How to Tell Time Like a Soldier

by Brett & Kate McKay on October 11, 2012 · 182 comments

in Manly Knowledge, Travel & Leisure

Having not served in the Armed Forces, I was always thrown for a loop whenever someone would randomly bust out military time. I didn’t have problems with morning times — those are easy to figure out. 0800. Yeah, I got it. 8:00am.

It was when someone gave me a time that was in the afternoon or evening that I had trouble. I knew I had to add or subtract 12 to convert military time to standard time, I just never knew which one was the correct option in that moment. Consequently, I would stand there in silence, furrowing my eyebrows, trying to make the conversion as quickly as I could so I didn’t look like an idiot.

I always looked like an idiot.

Tired of feeling like a civilian chucklehead, I decided once and for all to learn how to convert military time to standard time quickly and easily. Here’s how to do it.

Understanding the 12-Hour and 24-Hour Time Systems

There are two main systems for telling time: the 12-hour and the 24-hour. In North America, civilians use the 12-hour clock in which the day is divided into two sections: the 12 hours from midnight to noon (ante meridiema.m.), and the 12 hours from noon to midnight (post meridiemp.m.). Under the 24-hour clock system, the hours of the day run 0-23, midnight to midnight. Midnight is 00:00 and the last minute of the day is 23:59. Midnight is also sometimes rendered as 24:00 to indicate the end of the day. So for example, you would say that Thursday ends at 24:00 tonight, and Friday begins at 00:00.

When you compare the two systems, the 12-hour clock has its disadvantages. It can cause confusion over whether a time given is in the am or pm, and whether 12:00 is midnight or noon. It’s also easier to calculate the duration of something using the 24-hour clock. For example, you can more quickly figure out that something lasts for five hours if you know it runs from 10:30 to 15:30, rather than being told that it ran from 10:30am to 3:30pm. For these reasons, the 24-hour clock is popular around the world, and was adopted first by the US Navy in 1920, and then by the Army in 1942, during WWII.

While the 24-hour clock is the international standard for time-telling, because of the rarity of its use in North America outside of the Armed Forces (and some areas of medical and emergency services, navigation, aviation, and computing where ambiguities in the time can be dangerous and cumbersome), it is commonly known here as “military time.” “Military time” has some differences from the standard use of the 24-hour clock, as detailed below.

How to Convert Military Time to Civilian Time

Converting military time to civilian time (or vice versa) is pretty easy once you get the hang of it:

  • The hours from 1am to noon are the same as in civilian time-keeping. For hours below 10, you just add a zero in front of it. So 9:00am becomes 0900.
  • For a military time that’s 1300 or larger, simply subtract 1200 to get the standard time. So for example if someone says “Meet me in room 202 at 1545,” you’d just subtract 1200 from 1545 to get 3:45pm. Simple right?
  • If you want to convert standard time to military time, add 1200 to any time from 1:00pm to 11:00pm. So if you want to say 6:30pm in military lingo, add 1200 to 6:30 to get 1830.

Is midnight 2400 or 0000? Midnight is sort like an ace card. It can be high or low. You’ll hear midnight referred to as 2400 or 0000.

Writing and Speaking Military Time

Writing military time. Unlike standard use of the 12-hour and 24-hour clocks, you don’t place a colon between the hour and the minutes when writing military time.

Speaking military time. When you say the numbers, always use “hundred” instead of “thousand.” So 0600 would be spoken “zero six hundred” or “zero six hundred hours” (more on this below). And 1000 would be spoken as “ten hundred” not “one thousand.” To say a time with minutes, you simply pronounce each number. For example:

  • 0001 (12:01am): “zero zero zero one”
  • 0215 (2:15am): “zero two fifteen”
  • 1545 (3:45pm): “fifteen forty-five”

While saying “oh” for “zero” (“Be there at ‘oh six hundred!’”) is colloquial and often seen in movies and TV, saying “zero” is a part of military communication protocol.

