If you’ve just joined the military, knowing how to write the date in military format is essential because it is used in day-to-day correspondence. So how does one write military date?
The army uses four formats:
1, Two formats within the armed forces
- Abbreviated version: D/DD + MMM + YY
- Standard version: D/DD + spelled-out-month + YYYY
2, One format for corresponding to civilians
- Spelled-out-month + D/DD, + YYYY
3, and the fourth one, called the date time group format, which includes military time in hours (HH), minutes (MM), and military timezone codes (Z), aside from the date, month, and year.
- DD + HHMM + Z + MMM + YY
Continue reading if you want to learn how to write time and date military-style.
Table of Contents
4 Ways to Write Dates in the US Military
There are four formats you might encounter in the military, but they follow these basic rules:
- Months: When the months of US military dates are not spelled out completely, they appear as 3-letter formats: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.
- Years: Either you write the year in full, or take the last two numbers of the year (23 = 2023, 24 = 2024, 25 = 2025, and so on).
- Single-digit days: There is no rule about using leading zeros when the date is from the first (1) to the ninth (9) of the month, so you might encounter either 01 or 1 January. Either day format is considered correct.
A military date converter isn’t necessary once you’ve understood all the terms as well as the day, year, and month abbreviations commonly used in the military style date.
1. Abbreviated format
With the 1- or 2-digit day (D or DD) + 3-letter month (MMM) + 2-digit year (YY) format, everything is abbreviated except for the day.
Here are examples of this format:
- 2023 Christmas Day is 25 Dec 23
- 2024 Memorial Day is 27 May 24
- 2025 Independence Day is 4 Jul 25
2. Standard format
This 1- or 2-digit day (D or DD) + non-abbreviated month (completely spelled out) + 4-digit year (YYYY) format is straightforward to remember.
Here are examples of it:
- 2023 Christmas Day is 25 December 2023
- 2024 Memorial Day is 27 May 2024
- 2025 Independence Day is 4 July 2025
3. Military-to-civilian correspondence format
This format begins with the month spelled out, followed by a 1- or 2-digit day (D or DD), a comma, and a 4-digit year (YYYY).
This format is how most civilians write dates in school, work, and legal forms.
Here are examples of this format:
- 2023 Christmas Day is December 25, 2023
- 2024 Memorial Day is May 27, 2024
- 2025 Independence Day is July 4, 2025
4. Military Date Time Group
New service members of the US Air Force, Space Force, Navy, Coast Guard, USMC, and the Army usually adapt easily to the first three format numbers and abbreviations, since they are closer to the standard date format used across sectors.
However, the DTG format is the most uncommon to civilians.
Military Date Time Group is used in army airlifts and dispatches, operations, orders, planning, software, troop communications, and other crucial activities that require precise dates and times.
In DTG, the format includes the following:
- 2-digit day of the month (DD)
- HHMM – military time in hours and minutes (sometimes include seconds as “SS”)
- Z – refers to the military identifier of time zone
- MMM – 3-character abbreviated month
- YY – year (shortened with just the last 2 numbers)
|Zone letter & name||Time Offset||Major City|
|Y = Yankee||UTC-12:00||Fiji|
|X = X-Ray||UTC-11:00||American Samoa|
|W = Whiskey||UTC-10:00||Honolulu, Hawaii|
|V = Victor||UTC-09:00||Juneau, Arkansas|
|U = Uniform||UTC-08:00||PST, Los Angeles, CA|
|T = Tango||UTC-07:00||MST, Denver, CO|
|S = Sierra||UTC-06:00||CST – Dallas, TX|
|R = Romeo||UTC-05:00||EST – New York, NY|
|Q = Quebec||UTC-04:00||Halifax, Nova Scotia|
|P = Papa||UTC-03:00||Buenos Aires, Argentina|
|O = Oscar||UTC-02:00||Godthab, Greenland|
|N = November||UTC-01:00||Azores, Portugal|
|Z = Zulu||UTC+-00:00||Zulu time|
|A = Alpha||UTC+01:00||France|
|B = Bravo||UTC+02:00||Athens, Greece|
|C = Charlie||UTC+03:00||Arab Standard Time|
|D = Delta||UTC+04:00||Kabul, Afghanistan|
|E = Echo||UTC+05:00||New Delhi, India|
|F = Foxtrot||UTC+06:00||Dhanka, Bangladesh|
|G = Golf||UTC+07:00||Bangkok, Thailand|
|H = Hotel||UTC+08:00||Beijing, China|
|I = India||UTC+09:00||Tokyo, Japan|
|K = Kilo||UTC+10:00||Sydney, Australia|
|L = Lima||UTC+11:00||Honiara, Solomon Islands|
|M = Mike||UTC+12:00||Wellington, New Zealand|
DTG can also have its own variations.
- DD + HHMMSS + Z + MMM + YY
This version lists the complete time down to the last second. You see this format in the timestamps of military software, for example:
25123055ZDEC23 refers to December 25 12:30:55, 2023 (UTC)
- DD + HHMM + MMM + YY
This version is similar to the first version, but without the seconds indicated. You’ll often see this format when timestamps are manually written). For example:
271515RMAY24 refers to May 27 2024 3:15 pm (EST)
- DD + HHMM + Z
This version no longer indicates the month – it is understood that it is referring to the current month. For example:
041200Z refers to the 4th day of the current month, at 12:00 (UTC)
If you’re a civilian-turned-service member, you must get used to the military date format and time format.
Not only will all military documents, orders, and official correspondence use these systems, but learning how to write the date in military format ensures you deliver your tasks exactly on the specified day and time.
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