Decoding Fieldcraft Alphabet Soup

Posted by Kevin Estela on Feb 12th 2024

An acronym is an abbreviation made by the initial letter of a series of words. If you know any teenagers who live on their phones, you’ve probably heard them say “LOL”, and if you spend any time in the prepper community, you know what “T.E.O.T.W.A.W.K.I” means. Perhaps you don’t know what that last one means, but you should look it up because it was popular during the Y2K craze and is showing up again as we talk about artificial intelligence. The military has a rich history of acronyms like “F.U.B.A.R.” and “S.N.A.F.U” which I’ll censor and translate to “fouled up beyond all recognition” and “system normal all fouled up.” Acronyms are all around us, and if you spend any time at Fieldcraft, you’ll hear them in training courses. Since these acronyms can be a foreign language, I will walk you through 10 or so you should know to understand better what has been dubbed “alphabet soup”.


Primary Alternate Contingency and Emergency refers to how one should plan. Always have a primary plan, or plan A, and be ready to flex to plan B. When we speak of bugging out, you must be flexible, and P.A.C.E. planning is how you do it. P.A.C.E. also relates to the gear you carry. Your primary defensive measure may be a rifle or shotgun followed by an alternate pistol, a contingency-edged weapon, and in an emergency, a “B.F.R,” which is a “big freakin’ rock.”


Minute of Angle is a unit of measurement often used to describe the accuracy of a firearm. You’ll likely encounter this in firearm courses and the long-range curriculum. A minute of angle at 100 yards is approximately an inch, and since this angle is exponential, at 400 yards, a minute is 4”, and at 1000 yards, a minute is 10”. M.O.A. has a rival, and if you’re an M.R.A.D. shooter, you know what I’m talking about. You should be familiar with both measurements and how to apply them with some ballistic math.


Military Grid Reference System. In land navigation, you provide positions with coordinates, and for most land nav, this is done with M.G.R.S. Set up in a grid system, you provide easting and northing points in 4, 6, 8, 10 digit grids with the 10 digit giving you 1m x 1m precision placement. While the military uses M.G.R.S, the civilian world uses U.T.M. A common statement in classes is, “I can do one but not the other”, which is the furthest from the truth. A closer examination of the digits shows how related they are, and your ability to do both is already there.

C.C.W. and C.H.L.

Carrying a Concealed Weapon and Concealed Handgun License. You may be required to have these licenses in your jurisdiction to carry a defensive pistol. In personal defense, we cover the how, where, why, and when a C.C.W. or C.H.L. is needed. These licenses are your responsibility if you’re an adult and care about your safety. We don’t carry firearms to take lives but rather to protect lives.


Massive Bleeding, Airway, Respiration, Circulation, Head and Hypothermia. In the 90s, you used the “ABCs” of airway, breathing, and circulation when responding to a medical emergency. The world has changed, and so have medical practices. We preach using tourniquets because they save lives, and when appropriately placed, they can address massive bleeding. The same is true of wound packing gauze, and as you look at the gear in a basic “blow-out kit” you’ll see the tools you need to treat the concerns M.A.R.C.H. spells out. Don’t forget that “H” should remind you to wrap your patient in an emergency blanket since heat is lost rapidly from massive bleeding.


Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures. Generally guarded and not shared openly, T.T.P.s can be the difference between success and failure. T.T.P.s may be secretive, and sharing them is akin to giving your opponent your playbook. From the battlefield to the range setting, T.T.P.s can be as simple as not ducking behind cover and popping back out in the same place. T.T.P.s can include providing a range safety brief before live fire, describing the medevac plan, and designating a lead medic, caller, and driver if the patient needs to be moved. Don’t be surprised if you hear “T.T.P.” in a course. They surround you.


Plan of Instruction. Similar to the security of a T.T.P., some instructors are very protective of their plan of instruction. After all, there are only so many ways to perform a given skill set, but how it is taught may be unique. A teacher typically will write a lesson plan, and individual lessons will fit into a larger instruction plan. The survival curriculum at Fieldcraft Survival is grounded in the knowledge found in my book, 101 Skills You Need To Survive In The Woods. From Modern Survival Skills to Wilderness Survival Overnight and the Advanced Survival Experience, since I started at the company in 2021, the students have been following the lessons in the book. My book has the content students need to learn, but there are lessons only those who attend my class will experience that pages can’t replicate.


Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. The O.O.D.A. loop is used to describe the process of decision-making in the classes we run. Originally developed by an Air Force Colonel named John Boyd. The loop doesn’t have to run sequentially, and at any point in the O.O.D.A. loop, you can return to orienting your position. While many survival manuals teach the “S.T.O.P.” protocol of staying put, thinking, observing, and planning, it isn’t always the best idea to remain in one place in an emergency, and at times, movement is life. This is where the O.O.D.A. loop excels.


After Action Report. At the end of every course I teach, an A.A.R. is conducted and is designed to help the students and instructor recap the day and provide a deeper understanding of the next steps in developing skills. Typical A.A.R questions include “What resonated with you?” “What was your “aha” moment?” “Is there anything you are still uncertain about?” and “Did you get what you wanted from the class?” A.A.R.s are a process, and they help the instructor plan for the next course. They also help the student recall what they may have forgotten as other students may have focused on different aspects than you did. Just as important as student participation, the instructor should give their point of view and feedback as the course concludes.


Whiskey Tango Foxtrot or "WHAT THE F?". Ok, this isn’t exclusive to Fieldcraft, but you may hear it in our company meetings when something happens at one of the Air BNBs we use for expos, or just because. If you have sensitive ears, prepare to have them assaulted, usually by those you wouldn’t expect.

This list of acronyms is not finite. You will likely find more when you come to train with us or listen to the podcast I host. You never know how your vocabulary will expand, and your communication will improve as you learn colorful ways to interface with just a few letters.