As far as whether you should say “hours” after giving the time, that somewhat varies by what branch of the military you’re dealing with. If Soldiers and Airmen are saying 2:00pm, they’re a little more likely to give it to you as “fourteen hundred hours,” while Marines or Coast Guardsman are a little more likely to render it just “fourteen hundred.” Across the branches though, it’s typical to drop the “hours” bit when you’re talking face-to-face and your meaning is obvious, only adding it in conversation and written communication that’s more formal and where you want to make sure the message is clear.

What the heck does “Zulu” mean? You’ve probably seen movies where combat pilots or officers in the command center say the military time and then add “Zulu” or “Z” at the end as in “The mission will begin at 1500 Zulu.”

Because military personnel can be involved in missions that cross time zones, they need a common time zone reference, so they know they’re talking about the same thing.  “Zulu” or “Z” indicates that the time zone being referenced is Greenwich Mean Time (Coordinated Universal Time), the time zone that regulates the world’s clocks.

There are other time zones that the military references, but Zulu is the most common.

You’ll likely never have to reference Zulu time as a civilian, but it’s something cool to know when you’re reading Tom Clancy novels.

Alright, soldier. It’s 2300 hours here in Oklahoma and it’s time to turn in and begin the day tomorrow at 0630. Lesson over. Now go forth and never be flummoxed by military time again.

Do you use “military time” even though you’re not in the military? Or do you just stick with the civilian 12-hour clock? Share with us in the comments.

{ 182 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Kelley Gin October 12, 2012 at 4:16 pm

When I trained as a civilian pilot, I was taught both so-called military time as well as zulu or universal time along with the standard radio-phonetic alphabet. So there’s one place where civilians use zulu or Greenwich time. I still use military time on my phone / computer clock and find myself automatically dropping in aviation phraseology into conversations. Some people are taken aback if I give an incorrect time and then follow it with a correct time using the aviation phrase ‘correction’ to indicate that I am correcting something as in “I’ll meet you at 1400, correction, 1500 hours.”

102 Erin October 12, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Although I was a military brat that has spent my fair share of time living on base, I never picked up 24-hour time from the military. Instead, I started to use it when I was in college. I went on a study abroad trip to Japan, where 24-hour time is the norm. Although it was really confusing at first, once I got the hang of it I found it to be much more clear than 12-hour time. My husband and I still use it.

Also, a pro tip for anyone looking to start using 24-hour time instead: change your cell phone’s clock display to 24-hour time. It’s a bit of a sink-or-swim method, but nothing will get you with the 24-hour time program quite like it.

103 Kevin October 12, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Learned this while living in Switzerland and haven’t looked back since. All my clocks (when possible) get set into 24 hr mode.

Some of my friends don’t get it at first but I keep on using it so they’ll learn to pick it up and see its virtues.

104 criolle johnny October 12, 2012 at 5:16 pm

It’s hard for me to remember that people need to be taught how to do this.
I learned military time i Cub Scouts,when I was seven years old, about the same time I got my first watch.
I was astonished to find that other people didn’t use it. I was career Navy and STILL (twenty years out of service) have trouble with civilian time.

105 Tom October 12, 2012 at 5:47 pm

In Sweden, where I live, we use both systems all the time. In writing it´s usually the 24-hour system. When speaking it´s common to say “See you at three o´clock”, meaning three in the afternoon. But you could also say “See you at 15.00″. In schools you first learn the 12-hour system, because all old clocks and watches work that way. But then you also learn the 24-hour system. With mobiles and other digital displays the 24-hour system might be taking over completely one day.

106 Stan October 12, 2012 at 5:50 pm

At work (deputy sheriff) we write and speak in military time. Sometimes I forget and use phinetic alphabet and military time at home. my wife and daughters look at me like I am crazy. My two teenage sons often “translate”.

107 Asriel October 12, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Ive been using military time since i first joined the military, i just find it to be easier and make more sense. My wife is starting to not look at me so confused now a days since she’s been around it for awhile now too, though i still use civilian time with her and with some friends some times just to make it easier on them.

108 jsallison October 12, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Recovering Cavalryman, my windows clock apps on all my boxes are set accordingly with add’l clocks showing zulu. Old habits…

109 R J Vincent October 12, 2012 at 6:22 pm

I learned military time during my EMT days. We used a 24 hour clock to ensure accurate run time sheets. I also have a number of friends who were in the military so we use it in casual conversation, with the occasional reference to “o-dark-thirty”, when we have to get up at an ungodly hour.

