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Special Forces Berlin
by James Stejskal





Special Operations Glossary

Home > Special Operations Glossary > A

The Special Forces community and the military services in general use a multitude of words, phrases, and acronyms in its vocabulary, documentation, correspondence, and publications.  This glossary is intended to aid those unfamiliar with specific special operations terminology.

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AAA.  Anti-Aircraft Artillery.

AAR.  After Action Report.

ABCCC.  Airborne Battlefield Comand and Control Center.  An aircraft that is employed as an airborne command post or communications relay.  It is equipped with computers, data links, and comms equipment to coordinate air and ground operations.

AC-130.  An Air Force Special Operations gunship; modified C-130 mounting two to three weapons to include a 105mm howitzer and 40mm gun.  It flies principally at night providing close air support, air interdiction, and armed reconnaissance.  Close air support missions to SOF teams on the ground include troops in contact, convoy escort, and point air defense. There are currrently two models - the AC-130H and the AC-130U.  Read more on the U.S. Air Force fact sheet for the AC-130H/U.

ACE.  Ammunition, Casualty, and Equipment (report).  An ACE report is submitted periodically or after contact with the enemy.

ADA.  Air Defense Artillery.

ADVON.  Advanced Echelon.

AFATDS.  Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System.  This system provides net-centric battle command to coordinate land, air indirect fire systems in support of maneuver operations.  See Raytheon's description of AFATDS.

AFSOA.  Air Force special operations aviation.

AFSOC.  Air Force Special Operations Command. HQs is located on Hurlburt Field, Florida.  Visit the AFSOC website.

AFSOD.  Air Force Special Operations Detachment.  A small aviation element that sometimes is OPCON to a CJSOTF or other special operations command.

AFSOE.  Air Force Special Operations Element.

Agent. A recruited field operative directed by an intelligence service or other similar type organization.

AGL.  Above Ground Level.

AI.  Area of interest.

AIWC. See Army Irregular Warfare Center below.

ALICE. All-purpose, Lightweight, Individual Carrying Equipment.  The Army's ALICE rucksack was one of the better rucks made.  Now discontinued.  See a description of the ALICE pack on Trails.com.

ALO.  Air Liaison Officer.

ALT.  Alternate.  As in alternate drop zone.

AM.  Amplitude Modulation.  Learn more about AM radio communication here at Radio-Electronics.com.

AMC.  Air Mission Commander.

Antiterrorism.  Defensive measures used to reduce the vulnerability of individuals and property to terrorist acts.

AO.  Area of operations.

AOB.  Advanced operational base.  In SF terms, the location for a "B team" or Special Forces company headquarters augmented by other support personnel to support operations in the AOR.

AOR.  Area of responsibility; a geographical area associated with a unit or command that has the authority to plan and conduct operations.

AP. Armor Piercing.

API.  Armor Piercing Incendiary.

API-T.  Armor Piercing Incendiary - Tracer.

AR.  Army Regulation. Army regulations can be found at the Army Publishing Directorate at www.apd.army.mil.

AR.  Automatic rifleman.

ARCENT.  U.S. Army Forces of U.S. Central Command.  Visit the U.S. Third Army ARCENT website.

Area Assessment.  A prescribed collection of specific information that commences upon employment and continues during the operation.  It confirms, corrects, refutes, or adds to previous intelligence acquired from area studies and other sources prior to employment.  ODAs will conduct an area assessment once infiltrated into their operational area.  See Area Assessment Guide.

Army Irregular Warfare Center (AIWC). The AIWC is the organization responsible for doctrine concerning irregular warfare. Learn more here at Army Irregular Warfare Center.

Army SOF.  A term referring to special operations units in the Army such as Rangers, Special Forces, and the 160th SOAR that are organized, trained and equipped to conduct and support special operations.  Sometimes abbreviated as ARSOF.  All Army SOF come under the command of the United States Army Special Operations Command.  Visit their website.

ARNG.  Army National Guard.  See National Guard Special Forces.

ARSOA.  Army Special Operations Aviation.

ARSOF.  Army Special Operations Forces.  See "Army SOF".

ARSOTF.  Army Special Operations Task Force.  A temporary or semipermanent grouping of ARSOF units under one commander and formed to carry out a specific operation or a continuing mission.

ARTEP.  Army Training and Evaluation Program.

ARTY.  Artillery.

ASAP. Advanced Strategic Arts Program at the Army War College.

ASAP.  As Soon As Possible.

ASAS.  All-Source Analysis System.  Learn more about the ASAS system here on GlobalSecurity.org.

ASAS-L.  All-Source Analysis System-Lite.

ASAS-RWS.  All-Source Analysis System Remote Workstation.

ASPS.  All-Source Productioin Section.

Asset.  Any resource - person, group, relationship, instrument, installation, or supply - at the disposition of an intelligence organization for use in an operational or support role.  Ofen used with a qualifying term such as agent asset or propaganda asset. (JP 1-02).

Asymmetrical Warfare.  Warfare where opposing groups or nations have unequal capabilities and the weaker opponent uses unconventional tactics and weapons to exploit the vulnerabilities of the more capable opponent. Other terms associated with asymmetric warfare are guerrila warfare, insurgency, resistance, terrorism, counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. See Wikipedia's take on asymmetric warfare here.

Asymmetrical Warfare Group (AWG).  A unit located on Fort Meade, MD that conducts asymmetrical warfare. The AWG provides observation, analysis, training and advisory support to Army and Joint Force unit's to enhance their capabilties to predict, mitigate, counter, and defeat asymmetric threats and methods. www.awg.army.mil.

ATACMS.  Army Tactical Missile System. This is a deep strike precision weapon.  Read more here on Defense-Update.com.

A-team.  The basic operating element of Special Forces.  A twelve-man detachment of two officers and ten senior enlisted men.  One Captain (18A), one Warrant Officer (180A), one MSG (18Z), one SFC (18F), two 18Bs, two 18Cs, two 18Ds, and two 18Es.  Depending on the mission or deployment the A-team may be augmented with several other individuals to include a cook, mechanic, CA, MISO, intel analyst, interpreter, and others.  Read more about the Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha here on GoArmy.com.

AT/FP.  Anti-Terrorism / Force Protection.

ATO.  Air Tasking Order.  See WikipediA for more info about the ATO.

ATV.  All-Terrain Vehicle.

AU. Army University.

Authentification.  In evasion and recovery operations, the process whereby the identity of an evader is confirmed.

Auxiliary. The support wing of a partisan or resistance movement.

AVATAR. A USSOCOM open-source data-mining program to run automatic keywork searchs across a variety of websites and databases allowing SOF operators to enhance their view of their specific operating environment. The acronym stands for "Automated Visualization for Tailored Analytical Reporting". AVATAR is somewhat related to a short-lived experiment by USSOCOM called Quantum Leap.

AWACS.  Airborne Warning and Control System. An Air Force plane with lots of navigation and communications gear on it.  Learn more about the E-3 SENTRY (AWACS) aircraft from the U.S. Air Force fact sheet.


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