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This site contains a comprehensive list of U.S. military terms and definitions.

backfill — Reserve Component units and individuals recalled to replace deploying active
units and/or individuals in the continental United States and outside the continental
United States. See also Reserve Components. (JP 4-05.1)
background count — The evidence or effect on a detector of radiation caused by
background radiation. In connection with health protection, the background count
includes but is not limited to radiations produced by naturally occurring radioactivity
and cosmic rays.
background radiation — (*) Nuclear (or ionizing) radiations arising from within the body
and from the surroundings to which individuals are always exposed.
back-haul airlift — The rearward movement of personnel and materiel from an air terminal
in forward deployed areas back to a staging base (either in-theater or out) after the
normal forward delivery. See also staging base. (JP 3-17)
backscatter — Refers to a portion of the laser energy that is scattered back in the direction
of the seeker by an obscurant. See also laser. (JP 3-09.1)
back-scattering — Radio wave propagation in which the direction of the incident and
scattered waves, resolved along a reference direction (usually horizontal), are
oppositely directed. A signal received by back-scattering is often referred to as
backshore — The area of a beach extending from the limit of high water foam lines to
dunes or extreme inland limit of the beach. (JP 4-01.6)
back tell — (*) The transfer of information from a higher to a lower echelon of command.
See also track telling.
back-up — (*) In cartography, an image printed on the reverse side of a map sheet already
printed on one side. Also the printing of such images.
backwash — An even layer of water that moves along the sea floor from the beach through
the surf zone and caused by the pile-up of water on the beach from incoming breakers.
(JP 4-01.6)
balance — A concept as applied to an arms control measure that connotes: a. adjustments
of armed forces and armaments in such a manner that one state does not obtain military
advantage over other states agreeing to the measure; and b. internal adjustments by
one state of its forces in such manner as to enable it to cope with all aspects of
remaining threats to its security in a post arms control agreement era.
balanced stock(s) — 1. That condition of supply when availability and requirements are in
equilibrium for specific items. 2. An accumulation of supplies in quantities
determined necessary to meet requirements for a fixed period.
balance station zero — See reference datum.
bale cubic capacity — (*) The space available for cargo measured in cubic feet to the
inside of the cargo battens, on the frames, and to the underside of the beams. In a
general cargo of mixed commodities, the bale cubic applies. The stowage of the mixed
cargo comes in contact with the cargo battens and as a general rule does not extend to
the skin of the ship.
balisage — (*) The marking of a route by a system of dim beacon lights enabling vehicles
to be driven at near day-time speed, under blackout conditions.
ballistic missile — (*) Any missile which does not rely upon aerodynamic surfaces to
produce lift and consequently follows a ballistic trajectory when thrust is terminated.
See also aerodynamic missile; guided missile.
ballistic missile early warning system — An electronic system for providing detection and
early warning of attack by enemy intercontinental ballistic missiles. Also called
BMEWS. (JP 3-14)
ballistics — (*) The science or art that deals with the motion, behavior, appearance, or
modification of missiles or other vehicles acted upon by propellants, wind, gravity,
temperature, or any other modifying substance, condition, or force.
ballistic trajectory — (*) The trajectory traced after the propulsive force is terminated and
the body is acted upon only by gravity and aerodynamic drag.
ballistic wind — That constant wind that would have the same effect upon the trajectory of
a bomb or projectile as the wind encountered in flight.
balloon barrage — See barrage, Part 2.
balloon reflector — In electronic warfare, a balloon-supported confusion reflector to
produce fraudulent radar echoes.
bandwidth — The difference between the limiting frequencies of a continuous frequency
band expressed in hertz (cycles per second). The term bandwidth is also loosely used
to refer to the rate at which data can be transmitted over a given communications
circuit. In the latter usage, bandwidth is usually expressed in either kilobits per second
or megabits per second.
bank angle — (*) The angle between the aircraft’s normal axis and the Earth’s vertical
plane containing the aircraft’s longitudinal axis.