110 Skip October 12, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Excellent explanation! I spent 4 years in the Marines and the military time has always seemed the most efficient and non-confusing way to tell time accurately. I now work in nuclear plants and they use it, too. I’m trying to teach it to the young kids coming up, and I’m glad to see it’s so widespread. Thanks. Skip.

111 Josiah October 12, 2012 at 8:16 pm

I started setting my watch to 24 hour time when I was about 15. No real reason, other than I thought it was cool, and I wanted to get familiar with the system.

I’ve used it ever since. You can set your cell phone to display 24 hour time. That’s what I still use nearly a decade later. Never joined the military, and I never intend to. But I still think it’s cool.

112 Patrick October 12, 2012 at 8:47 pm

I’m a software developer based in New Zealand (UTC+12 from Apr-Sep and UTC+13 from Oct-Mar). Computer programs often work out times in UTC and then display them in local format, and usually use 24-hour time as well, so it’s important for us to know how to convert from one to the other.

113 Jan Taylor October 12, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Perhaps I’m the only female posting here. Well, what the heck, I love the Art of Manliness and I admire men, so there. In regards to telling time, I use the 12-hour clock but can quite easily convert to 24 if necessary. But what has always annoyed and puzzled me is saying 12:AM and 12:PM. I think that is ambiguous and prefer to say 12:midnight and 12:noon so there is no doubt what is meant. Love ya!

114 Len Flack October 12, 2012 at 9:25 pm

I’m a pastor just outside of Fort Drum, NY. About half of the folks I minister to are in the armed forces (mostly the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division) so learning the 24-hour time format and other military terminology has been a helpful way to connect with these individuals/families.

Frankly, I’ve come to prefer the 24-hour time format. However, my sweetheart wife doesn’t care for it. Asking if dinner will be at 1700 usually gets a response like “No! It’ll be at 5:00pm.” So, I tend not to use 24-hour as my default anymore…

115 Colonel B October 12, 2012 at 9:28 pm

I’ve been a Marine for almost 31 years and will retire next year. I’ve been using “military time” for my entire adult life. Thinking and speaking in terms using “civilian time” is hard. Heck, even my family uses the 24 hour clock. It’s one of those adjustments that one has to make when leaving the military that civilians find strange.

116 THOR October 12, 2012 at 9:34 pm

yup……I watched the ‘Grady & Seamus O’Malley debate’ at 18:05–boy did Grady have a chesire cat grin, and Seamus look dorky.

117 Ryan October 13, 2012 at 1:26 am

I was in the Navy for four years, and never really had a problem working out the time. The phonetic alphabet was tougher for me, but I got that in the end too. It just requires a different way of thinking. 6 years out, and I still use military time. I’m not sure about the US military, but here in Australia we speak every minute/number until 1000. So 0600 is “zero six zero zero”. After 1000 we speak the hour then the minutes, so 1435 is “fourteen three five”. Also, when writing down the time in a log or a signal, we NEVER use 0000 OR 2400. The minute doesn’t officially exist when it comes to signals, we write either 2359 or 0001. The reason is to avoid ambiguity when tied to the date. For example, a signal to HQ with our position at 0000 on the 15 October could be midnight on the 14/15 or midnight on the 15/16.

118 Bifo October 13, 2012 at 3:29 am

I don’t know about American military time, but in British military time, 24:00 doesn’t exist. 23:59 is followed by 00:00.

Also, all time zones have phonetic letters, not just Zulu. There is Alpha time, Bravo time, etc. Not all letters are used, obviously, but I believe that, amusingly, India time is in China.

119 Golden Release October 13, 2012 at 3:40 am

I am a flight dispatcher, and we use Zulu all the time. Flight plans are always in Zulu, as well as weather forecasts. This makes it quite easy to see a flight’s ETA and then decode the WX (oops, more aviation: ETA is estimated time of arrival, and WX is short for Weather)
Both Aviation and the military have great language elements that just don’t exist in other industries.

