The XX Committee Lexicon

My writings involve a lot of abbreviations and acronyms. It’s a habit long ingrained from my service in America’s military and intelligence services, plus it’s a space-saver, particularly online.

However, I regularly get asked, “What the hell does XYZ stand for?” — it’s easy to forget that to normals it’s all an impenetrable alphabet soup — so here’s a list of some of the mysterious letter combinations you’ll frequently encounter here. Hope this helps!


AFRICOM = US Africa Command

ASD = Australian Signals Directorate (i.e. Oz’s NSA)

ASIO  = Australian Security Intelligence Organization (i.e. domestic intelligence)

ASIS = Australian Secret Intelligence Service (Down Under’s UK SIS equivalent)

BfV = German Domestic Intelligence Service [1]

BLUF = Bottom Line Up Front

BND = German Federal Intelligence Service (their CIA + NSA) [2]

CENTCOM = US Central Command (i.e. the Pentagon’s Middle East HQ)

CI = Counterintelligence

CIA = Central Intelligence Agency (AKA Christians in Action)

COMSEC = Communications Security

CONUS = Continental United States

COS = Chief of Station (CIA)

CSEC = Communications Security Establishment Canada (i.e. their NSA)

CSIS = Canadian Security Intelligence Service (i.e. domestic intelligence)

CYBERCOM = US Cyber Command (its commander is dual-hatted as DIRNSA)

DEVGRU = US Naval Special Warfare Development Group (“SEAL Team SIX”)

DGSE = French Foreign Intelligence Service (their CIA + NSA) [3]

DGSI = French Domestic Intelligence Service [4]

DIA = Defense Intelligence Agency (AKA Do It Again)

DIRNSA = Director, NSA

DNI = Director of National Intelligence (USA)

DoD = Department of Defense (AKA The Pentagon, The Five Sided Funny Farm)

DoS = Department of State (AKA Foggy Bottom)

EUCOM = US European Command

FBI = Federal Bureau of Investigation (AKA The Bureau, The Feebs)

FCI = Foreign Counterintelligence

FIS = Foreign Intelligence Service

FSB = Russian Federal Security Service (i.e. domestic intelligence) [5]

FVEY = Five Eyes (i.e. the US+UK+CAN+AUS+NZ SIGINT Alliance)

GCHQ = Government Communications Headquarters (i.e. UK’s NSA)

GCSB = Government Communications Security Bureau (i.e. New Zealand’s NSA)

GRU = Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (i.e. MI) [6]

HoIS = Hostile Intelligence Service

HMG = Her Majesty’s Government (UK)

HUMINT = Human Intelligence

IMINT = Imagery Intelligence

INFOSEC = Information Security

INR = Bureau of Intelligence & Research (DoS)

IRGC = Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (AKA Pasdaran)

JSOC = Joint Special Operations Command (the spooky part of SOCOM)

KGB = Soviet State Security Committee [7]

KOS = Yugoslav (Communist) Military Counterintelligence Service [8]

MFA = Ministry of Foreign Affairs

MI = Military Intelligence

MoD = Ministry of Defense

MOIS = Iranian Ministry of Intelligence & Security (AKA VEVAK)

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)

NOC = Non-Official Cover

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)


OFCO = Offensive Counterintelligence

PACOM = US Pacific Command

POTUS = President of the United States

RUMINT = Rumor Intelligence (i.e. information of dubious reliability)

SAD = CIA Special Activities Division (i.e. paramilitary ops)

SAP = Special Access Program

SCI = Sensitive Compartmented Information

SCIF = Sensitive Compartmented Information facility

SECDEF = Secretary of Defense

SECSTATE = Secretary of State

SIGINT = Signals Intelligence

SIS = UK Secret Intelligence Service (AKA MI6)

SITREP = Situation Report

SOCOM = US Special Operations Command

SOF = Special Operations Forces

SOUTHCOM = US Southern Command (i.e. the Pentagon’s Latin America HQ)

SPETSNAZ = Russian SOF, subordinate to GRU [9]

SSBI = Single Scope Background Investigation

SSO = Staff Security Officer

SVR = Russian Foreign Intelligence Service [10]

TAO = NSA Tailored Access Operations (i.e. NSA’s hacking org)

UDBA  = Yugoslav (Communist) State Security [11]

USG = United States Government



[1] Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz

[2] Bundesnachrichtendienst

[3] Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure

[4] Direction générale de la sécurité intérieure

[5] Федеральная служба безопасности

[6] Главное разведывательное управление

[7] Комитет государственной безопасности

[8] Kontraobaveštajna služba

[9] Derived from Войска специального назначения

[10] Служба внешней разведки

[11] Uprava državne bezbednosti