bar — A submerged or emerged embankment of sand, gravel, or mud created on the sea
floor in shallow water by waves and currents. A bar may be composed of mollusk
shells. (JP 4-01.6)
bare base — A base having minimum essential facilities to house, sustain, and support
operations to include, if required, a stabilized runway, taxiways, and aircraft parking
areas. A bare base must have a source of water that can be made potable. Other
requirements to operate under bare base conditions form a necessary part of the force
package deployed to the bare base. See also base. (JP 3-05.1)
barge — A flat-bed, shallow-draft vessel with no superstructure that is used for the
transport of cargo and ships’ stores or for general utility purposes. See also
watercraft. (JP 4-01.6)
barometric altitude — (*) The altitude determined by a barometric altimeter by reference
to a pressure level and calculated according to the standard atmosphere laws. See also
barrage — 1. A prearranged barrier of fires, except that delivered by small arms, designed
to protect friendly troops and installations by impeding enemy movements across
defensive lines or areas. 2. A protective screen of balloons that is moored to the
ground and kept at given heights to prevent or hinder operations by enemy aircraft.
This meaning also called balloon barrage. 3. A type of electronic attack intended for
simultaneous jamming over a wide area of frequency spectrum. See also barrage
jamming; electronic warfare; fires.
barrage fire — (*) Fire which is designed to fill a volume of space or area rather than
aimed specifically at a given target. See also fire.
barrage jamming — Simultaneous electromagnetic jamming over a broad band of
frequencies. See also jamming.
barricade — See aircraft arresting barrier.
barrier — A coordinated series of obstacles designed or employed to channel, direct,
restrict, delay, or stop the movement of an opposing force and to impose additional
losses in personnel, time, and equipment on the opposing force. Barriers can exist
naturally, be man-made, or a combination of both. (JP 3-15)
barrier combat air patrol — One or more divisions or elements of fighter aircraft
employed between a force and an objective area as a barrier across the probable
direction of enemy attack. It is used as far from the force as control conditions permit,
giving added protection against raids that use the most direct routes of approach. See
also combat air patrol.
barrier forces — Air, surface, and submarine units and their supporting systems positioned
across the likely courses of expected enemy transit for early detection and providing
rapid warning, blocking, and destruction of the enemy.
barrier, obstacle, and mine warfare plan — A comprehensive, coordinated plan that
includes responsibilities; general location of unspecified and specific barriers,
obstacles, and minefields; special instructions; limitations; coordination; and
completion times. The plan may designate locations of obstacle zones or belts. It is
normally prepared as an annex to a campaign plan, operation plan, or operation order.
(JP 3-15)
bar scale — See graphic scale; scale.
base — (*) 1. A locality from which operations are projected or supported. 2. An area or
locality containing installations which provide logistic or other support. See also
establishment. 3. (DOD only) Home airfield or home carrier. See also base of
operations; facility. (JP 4-0)
base boundary — A line that delineates the surface area of a base for the purpose of
facilitating coordination and deconfliction of operations between adjacent units,
formations, or areas. (JP 3-10)
base cluster — In base defense operations, a collection of bases, geographically grouped for
mutual protection and ease of command and control. (JP 3-10)
base cluster commander — In base defense operations, a senior base commander
designated by the joint force commander responsible for coordinating the defense of
bases within the base cluster and for integrating defense plans of bases into a base
cluster defense plan. (JP 3-10)
base cluster operations center — A command and control facility that serves as the base
cluster commander’s focal point for defense and security of the base cluster. Also
called BCOC. (JP 3-10)
base commander — In base defense operations, the officer assigned to command a base.
(JP 3-10)
base complex — See Army base; installation complex; Marine base; naval base; naval
or Marine (air) base. See also noncontiguous facility.
base defense — The local military measures, both normal and emergency, required to
nullify or reduce the effectiveness of enemy attacks on, or sabotage of, a base, to ensure
that the maximum capacity of its facilities is available to US forces.
base defense forces — Troops assigned or attached to a base for the primary purpose of
base defense and security as well as augmentees and selectively armed personnel
available to the base commander for base defense from units performing primary
missions other than base defense. (JP 3-10)
base defense operations center — A command and control facility, with responsibilities
similar to a base cluster operations center, established by the base commander to serve
as the focal point for base security and defense. It plans, directs, integrates,
coordinates, and controls all base defense efforts. Also called BDOC. (JP 3-10)
base defense zone — An air defense zone established around an air base and limited to the
engagement envelope of short-range air defense weapons systems defending that base.
