Daily Staff Journal - Common Abbreviations
It was standard practice to abbreviate words and place names that were commonly and repeatedly used in the military, in order to quickly and easily record the information on standard log forms and reports. Unfortunately, with the passing of decades since the Vietnam war, it becomes more difficult to understand what these cryptic symbols referred to. I've done my best to decipher a few of them here.
Used to indicate that not all of a military unit's force is included in the activity. For instance, the term Company A (-) would indicate that not all of Alpha company is participating in a mission, perhaps one or more platoons are assigned elsewhere.
Air Mobility Command - in the Daily Staff Journals, referred to helicopters being used as troop transport ships to ferry units from one place to another, and often into combat environments
Area of Operation - the physical location where a military unit will be operating, bounded by a set of map coordinates or physical features such as rivers or roads
Ambush Patrol, usually a patrol or ambush set up to surprise an enemy moving about at night
Armored Personnel Carrier, used to safely transport troops up to the point of contact in a firefight. In Vietnam they were used as light armor, their top-mounted .50 Cal. machine guns providing supporting fire as the "tracks" rolled up and over enemy fortifications or crushed hootches (houses) hiding enemy soldiers. Specialized vehicles carried a 4.2 mortar on a rotating pad, or a large flame thrower, or an array of antennas for the communications equipment housed inside of a command vehicle.
Air Reconnaissance Liaison Officer, an officer within the unit given responsibility for coordinating air assets for their unit (such as helicopter support and transportation)
Army, Republic of Vietnam - refers to South Vietnamese soldiers or units made up of South Vietnamese Army members
Air Strike (one definition) The meaning of this abbreviation will depend on the context of the information around it.
As Soon As Possible
Aviation, usually part of a unit designation such as the 25th Infantry Division Aviation Battalion, or 25th Avn for short.
Code word for the operations that have been planned for a particular unit for that day, the activities that a unit has been ordered to complete
Body Count - an enemy soldier who has been killed in combat and whose body has been verified visually
Brigade - the command authority controlling the activities of the 2nd battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment; at various times the 2/14th was attached to the 1st, 2nd or 3rd Brigades of the 25th Infantry Division
A plastic explosive used by U.S. forces, usually found in blocks about one foot long, two inches wide and less than an inch thick.
Command and Control - a helicopter is being used to hover above a firefight in order to provide intelligence about what is happening, and to allow senior officers to coordinate activities on the ground in order to defeat the enemy forces
Combat Assault (I assume it means by helicopters, since it is always used in context with them)
Literally means "Open Arms", a program designed to encourage enemy soldiers to stop fighting and be welcomed with "open arms" back into civilian life in South Vietnam. If you Chieu Hoi, you are a Hoi Chanh
Civilian Irregular Defense Group - Program started by the CIA to counter Viet Cong influence in Central Highland villages, which trained and armed villagers to defend their own villages. The program was very successful, and control was transferred to MACV and expanded to much of the country
Company - a unit of soldiers roughly 60-100 men in size
Command Post - a command center where individuals (usually officers or non-commissioned officers) coordinate and control the activities of the men under their command
Combined Recon and Intelligence Platoon - a small, fast-reaction group organized to gather and make use of intelligence about the enemy. The platoon included individuals who could communicate in Vietnamese in order to interrogate detainees. CRIP members usually lived with Vietnamese soldiers
Date-Time Group, presented in the format DDHHMM in military time, 120600, or the 12th day of the month, at 0600 hours (6:00 AM), or 111800, the 11th day of the month, at 1800 hours (6:00 P.M.). Is sometimes followed by a 3-letter month abbreviation and a 2-digit year abbreviation
Dustoff / Medevac
Medical Evacuation helicopter used to airlift sick or wounded soldiers to the nearest medical facilities, and to remove dead soldiers from the battlefield
Explosive Ordnance Disposal
Forward Air Controller - usually a light observation aircraft used to coordinate activities between a unit on the ground and a rear element proving artillery support, or could also be acting independently to direct supporting fire onto enemy positions
Free Fire Zone - The area in question has been designated as being free of non-combatants, no civilians are supposed to be living there, and so artillery and air support is free to employ their weapons in the area
Fire Support Base
High Explosive - type of artillery round that produces a large amount of shrapnel when it explodes
Hand Frag, or hand fragmentation grenade, commonly called a hand grenade
An enemy soldier who has surrendered and joined the South Vietnamese program called Chieu Hoi ("Open Arms"), designed to re-integrate Viet Cong soldiers into civilian society
Prisoner of War Interrogation section of Military Intelligence included interrogation teams that were fluent in the native language and could talk to captured soldiers
Killed In Action - indicates that one or more individuals have been killed in combat
Light Anti-tank Weapon - today's equivalent of the WWII bazooka, it is lightweight and portable, pressing a button allows the barrel to be telescoped for firing. It contains one round, and the tube is then disposable.
Line of Departure - This is a guess, but is a standard military terminology. When used in the Daily Staff Journals, LD is the first destination given and so conforms to this definition.
Light Fire Team, usually a combination of a LOH (light observation helicopter) and a Cobra gunship, but could also be one or more Huey gunship helicopters
LiaisoN Officer - an officer who is serving as coordinator or go-between between two military units, sometimes between different nationalities (Vietnamese-United States forces)
Location, the relative place something is at
Light Observation Helicopter - these small two-man helicopters had a small bubble crew compartment with a stick attached to the back to support the tail rudder - they were fast and extremely maneuverable, ideal for observation, and command and control missions
Letter of Instruction / List of Items
Listening Post - a small position or patrol established to watch for enemy activity and alert the main body or group before it can be attacked.
