I was recently speaking with a friend of mine who is still serving in the military. He mentioned some work he was doing on “securitisation” policies. A year ago I would have instinctively known that he was talking about the development of security-focused institutions, the primary role of NATO in Afghanistan at the moment, and an area to which the British Army believes it can bring significant global value at a low cost. However, when he said the word “securitisation” my first thought was to ask him what on earth the British Army was doing getting involved with the development of financial instruments…

That conversation inspired me to begin thinking about some of the other phrases and acronyms that have two very different meanings in the military and in the private sector. I came up with this list; there are no doubt some more (let me know). Concurrently and coincidentally, HBR IdeaCast published this podcast, which puts forward some good arguments as to why not all jargon is bad.

So if you’re in the Big Three then take care doing CA training, HFT, looking for a VC or some PE, working out the ROE, or using DF.

Acronym / Phrase Military Private sector
Alpha Typical callsign Gap between expected returns and actual returns
BB Back brief Bulge bracket
BD Bulldog Business Development
Beta Typical callsign Expected returns according to the CAPM
Big Three Paras, Marines, RAF Regt McKinsey, Bain, BCG
CA Combined Arms Chartered Accountant / Current Account
CDS Chief of the Defence Staff Credit Default Swap
CF Coalition Forces Cash Flow
COB Coalition Operating Base Close of Business
CP Close protection Consumer Products
CTC Commando Training Centre Cost-To-Company
DF Direct Fire Discount Factor
DSO Distinguished Service Order Day Sales Outstanding
EOD Explosives Ordnance Demolition End of day
FOB Forward Operating Base Freight on board
GS General Service Goldman Sachs
HF High-frequency (radio) Hedge Fund
HFT Hybrid Foundation Training High Frequency Trading
IOT In Order To Internet of Things
IR Infra Red Investor Relations
MC Military Cross Marginal Cost
OC Officer Commanding Opportunity Cost
OTC Officer Training Corps Over-The-Counter
PE Plastic Explosive Private Equity OR Price to Earnings OR Price Elasticity
PO Potential Officer Purchase Order
PPE Personal Protective Equipment Property, Plant & Equipment
RC Remote-Controlled (IED) Retail Company
RE Royal Engineers Retained Equity OR Real Estate
ROE Rules of Engagement Return on Equity
SF Special Forces Securitisation funding
VC Victoria Cross Venture Capital

If you’re new to the private sector and the interplay of the various elements – particularly in finance – and getting concerned with all these acronyms, this graphic helps (from Wall Streep Prep).

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