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US Army Dictionary of Military Terms

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As Amended Through 23 January 2002

personnel security investigation — An inquiry into the activities of an individual, designed to develop pertinent information pertaining to trustworthiness and suitability for a position of trust as related to loyalty, character, emotional stability, and reliability. Also called PSI.

perspective grid — (*) A network of lines, drawn or superimposed on a photograph, to represent the perspective of a systematic network of lines on the ground or datum plane.

petroleum intersectional service — (*) An intersectional or interzonal service in a theater of operations that operates pipelines and related facilities for the supply of bulk petroleum products to theater Army elements and other forces as directed.

petroleum, oils, and lubricants — (*) A broad term which includes all petroleum and associated products used by the Armed Forces. Also called POL.

phase line — A line utilized for control and coordination of military operations, usually an easily identified feature in the operational area.

phases of military government — 1. assault

— That period which commences with the first contact with civilians ashore and extends to the establishment of military government control ashore by the landing force. 2. consolidation — That period which commences with the establishment of military government ashore by the landing force and extends to the establishment of control by occupation forces. 3. occupation — That period which commences when an area has been occupied in fact, and the military commander within that area is in a position to enforce public safety and order. See also civil affairs; military occupation.

phonetic alphabet — A list of standard words used to identify letters in a message transmitted by radio or telephone. The following are the authorized words, listed in order, for each letter in the alphabet: ALFA, BRAVO, CHARLIE, DELTA, ECHO, FOXTROT, GOLF, HOTEL, INDIA, JULIETT, KILO, LIMA, MIKE, NOVEMBER, OSCAR, PAPA, QUEBEC, ROMEO, SIERRA, TANGO, UNIFORM, VICTOR, WHISKEY, X-RAY, YANKEE, and ZULU.

phoney minefield — (*) An area free of live mines used to simulate a minefield, or section of a minefield, with the object of deceiving the enemy. See also gap, minefield.

photoflash bomb — (*) A bomb designed to produce a brief and intense illumination for medium altitude night photography.

photoflash cartridge — (*) A pyrotechnic cartridge designed to produce a brief and intense illumination for low altitude night photography.

photogrammetric control — (*) Control established by photogrammetric methods as distinguished from control established by ground methods. Also called minor control.

photogrammetry — (*) The science or art of obtaining reliable measurements from photographic images.

photographic coverage — The extent to which an area is covered by photography from one mission or a series of missions or in a period of time. Coverage, in this sense, conveys the idea of availability of photography and is not a synonym for the word “photography.”

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photographic intelligence — The collected products of photographic interpretation, classified and evaluated for intelligence use. Also called PHOTINT.

photographic interpretation — See imagery interpretation.

photographic panorama — A continuous photograph or an assemblage of overlapping oblique or ground photographs that have been matched and joined together to form a continuous photographic representation of the area.

photographic reading — (*) The simple recognition of natural or manmade features from photographs not involving imagery interpretation techniques.

photographic scale — (*) The ratio of a distance measured on a photograph or mosaic to the corresponding distance on the ground, classified as follows:

a.very large scale — 1:4,999 and larger;

b.large scale — 1:5,000 to 1:9,999;

c.medium scale — 1:10,000 to 1:24,999;

d.small scale — 1:25,000 to 1:49,999;

e.very small scale — 1:50,000 and smaller. See also scale.

photographic strip — (*) Series of successive overlapping photographs taken along a selected course or direction.

photo interpretation key — See imagery interpretation key.

photomap — (*) A reproduction of a photograph or photomosaic upon which the grid lines, marginal data, contours, place names, boundaries, and other data may be added.

photo nadir — (*) The point at which a vertical line through the perspective center of the camera lens intersects the photo plane.

physical characteristics — Those military characteristics of equipment that are primarily physical in nature, such as weight, shape, volume, water-proofing, and sturdiness.

physical damage assessment — The estimate of the quantitative extent of physical damage (through munition blast, fragmentation, and/or fire damage effects) to a target resulting from the application of military force. This assessment is based upon observed or interpreted damage. See also damage assessment; target. (JP 3-60)

physical security — (*) That part of security concerned with physical measures designed to safeguard personnel; to prevent unauthorized access to equipment, installations, material, and documents; and to safeguard them against espionage, sabotage, damage, and theft. See also communications security; security.

pictomap — A topographic map in which the photographic imagery of a standard mosaic has been converted into interpretable colors and symbols by means of a pictomap process.

pictorial symbolization — (*) The use of symbols which convey the visual character of the features they represent.