Base defense zones have specific entry, exit, and identification, friend or foe procedures
established. Also called BDZ. (JP 3-10)
base development (less force beddown) — The acquisition, development, expansion,
improvement, and construction and/or replacement of the facilities and resources of an
area or location to support forces employed in military operations or deployed in
accordance with strategic plans. (JP 3-34)
base development plan — A plan for the facilities, installations, and bases required to
support military operations.
base element — See base unit.
base line — 1. (surveying) A surveyed line established with more than usual care, to
which surveys are referred for coordination and correlation. 2. (photogrammetry)
The line between the principal points of two consecutive vertical air photographs. It is
usually measured on one photograph after the principal point of the other has been
transferred. 3. (radio navigation systems) The shorter arc of the great circle joining
two radio transmitting stations of a navigation system. 4. (triangulation) The side of
one of a series of coordinated triangles the length of which is measured with prescribed
accuracy and precision and from which lengths of the other triangle sides are obtained
by computation.
baseline costs — The continuing annual costs of military operations funded by the
operations and maintenance and military personnel appropriations. (JP 1-06)
base map — (*) A map or chart showing certain fundamental information, used as a base
upon which additional data of specialized nature are compiled or overprinted. Also, a
map containing all the information from which maps showing specialized information
can be prepared. See also chart base; map.
base of operations — An area or facility from which a military force begins its offensive
operations, to which it falls back in case of reverse, and in which supply facilities are
base period — That period of time for which factors were determined for use in current
planning and programming.
base plan — In the context of joint operation planning level 2 planning detail, a type of
operation plan that describes the concept of operations, major forces, sustainment
concept, and anticipated timelines for completing the mission. It normally does not
include annexes or a time-phased force and deployment data. (JP 5-0)
base section — An area within the communications zone in an operational area organized to
provide logistic support to forward areas.
base support installation — A Department of Defense Service or agency installation
within the United States and its possessions and territories tasked to serve as a base for
military forces engaged in either homeland defense or civil support operations. Also
called BSI. (JP 3-28)
base surge — (*) A cloud which rolls out from the bottom of the column produced by a
subsurface burst of a nuclear weapon. For underwater bursts the surge is, in effect, a
cloud of liquid droplets which has the property of flowing almost as if it were a
homogeneous fluid. For subsurface land bursts the surge is made up of small solid
particles but still behaves like a fluid.
base unit — Unit of organization in a tactical operation around which a movement or
maneuver is planned and performed.
basic cover — Coverage of any installation or area of a permanent nature with which later
coverage can be compared to discover any changes that have taken place.
basic encyclopedia — A compilation of identified installations and physical areas of
potential significance as objectives for attack. Also called BE.
basic intelligence — Fundamental intelligence concerning the general situation, resources,
capabilities, and vulnerabilities of foreign countries or areas which may be used as
reference material in the planning of operations at any level and in evaluating
subsequent information relating to the same subject.
basic load — (*) The quantity of supplies required to be on hand within, and which can be
moved by, a unit or formation. It is expressed according to the wartime organization of
the unit or formation and maintained at the prescribed levels.
basic military route network — (*) Axial, lateral, and connecting routes designated in
peacetime by the host nation to meet the anticipated military movements and transport
requirements, both Allied and national.
basic research — Research directed toward the increase of knowledge, the primary aim
being a greater knowledge or understanding of the subject under study. See also
basic stocks — (*) Stocks to support the execution of approved operational plans for an
initial predetermined period. See also sustaining stocks.
basic stopping power — (*) The probability, expressed as a percentage, of a single vehicle
being stopped by mines while attempting to cross a minefield.
basic tactical organization — The conventional organization of landing force units for
combat, involving combinations of infantry, supporting ground arms, and aviation for
accomplishment of missions ashore. This organizational form is employed as soon as
possible following the landing of the various assault components of the landing force.
basic undertakings — The essential things, expressed in broad terms, that must be done in
order to implement the commander’s concept successfully. These may include
military, diplomatic, economic, informational, and other measures. See also strategic
basis of issue — Authority that prescribes the number of items to be issued to an individual,
a unit, a military organization, or for a unit piece of equipment.
bathymetric contour — See depth contour.
battalion landing team — In an amphibious operation, an infantry battalion normally
reinforced by necessary combat and service elements; the basic unit for planning an
assault landing. Also called BLT.
battery — (*) 1. Tactical and administrative artillery unit or subunit corresponding to a
company or similar unit in other branches of the Army. 2. All guns, torpedo tubes,
searchlights, or missile launchers of the same size or caliber or used for the same
purpose, either installed in one ship or otherwise operating as an entity.
battery center — (*) A point on the ground, the coordinates of which are used as a
reference indicating the location of the battery in the production of firing data. Also
called chart location of the battery.
battery (troop) left (right) — A method of fire in which weapons are discharged from the
left (right), one after the other, at five second intervals.
battle damage assessment — The estimate of damage resulting from the application of
lethal or nonlethal military force. Battle damage assessment is composed of physical
damage assessment, functional damage assessment, and target system assessment.
