Let’s Write it Right – Military/Security Acronyms and Initialisms Guest post by #amazingauthor Lynn Hallbrooks @lynnhallbrooks
I liked to begin by saying thank you to Belinda for allowing me a chance to spend some time with everyone today.
In order to become a better writer, I’ve been reading many books, especially those in the Military and Political Intrigue genres. I noticed that one term had different ways of being typed out. I wanted to know who was correct. If you’ve done any research on the Internet, then you know I went on a journey. I’d like to share a little bit of my adventure.
The Term In Question
SEAL vs. Seal vs. seal
I’ve always believed that it should be all capital letters. I saw on this on Wikipedia <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Navy_SEALs >:
…”SEAL” is always capitalized in reference to members of the Naval Special Warfare community…
That was good enough for me but if I was going to tell others they were wrong I had to have a little more proof because not everyone believes in Wikipedia. So I went to their sources, The Navy SEAL Museum article entitled Genesis of the U.S. Navy’s SEa, Air, Land (SEAL) Teams <https://navysealmuseum.com/about-navy-seals/seal-history-the-naval-special-warfare-story/genesis-of-the-u-s-navys-sea-air-land-seal-teams> where I learned how the term for this special amphibious was created:
“…focal point through which all elements of this specialized Navy capability (naval guerrilla warfare) would be channeled. An appropriate name for such units could be SEAL units, SEAL being a contraction of SEA, AIR, LAND, and thereby, indicating an all-around, universal capability.”…
Further along on my adventure I discovered the U.S. Navy Style Guide <http://www.navy.mil/tools/view_styleguide_all.asp> which has several military abbreviations defined.
SEAL – Sea, Air, Land. SEAL is acceptable on first reference. If plural, use SEALs.
As you can see from the above quotes and keeping in mind that oftentimes it is difficult to get websites to cooperate, SEAL is a contraction of SEa – Air – Land. It is a proper noun for a US Navy special warfare operator. If you use the lowercase version, seal, it denotes a marine mammal. While a SEAL may be amphibious like a seal, that’s where the similarities end. I have the utmost respect for the U.S. Navy SEALs. I will always show it by using capital letters for them. I hope you will too.
Here is another bit of information I learned. According to Grammar Girl there are subsets of abbreviations known as acronyms and initialisms. <http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/abbreviations-acronyms-and-initialisms-0>
SEAL is an acronym because it is a set of letters that can be read or spoken as a word.
An example of initialism is CIA short for Central Intelligence Agency because you say each letter individually.
Below are some more acronyms from the glossary used in Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Storm Warning) <http://www.amazon.com/Call-Sign-Wrecking-Storm-Warning/dp/0982792352>
BUD/S = Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (Training or School)
FARC = Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia Spanish for Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
HALO = High Altitude Low Opening
ICE = Immigration and Customs Enforcement
JAG = Judge Advocate General’s Corps
LASER = Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation
LEOs = Law Enforcement Officers
NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NEST = Nuclear Explosive Search Team
SOAR = Special Operations Army Regiment
SWCC (pronounced “swick”) = Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen
TOC (pronounced ‘tock’) = Tactical Operations Center
TOE = Tables Organization and Equipment
There are several initialisms as well. I’ll share a few that are less commonly known.
ACP = Automatic Colt Pistol
CHL = Concealed Handgun License
CID = Criminal Investigation Division
CO = Commanding Officer
CT = Computed Tomography
CTU = Counter Terrorist Unit
DIA = Defense Intelligence Agency
ETS = Expiration of Term of Service
FOB = Forward Operating Bases
HK = Heckler & Koch (German defense manufacturing company)
IDF = Israel Defense Forces
INS = Immigration and Naturalization Service
JCSSO = Joint Chief of Staff, Special Operations
KGB = Komitét Gosudárstvennoĭ Bezopásnosti (Russian version of CIA)
KIA = Killed In Action
MIA = Missing In Action
MiG = Mikoyan-i-Gurevich (Russian aircrafts)
NCO = Non Commissioned Officer
NEA = National Endowment for the Arts
NSA = National Security Agency
NVG = Night Vision Goggles
OIC = Officer in Charge
OJT = On the Job Training
PPOs = Personal Protection Officers
SAW = Squad Automatic Weapon
SOF = Special Operations Forces
UDT = Underwater Demolition Team
USSOC = United States Special Operation Command
USP = Universale Selbstladepistole or “universal self-loading pistol” a Heckler & Koch product
WIA = Wounded In Action
XO = Executive Officer
I hope this information will be helpful to you down the road. Have a great one!