Pierson-Moskowitz scale — A scale that categorizes the force of progressively higher wind speeds. See also sea state. (JP 4-01.6)

pillbox — (*) A small, low fortification that houses machine guns, antitank weapons, etc. A pillbox is usually made of concrete, steel, or filled sandbags.

pilot’s trace — (*) A rough overlay to a map made by the pilot of a photographic reconnaissance aircraft during or immediately after a sortie. It shows the

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location, direction, number, and order of photographic runs made, together with the camera(s) used on each run.

pinpoint — (*) 1. A precisely identified point, especially on the ground, that locates a very small target, a reference point for rendezvous or for other purposes; the coordinates that define this point. 2. The ground position of aircraft determined by direct observation of the ground.

pinpoint photograph — (*) A single photograph or a stereo pair of a specific object or target.

pinpoint target — (*) In artillery and naval gunfire support, a target less than 50 meters in diameter.

pipeline — (*) In logistics, the channel of support or a specific portion thereof by means of which materiel or personnel flow from sources of procurement to their point of use.

piracy — An illegal act of violence, depredation (e.g., plundering, robbing, or pillaging), or detention in or over international waters committed for private ends by the crew or passengers of a private ship or aircraft against another ship or aircraft or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft.

pitch — (*) 1. The movement of an aircraft or ship about its transverse axis. 2. In air photography, the camera rotation about the transverse axis of the aircraft. Also called tip.

pitch angle — (*) The angle between the aircraft’s longitudinal axis and the horizontal plane. Also called inclination angle.

plan for landing — In amphibious operations, a collective term referring to all

individually prepared naval and landing force documents which, taken together, present in detail all instructions for execution of the ship-to-shore movement. (JP 3-02.2)

plan identification number — 1. A command-unique four-digit number followed by a suffix indicating the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP) year for which the plan is written, e.g., “2220-95”. 2. In the Joint Operation Planning and Execution System (JOPES) database, a five-digit number representing the command-unique four-digit identifier, followed by a one-character, alphabetic suffix indicating the operation plan option, or a one-digit number numeric value indicating the JSCP year for which the plan is written. Also called PID.

planimetric map — A map representing only the horizontal position of features. Sometimes called a line map. See also map.

plan information capability — The capability that allows a supported command to enter and update key elements of information in an operation plan stored in the Joint Operation Planning and Execution System.

planned airlift requests — Requests generated to meet airlift requirements that can be forecast or where requirements can be anticipated and published in the air tasking order. See also air tasking order. (JP 3-17)

planned target (nuclear) — A nuclear target planned on an area or point in which a need is anticipated. Aplanned nuclear target may be scheduled or on call. Firing data for a planned nuclear target may or may not be determined in advance. Coordination and warning of friendly troops and aircraft are mandatory.

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planned targets — Targets that are known to exist in an operational area, and against which effects are scheduled in advance or are on-call. Examples range from targets on joint target lists in the applicable campaign plans, to targets detected in sufficient time to list in the air tasking order, mission-type orders, or fire support plans. Planned targets have two subcategories: scheduled or on-call. See also on-call targets; operational area; scheduled targets; target. (JP 3-60)

planning and direction — See intelligence cycle. See also direction. (JP 2-0)

planning directive — In amphibious operations, the plan issued by the designated commander, following receipt of the order initiating the amphibious operation, to ensure that the planning process and interdependent plans developed by the amphibious force will be coordinated, completed in the time allowed, and important aspects not overlooked. See also amphibious force; amphibious operation. (JP 3-02)

planning factor — (*) A multiplier used in planning to estimate the amount and type of effort involved in a contemplated operation. Planning factors are often expressed as rates, ratios, or lengths of time.

planning factors database — Databases created and maintained by the Military Services for the purpose of identifying all geospatial information and services requirements for emerging and existing forces and systems. The database identifies: unit requirements, at the information content level, for geospatial data and services; system requirements for standard Department of Defense geospatial data and services; research, development, test, and evaluation requirements for developmental systems, identified by milestone; and initial operating capability and full operating

capability for emerging systems. Also called PFDB. See also data; database; geospatial information and services.