Also called BDA. See also combat assessment. (JP 3-0)
battle damage repair — (*) Essential repair, which may be improvised, carried out rapidly
in a battle environment in order to return damaged or disabled equipment to temporary
service. Also called BDR.
battlefield coordination detachment — An Army liaison that provides selected
operational functions between the Army forces and the air component commander.
Battlefield coordination detachment located in the air operations center interface
includes exchanging current intelligence and operational data, support requirements,
coordinating the integration of Army forces requirements for airspace coordinating
measures, fire support coordination measures, and theater airlift. Also called BCD.
See also Air Force air and space operations center; liaison. (JP 3-03)
battlefield illumination — (*) The lighting of the battle area by artificial light, either
visible or invisible to the naked eye.
battlefield surveillance — (*) Systematic observation of the battle area for the purpose of
providing timely information and combat intelligence. See also surveillance.
battle force — A standing operational naval task force organization of carriers, surface
combatants, and submarines assigned to numbered fleets. A battle force is subdivided
into battle groups.
battle injury — Damage or harm sustained by personnel during or as a result of battle
conditions. Also called BI. (JP 4-02)
battle management — The management of activities within the operational environment
based on the commands, direction, and guidance given by appropriate authority. Also
called BM. (JP 3-01)
battle reserves — Reserve supplies accumulated by an army, detached corps, or detached
division in the vicinity of the battlefield, in addition to unit and individual reserves. See
also reserve supplies.
battle rhythm — A deliberate daily cycle of command, staff, and unit activities intended to
synchronize current and future operations. (JP 3-33)
battlespace — The environment, factors, and conditions that must be understood to
successfully apply combat power, protect the force, or complete the mission. This
includes the air, land, sea, space, and the included enemy and friendly forces; facilities;
weather; terrain; the electromagnetic spectrum; and the information environment within
the operational areas and areas of interest. See also electromagnetic spectrum;
information environment; joint intelligence preparation of the battlespace.
battlespace awareness — Knowledge and understanding of the operational area’s
environment, factors, and conditions, to include the status of friendly and adversary
forces, neutrals and noncombatants, weather and terrain, that enables timely, relevant,
comprehensive, and accurate assessments, in order to successfully apply combat power,
protect the force, and/or complete the mission. (JP 2-01)
beach — 1. The area extending from the shoreline inland to a marked change in
physiographic form or material, or to the line of permanent vegetation (coastline). 2.
In amphibious operations, that portion of the shoreline designated for landing of a
tactical organization.
beach capacity — (*) An estimate, expressed in terms of measurement tons, or weight
tons, of cargo that may be unloaded over a designated strip of shore per day. See also
clearance capacity; port capacity.
beach group — See naval beach group; shore party.
beachhead — A designated area on a hostile or potentially hostile shore that, when seized
and held, ensures the continuous landing of troops and materiel, and provides maneuver
space requisite for subsequent projected operations ashore. (JP 3-02)
beach landing site — A geographic location selected for across-the-beach infiltration,
exfiltration, or resupply operations. Also called BLS. (JP 3-05)
beach marker — A sign or device used to identify a beach or certain activities thereon for
incoming waterborne traffic. Markers may be panels, lights, buoys, or electronic
beachmaster — The naval officer in command of the beachmaster unit of the naval beach
group. Also called BM.
beachmaster unit — A commissioned naval unit of the naval beach group designed to
provide to the shore party a Navy component known as a beach party, which is capable
of supporting the amphibious landing of one division (reinforced). Also called BMU.