Long Range Recon Patrol - Patrol often on patrol for days or even weeks at a time, usually in enemy-occupied territory, with the goal of determining enemy movements and scouting out enemy camps and supply depots
Light Scout Team - helicopters used to reconnoiter an area once for intelligence purposes, or when a ground force spots enemy activity
Landing Zone, a place where helicopters set down to unload their cargo of supplies or troops
Military Assistance Command, Vietnam - the military authority for operations in all of Vietnam
Mechanized - for example, the 1/5th (Mech) Infantry was a mechanized unit, employing Armored Personnel Carriers to transport their troops.
Medical Civic Action Program - A program designed to provide free medical and dental care to the Vietnamese population, as well as presentations and instruction on good hygiene, proper cooking procedures, how to boil water to kill germs, practices to avoid plague, malaria, typhoid, parasites and other common health problems common to the Vietnamese countryside. The program often provided personal bags containing soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes and other common health/hygiene items.
Night Combat Patrol, which can be in the form of an actual patrol where the unit moves from one place to another, or sets up an ambush or night defensive position in order to intercept enemy activity at night.
Night Defensive Position or Perimeter, a hastily prepared defensive position used when a unit stops for the night, but expects to move to another location in a few days
Night Laager - a hastily prepared defensive position used when a unit stops for the night, but expects to move to another location in a few days
"No Later Than..."
No OPeration - Nothing happened, perhaps a scheduled operation was cancelled
North Vietnamese Army - North Vietnam was the aggressor in South Vietnam, and the term NVA was used to indicate a combatant who had his home in North Vietnam, or indicated equipment that originated in North Vietnam
"On or about..."
Obj / obj
Objective, the target destination for a military patrol or mission. Daily patrols were given a set of objectives to reach, taking them from their point of origin, through a series of check-points or objectives, and back to their point of origin or to a pick-up point or night layover position.
Operational Logistics Support
Operational Control - Indicates that one military unit has been subordinated to the command of another unit for the purposes of accomplishing a particular mission, and is usually a temporary assignment. The commanding unit is responsible for controlling the activities of and reporting about the activities of the OpCon'd unit.
Patrol Boat/River or Patrol Boat Riverine
Prisoner Of War - an enemy combatant who has been captured alive
PPS-4 / PPS-5
Model Designation of radar units used to detect enemy ground movements around a military base
Psychological Operations - usually pamphlets or loudspeaker operations designed to encourage enemy forces to surrender and perhaps even join the ARVN forces
Pick-up Zone, a place where helicopters set down to pick up troops, materials or supplies
Uncertain of meaning, but it is used in connection with Commo (communications group) entries in the Daily Staff Journals. Ham radio operators use this abbreviation for "Acknowledge Receipt" of a transmission.
Rec Conf Msg
Received Confidential Message (usually from Brigade or Division headquarters)
RF / PF
Rural Forces / Popular Forces - designations for local Vietnamese military units made up of local villagers trained to serve as military forces. They were used to defend their own hamlets and villages from the Viet Cong
Reconnaissance In Force - a patrol consisting of a large number of men, such as a platoon (roughly 30 men) or a company (-) of 60 to 100 men, it was used when there was the anticipation the force might encounter a significant enemy force and need the extra firepower to protect itself
Release Point, or Rally Point
Rocket Propelled Grenade, a very effective explosive weapon used by the enemy. The grenade was shoulder-fired from a short tube, and spread shrapnel over a wide area.
Ready Reserve Force, a unit that is standing by, or prepared to move into action, if another group needs their assistance in an emergency
S & D / S&D
Search and Destroy mission
Situation Report - a report submitted at regular intervals to let command elements know what is happening to their units or patrols
Side-Looking Airborne Radar - images are acquired by sending a beam of radar energy to the ground at an angle perpendicular to the aircraft’s flight path
Huey helicopter used to transport personnel and supplies in a military environment
Signal Operating Instructions / Standard Operating Instructions - In one example an attached unit did not have the current radio frequencies, or Signal Instructions
Task Force - a combined group of military forces brought together to accomplish a specific task or mission. It can be as large ad the circumstances require.
"Troops in Contact" (there are other military definitions)
Time On Target / Time Over Target - the time an air strike will occur, or the amount of time an air attack will be occurring over a target area
Not an abbreviation, but Vietnamese words meaning "booby trap area". Pronounced "To Die", we took it literally. The words were usually printed on a piece of paper which often included a crude drawing of a skull and crossbones, and was a warning to the local civilians, and to U.S. soldiers, that the area beyond contained booby-traps.
Viet Cong - Those enemy soldiers recruited from the civilian population of South Vietnam
Viet Cong Infrastructure - by definition was a political organization to provide Communist party guidance and direction to the overall Viet Cong insurgency, collect money and supplies and provide common liaison.
Vicinity, in the vicinity of, to indicate the relative location of something
Visual Recon - when a helicopter or other aircraft is performing a scouting function
Wounded In Action - indicates that one or more individuals have been wounded in combat
White Phosphorous - type of artillery round or grenade that contains white phosphorous to emit a dense white cloud, used to mark targets for further bombardment, or to help a ground unit determine it's current location or signal it's current location.
XO Executive Officer, usually second in command in a unit (Company, Battalion, etc.)
2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment: Daily Staff Journal Abbreviations
Copyright © 2011 Kirk S. Ramsey
Last modified: August 06, 2012