(JP 2-03)

planning order — 1. An order issued by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) to initiate execution planning. The planning order will normally follow a commander’s estimate and a planning order will normally take the place of the CJCS alert order. National Command Authorities approval of a selected course of action is not required before issuing a CJCS planning order. 2. A planning directive that provides essential planning guidance and directs the initiation of execution planning before the directing authority approves a military course of action. See also execution planning. (JP 5-0)

planning phase — In amphibious operations, the phase normally denoted by the period extending from the issuance of the order initiating the amphibious operation up to the embarkation phase. The planning phase may occur during movement or at any other time upon receipt of a new mission or change in the operational situation. See also amphibious operation. (JP 3-02)

plan position indicator — (*) A cathode ray tube on which radar returns are so displayed as to bear the same relationship to the transmitter as the objects giving rise to them.

plant equipment — Personal property of a capital nature, consisting of equipment, furniture, vehicles, machine tools, test equipment, and accessory and auxiliary items, but excluding special tooling and special test equipment, used or capable of use in the manufacture of supplies or for any administrative or general plant purpose.

plastic zone — (*) The region beyond the rupture zone associated with crater

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formation resulting from an explosion in which there is no visible rupture, but in which the soil is permanently deformed and compressed to a high density. See also rupture zone.

plate — (*) 1. In cartography: a. a printing plate of zinc, aluminum, or engraved copper; b. collective term for all “states” of an engraved map reproduced from the same engraved printing plate; c. all detail to appear on a map or chart which will be reproduced from a single printing plate (e.g., the “blue plate” or the “contour plate”). 2. In photography, a transparent medium, usually glass, coated with a photographic emulsion. See also diapositive.

platform drop — (*) The airdrop of loaded platforms from rear loading aircraft with roller conveyors. See also airdrop; airdrop platform.

plot — (*) 1. Map, chart, or graph representing data of any sort. 2. Representation on a diagram or chart of the position or course of a target in terms of angles and distances from positions; location of a position on a map or a chart. 3. The visual display of a single location of an airborne object at a particular instant of time. 4. A portion of a map or overlay on which are drawn the outlines of the areas covered by one or more photographs. See also master plot.

point defense — The defense or protection of special vital elements and installations; e.g., command and control facilities or air bases. (JP 3-52)

point designation grid — (*) A system of lines, having no relation to the actual scale, or orientation, drawn on a map, chart, or air photograph dividing it into squares so that points can be more readily located.

pointee-talkeeA language aid containing selected phrases in English opposite a translation in a foreign language. It is used by pointing to appropriate phrases. See also evasion aid. (JP 3-50.3)

point of no return — (*) A point along an aircraft track beyond which its endurance will not permit return to its own or some other associated base on its own fuel supply.

point-to-point sealift — The movement of troops and/or cargo in Military Sealift Command nucleus or commercial shipping between established ports, in administrative landings, or during logistics over-the-shore operations. See also administrative landing; administrative movement; logistics over-the-shore operations.

poised mine — (*) A mine in which the ship counter setting has been run down to “one” and which is ready to detonate at the next actuation. See also mine.

polar coordinates — (*) 1. Coordinates derived from the distance and angular measurements from a fixed point (pole). 2. In artillery and naval gunfire support, the direction, distance, and vertical correction from the observer/spotter position to the target.

polar orbit — A satellite orbit in which the satellite passes over the North and South Poles on each orbit, and eventually passes over all points on the earth. The angle of inclination between the equator and a polar orbit is 90 degrees.

polar plot — (*) The method of locating a target or point on the map by means of polar coordinates.

political intelligence — Intelligence concerning foreign and domestic policies of governments and the activities of political movements.

