As a relatively new Air Force wife, I know that it’s easy to feel like your spouse is speaking another language when they use common Air Force acronyms and expressions. I remember scrolling through many newly joined Facebook groups filled with hundreds of veteran military wives and thinking, “WTHeck does “PCSing” mean?” After asking my husband and fellow AF wives many, many questions, I’ve started to get a hang of what most (relevant) acronyms and expressions mean. I still have so much to learn, of course, but today I’ve decided to share common acronyms and expressions that are used in the “Air Force world” in hopes that if you are a new AF wife, girlfriend, fiancee, etc. you might have some idea what the heck your S/O is saying or at least it might limit the amount of questions you have to ask!
If you want to see a full list that would take you a while to read and most likely wouldn’t be stored in your long term memory, you can find thathere.
General Air Force Acronyms and Expressions
AFB– Air Force Base. This one is pretty simple of course but hey, maybe someone just needs to see it printed “on paper” to understand!
BAH– Basic Allowance for Housing. The amount that your husband/wife receives for rent will depend on where you all are stationed.
ABU– Airman Battle Uniform aka the Air Force camo uniform.
BX– Base Exchange. This is a department store on base that can have a wide range of things such as clothing, electronics, makeup, jewelry, tools, alcohol, etc. They range in size depending on the base.
DEERS– Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. It’s essentially a database system for active members, retired members, DoD, veterans, dependents, etc. that are eligible for TriCare that houses personnel and benefits information.
Dependent– Spouse or children to a military member.
DITY move– Do-it-yourself move. You move yourself instead of the military hiring someone to do it for you.
MRE– Meal Ready to Eat. Food science (me and Natalee’s full-time jobs) at its prime, baby! They’re basically individual meals that are full of calories and can withstand very harsh conditions.
Orders– This is issued to a military member anytime they have to move to another location for work. This can include a TDY or PCS (see below) or if they just have to travel to another base for a day or two for a conference or some type of training.
OTS– Officer Training School
PSC– Permanent Change of Station. This is one that you will hear all of the time. “We’re PCSing to _____. Does anyone have suggestions on where to live?” Things like that. Basically, it’s where someone is stationed next.
PFA/PFT– Physical Fitness Assessment/Test. This is the physical assessment Air Force members have to complete once or twice a year depending on how they do. For the test the Airman or Air(wo)man must complete is one minute of push-ups, one minute of sit-ups, and then a 1.5 mile run. They must reach a minimum score in each category depending on their age and a total of 75 out of 100 possible points.
ROTC– Reserve Officers Training Course. Completed during college, ROTC prepares men and women for life as an officer in the military.
TDY– Temporary Duty. This is an assignment away from the military members current duty station. They can last from days to months and is typically for some type of training at another base.
TriCare– The healthcare system for US uniformed service members and their families.
Pilot Specific Air Force Acronyms and Expressions
B Course– Basic course. This is the training that a pilot (mostly used for fighter pilots) completes on their specific aircraft that includes academics, simulation training, and flights.
Dollar Ride– A pilots first flight in an aircraft. The tradition is that the pilot gives a dollar to the instructor pilot (IP) that flew with them for their first ride.
FAIP– First Assignment Instructor Pilot. FAIPs are the instructors who just completed UPT and earned their wings and go straight to teaching students to learn to fly either the T-6 propeller plane or the T-38 or T-1.
FS– Fighter Squadron.
IFF– Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals. The course fighter pilots go to fresh out of UPT.
IFT– Introductory Flight Training. The next phase in training for fighter pilots after they complete IFF. IFT takes place in Colorado.
IP– Instructor Pilot. They are the instructors for the pilots in training.
Poopy suit– Pilots wear this if they’re flying over water (it’s basically a dry suit in case they have to eject and land in the water). It’s NOT actually for them to poop in… That’s what their underwear is for. It just sucks to wear so it’s called a poopy suit.
SERE– Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape. It’s the course that aircrew have to go through to learn how to survive in the wild or what to do if they get captured if their plane crashes.
Sortie– Any flight a pilot has which includes everything they do between takeoff and landing.
TFI– Total Force Integration. This is when someone can serve with a National Guard unit full time as an active duty member.
UPT– Undergraduate pilot training. This is the very beginning of a pilot’s career. They start out on the T-6 propellor plane and either get selected to fly the T-1 or T-38 depending on if they go heavy track (mostly cargo or tanker) or fighter/bomber track, respectively.
Viper– Another name for the F-16.