Why do soldiers say Tango Down?

Answered by Jarrod Smith

Soldiers say “Tango Down” as a way to communicate that the enemy has been defeated or neutralized. The phrase originated from the NATO phonetic alphabet, where the letter T is represented by the word “tango.” This phonetic alphabet was established in the 1930s and has been widely used in military communications ever since.

In military jargon, “to down” something refers to shooting it down or bringing it to the ground. This could be applied to an aircraft being grounded or to neutralizing a target by force. The slang term “tango” emerged as a way to refer to the enemy. By using this terminology, soldiers can communicate the successful elimination or neutralization of the enemy in a concise and standardized manner.

The choice of the word “tango” as a slang term for the enemy may seem peculiar, but it serves a purpose in military communication. The NATO phonetic alphabet was designed to ensure clear and unambiguous communication, especially in situations where accuracy and speed are crucial. By assigning words to each letter, the phonetic alphabet helps soldiers relay information accurately, even in noisy or chaotic environments.

Using the term “tango” to represent the letter T in the phonetic alphabet created a simple and memorable way to refer to the enemy. It became a convenient shorthand for soldiers to convey that a target had been eliminated or neutralized. The term “Tango Down” quickly caught on and became a part of military slang.

As for the soldiers themselves, using phrases like “Tango Down” can help maintain a sense of camaraderie and unity among the troops. Military jargon and slang often develop within a specific unit or branch of the armed forces, creating a shared language that fosters a sense of belonging and identity. The use of such terms can also serve as a way to cope with the stress and intensity of combat situations.

Soldiers say “Tango Down” to indicate the successful defeat or neutralization of the enemy. The phrase originated from the NATO phonetic alphabet, where the letter T is represented by the word “tango.” This slang term for the enemy became widely used in military communication as a concise and standardized way to convey that the enemy has been eliminated. The use of such phrases not only aids in clear and efficient communication but also fosters camaraderie and serves as a coping mechanism in the challenging and intense environment of combat.