120 Kyle October 13, 2012 at 5:08 am

I was a soldier once, so 24hr time comes naturally to me. I’m now a personal trainer, so it’s useful. With most jobs if you say “I’ll see you at 6,” people will know you don’t mean in the morning. As a PT, there really is doubt which it is.

I once had a fellow trainer ask if I could take over her client, “She comes in Mondays at 6.” She meant in the evening, but I only train people in the mornings.

Another advantage of the 24hr clock is calculating what time it is in a different time zone, it makes the maths much easier.

121 Brandon October 13, 2012 at 6:31 am

I and my wife both work for the railroad. In the beginning we only used military time at work. But it slowly seeped into our home life as well. Our digital clocks are always in 24hour time. And though we might say 3:00, it is followed by 15 hundred shortly after. It makes life so much easier with our sometimes over scheduled lives.

122 Y October 13, 2012 at 7:31 am

In my country, we use the 12 hour and 24 hour ways of tracking time interchangeably, so whenever I read these kinds of articles I always scratch my head.

123 Native Son October 13, 2012 at 8:52 am

Military time isn’t that much of a headache. Neither is Zulu time. What bugs the heck out of me about date/time references are:
1. Never specifying what time zone is being used. For fun, there’s a “blended variation, where you” have 08:30 and 17:15. My employer’s (USA) HQ is on the east coast, I work on the west coast. The email clocks never seem to match the messages. You often don’t know whether that 06:35 time stamp was 0635 PDT or 1035 EDT.
The real hassle I find is dealing with dates. Is 2/12/12 Feb 12th or December 2nd and what century? Yes, that comes up when you get to deal with policies and some regulations established in the early 20th century. At least the US military dating convention of 13 October 2012 is clear (and my current boss, a retired Warrant Officer wants us to use that format.) and eliminates confusion.

124 Ronan October 13, 2012 at 8:57 am

After getting out of the Navy almost 20 years ago, I still use 24 hour time. Drives some people nuts, but I’m all about that! LOL

125 Native Son October 13, 2012 at 9:01 am

Where I work, we use a 24 hour clock with a colon between the hour and the minute, “09:15″, “16:36″. My only time headache is that our email system defaults to the local time for each time zone. So you never quitte know whether that message came in at 06:30 your time or 06:30 headqurters time. Then we have to use Zulu for some paperwork (aargh!).
My real fuss is with the different ways of writing dates. My boss (retired military) has us using US military dates, 13 Oct (or October) 2012 instead of the standard 10/12/12 format which, especially with international work leaves you confused about what’s the month, day and year (And we do work with some stuff that is dated from the early 20th century.)

126 Garry October 13, 2012 at 9:15 am

If someone asks me for the time, I use the 12-hour clock; but for myself, I use the 24-hour. For some reason, maybe it’s my ADHD, the 24-hour clock helps me to keep track of the day better.

127 Adam R October 13, 2012 at 9:33 am

I work in the Power Industry, so everything is referenced in “military time”. I have been trying to get the wife and kids to use it as well, so when they look at my phone to see the time, they can actually read it without asking what time it is. A 24 hr clock just seems to make more sense…along with the metric system, but that is a whole other debate…

128 R.J. October 13, 2012 at 9:41 am

There’s actually an easier way to convert all the teen and twenty numbers than subtracting 1200 or adding 1200 all the time.

Simply subtract 2 from the second number and drop the first number. For example 1530, 5 minus 2 equals 3, drop the 1, and you have 3:30. This is how I taught myself and I think it’s much simpler to keep track of and follow.

129 Kevin October 13, 2012 at 9:50 am

I serve in the USAF, so it has become a habit to use military time. I also catch myself using words like “roger” and “tracking” in normal conversations.

130 RickyPics October 13, 2012 at 10:45 am

I always use military time. Easier for me.

