Benefits of knowing the phonetic alphabet

Whether you are perhaps looking to join the armed forces, impress friends and family, or simply want to sharpen up your basic language skills – having some background knowledge and understanding of the military alphabet and its phonetic equivalent will become extremely useful in times of need or when communication is limited.

The earliest use of the military alphabet came into use during the early 20th century, this was at a time when communication methods during wartime were extremely limited and sometimes unpredictable. Its use was primarily focused to assist airborne pilots easily and communicate with ground control on their situation and cancel out frequently occurring issues. With the help of the British Royal Airforce during World War 1, the introduction of the first-ever spelling alphabet for military and air force use came into action.

What is the phonetic alphabet?

Today, there are 26 words or known as codes that each resemble a letter of the alphabet. All of these words or codes sound and are spelled differently – helping to eliminate communication errors. Modernization of the alphabet occurred during the 1950s when the U.S. Armed Forces and NATO made use of one singular alphabet which they dubbed the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet (IRSA), or more well-known as the NATO Phonetic Alphabet.

Careful research in various environments, warfare, and certain dialects has shown that that the development conducted by the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) has delivered more reputable results and has quickly caught on to become an international standard.

A quick look at how it works

As already mentioned, there are 26 codes or words, each representing a letter of the alphabet. For example – Alpha would be equivalent to the letter A, Bravo to letter B, Charlie to the letter C and so on. Once a person has become comfortable with each code and its alphabetical counterpart, and how it can be used – you can then move on to constructing sentences, building phrases, and compiling encoded locutions.

Using the understanding explained above, putting some words together would mean that you end up with a short sentence, that can perhaps save your life, or simply ensure clear communication was conducted. For example, Lima Charlie – Loud and Clear, or Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – WTF and so forth.

Benefits of knowing the phonetic alphabet

Easy radio communication

Although you might think you’ll never find yourself in a situation where you will need to use the phonetic alphabet via radio communication – having a firm grasp on how the phonetic alphabet works and what each code means would enable one to easily communicate via radio if you find yourself in an undesirable predicament where communication can’t be conducted.

Emergency communication

This is more focused on emergency communication during times of distress, especially if you would find yourself in a situation where you are limited with resources and means of communication. Knowing the phonetic alphabet would enable you to communicate with an array of both military and air force personnel when dealing with high-intensity situations.

Understanding military and aircraft communication

In the unlikely event that it might happen, understanding military and aircraft communication can help save your life and that of others. A lot of passenger aircraft still use this system to identify passengers, communicate with ground control, and share flight coordinates.

Using it to get yourself around

Some people might not be equipped with how the military phonetics system may work, but if you do, you can easily use this as a way to track your coordinates, share your location in the event of unclear radio communication and perhaps signal for help if needed.

Using it in finance

If you work in the banking or financial industry there is a chance you might have already come across the phonetics alphabet. Bankers and traders use this system as a way to communicate with each other when trading or awaiting large transactions, and if you’re one of them - you will find it easier to use this system as opposed to traditional phrases or sentences.

Although the benefits of knowing and using the military alphabet can become limited by your expertise thereof, having it engraved in your day-to-day vocabulary may come in handy, even in situations in which you may never see yourself in.