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political warfare — Aggressive use of political means to achieve national objectives.

politico-military gaming — Simulation of situations involving the interaction of political, military, sociological, psychological, economic, scientific, and other appropriate factors.

pool — 1. Maintenance and control of a supply of resources or personnel upon which other activities may draw. The primary purpose of a pool is to promote maximum efficiency of use of the pooled resources or personnel, e.g., a petroleum pool or a labor and equipment pool. 2. Any combination of resources which serves a common purpose.

port capacity — (*) The estimated capacity of a port or an anchorage to clear cargo in 24 hours usually expressed in tons. See also beach capacity; clearance capacity.

port complex — (*) A port complex comprises one or more port areas of varying importance whose activities are geographically linked either because these areas are dependent on a common inland transport system or because they constitute a common initial destination for convoys.

port designator — (*) A group of letters identifying ports in convoy titles or messages.

port evacuation of cargoes — (*) The removal of cargoes from a threatened port to alternative storage sites.

port evacuation of shipping — (*) The movement of merchant ships from a threatened port for their own protection.

port of debarkation — The geographic point at which cargo or personnel are discharged. This may be a seaport or aerial port of

debarkation; for unit requirements; it may or may not coincide with the destination. Also called POD. See also port of embarkation.

port of embarkation — The geographic point in a routing scheme from which cargo or personnel depart. This may be a seaport or aerial port from which personnel and equipment flow to a port of debarkation; for unit and nonunit requirements, it may or may not coincide with the origin. Also called POE. See also port of debarkation.

port of support — The geographic point (seaport or airport) in an objective area that is the terminal point for strategic deployment for non-unit-related supplies. Each component designates ports of support for four categories of resupply: general cargo; ammunition; petroleum, oils, and lubricants; and air deliveries. Also called

POS.

port operations group — A task-organized unit, located at the seaport of embarkation and/or debarkation under the control of the landing force support party and/or combat service support element, that assists and provides support in the loading and/or unloading and staging of personnel, supplies, and equipment from shipping. Also called POG. See also combat service support element; landing force support party; task organization. (JP 4-01.8)

port security — (*) The safeguarding of vessels, harbors, ports, waterfront facilities, and cargo from internal threats such as destruction, loss, or injury from sabotage or other subversive acts; accidents; thefts; or other causes of similar nature. See also harbor defense; physical security; security.

port support activity — A tailorable support organization composed of mobilization station assets that ensures the equipment of

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the deploying units is ready to load. The port support activity (PSA) operates unique equipment in conjunction with ship loading operations. The PSA is operationally controlled by the military port commander or terminal transfer unit commander. Also called PSA. See also support. (JP 4-01.8)

positional defense — See position defense.

Comitatus” - United States Code, Section 1385)

postattack period — In nuclear warfare, that period which extends from the termination of the final attack until political authorities agree to terminate hostilities. See also posthostilities period; transattack period.

position defense — (*) The type of defense in which the bulk of the defending force is disposed in selected tactical localities where the decisive battle is to be fought. Principal reliance is placed on the ability of the forces in the defended localities to maintain their positions and to control the terrain between them. The reserve is used to add depth, to block, or restore the battle position by counterattack.

positive control — A method of airspace control that relies on positive identification, tracking, and direction of aircraft within an airspace, conducted with electronic means by an agency having the authority and responsibility therein.

positive identification and radar advisory zone — A specified area established for identification and flight following of aircraft in the vicinity of a fleet-defended area. Also called PIRAZ.

positive phase of the shock wave — The period during which the pressure rises very sharply to a value that is higher than ambient and then decreases rapidly to the ambient pressure. See also negative phase of the shock wave.