131 Jeremy October 13, 2012 at 10:53 am

I served in the US Navy, and what this post reminded me most of was all the slang we used. As others stated, 2400 was never actually used for a time, but to describe when something might end, like a watch shift. For instance, a 4 hour watch might take place from 2000-2400, followed by a 0000-0400 watch. The last entry in the watchlog would be 2359 followed by the relief entry at 0000. In almost every case but an official conversation, 0000 was referred to as ‘balls’ instead of zero hundred. A 0000-0400 watch was the ‘Balls to 4′ and 0030 was ‘Balls-thirty’. In addition, anthing that was tentatively planned to happen during the night but required a flexible start time might be described as a joke as starting at ‘oh-dark-hundred’ or ‘oh-dark-thirty’ which meant be prepared to be woken up in the middle of of the night. I don’t use military time anymore (my wife can’t handle it) but if she asks when I am leaving for work and it is earlier than usual, a sarcastic ‘oh-dark-thirty’ sometimes slips out.

132 Jason October 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm

My father, a doctor, has always used military time. As a result, I learned military time at the same time I learned civilian time. As a result of that, everything I owned is set to a 24-hour time display, be it my computer, my watch, etc. It causes quite a lot of havoc at work when I nag my employees for using a 12-hour format for writing times. While my business hours do not cover 24 hours, it still makes me freak out to see something like “3:54″ on a piece of paperwork, because I automatically read it as “0345″ and start wondering what the hell someone was doing working at 0345, much less filling out daily reports.

133 Richard October 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I keep an electronic tickler/calendar file in Evernote using YYMMDD.HHMM format, where HHMM is the 24Hr format; e.g., a meeting on Nov 15, 2012 at 3:30pm would be encoded as “121115.1530 Meeting.” Using the 24hour format let me sort and keep everything in line. In addition, I frequently have teleconferences with team members around the globe, I find that the 24hour format is easier to convert to the local time. I do have to admit that the switch to daylight saving time varies between the USA and EU that does cause problems for a week or two.

134 NavyVet73 October 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm

A crusty old Army Sergeant Major found himself at a gala event hosted by a local liberal arts college. There was no shortage of extremely young idealistic ladies in attendance, one of whom approached the Sergeant Major for conversation.

“Excuse me, Sergeant Major, but you seem to be a very serious man. Is something bothering you?”

“Negative, ma’am, just serious by nature.”

The young lady looked at his awards and decorations and said, “It looks like you have seen a lot of action.”

“Yes, ma’am, a lot of action.”

The young lady, tiring of trying to start up a conversation, said, “You know, you should lighten up a little. Relax and enjoy yourself.”

The Sergeant Major just stared at her in his serious manner.

Finally the young lady said, “You know, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but when is the last time you had sex?”

“1955, ma’am.”

“Well, there you are. No wonder you’re so serious. You really need to chill out! I mean, no sex since 1955!”

She took his hand and led him to a private room where she proceeded to “relax” him several times. Afterwards, panting for breath, she leaned against his bare chest and said, “Wow, you sure didn’t forget much since 1955!”

The Sergeant Major said in his serious voice, after glancing at his watch, “I would hope not. It’s only 2130 now.”

135 René October 13, 2012 at 9:20 pm

12h clock is more an amercian thing, we europeans use 24h clock much more often

136 Drew October 13, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Don’t know whether it’s just an Aussie thing, but I remember learning 24hr/military time in primary school! I pretty well use it exclusively, much less confusing when you have work that could occur in the morning or afternoon.

137 Jarid October 13, 2012 at 11:13 pm

I’m going to read AoM on my Saddleback Leather encased iPad 2.

138 Julio October 14, 2012 at 2:11 am

I used to work at McDonald’s with a lot of Guardsmen, and they used military time there. Now I work at an airport, and they use the normal 12 hour clock for our schedules, but I still tend to say “You work from thirteen hundred to twenty one hundred” instead of “You work from 1 to 9.”
I also tend to get frustrated looks when I tell people what time they work.

139 Hi Der October 14, 2012 at 6:17 am

24 hour time is more of the norm here in China.

140 C October 14, 2012 at 7:57 am

I think having trouble with “military time” seems to be an American thing that I’ve noticed before. I’m Irish, and if you told someone that it was 1900, they’d immediately know what you meant. Most people would have a 24-hour clock on their phone as the default setting. It’s pretty normal. I’m actually sitting across from an oven clock reading 1357, on a laptop reading the same as I type this.

