Military time is different than the standard way to telling and communicating time in most English-speaking countries. While some other countries may use a 24-hour time system, the United States uses a 12-hour clock. However, the US military doesn’t use a 12-hour time system, which is why the 24-hour clock is often referred to as military time.
The 24-Hour Time System
While the 24-hour clock isn’t just used by the military, it has been used by the US military since as early as 1920. This is the standard way of telling and communicating time in the military, with a few adaptations.
The typically 24-hour time system will write time in the format 00:00 and some systems don’t speak the leading zero. However, military time varies a bit with no divider and the leading zero is always spoken and written. Instead of 1:00, military time calls for 0100.
In addition, military time also includes a letter at the end of the time to communicate the time zone. For example, the letter for US Eastern Standard Time or UTC-5 is R or Romeo. The time written for this time zone would look like this: 0100R. It’s also important to note that J or Juliett means local time.
There is no exact standard for the 24-hour time system when it comes to the end or beginning of the day. Some railway timetables may show either 00:00 or 24:00 to end or start the day. Legal contracts will often use both. However, the US Navy and US Marine Corps changed the way they handle the end and start of the day in June of 2015. The old manuals showed the clock running from 0001 to 2400, but the new manuals show it running from 0000 to 2359.
Learning Military Time
As a new recruit, it’s important to learn how to tell time properly for the military. This may seem like an obstacle and it may seem difficult, but it’s really not. Instead of stopping at 12pm or Noon, just keep counting until you reach 24.
This means 1:00pm now becomes 1300, 2:00pm now becomes 1400, 3:00pm now becomes 1500 and so on. It’s also important to know that 1000 and 2000 are never one-thousand or two-thousands. Instead, they are ten-hundred and twenty-hundred. The military never used the word “thousand” when it comes to speaking time.
There are several things you will need to learn as a new recruit and military time is one of them. While it’s an adjustment, as most civilians have to think and do a bit of counting when they hear time spoken by the military in a movie or TV show, it won’t take long to catch on. Once you have it down, you may find yourself using military time with civilians and get to enjoy the confused look on their faces.