Posse Comitatus Act — Prohibits search, seizure, or arrest powers to US military personnel. Amended in 1981 under Public Law 97-86 to permit increased Department of Defense support of drug interdiction and other law enforcement activities. (Title 18, “Use of Army and Air Force as Posse

posthostilities period — That period subsequent to the date of ratification by political authorities of agreements to terminate hostilities.

poststrike reconnaissance — Missions undertaken for the purpose of gathering information used to measure results of a strike.

power projection — The ability of a nation to apply all or some of its elements of national power - political, economic, informational, or military - to rapidly and effectively deploy and sustain forces in and from multiple dispersed locations to respond to crises, to contribute to deterrence, and to enhance regional stability. See also elements of national power. (JP 3-35)

PPI gauge — See international loading gauge.

practice mine — (*) 1. In land mine warfare, an inert mine to which is fitted a fuze and a device to indicate, in a non-lethal fashion, that the fuze has been activated. See also mine. 2. In naval mine warfare, an inert-filled mine but complete with assembly, suitable for instruction and for practice in preparation. See also drill mine.

prearranged fire — (*) Fire that is formally planned and executed against targets or target areas of known location. Such fire is usually planned well in advance and is executed at a predetermined time or during

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a predetermined period of time. See also fire; on-call; scheduled fire.

preassault operation — Operations conducted by the amphibious force upon its arrival in the operational area and prior to H-hour and/or L-hour. See also amphibious force; times. (JP 3-02)

precautionary launch — The launching of nuclear loaded aircraft under imminent nuclear attack so as to preclude friendly aircraft destruction and loss of weapons on the ground and/or carrier.

precautionary search and rescue and/or combat search and rescue — The planning and pre-positioning of aircraft, ships, or ground forces and facilities before an operation to provide search and rescue (SAR) or combat search and rescue (CSAR) assistance if needed. The planning of precautionary SAR or CSAR is usually done by plans personnel with SAR or CSAR expertise and background on an operations staff, a joint search and rescue center, or a rescue coordination center. Also called precautionary SAR and/or CSAR. See also combat search and rescue; joint combat search and rescue operation; search and rescue. (JP 3-50.2)

precedence — 1. communications — A designation assigned to a message by the originator to indicate to communications personnel the relative order of handling and to the addressee the order in which the message is to be noted. Examples of communication precedence from most immediate to least are flash, immediate, priority, and routine. 2. reconnaissance — A letter designation, assigned by a unit requesting several reconnaissance missions, to indicate the relative order of importance (within an established priority) of the mission requested. 3. evacuation — The assignment of a priority for medical evacuation that is based on patient

condition, advice of the senior medical person at the scene, and the tactical situation. See also flash message; immediate message; priority message; routine message.

precession — See apparent precession.

precipitation static — Charged precipitation particles that strike antennas and gradually charge the antenna, which ultimately discharges across the insulator, causing a burstofstatic. AlsocalledP-STATIC. (JP3-51)

precise frequency — A frequency requirement accurate to within one part in 1,000,000,000.

precise time — A time requirement accurate to within 10 milliseconds.

precision approach — An approach in which range, azimuth, and glide slope information are provided to the pilot. See also final approach; nonprecision approach.

(JP 3-04.1)

precision bombing — Bombing directed at a specific point target.

precision-guided munitions — A weapon that uses a seeker to detect electromagnetic energy reflected from a target or reference point and, through processing, provides guidance commands to a control system that guides the weapon to the target. Also called PGM. See also munitions. (JP 3-09.1)

precursor — Any chemical reactant which takes place at any stage in the production by whatever method of a toxic chemical. This includes any key component of a binary or multicomponent chemical system. See also toxic chemical. (JP 3-11)

precursor chemical — Compounds that are required in the synthetic or extraction processes of drug production, and become

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incorporated into the drug molecule. Not used in the production of cocaine or heroin. (JP 3-07.4)

precursor front — (*) An air pressure wave which moves ahead of the main blast wave for some distance as a result of a nuclear explosion of appropriate yield and low burst height over a heat-absorbing (or dusty) surface. The pressure at the precursor front increases more gradually than in a true (or ideal) shock wave, so that the behavior in the precursor region is said to be non-ideal.

precursor sweeping — (*) The sweeping of an area by relatively safe means in order to reduce the risk to mine countermeasures vessels in subsequent operations.

predicted fire — (*) Fire that is delivered without adjustment.

predominant height — (*) In air reconnaissance, the height of 51 percent or more of the structures within an area of similar surface material.

