What is Military Time?

by | Feb 22, 2020

Military Time is a format of expressing time typically used by military, law enforcement, and other emergency services. Military time is used by these services because it significantly reduces the chance for any error when communicating time.

Unlike the 12-hour time format where AM (Ante Meridian) is used to indicate times between midnight and noon, and PM (Post Meridian) is used to indicate times between noon and midnight, military time uses the 24-hour time format where each number corresponds with the hour of the day. As a result AM or PM designations is not needed, reducing the chance of errors caused by forgetting to add AM or PM when communicating.

For example, 1:00AM would be 0100, 7:00 AM would be 07:00, and 1:00 PM would be 13:00. Midnight is the only special case where the time can be expressed as 00:00 or 24:00 depending on preference. In many cases, the colon between the hours and minutes is dropped and the word hours is appended to the end of the time. For example, 0700 hours.

For reference, below is a table with the conversions between 12-hour time format and military time.

12-Hour Time FormatMilitary Time / 24-Hour Time Format
12:00 AM0000
1:00 AM0100
2:00 AM0200
3:00 AM0300
4:00 AM0400
5:00 AM0500
6:00 AM0600
7:00 AM0700
8:00 AM0800
9:00 AM0900
10:00 AM1000
11:00 AM1100
12:00 PM1200
1:00 PM1300
2:00 PM1400
3:00 PM1500
4:00 PM1600
5:00 PM1700
6:00 PM1800
7:00 PM1900
8:00 PM2000
9:00 PM2100
10:00 PM2200
11:00 PM2300

How to Convert from 12-Hour Time to Military Time

The most straightforward way to convert from 12-hour time to military time is to simply add 12 to the PM hours. For example, take 2:00PM. If you add 12 hours to 2, you get 14. Then simply add the minutes portion of the time back in and the conversion is complete.

If you want to switch back to 12-hour time, simply subtract 12 and add the AM or PM designator. Converting to military time may be a little difficult at first, but with practice, it can quickly become second nature.

Zulu Time / Military Time Zones

The military is often operating from multiple locations around the world simultaneously as well as operating with allied forces so a coordinated timezone must be used. Without a coordinated timezone, it would cause confusion.

Zulu time is most often used by the military and translates to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC +0). However, all timezones are named using the NATO phonetic alphabet and may be used when expressing time.

For example, 2:00 PM Pacific Standard Time (UTC -8) would be expressed as 1400U.

Phonetic Time ZoneTime Zone LetterUTC Offset
Alpha Time ZoneA+1
Bravo Time ZoneB+2
Charlie Time ZoneC+3
Delta Time ZoneD+4
Echo Time ZoneE+5
Foxtrot Time ZoneF+6
Golf Time ZoneG+7
Hotel Time ZoneH+8
India Time ZoneI+9
Kilo Time ZoneK+10
Lima Time ZoneL+11
Mike Time ZoneM+12
November Time ZoneN−1
Oscar Time ZoneO−2
Papa Time ZoneP−3
Quebec Time ZoneQ−4
Romeo Time ZoneR−5
Sierra Time ZoneS−6
Tango Time ZoneT−7
Uniform Time ZoneU−8
Victor Time ZoneV−9
Whiskey Time ZoneW−10
X-ray Time ZoneX−11
Yankee Time ZoneY−12
Zulu Time ZoneZ0
<a href="https://www.gearprimer.com/sam-chen-biography/" target="_blank">Sam Chen</a>

Sam Chen

Sam is a Southern California native and an avid tool and gear enthusiast. When he's not working his day job, he enjoys spending his time working on remodeling projects, cars, and the outdoors. Follow him on Twitter @realsamchen