This website uses a lot of acronyms and abbreviations that were in use during the Vietnam War. To help visitors to the site with finding their way through this ‘acronym rich environment’ we have compiled this glossary of terms. We hope it assists.

A very useful and much more comprehensive coverage of acronyms, abbreviations and terms used during the Vietnam War is to be found in Bruce Picken, Vietnam Diggers’ Language: Abbreviations, Acronyms, Terms and Jargon of the Viet Nam War, Australian Military History Publications, Loftus, 2006.


AK47              A light automatic assault rifle which was the primary small arm of the VC and PAVN. Variants of the weapon included the AKM and AK50.

AFV                Australian Force(s) Vietnam or armoured fighting vehicle

1ALSG           1st Australian Logistic Support Group (based at Vung Tau)

AN/PRC         The nomenclature for a military radio of US manufacture. Commonly seen as AN/PRC-25, or AN/PRC-10.

Ap                   Ambush position or ambush point

APC                Armoured Personnel Carrier (M113). Also ‘Accelerated Pacification Program’.

ARCLIGHT    B52 strike, usually consisting of a flight of three B52 bombers

ATF                 Australian Task Force (ie, 1ATF or 1st ATF) based at Nui Dat

Armd               Armoured (ie, as in Armd Regt)

Arty                 Artillery

ARVN             Army of the Republic of Vietnam

Aslt                 Assault. This may be encountered as ‘Aslt Pnr’ meaning ‘Assault Pioneers’, a specialist platoon within Australian infantry battalions.

AW                  Automatic weapons


B40/B41         Rocket propelled grenade launcher, RPG2 or RPG7

BAR                Browning Automatic Rifle

Baria               Province capital. Location of the Province Chief and the (US) Senior Province Advisor. Also known as Phuoc Le.

Bde                 Brigade

Bdr                  Bombardier. Rank equivalent to corporal for an artilleryman.

Bn                   Battalion

Bty                  Battery – a sub-unit of an artillery regiment usually consisting of six guns.


CAIRS            Close Air Support. Air delivered weapons including by FGA, helicopter gunship or Spooky/Shadow (see below).

Cav                 Cavalry (ie, as in 3 Cav Sqn)

Centurion      52 ton medium tank of British manufacture, mounting an 84mm cannon (used by 1ATF).

Chieu Hoi      The program under which the GVN offered amnesty to those members of the VC or PAVN who came over to the GVN side.

CIA                 Captured in action or Central Intelligence Agency.

CIDG              Civilian Irregular Defence Group. Usually guerrilla or irregular forces made up of Vietnamese ethnic minorities (usually Montagnards) and led or trained by US Special Forces or Australian advisors. They mainly operated from bases near the Cambodian and Laotian border. CIDG groups were trained in Phuoc Tuy Province and references to them therefore appear in files relating to the province.

Civ                  Civilian

Claymore       A command detonated mine of US manufacture. The term ‘claymore’ was sometimes also used to describe VC/PAVN command detonated directional mines

CO                  Commanding officer

Comd             Command or commander

COMUSMACV         Commander, US Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (e.g., GEN Westmoreland and GEN Abrams).

Courtenay     Rubber plantation on the northern border of Phuoc Tuy Province.

CORDS         Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support – the US-run agency responsible for ‘pacification’

COSVN          Central Office for South Vietnam. The HQ of the DRVN command of the NLF

Coy                 Company. Often preceded by a numerical designator, ie, ‘302 RF Coy’, meaning the 302nd Regional Force Company.

CP                  Command post

Cpl                  Corporal


DA                  District Adviser

D&E                This acronym is usually encountered in relation to the D& E Platoon. This was the Defence and Employment platoon within Headquarter Company, HQ 1ATF. The primary role of the 1ATF D&E Platoon was to provide security to the Headquarters but it was often used on operations outside the Nui Dat base.

Dentcap         Dental Civic Action Program. Usually a visit by an Australian Army dentist to deliver dental treatment to civilians

DIOCC           District Intelligence and Operations Control Centre. This was a District level control centre for the Phoenix/Phuong Hoang program and a clearing house for other intelligence sources

Div                  Division. A major military formation usually consisting of about 3 Brigades or Task Force-sized organizations. It is usually commanded by a Major General

DRV               Democratic Republic of Vietnam (ie, North Vietnam)

DOW              Died of wounds

DUSTOFF     Casualty evacuation helicopter



FF                   Friendly fire (or sometimes, Field Force, as in ‘National Police FF’)

FFV                Field Force Vietnam (usually written as IIFFV, meaning 2nd Field Force Vietnam). This was the US Headquarters commanding operations in Military Region 4 which included all the provinces between the South China Sea and the Cambodian border surrounding Saigon and including Phuoc Tuy Province.

FGA                Fighter Ground Attack. An airstrike usually using bombs, napalm, rockets, or cannon fire and sometimes all four.

FSB                Fire Support Base. A defended base usually including a Bn HQ, an artillery battery, mortars and other supporting weapons.