See also beach party; naval beach group; shore party. (JP 4-01.6)
beach minefield — (*) A minefield in the shallow water approaches to a possible
amphibious landing beach. See also minefield.
beach organization — In an amphibious operation, the planned arrangement of personnel
and facilities to effect movement, supply, and evacuation across beaches and in the
beach area for support of a landing force.
beach party — The naval component of the shore party. See also beachmaster unit;
shore party.
beach party commander — The naval officer in command of the naval component of the
shore party.
beach photography — Vertical, oblique, ground, and periscope coverage at varying scales
to provide information of offshore, shore, and inland areas. It covers terrain that
provides observation of the beaches and is primarily concerned with the geological and
tactical aspects of the beach.
beach reserves — (*) In an amphibious operation, an accumulation of supplies of all
classes established in dumps in beachhead areas. See also reserve supplies.
beach support area — In amphibious operations, the area to the rear of a landing force or
elements thereof, established and operated by shore party units, which contains the
facilities for the unloading of troops and materiel and the support of the forces ashore; it
includes facilities for the evacuation of wounded, enemy prisoners of war, and captured
materiel. Also called BSA.
beach survey — The collection of data describing the physical characteristics of a beach;
that is, an area whose boundaries are a shoreline, a coastline, and two natural or
arbitrary assigned flanks.
beach width — The horizontal dimensions of the beach measured at right angles to the
shoreline from the line of extreme low water inland to the landward limit of the beach
(the coastline).
beam rider — A missile guided by an electronic beam.
beam width — The angle between the directions, on either side of the axis, at which the
intensity of the radio frequency field drops to one-half the value it has on the axis.
bearing — The horizontal angle at a given point measured clockwise from a specific datum
point to a second point. See also grid bearing; relative bearing; true bearing.
beaten zone — The area on the ground upon which the cone of fire falls.
begin morning civil twilight — The period of time at which the sun is halfway between
beginning morning and nautical twilight and sunrise, when there is enough light to see
objects clearly with the unaided eye. At this time, light intensification devices are no
longer effective, and the sun is six degrees below the eastern horizon. Also called
begin morning nautical twilight — The start of that period where, in good conditions and
in the absence of other illumination, enough light is available to identify the general
outlines of ground objects and conduct limited military operations. Light
intensification devices are still effective and may have enhanced capabilities. At this
time, the sun is 12 degrees below the eastern horizon. Also called BMNT.
beleaguered — See missing.
berm, natural — The nearly horizontal portion of a beach or backshore having an abrupt
fall and formed by deposition of material by wave action. A berm marks the limit of
ordinary high tide. For air cushion vehicles, berms (constructed) are required to protect
materials handling equipment operations. See also backshore. (JP 4-01.6)
besieged — See missing.
bight — A bend in a coast forming an open bay or an open bay formed by such a bend.
(JP 4-01.6)
bilateral infrastructure — (*) Infrastructure which concerns only two NATO members
and is financed by mutual agreement between them (e.g., facilities required for the use
of forces of one NATO member in the territory of another). See also infrastructure.
bill — A ship’s publication listing operational or administrative procedures. (JP 3-04)
billet — 1. Shelter for troops. 2. To quarter troops. 3. A personnel position or assignment
that may be filled by one person.
binding — (*) The fastening or securing of items to a movable platform called a pallet.
See also palletized unit load.
bin storage — Storage of items of supplies and equipment in an individual compartment or
subdivision of a storage unit in less than bulk quantities. See also bulk storage;
biographical intelligence — That component of intelligence that deals with individual
foreign personalities of actual or potential importance.
biological agent — A microorganism that causes disease in personnel, plants, or animals or
causes the deterioration of materiel. See also biological weapon; chemical agent.
(JP 3-11)
biological half-time — See half-life.
biological hazard — An organism, or substance derived from an organism, that poses a
threat to human or animal health. This can include medical waste, samples of a
microorganism, virus, or toxin (from a biological source) that can impact human health.
(JP 3-11)
biological warfare — Employment of biological agents to produce casualties in personnel
or animals, or damage to plants or materiel; or defense against such employment.