141 K October 14, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I work at the VA hospital where 24 hour time is used. It was difficult at first, but I use it all the time now in my private life. We have a family appt board on the fridge and it makes the messages between my husband and I much clearer when you know someone has to be somewhere at 2000, not 8am.

142 Jay October 14, 2012 at 9:46 pm

I work in the nuclear power plant industry. Military time is used during daily plant operations.

143 Christopher Trotman October 14, 2012 at 11:19 pm

I cant remember exactly, but i’m pretty sure that in Quebec they use 24h time. And, I was taught it here in school in Canada….

144 Srinivas Kari October 15, 2012 at 12:17 am

cool post. I can impress the chicks with this. Military stuff always seems to be cool with the ladies.
Tip: Can you do a post about cool CIA stuff as well.

145 kk October 15, 2012 at 2:56 am

Those anglophones… Can remember the whole imperial system, but have problem with 24h clock. I’ll never understand that.

146 Cody October 15, 2012 at 3:17 am

I just separated from the US Army. In everyday conversation, we typically used civilian time for the morning and military time for the afternoon.

As in:
“What time is formation in the morning?”
“Six-Thirty” (Meaning 0630 or 6:30 AM)

“What time is the inspection?”
“Thirteen Forty-Five” (Meaning 1345 or 1:45 PM)

Either that or we would leave off the “hundred”.
As in:
“What time is formation?”
“Zero-Nine” (Meaning 0900 or 9 AM)

147 Jared October 15, 2012 at 8:33 am

I work in one of those Command Centers you referenced. We use Zulu (GMT) exclusively, including when we speak to international locations… such as base operations, control towers, weather offices, government agencies, etc. Additionally, I’ve traveled frequently and most of Europe and Asia use GMT rather than a 12 hour clock.

I wish everyone knew English, GMT, and the metric system. Life would be much easier for folks who do my job.

148 CS October 15, 2012 at 8:53 am

I play water polo professionally in Europe, and after three years of doing so I’ve grown very accustomed to the 24 hr time clock. Not everyone uses it here, but businesses often do to display their open hours. Still takes me a moment to be sure I’m correct, but it’s a efficient system to follow as there’s never confusion between a.m. and p.m.

149 Jeremiah October 15, 2012 at 8:59 am

When I worked for a commercial airline, all of the flights were scheduled using 24hr time. I got used to seeing time that way, so I still use it on my own watch.

150 Anderson, gj October 15, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Of course I use what you refer to as Military Time. There are 24 hours in a day so what idiot thought it appropriate to make a 12 hour clock? If you go to Europe and want to ride a train or bus you better get the hang of a 24 hour clock quickly. I use Military Date protocol too – today is 15 OCT 2012

151 Q October 15, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Thank God you pointed out the difference between “zero” and “o”!!! O is a letter, zero is a number!!

152 Jake October 15, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Zulu time is the norm in meteorology. All the forecast model data, everything, weather balloons, storm reports, etc. are presented in zulu. I have an extra watch I keep on my desk set GMT, for when I’m doing weather related stuff (which I don’t do too often) but all of the meteorology (majors/-ists) I know keep their phones and everything set in Z.

153 Tom October 15, 2012 at 9:53 pm

I use it in my civilian oversight job and I’m in the National Guard. It’s a much more efficient system; My friends make fun of me, but they know I’m right.

154 Sam October 15, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Um, in computing, most time is internally represented as seconds from the epoch, January 1, 1970, 0000.

155 Joseph October 15, 2012 at 11:41 pm

My high school crew coach always gives us practice schedules in military time. I don’t think he ever served in the armed forces so I’m not really sure why he does that, but once i got the hang of it, it really was easier than civilian time.

156 zool October 16, 2012 at 7:59 am

That’s fun because here in Europe we use the 24h system by default. I find it absolutely more useful and unambiguous than the 12h.
The same goes for the metric system. I once tried to make sense of the Imperial system used in America, which I find needlessy complex and counterintuitive, and I was like “Crap, it must be hell to live using these standards everyday.”
No proudness or sense of cultural superiority here, I’m just really puzzled by these issues.