FSPB             Fire Support Patrol Base. This was a term favoured by the US Army to mean a FSB that was the point from which infantry and armoured patrols emanated to cover the surrounding countryside.

Friendly         non-enemy, usually meaning friendly military forces rather than civs.

FWMAF         Free World Military Assistance Forces


Garand           A Second World War era semi-automatic rifle of US manufacture.

Gnr                 Gunner (rank equivalent to private for an artilleryman)

GPMG            General purpose machine gun

GR                  Grid reference

Gren               Grenade

Gunship        A helicopter fitted with machine guns and rockets to deliver fire support to troops on the ground. Sometimes the term was used to apply to fixed wing aircraft like Spooky and Shadow as well.

GVN               Government of Vietnam meaning the Government of the Republic of Vietnam (ie, South Vietnam).


Helo                Helicopter

HFT                Heavy Fire Team consisting of three helicopter gunships.

H&I                 Harrassing and interdiction. A type of artillery and/or mortar fire.

HMG               Heavy machine gun

Hoi Chanh    A former member of the VC or PAVN who transferred allegiance to the GVN under the Chieu Hoi program

HQAFV          Headquarters Australian Forces Vietnam (based in Saigon)

Hy                   Heavy – as in ‘hy arty’ meaning heavy artillery.


ICAP               Integrated Civic Action Program (incorporating civic action and intelligence gathering).

Int                    Intelligence

INTREP         Intelligence report

INTSUM         Intelligence summary

IO                    Intelligence officer

Iroquois          ‘Huey’ helicopter


J                      (or jay) Jungle.


K54                 Semi-auto pistol used by the VC and PAVN. Usually carried by senior people.

KBA                Killed by air/killed by artillery (usually meaning that following an airstrike or artillery strike, what appeared to be bodies were observed from the air)

KIA                  Killed in action. May be seen as ‘KIA (BC)’, or ‘KIA (poss)’, meaning killed in action (body count) and (possible) respectively. ‘Body count’ signifies that the remains of the victim have been seen and counted. ‘Possible’ signifies that significant body parts (but no body) have been sighted, or that the enemy was observed to have carried motionless bodies judged likely to have been killed, from the battlefield.


LFT                 Light Fire Team. Two armed helicopters

LMG                Light machine gun

LO                   Liaison officer, often an Australian officer attached to an ARVN, US or Thai unit.

Long Hais      Mountain feature to the east of Vung Tau. Known to the VC/PAVN as the Minh Dam Secret Zone.

LT                    Lieutenant (2LT means Second Lieutenant, junior to a LT). Lt may also mean ‘light’, as in ‘bridge capable of carrying lt traffic’.

LTCOL           Lieutenant Colonel

LZ                   Landing zone. A clearing or open area suitable for a helicopter to land in.


M1                   Sometimes M1 carbine, or M2. A light automatic rifle of US WWII vintage often used by VC.

M16                Light automatic rifle firing a bullet of 5.56mm calibre, also a ‘jumping jack’ type anti-personnel mine of US manufacture.

M18A1           Claymore mine.

M26                Fragmentation hand grenade

M72                66mm anti-tank rocket

M79                40mm grenade launcher

M113              Armoured Personnel Carrier

MAJ                Major

MATT              Military Assistance Training Team. Often expressed as ‘Mat team’, these were small groups of US or Aust soldiers attached to ARVN (especially RF/PF) organizations to assist with training.

Medcap          Medical Civic Action program. Usually an Australian medical team delivering medical support to civilians.

MG                  machine gun

Minh Dam     The Long Hai mountains. Sometimes this appears as Minh Dam Secret Zone.

Mor                 Mortar

MP                  Military Police

MPC               Military Payment Certificate


NLF                National Liberation Front. A coalition of nationalist and communist elements dedicated to the overthrow of the government of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). The NLF is sometimes referred to as the Viet Cong or VC (see below), but this term may also be used to describe the military arm of the NLF rather than its civilian political components.

NP                  National Police

NPFF             National Police Field Force

Nui Dat          The term Nui Dat is most often used to describe the location of the 1ATF base. Occasionally it may be used instead of, or to imply 1ATF. In Vietnamese it means ‘small hill’. There were several features in Phuoc Tuy marked as ‘Nui Dat’ on military maps. ‘Nui Dat 2’ may sometimes be encountered. It was a small hill north of the Long Tan rubber plantation and about 7 kilometres east of the Nui Dat base.

NVA                North Vietnamese Army. This term was used mainly by South Vietnamese and US forces to describe the PAVN. The term ‘NVA’ implied invasion from the north. The more correct term, ‘PAVN’, was seen by the NLF and the DRV as representing the people of a united Vietnam and therefore implied unified resistance to its enemies in the south. However, soldiers of the PAVN were recruited from and underwent initial training north of the DMZ. After heavy Viet Cong losses in the Tet Offensive of 1968, many VC units were reinforced with PAVN troops. The distinction between the two types of enemy force became increasingly blurred from that point.


Obsn              Observation

OP                  Observation post.