(JP 3-11)
biological weapon — (*) An item of materiel which projects, disperses, or disseminates a
biological agent including arthropod vectors. (JP 3-11)
biometric — Measurable physical characteristic or personal behavior trait used to recognize
the identity or verify the claimed identity of an individual. (JP 2-0)
biometrics — The process of recognizing an individual based on measurable anatomical,
physiological, and behavioral characteristics. (JP 2-0)
black — In intelligence handling, a term used in certain phrases (e.g., living black, black
border crossing) to indicate reliance on illegal concealment rather than on cover.
black list — An official counterintelligence listing of actual or potential enemy
collaborators, sympathizers, intelligence suspects, and other persons whose presence
menaces the security of friendly forces.
black propaganda — Propaganda that purports to emanate from a source other than the
true one. See also propaganda.
blast effect — Destruction of or damage to structures and personnel by the force of an
explosion on or above the surface of the ground. Blast effect may be contrasted with
the cratering and ground-shock effects of a projectile or charge that goes off beneath
the surface.
blast line — A horizontal radial line on the surface of the Earth originating at ground zero
on which measurements of blast from an explosion are taken.
blast wave — A sharply defined wave of increased pressure rapidly propagated through a
surrounding medium from a center of detonation or similar disturbance.
blast wave diffraction — (*) The passage around and envelopment of a structure by the
nuclear blast wave.
bleeding edge — (*) That edge of a map or chart on which cartographic detail is extended
to the edge of the sheet.
blind transmission — Any transmission of information that is made without expectation of
acknowledgement. (JP 3-05)
blister agent — (*) A chemical agent which injures the eyes and lungs, and burns or
blisters the skin. Also called vesicant agent. (JP 3-11)
blocking and chocking — (*) The use of wedges or chocks to prevent the inadvertent
shifting of cargo in transit.
blocking position — A defensive position so sited as to deny the enemy access to a given
area or to prevent the enemy’s advance in a given direction.
block shipment — A method of shipment of supplies to overseas areas to provide balanced
stocks or an arbitrary balanced force for a specific number of days, e.g., shipment of 30
days’ supply for an average force of 10,000 individuals.
block stowage loading — (*) A method of loading whereby all cargo for a specific
destination is stowed together. The purpose is to facilitate rapid off-loading at the
destination, with the least possible disturbance of cargo intended for other points. See
also loading.
blood agent — (*) A chemical compound, including the cyanide group, that affects bodily
functions by preventing the normal utilization of oxygen by body tissues. (JP 3-11)
blood chit — A small sheet of material depicting an American flag and a statement in
several languages to the effect that anyone assisting the bearer to safety will be
rewarded. See also evasion aid. (JP 3-50.3)
blood chit (intelligence) — See blood chit.
blowback — (*) 1. Escape, to the rear and under pressure, of gases formed during the
firing of the weapon. Blowback may be caused by a defective breech mechanism, a
ruptured cartridge case, or a faulty primer. 2. Type of weapon operation in which the
force of expanding gases acting to the rear against the face of the bolt furnishes all the
energy required to initiate the complete cycle of operation. A weapon which employs
this method of operation is characterized by the absence of any breech-lock or bolt-lock
Blue Bark — US military personnel, US citizen civilian employees of the Department of
Defense, and the dependents of both categories who travel in connection with the death
of an immediate family member. It also applies to designated escorts for dependents of
deceased military members. Furthermore, the term is used to designate the personal
property shipment of a deceased member.
blue force tracking — Employment of techniques to actively or passively identify or track
US, allied, or coalition forces for the purpose of providing the combatant commander
enhanced situational awareness and reducing fratricide. Also called BFT. (JP 3-14)
board — An organized group of individuals within a joint force commander’s headquarters,
appointed by the commander (or other authority) that meets with the purpose of gaining
guidance or decision. Its responsibilities and authority are governed by the authority
which established the board. (JP 3-33)
boat diagram — In the assault phase of an amphibious operation, a diagram showing the
positions of individuals and equipment in each boat.
boat group — The basic organization of landing craft. One boat group is organized for
each battalion landing team (or equivalent) to be landed in the first trip of landing craft
or amphibious vehicles.
boat lane — (*) A lane for amphibious assault landing craft, which extends seaward from
the landing beaches to the line of departure. The width of a boat lane is determined by
the length of the corresponding beach.
boat space — The space and weight factor used to determine the capacity of boats, landing
craft, and amphibious vehicles. With respect to landing craft and amphibious vehicles,
it is based on the requirements of one person with individual equipment. The person is
assumed to weigh 224 pounds and to occupy 13.5 cubic feet of space. See also man
boattail — (*) The conical section of a ballistic body that progressively decreases in
diameter toward the tail to reduce overall aerodynamic drag.
boat wave — See wave.
bomb disposal unit — See explosive ordnance disposal unit.
bomber — See intermediate-range bomber aircraft; long-range bomber aircraft;
medium-range bomber aircraft.
