The Military Alphabet

The Military Alphabet

This system was developed in the 1950’s in an attempt to prevent communication errors between several parties. The code word that each letter has been provided is also matched with a particular Morse code. Spellings of these code words may also vary depending on English or non-English areas. For example, Alfa is spelled with an “f” in most European areas. However, the English and the French spelling is Alpha. This is due to the “ph” not being pronounced as “f” in some languages. The following alphabet is used by the United States Military and various other English speaking areas.

Letter Code Word Phonetic Pronunciation
A Alfa (Alpha) Al-FAH
B Bravo BRAH-VOH
C Charlie CHAR-LEE or SHARLEE
D Delta DELL-TAH
E Echo ECK-OH
F Foxtrot FOKS-TROT
G Golf GOLF
H Hotel HOH-TEL
I India IN-DEE-AH
J Juliett JEW-LEE-ETT
K Kilo KEY-LOH
L Lima LEE-MAH
M Mike MIKE
N November NO-VEM-BER
O Oscar OSS-CAH
P Papa PAH-PAH
Q Quebec KEW-BECK
R Romeo ROW-ME-OH
S Sierra SEE-AIR-RAH
T Tango TANG-GO
U Uniform YOU-NEE-FORM
V Victor VIK-TAH
W Whiskey WISS-KEY
X Xray ECKS-RAY
Y Yankee YANG-KEY
Z Zulu ZOO-LOO

 

Before this system was followed, there were others. For example, the original spelling alphabet was used in 1927 by the International Telecommunication Union. Several changes were made to this initial alphabet by the International Telecommunication Union to create a system that was used in 1932. This new alphabet was then adopted and utilized by the International Commission for Air Navigation until World War II. The modern alphabet was developed in the 1950’s. However, prior to adopting the modern alphabet, American armed forces as well as the British armed forces had each designed their own alphabets. It was not until 1956 that they adopted the current alphabet system.

All of these systems were designed to prevent any communication errors while sending a message to another party. Using the letters themselves quickly became too confusing as many letters sound similar. For example, the letter “m” sounds like the letter “n” and vice versa. Also, the letter “f” can sometimes be confused with the letter “s”. These problems were significantly increased during times of static, storms, or other noise interference. The letters were not the only codes created with this system, however. Phrases such as “well-done” began to be represented by BZ or Bravo Zulu. You may also recognize that occasionally Greenwich Mean Time or Coordinated Universal Time is referred to as Zulu Time.

The Military Alphabet is vastly used around the globe. This system has been created in an attempt to reduce communication errors between groups in the armed forces. Without an alphabet code such as this, many codes could be misheard, and therefore chaos could ensue. Each letter and alphabet code word is also matched with a Morse Code which is another essential code for the armed forces.