Bravo Zulu & Beyond: Common Phrases in the Military Phonetic Alphabet

Posted by Lisa MacGillivray

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Anyone familiar with two-way radio lingo such as the military phonetic alphabet will attest that the phrases, codes and terms form their own Military Phonetic Alphabetunique languages.

Public safety, military and civilian users alike can hold entire conversations using the phonetic alphabet or 10 codes that would leave non-radio users scratching their headset-free heads.

Curious? Read on for common phrases in the military phonetic alphabet.

Why the Alphabet? 

Phonetic alphabets use easily distinguishable words to represent letters of the English alphabet to simplify – and clarify – two-way radio communications.

Today’s U.S. military phonetic alphabet is the same as the NATO alphabet, considered the international phonetic alphabet because of its widespread use since the 1950s.

The NATO alphabet is:

Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliett, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.

Common Phrases

The military phonetic alphabet, like the police phonetic alphabet, is used not only to spell out names, codes or locations, its shorthand can convey full thoughts or sentences.

Military personnel are known for their, ahem, colorful language, and the phrases below represent the most family-friendly, or PG, terms.

Common military phonetic alphabet phrases include:

Bravo Zulu: Good job. The term’s roots in naval history explain why it’s “Bravo Zulu” and not “Whiskey Delta” for "well done."  
Charlie Mike: Continue Mission  
Lima Charlie: Loud and Clear
Oscar-Mike: On the Move
Tango Mike: Thanks Much
Tango Uniform: Toes Up, meaning killed or destroyed
Tango Yankee: Thank You

Any We Missed?

Like ten codes for public safety, there are phonetic alphabet phrases that are more popular than others, depending on factors such as location and mission.

Are there any common military phonetic alphabet phrases that we missed? Feel free to comment below! (Remember to keep ‘em PG.) 

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Radio Lingo Reference Guide

Topics: Public Safety Communications