preemptive attack — An attack initiated on the basis of incontrovertible evidence that an enemy attack is imminent.

preinitiation — The initiation of the fission chain reaction in the active material of a nuclear weapon at any time earlier than that at which either the designed or the maximum compression or degree of assembly is attained.

prelanding operations — In amphibious operations, operations conducted between the commencement of the assault phase and the commencement of the ship-to-shore movement by the main body of the amphibious task force. They encompass similar preparations conducted by the advanced force but focus on the landing area, concentrating specifically on the landing beaches and the helicopter landing

zones to be used by the main landing force. Prelanding operations also encompass final preparations for the ship-to-shore movement. (JP 3-02)

pre-launch survivability — The probability that a delivery and/or launch vehicle will survive an enemy attack under an established condition of warning.

preliminary communications search — In search and rescue operations, consists of contacting and checking major facilities within the areas where the craft might be or might have been seen. A preliminary communications search is normally conducted during the uncertainty phase. Also called PRECOM. See also extended communications search; search and rescue incident classification, Subpart a.

preliminary demolition target — (*) A target, other than a reserved demolition target, which is earmarked for demolition and which can be executed immediately after preparation, provided that prior authority has been granted. See also demolition target; reserved demolition target.

preliminary movement schedule — A projection of the routing of movement requirements reflected in the time-phased force and deployment data, from origin to destination, including identification of origins, ports of embarkation, ports of debarkation, and en route stops; associated time frames for arrival and departure at each location; type of lift assets required to accomplish the move; and cargo details by carrier. Schedules are sufficiently detailed to support comparative analysis of requirements against capabilities and to develop location workloads for reception and onward movement.

preload loading — (*) The loading of selected items aboard ship at one port prior

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to the main loading of the ship at another. See also loading.

premature dud — See flare dud.

preparation fire — Fire delivered on a target preparatory to an assault. See also fire.

preplanned air support — (*) Air support in accordance with a program, planned in advance of operations. See also air support.

preplanned mission request — A request for an air strike on a target that can be anticipated sufficiently in advance to permit detailed mission coordination and planning.

preplanned nuclear support — Nuclear support planned in advance of operations. See also immediate nuclear support; nuclear support.

pre-position — (*) To place military units, equipment, or supplies at or near the point of planned use or at a designated location to reduce reaction time, and to ensure timely support of a specific force during initial phases of an operation.

pre-positioned war reserve materiel requirement, balance — That portion of the pre-positioned war reserve materiel requirement that has not been acquired or funded. This level consists of the pre-positioned war reserve materiel requirement, less the pre-positioned war reserve requirement, protectable.

pre-positioned war reserve materiel requirement, protectable — That portion of the pre-positioned war reserve materiel requirement that is protected for purposes of procurement, funding, and inventory management.

pre-positioned war reserve requirement —

That portion of the war reserve materiel

requirement that the current Secretary of Defense guidance dictates be reserved and positioned at or near the point of planned use or issue to the user prior to hostilities to reduce reaction time and to assure timely support of a specific force or project until replenishment can be effected.

pre-positioned war reserve stock — The assets that are designated to satisfy the prepositioned war reserve materiel requirement. Also called PWRS.

prescribed nuclear load — (*) A specified quantity of nuclear weapons to be carried by a delivery unit. The establishment and replenishment of this load after each expenditure is a command decision and is dependent upon the tactical situation, the nuclear logistical situation, and the capability of the unit to transport and utilize the load. It may vary from day to day and among similar delivery units.

prescribed nuclear stockage — (*) A specified quantity of nuclear weapons, components of nuclear weapons, and warhead test equipment to be stocked in special ammunition supply points or other logistical installations. The establishment and replenishment of this stockage is a command decision and is dependent upon the tactical situation, the allocation, the capability of the logistical support unit to store and maintain the nuclear weapons, and the nuclear logistical situation. The prescribed stockage may vary from time to time and among similar logistical support units.

preset guidance — A technique of missile control wherein a predetermined flight path is set into the control mechanism and cannot be adjusted after launching.

Presidential Callup — Procedures by which the President brings all or part of the Army National Guard or Air National Guard to

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