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Decoding military lingo

Learn the language of the armed services, and you’ll be more prepared to talk to a recruiter about your options

“The RinC just told me Tim Wilson will drop by the NRS today; his older brother is at State on a ROTC scholarship. Tim’s already taken the ASVAB, and he wants to go down to MEPS next week to get into the DEP.”

Say what?!

Typically, your first direct contact with the military is with a recruiter. And if you’re unfamiliar with military jargon, keeping up with a conversation full of strange-sounding terms and acronyms can be like listening to a foreign language. Here’s a primer on some common terms.

RinC: Recruiter in Charge

This is Navy talk for the most senior person working at or managing the recruiting office. Other branches have slightly different terminology for the person in charge.


NRS: Navy Recruiting Station

Again, this is a Navy term, but it illustrates how each branch has its own terms and abbreviations in addition to those used jointly by all branches of the military. For example, AFRO does not refer to a wild 1970’s haircut, but rather “Air Force Recruiting Office.”


ROTC: Reserve Officers’ Training Corps

ROTC is a scholarship program provided by the Army, Navy and Air Force that covers tuition, books, fees, housing and a small stipend at a number of colleges and universities. Upon graduation, the recipient is awarded a reserve commission as a second lieutenant (Army, Air Force, Marine Corps) or ensign (Navy).


ASVAB:Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery

This is a series of tests used to help determine what occupational specialties you may be best suited and qualified for.


MEPS: Military Entrance Processing Station

MEPS are usually fairly large, centrally located buildings that serve a fairly large geographic area. This is where all your enlistment paperwork and ASVAB scores are carefully reviewed; doctors give applicants a comprehensive physical exam to ensure qualification; enlistment contracts are prepared; and the enlistment oath is administered. It is important to note that a trip to the MEPS does not mean you will be obligated or even accepted into the military. Even if you do enlist, your first trip to the MEPS does not mean you are immediately shipping out.


DEP: Delayed Entry Program

The Delayed Entry Program allows a military applicant to enlist today but leave at a future date—sometimes up to a year later. The major benefits of the program are that you can reserve a seat in a training program that might not currently have any openings, and allows you time to plan for your departure. It also allows high school seniors to enlist during the school year and leave after graduation.

However, the best advice when talking with military recruiters is not to be afraid to ask for definitions for any unfamiliar terms. A sound decision concerning your future in the military is as important to the recruiter as it is to you. Recruiters will be glad to offer you explanations for anything you don’t understand to help you make a wise decision.

Doug Woelke
retired from the U.S. Navy as a Senior Chief Petty Officer in 1993. During a 20-year career, he served on two amphibious assault ships, two diesel-electric submarines and a guided missile cruiser.

Sponsored by Army National Guard

For more information on joining the Army National Guard, call 1-800-GO-GUARD and ask to speak to your local recruiter today. Serve your country, learn a skill, and earn money for college with a career in the military. There are several options for students who are considering a military service career: the National Guard, several branches and jobs to choose from, even officer training through an ROTC program or a military college.

The best way to find out which military career path is right for you is to talk to a military recruiter in your area. Remember, military careers aren't limited to being a soldier. There are opportunities for doctors, engineers, pilots, computer specialists, communications professionals and more!


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