If you put the words “romeo” and “juliet” next to each other, Shakespeare’s tragic love story most likely will come to mind. However, in the military forces, these words mean something different entirely. And misunderstanding them could mean the difference between life and death. This is because of the military alphabet which provides code words to communicate information effectively. Here is how the implementation of this alphabet promotes clear, quick and accurate communication (no matter the situation).
What is the military alphabet?
The military alphabet, known as a “spelling alphabet,” is used to spell out words in order to communicate clearly. It is a collection of 26 code words for each of the letters in the English alphabet. For example, the code word for letter ‘r’ is ‘romeo’ and for ‘j’ it is ‘juliet.’ Therefore, should you wish to communicate the word “jar” using the military alphabet you would say, “juliet- alpha-romeo.” Its purpose is to improve clarity of communication, and sometimes it is used as a form of slang by those in the military.
The military alphabet is regarded as the foundational piece of the military’s codified communication procedure. This procedure assists in the regulating of radio communication (and any other platforms of communication used by the military). There are three guiding principles for military communication: accuracy, brevity, and clarity. This should be adhered to whether the code words are being communicated via radio (or any other platform) or in person.
Messages are kept short and to the point
As previously mentioned, the alphabet implemented helps regulate all military communication. One way it effectively does this is by restricting the flow of information. Messages are kept short and tactical, as only important and vital information is communicated via the codes. The general rule is to keep messages under 30 seconds. This ensures that your message will be understood easily- even in situations of chaos or if you recipients are under duress.
Additionally, certain code words are used popularly to communicate a quick and clear response. For example, some popular phrases used are: “Tango Delta” (target down) meaning that the enemy was eliminated. Another popular phrase is “Lima Charlie” (loud and clear) which confirms that instructions have been received. Lastly, another example is Oscar-Mike (on the move) meaning that a unit is moving between positions. It is likely that you have heard the code phrases by playing video games or watching movies such as Saving Private Ryan.
It improves clarity of sound
If you take a good look at the alphabet, you will notice that no two code words sound similar. Not even in the slightest. For example, “Foxtrot” and “Yankee” cannot be mistaken for each other. Even when taking into account different accents, dialects or unusual voice patterns, the military alphabet is clear. This is to ensure that the correct information is being received every time. In the military force, you can imagine the importance of this. Therefore, the military alphabet’s clear, unique and succinct sounds help communicate correct and quick information.
Radio communication is enhanced
The military alphabet is known officially as the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet. The alphabet helps improve communication via radio. The alphabet aids communication over radio as it enables both senders and receivers to communicate both more efficiently and covertly. This is because it is difficult to confuse the code words due to their individuality. Commonly, letters of the English alphabet sound similar. The letter ‘e’ can sound like “d,p,c, b, g” which can be very confusing. Additionally, if you consider the clarity of radio transmissions, they are not always of high quality. Therefore, the military alphabet helps to promote clear and proper communication even when technology is not up to scratch.
Therefore, in a number of ways, the military alphabet helps ensure communication is quick, clear and easily understood. Messages are kept short, popular phrases are implemented for speedy and accurate communication and, on top of this, the code words are uniquely identifiable. Eliminating any chance for miscommunication. No matter the situation, accent or channel of communication, the alphabet can be understood effectively which, in the military, has proven to be life-saving.