A Quick Guide to the Military Alphabet



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Many popular video games use the military alphabet as a part of making the experience seem real. While these games are great for learning a little bit of the military phonetic alphabet, it’s better to have a full understanding of what this alphabet is. Here’s a quick guide to help you better understand what the military alphabet is and why it’s used.

History of the Military Alphabet

Also referred to as the phonetic alphabet or the military phonetic alphabet, the military alphabet was first adopted in 1927 by the ITU. Many changes were made throughout the next decade due to the adoption of this alphabet.

There have been several different versions, such as the ICAO, which was used up until World War II by some and until 1956 it was adopted by the American and British armed forces. Some of the variation may have included a different Morse code or word used for each letter. Going all the way back to 1913, there was a version used then with Able for A, but today they use Alpha instead.

Along with the military, many civilian and amateur radio operators adopted the phonetic alphabet. Today’s most common version is known as the NATO military alphabet.

What is the Military Alphabet Used For?

The main reason the phonetic alphabet was adopted by the military and radio operators was to ensure clearness during receiving and transmitting voice messages through telephone and radio. It may be used to spell out specific words, locations or other details during a conversation between two military officers. Even some police forces have adopted this alphabet to ensure clearness with messages.

The Military Alphabet

While there are several versions of the military alphabet, today’s standard is as follows:

• A – Alpha
• B – Bravo
• C – Charlie
• D – Delta
• E – Echo
• F – Foxtrot
• G – Golf

• H – Hotel
• I – India
• J – Juliet
• K – Kilo
• L – Lima
• M – Mike
• N – November
• O – Oscar
• P – Papa
• Q – Quebec
• R – Romeo
• S – Sierra
• T – Tango
• U – Uniform
• V – Victor
• W – Whiskey
• X – X-ray
• Y – Yankee
• Z – Zulu

This is the NATO military alphabet most accepted by military, police and radio operators today.

The way this alphabet would look during a conversation is simple. Say a military commander needed to let an officer know a specific location, such as Fort Hood. Instead of saying “Fort Hood” the commander would say Foxtrot, Oscar, Romeo, Tango, Hotel, Oscar, Oscar, Delta. This spells out Fort Hood, but makes it clear the location in case the person on the other line is struggling to make out the message.

Even with the clearest signal on a telephone or radio, this alphabet is used to ensure no mistakes are made. For more than a century, the military alphabet has been around in one form or another. It has been present in many different wars and we see it in our regular daily lives during certain TV shows, movies and video games, as well.

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