157 David October 16, 2012 at 9:58 am

24 hour time makes it so much easier to convert to or from zulu – or any other time zone for that matter, without getting confused about a.m. or p.m., or even which day. Important for code books which all change at a specified time, or coordinating air suppport or other ops originating from a different time zone.

BTW – When we had PT at zero five hundred, we always asked the firewatch to wake us at zero dark thirty.

158 David October 16, 2012 at 10:07 am

Even more confusing is civilian ways of writing dates. Military dates will often be written 16OCT2012 – no confusion between day and month. Even more useful is all numbers, which allows one to capture a total time and date. I still use this often to track phone calls and so on. For example, it is now 201210161106, or in civilian, October 16, 2012, 11:06 a.m.

159 Vítor October 16, 2012 at 2:45 pm

In Brazil we use (most of the time), 24h hour time system.

Usually, we tell time like 23h50 (with the h in the middle, that’s right).

160 Tyler October 16, 2012 at 9:32 pm

I’ve never been in the military, but I’ve known 24 hour time since middle school. I always thought it was cool and different, since everyone else uses 12 hour time (in America). I put it on my watch to give myself a crash course, and now I have it everywhere I can. I still use 12 hour time when I’m talking to people, but now I hardly notice when I look at my phone. It really came in handy when I started my computer science studies, where the system time is displayed in 24 hour style.

I’ve always seen the time go from 2359 the day before to 0000 the day after (2359 on October 16th to 0000 on October 17th, for example). Then again, that’s good enough for my use, so I never gave it much thought.

161 Barry October 17, 2012 at 5:23 am

As an European I still find it odd that a simple 24 hour time system is referred to as being ‘army time’. Here it’s very normal to use the 24 hours style but we write a ‘:’ in between the hours and minutes.

162 Mike Sheu October 17, 2012 at 5:59 am

I had to get used to military time because it’s whats used in Taiwan where my family is and in the UK where im studying currently. I just set the time on my laptop and alarm clocks around the house to 24hr and after a rough year im gettin the hang of it.

163 Steve C. October 17, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I’m not sure about some of these times given by ex-servicemen.

When I was in the RAF, to avoid confusion, the day ended at 23:59 and the new day started at 00:01 to ensure that 00:00 could not be interpreted as midnight at either ends of the same day. It could be “embarassing” to turn up 24hrs too early or late.

in DTG format, 2012-10-17-00:01 has one and only one meaning.

164 WhiskeyT October 18, 2012 at 1:22 am

Started using military time when I was working a job that required me to work overnight a few times a week. Only way I could keep everything straight. Hated waking up to a little bit of light in the sky and not being sure if it was 6am or pm.

165 Thomas October 18, 2012 at 2:15 am

There are 24 hours in a day and we can all count up to that much. Then why do people still use 12 hour time?! :)

As for the usage of 00:00 and 24:00, the ISO standard on representation of dates and times – ISO 8601 – describes both as valid. A time of 00:00 is used to represent midnight at the beginning of a given calendar day whereas 24:00 is used to represent midnight at the end of a specified day.

From the Wikipedia Article on ISO 8601:

‘Note that “2007-04-05T24:00″ is the same instant as “2007-04-06T00:00″‘

166 Scott October 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I’d definitely read AoM on my Saddleback leather encased Ipad 2. I’d make sure to switch the the time to military time as well!

167 Jake October 19, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Never had a problem with the 24 hour clock, but the one reason I’m still dealing with the 12 hour one is because of 12 hour analog watches.

168 Bill October 21, 2012 at 2:35 am

USAF aircrew here for ten years now, so I live in the Zulu and 24hr systems. That said, I tend to stick to the 12hr system for everything unless it’s work. I guess I prefer to hold on to the belief that I’m not married to the military, even if I am (for better or for worse, ha).

169 Mike October 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Speaking to others in the military, be prepared for the slang version of military time. Standing a watch “Balls to four” would mean 0000 to 0400. Also, “oh, eight” or “zero, eight-hundred” is more common to hear for 0800 than “zero, eight, zero, zero.”

