Sunday, June 25, 2017

Alphabet Soup! Spy Acronyms for Readers and Writers

The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency....
The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency. The first use was in September 1966, replacing an older seal which was used briefly. For more information, see here and here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Do you know the difference between IC (Intelligence Community) and CI (counterintelligence)?

BLUF = Bottom Line Up Front - is a paragraph where the conclusions and recommendations are placed at the beginning of the text, rather than the end, in order to facilitate rapid decision making. Traditionally, conclusions and recommendations are included at the end, following the arguments and considerations of facts. LINK

CENTCOM = US Central Command (Middle East HQ) - LINK

CI = Counterintelligence LINK

CIA = Central Intelligence Agency LINK

COMSEC = Communications Security LINK

COS = Chief of Station (CIA) LINK

CYBERCOM = US Cyber Command LINK

DEVGRU = US Naval Special Warfare Development Group (known as SEAL Team SIX) LINK

DIA = Defense Intelligence Agency LINK


DNI = Director of National Intelligence (USA) LINK

DoD = Department of Defense  LINK

DoS = Department of State LINK

EUCOM = US European Command LINK

FBI = Federal Bureau of Investigation LINK

FCI = Foreign Counterintelligence - The Counterintelligence Division (CD) is a division of the National Security Branch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Division protects the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage. LINK

FVEY = Five Eyes (includes US, UK, CAN, AUS, NZ SIGINT Alliance) LINK

HUMINT = Human Intelligence

IMINT = Imagery Intelligence

INFOSEC = Information Security

INR = Bureau of Intelligence & Research (DoS)

JSOC = Joint Special Operations Command

MFA = Ministry of Foreign Affairs

MI = Military Intelligence

MoD = Ministry of Defense (not from Harry Potter) LINK

NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organization

NGA = National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

NIC = National Intelligence Council

NIO = National Intelligence Officer (the folks who mostly staff the NIC) LINK

NOC = Non-Official Cover LINK

NODISSEM = Not for Dissemination

NOFORN = Not for Dissemination to Foreigners

NRO = National Reconnaissance Office

NSA = National Security Agency (AKA No Such Agency)

NSOC = National Security Operations Center (NSA)

OCONUS = Outside CONUS - CONUS = The 48 CONtiguous States and the District of Columbia or "the lower 48, as they're affectionately known to the Alaskans." OCONUS = Outside Continental United States. Overseas = Any country or place beyond the CONUS. Alaska, Hawaii and the U.S. territories are considered overseas under the Space-A Regulation. LINK

OFCO = Offensive Counterintelligence LINK

PACOM = US Pacific Command LINK

PSYOPS -psychological operations LINK

POTUS = President of the United States

RUMINT = Rumor Intelligence (not reliable at all.)

SAD = CIA Special Activities Division (paramilitary ops) - LINK, LINK

SAP = Special Access Program - The Special Access Program (SAP) is a high state of enforced need-to-know, and only a minimum number of cleared employees are given access to SAP information. It is established to control access, distribution, and provide protection for sensitive classified information beyond that normally required. LINK

SCI = Sensitive Compartmented Information - LINK

SCIF = Sensitive Compartmented Information facility - LINK

SIGINT = Signals Intelligence - LINK

SITREP = Situation Report

SOCOM = US Special Operations Command - LINK

SOF = Special Operations Forces LINK

SOUTHCOM = US Southern Command LINK

SSBI = Single Scope Background Investigation - LINK

SSO = Staff Security Officer LINK

TAO = NSA Tailored Access Operations (NSA’s hacking org) LINK

USG = United States Government


  1. An interesting post and good information for writers. Thanks for sharing. :) --- Suzanne

  2. I knew/remembered all but a couple of them. DOD used some crazy multi-level acronyms (acronyms embedded with acronyms - 2nd and even 3rd order). It got confusing at times as some Agencies used the same acronym lettering with different objects/meanings. :)