Using the 24-Hour Clock, Converting Civilian time to Military Time

Have you ever confused a meeting or appointment that was scheduled for 8 o’clock in the morning with one that was scheduled for 8 o’clock at night.  Now during normal times this is not much of a problem, but when you are working on a 24-hour schedule as the United States military does it can rapidly become a problem.  The solution to this is to use the militaries 24-hour clock.  It is simple to understand and anybody can learn it in a few minutes.

It is based on 24 hours and is a method of keeping time that runs from midnight to midnight and is divided into 24 one hour periods.

With the 24 hour clock there is not two “four o’clock” in the military as there is with civilian time.  For instance, the civilian 4:00 AM is equal to 0400 military, and 4:00 PM is equal to 1600.  A couple more examples of civilian to military time is if local time is 9:27 AM, the local military time would be 0927, and it would be spoken as “Zero nine twenty seven.” If the local time was 7:36 PM, the local military time would be 1936, and it would be spoken as “Nineteen thirty six.”

The reason for this is that the military can’t take a chance on miscommunication when they are planning operations.  A misunderstanding that results in a 12-hour mistake can get people killed.  Any veteran will tell you that it is easy to learn and is less confusing.  In an emergency in which you have to communicate with others either directly or by radio you can’t afford mistakes.

The following is a conversion chart from civilian to the militaries 24-hour clock.  Take a few minutes and learn how it works.

Military = CivilianMilitary = Civilian
0001 = 12:01 am1300 = 1:00 pm
0100 = 1:00 am1400 = 2:00 pm
0200 = 2:00 am1500 = 3:00 pm
0300 = 3:00 am1600 = 4:00 pm
0400 = 4:00 am1700 = 5:00 pm
0500 = 5:00 am1800 = 6:00 pm
0600 = 6:00 am1900 = 7:00 pm
0700 = 7:00 am2000 = 8:00 pm
0800 = 8:00 am2100 = 9:00 pm
0900 = 9:00 am2200 = 10:00 pm
1000 = 10:00 am2300 = 11:00 pm
1100 = 11:00 am2400 = 12 Midnight
1200 = Noon

Hopefully the above chart will have fully explained how it works.  Try using it and you will be surprised at how easy it is.

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Using Military (24 Hour) Time in Radio Communication

It is helpful also to know how to “voice” these figures over the radio, as doing so in a standardized manner is an aid to clear communications when reception is less than ideal.

When replying to a request for a “radio check”, use plain language:

LOUD AND CLEAR means, Excellent copy with no noise
GOOD READABLE means, Good copy, with slight noise
FAIR READABLE means, OCCASIONAL FILLS are needed
WEAK READABLE means, FREQUENT FILLS are needed
WEAK UNREADABLE means, RELAY REQUIRED.

Voicing 24-Hour Time Examples:

12:45 a.m. zero zero four five hours
12:00 noon one two zero zero hours
11:45 p.m. two three four five hours
12:00 midnight two four zero zero hours
1:30 a.m. zero one three zero hours

Voicing number groups, examples:

10 becomes one zero
75 becomes seven five
100 becomes one zero zero
5800 becomes five eight zero zero
11000 becomes one one thousand
121.5 MHz becomes one two one decimal five Megahertz
$0.75 becomes currency, seven five cents
$17.25 becomes dollars, one seven decimal two five”

I know that he has had lots of radio communication experience and he knows what he is talking about.  In my own experience, I have seen serious errors in communications occur on the radio.  If you are in any doubt, always repeat the information.  Also, you may want to take the time to learn the phonetic alphabet. 

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