June 22, 2021

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What Is Military Time And Can It Be Confusing?

What Is Military Time And Can It Be Confusing?

In The Beginning

People have been measuring time for centuries. In ancient Egypt, the Egyptians used sundials to determine the time of day. In the modern world we have watches, phones, clocks and many other devices to help us know what time it is. We are taught that a minute is divided into 60 seconds and an hour is divided into 60 minutes. Most civilians distinguish the time of day by breaking it up into a.m. and p.m. to distinguish between night and day. In the military however, things are done a little differently.

Breaking Down Military Time

You might already know what military time is and not even realized it. Instead of using a.m. and p.m. to tell the time, the military uses a 24 hour clock which begins at midnight (0000 hours). That means one a.m. is zero one hundred hours (0100 hours), two a.m. is zero two hundred hours (0200 hours) and so on.

The big difference comes in when the clock strikes one in the afternoon. Twelve a.m. is twelve hundred hours (1200 hours) in military time. Instead of starting at one again like most of us would, calling it one p.m. military time indicates it as 1300 hours just like five p.m. would then be 1700 hours.

If you haven’t grown up in a military family, it might be a little difficult to understand at first, but with practice it becomes second nature to tell the time this way. Below is a list of the conversions from a.m. / p.m. to military time:

  • Midnight (12:00 a.m.) — 0000 hrs
  • 1:00 a.m. – 0100 hrs
  • 2:00 a.m. – 0200 hrs
  • 3:00 a.m. – 0300 hrs
  • 4:00 a.m. – 0400 hrs
  • 5:00 a.m. – 0500 hrs
  • 6:00 a.m. – 0600 hrs
  • 7:00 a.m. – 0700 hrs
  • 8:00 a.m. – 0800 hrs
  • 9:00 a.m. – 0900 hrs
  • 10:00 a.m. – 1000 hrs
  • 11:00 a.m. – 1100 hrs
  • 12:00 p.m. – 1200 hrs
  • 1:00 p.m. – 1300 hrs
  • 2:00 p.m. – 1400 hrs
  • 3:00 p.m. – 1500 hrs
  • 4:00 p.m. – 1600 hrs
  • 5:00 p.m. – 1700 hrs
  • 6:00 p.m. – 1800 hrs
  • 7:00 p.m. – 1900 hrs
  • 8:00 p.m. – 2000 hrs
  • 9:00 p.m. – 2100 hrs
  • 10:00 p.m. – 2200 hrs
  • 11:00 p.m. – 2300 hrs

Time Zone Confusion

Being in the military means dealing with operatives in different time zones. So how does the military distinguish one time zone from another? The standard military time zone used is the GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), however the U.S military refers to this timezone as “Zulu Time”. The alphabet letter “Z” is used as a suffix to establish the time zone for example 0900Z which is GMT time nine a.m.

There are actually 3 different time zones used and each one is assigned its own letter of the alphabet to clearly indicate which time zone is referred to.

How Can Military Time Help Me?

It might not be something you need to know how to use, but military time can help big corporations with offices spread worldwide. Of course, everyone involved would need to know how to use military time correctly.

It can be confusing especially when factors such as Daylight Savings Time (DST) come into play, but it can be mastered with some learning and practise. After all, we live in a 24 hour a day world and a new skill learned always has its benefits.