170 Mick October 21, 2012 at 6:45 pm

I’ve not stopped using the 24 hour system even though I am out of the Australian Army for the last 17 years. My clocks, watches, computer etc are all set to read in the 24 hour system. My wife knows and understands it and even my young children understand it. Some of my friends are still trying to grasp it, but mostly they catch up pretty quick.

171 Ryan October 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Since I was 17 I have been using the 24-hour clock. Working shift work, 12 hour day/12hour night.(0500-1700/1700-0500) it is all we use to avoid confusion. I find it much easier and have changed all my clocks to 24hour.

172 Doug October 24, 2012 at 2:54 pm

As a Ham radio operator, I use 24 hour time and Zulu almost daily. It is the standard used in radio, when the person you are talking to is likely in a different time zone, and often a different day.

…the thing that bothers me to no end is when people make up their own phonetic alphabet. There is standardization for a reason. ;)

173 Velton October 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm

I’ve been using the 24 hour clock since I was in the Navy. It’s easier. I also use the date protocol too, like today is 25 Oct 2012 If you every get used to the 24 hour clock you wonder why anyone would use the 12 system.

174 gary October 27, 2012 at 12:49 am

Another industry that uses this style a lot is transport — particularly if you are a driver. Logbooks are almost exclusively set in 24h clocks. The difference is you also have to deal with working out of your home base.

For instance if I leave the Wet Coast and head inland, then I also have to accommodate the difference when I enter a different time zone. Log book works on home time but different yards work on local time. Gets to be a hassle at times.

175 PapaWhisky October 27, 2012 at 2:41 pm

As a professional pilot for 25 years I’ve used the 24h clock for that long and then some. I switch back and forth depending upon who I’m speaking with. We also use Zulu time a lot and so I came up with my own little “trick” for converting easily.

I live in the Mountain time zone, so you must subtract 6 or 7 depending on DST. Since I’ve always worn an analog watch, I simply look directly across the face from the hour hand for 6 hours, or directly across plus one for 7 hours. When in any other time zone I simply mentally adjust the difference. For me it makes the “math” easy because it’s visual.

176 Karl October 31, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Not sure if this is the case for every European country but in Sweden you’re brought up with the 24h clock.
Also, here we actually place a colon between the numbers. For instance, right now the time is 04:13.
Actually took me quite some time to get used to the pm/am-system when I started studying in the States. People look at me as if I’m a complete moron when I use “military system” as a civilian here.

177 thefawb November 11, 2012 at 6:39 pm

in the navy, midnight was exclusively called ‘balls’ (midnight thirty was called balls thirty”) i’m sure you can figure out why

178 Jared November 12, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Never been in the military, but the time card system that I used to enter my hours for work used military time. They just replaced it with a new system, and it now takes twice as long because you have to select AM and PM. Used to just be 0800, tab, 1700, and done. Repeat four more times, click submit, boom, done.

179 J January 1, 2013 at 12:05 am

I grew up an Air Force brat and currently serve in the Navy. 24 hour time is easy.

Past noon? Subtract 2 from the 2nd number.

1300? 3?

- 2

It’s 1 O’clock.

1700? 7?

Subtract 1, it’s 5 O’Clock, etc.

And to the retired salt? Balls to anything still sucks. It falls into the “Zero Dark Thirty” or “Oh Stupid Hundred” reference of “Can’t go to sleep because I’m on watch, don’t have anything going on because of the hour, and bored out of my frikken gourd.”

To the guy who wants to impress chicks with military speak? Dont. It’s tacky and most of them won’t understand what you’re talking about.

Outside of the military, the only time I don’t get weird looks for 24 hour time reference is when I’m visiting friends in Canada.

180 Gail Weir April 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm

I just bought a living wallpaper app for my new phone and it was only after 12 pm that I found out it was only in military time. My son recently became a member of our armed forces anyway, so I thought this would be the chance to learn to think in military time! Thankyou for your help!

181 Gail Weir April 3, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Maybe I should have explained that the app I bought was a clock with day, date and time digitally displayed in hour, minutes and seconds. So I would always have the info in hand.

182 Mimi Stern February 19, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Here’s a really cool calculator that converts military time to standard time for you (and vice versa)

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