bomb impact plot — A graphic representation of the target area, usually a pre-strike air
photograph, on which prominent dots are plotted to mark the impact or detonation
points of bombs dropped on a specific bombing attack.
bombing angle — (*) The angle between the vertical and a line joining the aircraft to what
would be the point of impact of a bomb released from it at that instant.
bombing run — (*) In air bombing, that part of the flight that begins, normally from an
initial point, with the approach to the target, includes target acquisition, and ends
normally at the weapon release point.
bomb release line — (*) An imaginary line around a defended area or objective over
which an aircraft should release its bomb in order to obtain a hit or hits on an area or
bomb release point — (*) The point in space at which bombs must be released to reach the
desired point of detonation.
bona fides — Good faith. In personnel recovery, the use of verbal or visual communication
by individuals who are unknown to one another, to establish their authenticity,
sincerity, honesty, and truthfulness. See also evasion; recovery; recovery operations.
(JP 3-50)
bonding — (*) In electrical engineering, the process of connecting together metal parts so
that they make low resistance electrical contact for direct current and lower frequency
alternating currents. See also earthing.
booby trap — (*) An explosive or nonexplosive device or other material, deliberately
placed to cause casualties when an apparently harmless object is disturbed or a
normally safe act is performed.
booster — (*) 1. A high-explosive element sufficiently sensitive so as to be actuated by
small explosive elements in a fuze or primer and powerful enough to cause detonation
of the main explosive filling. 2. An auxiliary or initial propulsion system which travels
with a missile or aircraft and which may or may not separate from the parent craft when
its impulse has been delivered. A booster system may contain, or consist of, one or
more units.
boost phase — That portion of the flight of a ballistic missile or space vehicle during which
the booster and sustainer engines operate. See also midcourse phase; terminal phase.
(JP 3-01)
border — (*) In cartography, the area of a map or chart lying between the neatline and the
surrounding framework.
border break — (*) A cartographic technique used when it is required to extend a portion
of the cartographic detail of a map or chart beyond the sheetlines into the margin.
border crosser — (*) An individual, living close to a frontier, who normally has to cross
the frontier frequently for legitimate purposes.
boresafe fuze — (*) Type of fuze having an interrupter in the explosive train that prevents
a projectile from exploding until after it has cleared the muzzle of a weapon.
bottom mine — A mine with negative buoyancy which remains on the seabed. Also called
ground mine. See also mine. (JP 3-15)
bound — (*) 1. In land warfare, a single movement, usually from cover to cover, made by
troops often under enemy fire. 2. (DOD only) Distance covered in one movement by
a unit that is advancing by bounds.
boundary — A line that delineates surface areas for the purpose of facilitating coordination
and deconfliction of operations between adjacent units, formations, or areas. See also
airspace control boundary. (JP 3-0)
bouquet mine — (*) In naval mine warfare, a mine in which a number of buoyant mine
cases are attached to the same sinker, so that when the mooring of one mine case is cut,
another mine rises from the sinker to its set depth. See also mine.
bracketing — (*) A method of adjusting fire in which a bracket is established by obtaining
an over and a short along the spotting line, and then successively splitting the bracket in
half until a target hit or desired bracket is obtained.
branch — 1. A subdivision of any organization. 2. A geographically separate unit of an
activity, which performs all or part of the primary functions of the parent activity on a
smaller scale. Unlike an annex, a branch is not merely an overflow addition. 3. An
arm or service of the Army. 4. The contingency options built into the base plan. A
branch is used for changing the mission, orientation, or direction of movement of a
force to aid success of the operation based on anticipated events, opportunities, or
disruptions caused by enemy actions and reactions. See also sequel. (JP 5-0)
breakaway — (*) 1. The onset of a condition in which the shock front moves away from
the exterior of the expanding fireball produced by the explosion of a nuclear weapon.
