How much is a klick in army terms? The shortest price is the a klick amounts to one kilometer. PBS.org reports this in a nottard of state used during the Vietnam War, and there are other resources (with varying explanations the the origin of the term) that additionally identify a klick together a army unit of measure equaling one kilometer.

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One that those resources is the online thesaurus Merriam-Webster, i m sorry simply defines “klick” as “kilometer.”

But wherein did the term originate? favor many facets of army culture, this term is shrouded in a little bit of mystery. Depending upon who girlfriend ask the ax originated with Australian forces serving in Vietnam, or the may have been adjusted when U.S. Forces started doing operations v French forces which provided kilometers and other metric-system measurements rather of miles, inches, etc.

Speaking of France…

The entire “miles versus kilometers” concern has its origins in France, which occurred the meter as a unit of measurement in the 18th century. Making use of meters became popular in a variety of disciplines and also it was declared an official worldwide unit of measure by something known as the Metre Convention of 1875.

Some had used a different descriptor for 1000 meters, the street we know today together one kilometer–but in 1935 the international Committee because that Weights and also Measurements announced the main retirement the the hatchet “myriameter” to represent 1000 meters, convert to kilometer instead.

How utilizing “Klicks” could Have Started

In despite the of the popularity of the ax “klick” as army jargon indigenous the Vietnam war era and onward, some resources report the possibility of klick or a similar early change of kilometer being used as beforehand as world War I. Dangerous as that might be, here are some facts.

World war One began in 1914, v the United claims entering the problem officially in 1917. American troops operated side-by-side or in coordination with other nations consisting of the U.K. And also France. American forces have always been crawl on interoperability in between forces and there have actually been disastrous results as soon as that level of coordination is not respected.

Why Standardization In armed forces Measurement Counts

Why walk America require to acquire on board v a foreign unit of measure? there’s an old hoax on this topic that goes, “Oppose international rulers–down v the Metric System!” however in a armed forces context, standardization have the right to save lives also if it means adopting a way to measure ranges that is unfamiliar (at first).

A great example of this requirement came during the infamous Gulf War-era familiar fire incident that developed in 1994 when an American AWACS mission mis-identified 2 U.S. Blackhawk helicopters as enemy aircraft over north Iraq. The army helicopters were fired ~ above by Air pressure F-15s, killing every on plank the military choppers.

One that the findings of the subsequent examination was the the Air pressure “friend or foe” digital identification device did not include the Army’s “friend or foe” signifiers–a absence of interoperability was at least partly responsible for the deaths the those on plank the helicopters.

And while that is a much more modern example of how a basic miscommunication in armed forces operations have the right to have deadly results, the lesson is clear–military pressures must name: coordinates in level of detail that walk all the means down come the require for standardized devices of measure in bespeak to stop miscalculations in shoot weapons, identifying the position of familiar forces, etc.

World battle One and The require For A typical Measurement

In world War One, this standardization had the need for a common unit that measure, and since kilometers were supplied by many of the participating countries in “the war to finish All Wars”, America adapted the use of kilometers instead of miles. It’s thought that the affect of French troops might have been responsible because that the widespread use of kilometre in U.S. Planning.

What’s more, in ~ the end of people War Two, a north Atlantic Treaty company (NATO) mandate to be issued requiring all army maps used by NATO have to be standardized–further reinforcing the require for a common unit of measure for armed forces operations and also planning.

Kilometers and also Klicks Evolve?

Use that “kilometer” would lead to the usage of “klick” later on on, but no one deserve to agree on as soon as that actually occurred. Some speculate that U.S. Troops exposure to the military culture of Australian pressures in Vietnam resulted in a an ext widespread usage of the jargon klick; Aussie forces innovated a distinctive system to assist them map and navigate unfamiliar jungle terrain there.

Some resources report Australian forces would monitor their movements by adjusting the gas regulator ~ above Australian standard-issue armed forces rifles–one adjustment for every 100 meters traveled.

After ten adjustments, the Australians detailed they had traveled 1000 meters or one kilometer, then reset the gas regulator earlier to its original position–something that results in a distinctive clicking sound. That would certainly go a long way toward expertise why a kilometer is defined as a klick.

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It is likewise entirely possible that modifying the word “kilometer” for use on open up radio frequencies to be a way to help confuse an opponent trying to intercept military communications. Swapping the end the technical word for a “nonsense word” would in concept confuse the enemy. At least until they captured on to the trick–which would certainly not be an overwhelming to do when the ax is in extensive use.

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Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United says Air Force and also a previous reporter because that Air force Television News

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