PAVN             People’s Army of Vietnam. Regular North Vietnamese army personnel, sometimes operating as formed units and formations within SVN, but often operating as individuals within Viet Cong (ie, NLF) units.

Pers                Personnel

PF                   Popular Force. A militia organization of the South Vietnamese Government. A series of platoons lightly armed and trained to provide security to villages. The PF was under the control of the village Chief.

Phoenix         A program run by US aimed at the elimination of VCI or Viet Cong Infrastructure.

Phuong Hoang        The phoenix program as administered by the GVN. It is sometimes expressed as ‘Phoenix/Phuong Hoang program’.

Phuoc Le       See Baria.

PIOCC           Provincial Intelligence and Operations Control Centre. A province level clearing house for intelligence information at the Province level and below.

Pl                    Platoon

Possum         Light observation helicopter used by 1ATF for aerial recon and liaison duties.

PRU               Provincial Reconnaissance Unit. A lightly armed, locally recruited force for the collection of intelligence and the elimination of VCI.

PSA                Province Senior Advisor. An American LTCOL (equivalent) who was the adviser to the Vietnamese Province Chief. In Phuoc Tuy Province, the PSA and the Province Chief shared a headquarters in the Provincial capital, Baria.

PSDF             Popular Self Defence Force. A village based militia for the provision of security. Lightly armed and poorly trained and generally consisting of young boys and elderly men.

Psyops           Psychological operations

Ptl                   Patrol

PW                  Prisoner of war. May also be rendered as POW.



Rallier            A former member of the VC or PAVN who has rallied to the GVN side.

RAR               Royal Australian Regiment. Often preceded by a numeral (eg, 7RAR) indicating a specific battalion (in this case the 7th battalion) of the Regiment.

RDC               Sometimes written as RD Cadre. This was the Revolutionary Development Cadre of the South Vietnamese Government. It was organized into teams of about 30 but note that its organization changed during the course of the war. Its purpose was to politically mobilize the people in support of the government and to encourage beneficial economic development.

Recce             Reconnaissance

Recon            Reconnaissance. This was the abbreviation favoured by the US military.

Regt                Regiment.

RF                   Regional Force. A militia organization of the South Vietnamese Government organized into companies and under the command of the Province Chief. Better trained, better equipped and more mobile than the PF.

ROE               Rules of Engagement.

RPD               Light machinegun used by the VC/PAVN

RR                 Recoilless rifle

Rung Sat       Extensive mangrove swamp to the NW of Vung Tau. An area criss-crossed by numerous narrow waterways used by the VC to infiltrate supplies into Phuoc Tuy Province.

RSSZ             Rung Sat Special Zone.

RVN               Republic of Vietnam (ie, South Vietnam).

RVNAF          Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces


SA                   Small arms

SAA                Small arms ammunition

SAS                Special Air Service

Sect                Section. In the infantry, this organization consisted of 10 men usually equipped with one GPMG M60, two M16s and seven SLRs. However, on operations, the number of men and the weapons they carried varied considerably. The rifle section was  commanded by a Corporal.

Sgt                  Sergeant

Shadow         USAF AC-119 ‘flying boxcar’ aircraft fitted with multiple 7.62mm miniguns to provide fire support to ground operations.

SKS                A semi-automatic rifle used by the VC and PAVN and firing the same round of ammunition as the AK47. It is sometimes rendered as CKC.

Smk                Smoke (as in ‘smk grenade’)

Spooky           USAF Douglas AC-47 ‘Dakota’ aircraft fitted with 7.62mm miniguns and a searchlight to provide fire support to ground operations.

Sqn                 Squadron

SLR                Self-loading rifle

SMG               Sub-machine gun


TF                   Task Force

Tp                    Troop (ie, as in 2 Tp, 3 Cav Sqn)

Tk                    Tank

TSMG             Thompson sub-machine gun


UH1H            Iroquois utility helicopter often called a ‘Huey’.

USAF             United States Air Force


VC                  Viet Cong. This term was used to refer to the coalition of nationalist and communist elements dedicated to the overthrow of the government of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) known as the National Liberation Front or NLF (or sometimes NLFSVN). It was also used more specifically to refer to the military arm of the NLF. The Viet Cong were locally recruited South Vietnamese as distinct from those who served in the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) who were, in the main, recruited and trained in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam).  Particularly after the Tet Offensive of 1968 many VC units were reinforced with northerners but retained their VC nomenclature. The distinction between the two forces became blurred.


WIA                 Wounded in action. This may be seen as ‘WIA (BT)’ or ‘WIA (poss)’. ‘BT’ means that a blood trail was seen. ‘Poss’ means that a person was possibly wounded, signifying that although there is no evidence at the site of the battle, the enemy were observed to help an apparently wounded soldier from the field.

WO                 Warrant Officer (class I or II)



YS                   Prefix to a grid reference. The ‘YS’ refers to a specific set of map sheets covering Phuoc Tuy Province.


Z                      Refers to a time zone. It is often seen in documents in the form of a date/time group (eg, 031230z).