2. (DOD only) After completion of attack, turn to heading as directed.
breakbulk cargo — Any commodity that, because of its weight, dimensions, or
incompatibility with other cargo, must be shipped by mode other than military van or
SEAVAN. See also breakbulk ship. (JP 4-01.7)
breakbulk ship — A ship with conventional holds for stowage of breakbulk cargo, below
or above deck, and equipped with cargo-handling gear. Ships also may be capable of
carrying a limited number of containers, above or below deck. See also breakbulk
cargo. (JP 4-01.7)
breaker — A wave in the process of losing energy where offshore energy loss is caused by
wind action and nearshore energy loss is caused by the impact of the sea floor as the
wave enters shallow (shoaling) water. Breakers either plunge, spill, or surge. See also
breaker angle. (JP 4-01.6)
breaker angle — The angle a breaker makes with the beach. See also breaker. (JP 4-01.6)
breakoff position — (*) The position at which a leaver or leaver section breaks off from
the main convoy to proceed to a different destination.
break-up — (*) 1. In detection by radar, the separation of one solid return into a number
of individual returns which correspond to the various objects or structure groupings.
This separation is contingent upon a number of factors including range, beam width,
gain setting, object size and distance between objects. 2. In imagery interpretation, the
result of magnification or enlargement which causes the imaged item to lose its identity
and the resultant presentation to become a random series of tonal impressions. Also
called split-up.
brevity code — (*) A code which provides no security but which has as its sole purpose
the shortening of messages rather than the concealment of their content. (JP 3-04)
bridgehead — An area of ground held or to be gained on the enemy’s side of an obstacle.
See also airhead; beachhead.
bridgehead line — (*) The limit of the objective area in the development of the
bridgehead. See also objective area.
briefing — (*) The act of giving in advance specific instructions or information.
brigade — A unit usually smaller than a division to which are attached groups and/or
battalions and smaller units tailored to meet anticipated requirements. Also called
broach — When a water craft is thrown broadside to the wind and waves, against a bar, or
against the shoreline. (JP 4-01.6)
buddy-aid — Acute medical care (first aid) provided by a non-medical Service member to
another person. (JP 4-02)
buffer distance — (*) In nuclear warfare: 1. The horizontal distance which, when added to
the radius of safety, will give the desired assurance that the specified degree of risk will
not be exceeded. The buffer distance is normally expressed quantitatively in multiples
of the delivery error. 2. The vertical distance which is added to the fallout safe-height
of burst in order to determine a desired height of burst which will provide the desired
assurance that militarily significant fallout will not occur. It is normally expressed
quantitatively in multiples of the vertical error.
buffer zone — 1. A defined area controlled by a peace operations force from which
disputing or belligerent forces have been excluded. A buffer zone is formed to create
an area of separation between disputing or belligerent forces and reduce the risk of
renewed conflict. Also called area of separation in some United Nations operations.
Also called BZ. See also area of separation; line of demarcation; peace operations.
2. A conical volume centered on the laser’s line of sight with its apex at the aperture of
the laser, within which the beam will be contained with a high degree of certainty. It is
determined by the buffer angle. See also laser. (JP 3-07.3)
bug — 1. A concealed microphone or listening device or other audiosurveillance device. 2.
To install means for audiosurveillance.
bugged — Room or object that contains a concealed listening device.
building systems — Structures assembled from manufactured components designed to
provide specific building configurations (e.g., large steel arch structures, large span
tension fabric structures, panelized buildings, and pre-engineered buildings). (JP 3-34)
buildup — (*) The process of attaining prescribed strength of units and prescribed levels of
vehicles, equipment, stores, and supplies. Also may be applied to the means of
accomplishing this process.
bulk cargo — That which is generally shipped in volume where the transportation
conveyance is the only external container; such as liquids, ore, or grain.
bulk petroleum product — (*) A liquid petroleum product transported by various means
and stored in tanks or containers having an individual fill capacity greater than 250
liters. (JP 4-03)
bulk storage — 1. Storage in a warehouse of supplies and equipment in large quantities,
usually in original containers, as distinguished from bin storage. 2. Storage of liquids,
such as petroleum products in tanks, as distinguished from drum or packaged storage.
See also bin storage; storage.
bullseye — An established reference point from which the position of an object can be
referenced. See also reference point. (JP 3-60)
bureau — A long-standing functional organization, with a supporting staff designed to
perform a specific function or activity within a joint force commander’s headquarters.
(JP 3-33)
burn notice — An official statement by one intelligence agency to other agencies, domestic
or foreign, that an individual or group is unreliable for any of a variety of reasons.
burnout — (*) The point in time or in the missile trajectory when combustion of fuels in
the rocket engine is terminated by other than programmed cutoff.
burnout velocity — (*) The velocity attained by a missile at the point of burnout.
burn-through range — The distance at which a specific radar can discern targets through
the external interference being received.