Sometimes reading a military-set book can feel like being in a foreign country if you are not military yourself. Here is a collection of helpful glossary terms and also links providing further information on military protocol and the like. I used a lot of these when writing, and some of them are links I found to enhance and support the reading experience. It’s by no means complete, and if you’ve got a link you know of that you think I should add, please feel free to contact me with it!

Glossary Terms
Branches of the U.S. Military
Organizations / Foundations

Glossary Terms

Here’s a quick & dirty guide to acronyms and other terms used in both the Hard to Hold and Shadow Force series. They’re in alphabetical order – for some, I’ve given an explanation, and for others, simply the link, which can explain much better than I ever could.

ASR – alternate supply route

Black/Gray Ops – deniable missions, ones that are off the grid, top secret and officially do not exist.

BUD/s – or BUD/S as it is on the actual Navy (navy) website. Stands for Basic Underwater Demolition (SEAL) Training. A six month course split into 3 parts, the first of which is most known for ending in Hell Week.

CAG – Commander, Air Force / Navy

Commissioned versus Enlisted – Click to find out more.

The Congo – Democratic Republic of the Congo

DoD – Department of Defense

Doctors Without Borders – see also MSF (Medicins Sanas Frontieres).
Click to find out more.

FUBAR – Fucked up beyond all recognition

GOST – Government Operatives Specialty Team. Stephanie Tyler created this agency…or did she? Hmmmm….

Hell Week – the culmination of the first 8 weeks of BUS/S training where potential SEALs are pushed to their limits, mentally and physically. Typically, 2/3 of candidates ring out at this point, at the conditioning is punishing and meant to weed out the men who are capable of handling physical pain, extreme lack of sleep, being cold and wet and constantly berated by instructors.

Helo – helicopter

IED – improvised explosive device

JAG – Judge Advocate General (Naval lawyers)

LZ – landing zone

Merc – mercenary. These days, the term private contractor is used more frequently. But really, they are soldiers (and sailors) for hire, usually in other countries, such as Africa or Afghanistan or Iraq. Click to find out more.

METTAGS – Stands for Medical Emergency Triage tag. They are four different colored tags used to maximize survivors in battle and disaster situation. Cards are color coded and labeled Red for Urgent, Yellow for non-urgent, Green for no hospital treatment and Black for dead or unsalvageable. See Mettag website for more details.

MIA – Missing in Action

MO – Modus Operandi

MSF – Médecins Sans Frontières or Doctors Without Borders
Médecins Sans Frontières was created in 1971 by a small group of French doctors in the aftermath of the Biafra secession, who believed that all people have the right to medical care regardless of race, religion, creed or political affiliation, and that the needs of these people supersede respect for national borders.[1]

The organization is known in most of the world by its French name or simply as MSF, but in the United States and Canada the name Doctors Without Borders is often used instead. (From Wikipedia)

NVs – Night Vision goggles

OCS – Officer Candidate School

OUTCONUS – Outside the Continental United States

QAF – Quick Action Force

PSD – Protective Service Detail (authorized by military for military personnel)

RPGs – Rocket Propelled Grenades

SAS – British Special Forces

SERE – stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape – standard training for Special Forces / SEALs, etc.

SIG – Sig Sauer (gun)

SITREP – Situation Report

SOP – Standard Operating Procedure

UDT – Underwater Demolition Teams (aka Frogmen) – early SEALs

Witness Protection Program – aka Witness Security aka WitSec

ZimbabweClick to find out more.


Branches of Military


Air Force (U.S.)

Air Force Special Operations (U.S.)

ParaJumpers – aka PJs


Army (U.S.)

Army Special Operations (U.S.)

Delta Force – covert branch of the Army’s Special Forces.

Night Stalkers

Green Berets

Rangers – Army


Coast Guard (U.S.)


Marine Corps (U.S.)

Marine Corps Special Operations – Capable and Special Mission Units (U.S.)

Force Recon – Marines / Special Forces


Navy (U.S).

Naval Special Warfare Units (U.S.)

SEAL – an acronym for Sea, Air and Land – part of the elite Special Operations Forces of the Military



Military Time

Military Codename Generator


Candace Irvin’s Military Links

Froggy Ruminations

Romance Salutes the Military


Organizations and Foundations

United Warrior Survival Foundation

Special Operations Warrior Foundation

Naval Special Warfare Foundation

Adopt A Sniper

UDT/SEAL Association

Adopt a Soldier

Soldier’s Angels

Adopt a Platoon