” to the “right place” at the “right time” to support the geographic combatant commander. 6. The process of assigning military personnel to activities, units, or billets.

distribution manager — The executive agent for managing distribution with the combatant commander’s area of responsibility. See also area of responsibility; distribution.

distribution pipeline — Continuum or channel through which the Department of Defense conducts distribution operations, representing the end-to-end flow of resources from supplier to consumer and, in some cases, back to the supplier in retrograde activities. See also distribution.

distribution plan — A reporting system comprising reports, updates, and information systems feeds that articulate the requirements of the theater distribution system to the strategic and operational resources assigned responsibility for support to the theater. See also distribution; distribution system; theater distribution; theater distribution system.

distribution point — A point at which supplies and/or ammunition, obtained from supporting supply points by a division or other unit, are broken down for distribution to subordinate units.

distribution system — That complex of facilities, installations, methods, and procedures designed to receive, store, maintain, distribute, and control the flow of military materiel between the point of receipt into the military system and the point of issue to using activities and units.

diversion — 1. The act of drawing the attention and forces of an enemy from the point of the principal operation; an attack, alarm, or feint that diverts attention. 2. A change made in a prescribed route for operational or tactical reasons that does not constitute a change of destination. 3. A rerouting of cargo or passengers to a new transshipment point or destination or on a different mode of transportation prior to arrival at ultimate destination. 4. In naval mine warfare, a route or channel bypassing a dangerous area by connecting one channel to another or it may branch from a channel and rejoin it on the other side of the danger. See also demonstration.

domestic emergencies — Civil defense emergencies, civil disturbances, major disasters, or natural disasters affecting the public welfare and occurring within the United States and its territories. See also natural disaster.

domestic intelligence — Intelligence relating to activities or conditions within the United States that threaten internal security and that might require the employment of troops; and intelligence relating to activities of individuals or agencies potentially or actually dangerous to the security of the Department of Defense.

dominant user — The Service or multinational partner who is the principal consumer of a particular common-user logistics supply or service within a joint or multinational operation and will normally act as the lead Service to provide this particular common- user logistics supply or service to other Service components, multinational partners, other governmental agencies, or nongovernmental agencies as directed by the combatant commander. See also common-user logistics; lead Service or agency for common-user logistics.

double agent — Agent in contact with two opposing intelligence services, only one of which is aware of the double contact or quasi-intelligence services. Also called DA.

double container — A 9.8125 feet by 8 feet by 8 feet (2991 millimeters by 2438 millimeters by 2438 millimeters) reusable International Standards Organization compliant double container, with double doors at both ends, used for the storage, transportation, and distribution of dry cargo. Also called BICON.

downloading — An operation that removes airborne weapons or stores from an aircraft.

drop altitude — The altitude above mean sea level at which airdrop is executed.

drop zone — A specific area upon which airborne troops, equipment, or supplies are airdropped. Also called DZ.

drug interdiction — A continuum of events focused on interrupting illicit drugs smuggled by air, sea, or land. See also counterdrug operations.

dual-role tanker — An aircraft that can carry support personnel, supplies, and equipment for the deploying force while escorting and/or refueling combat aircraft to the area of responsibility. See also air refueling.

dwell time — The length of time a target is expected to remain in one location.

dynamic targeting — Targeting that prosecutes targets identified too late or not selected for action in time to be included in deliberate targeting.

dynamic threat assessment — An intelligence assessment developed by the Defense Intelligence Agency that details the threat, capabilities, and intentions of adversaries in each of the priority plans in the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan. Also called DTA.

Military Dictionary A to Z


See also Official DOD Shortened Word Forms.

Source: Official DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms.