Understanding How Military Time Works. Military time is a common term used by civilians to refer to a 24-hour time system adopted by the US military. While it’s not common in day-to-day life for civilians, it’s the most common way to keep time in the military.
The 24-hour time system dates back thousands of years and has been used by many cultures as the standard way of keeping time. In fact, many early clocks were built based on the 24-hour system and showed numbers up to 23 instead of up to 12.
While this may seem like an odd way to keep time, it’s the way the military in the United States has been doing it for many years. The US Navy started the trend in 1920 and the US Army followed in 1942 by adopting the 24-hour clock. If you’re a new recruit of any of the branched of military, one of the first things you need to do is get used to using military time.
How Does Military Time Work?
The basics of the 24-hour clock are rather simple. Instead of two increments of 12 running from 1am to 12pm (noon) and from 1pm to 12am (midnight), there is just one increment running from 0100 to 2400. The military doesn’t use a divider for the hours and minutes and there’s no need for the AM or PM, either.
Starting the day at 0000, the military clock runs from 0000 or 2400 to 2359. Typically, 2400 only refers to the exact time the day ends and is rarely used. Instead, the clock turns from 2359 to 0000 before counting again. The US Marine Corps and US Navy manuals used to state the clock runs from 0001 to 2400. However, this was updated in June 2015 and now shows the clock running from 0000 to 2359.
Is Military Time Just a Standard 24-Hour Clock?
The 24-hour time system is not just used by the military. It’s also used by many other organizations across the globe. Compared to a traditional 24-hour time system, military time does have some differences.
First, the military doesn’t use a separators as a part of writing the time, so instead of 03:00, military members would write 0300.
Second, unlike some 24-hour time systems, the military speaks and writes out the leading zero. Instead of 3:00, military members write 0300.
Third, the military also used a letter at the end of the time to state the time zone. For example, if using US Eastern Standard Time (UTC-5), military time for 6:00am would be 0600R and spoken it would be “zero six hundred Romeo.”
Fourth, when denoting local time, the military use the zone J or “Juliett”. This means 6:00am would be 0600J when written for local time.
Finally, the military never used anything other than hundred. They don’t say “one thousand” for 1000, but instead, they say “ten hundred.”
While military time may seem strange if you’re not in the military, it’s second nature for those in the armed forces. It can become so second nature that veterans still use military time as their normal way of telling, speaking and writing time.