Every region of the country has its own unique phrases, but they have nothing on the complex lexicon shared by people in the military.
Aside from the way uniformed folks seem to speak in acronyms — “I was on the FOB when the IDF hit, so I radioed the TOC” — there’s also a series of commonly used phrases which deserve some attention.
“15 minutes prior to 15 minutes prior”
Military people are taught that they must show up to everything (especially an official formation) at least 15 minutes early.
The 15 minutes to 15 minutes arises as the order filters down through the ranks. The captain wants everyone to meet at 0600, so the master sergeant wants folks to arrive at 0545, and when it finally hits the corporal people are told to show up at midnight.
“A good piece of gear” (in reference to people)
Only in the service is it OK to refer to one of your coworkers or (worse yet and most frequently) a person working for you in a section you manage as “a good piece of gear.”
“Back on the block”
Refers to the time before service, when a servicemember was a “nasty” civilian. (Nasty in the military generally means unkempt.)
Often used in reference to meeting old friends while on leave, as if a military member is “back on the block.”
Phonetic slang for “Buddy F—–.”
A Blue Falcon is someone who blatantly throws another Marine/soldier/sailor/airman under the bus.
“Breaking it down Barney-style”
Refers to the kid show “Barney and Friends.” When something is broken down “Barney-style,” it’s being explained as if to a child.
“Days and a wake-up”
A “wake-up” refers to the last day you will be some place (generally while deployed). So, if a servicemember is getting ready for bed on a Sunday, and flying out on a Friday, he’ll say “four days and a wake-up.”
A “drug deal”
When personnel or materiel are obtained through unofficial channels.
“Embrace the suck”
Military service isn’t all fun. In fact, it is mostly suck.
For every five seconds of hanging out of a helicopter, there are countless eternities spent enduring safety briefs and doing mundane tasks (picking up cigarette butts, buffing floors, toilets, etc.). And then there is the unpleasantness of being pinned beneath and unable to escape an ever-present rank structure.
Troops are encouraged to embrace this sad reality.