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11 Common PCS Acronyms, Explained

by Rebecca Alwine - September 7th, 2022

11 Common PCS Acronyms, Explained

If you’re a seasoned military spouse or service member, you have learned to walk the walk and talk the talk. Acronyms don’t intimidate you anymore!  But there are always new ones to learn. When it comes to a military PCS – yup another acronym – these shortcuts can seem as intimidating as the website.

If you’re a newer military spouse, forgetaboutit. It doesn’t make sense, you can’t understand anyone when they speak, and you often feel lost. So, in the spirit of fun, let’s dive into some of the most common – and universal – PCS military acronyms!

How and where are you moving?

First off, you’ll need to decide if you’re going to do a PPM or a military move. PPM is a personally procured move, formerly called a Do-it-Yourself, or DITY move. There are benefits to doing this, and there are those who swear they’ll never do it again. You can also do a partial PPM, where you put some things in your own vehicle and have the movers do the rest. 

Now, if you’re going OCONUS, Outside the Continental United States, you’re looking at a military move (99% of the time, there are always exceptions). But if you’re staying CONUS – you guessed it, within the Continental United States – you can do a full PPM or a partial PPM.

More PCS acronyms

All those things that get packed up? Yup, they have a name too! Household Goods – or HHG – is what they are called. And if you’re going overseas or doing a TDY (ha, know this one? Temporary duty assignment) en route, you may also have UAB – Unaccompanied Baggage. But don’t forget, all of your shipments, including the non-temporary storage, have to be within your weight allowance.

Racking up the miles

Now, things get a little trickier when we start talking about your POV – Personally Owned Vehicle – and how you can get those cars to your next duty station

Here are some general rules: If you’re moving OCONUS, the military will ship one vehicle at the most. If you’re moving CONUS, they’ll pay mileage. When doing a CONUS home port change, they may also ship one. If you don’t know what a home port change is, then this won’t apply to you. 

Mileage is a tricky thing. Don’t Google the national mileage reimbursement number and budget for that, because it’s not the right number. What you’re looking for is the MALT. No, not a beverage, but the Monetary Allowance in Lieu of Transportation rate. MALT is a set rate for everyone, currently at $.18/mile according to DFAS (as of 2022).

Lodging, lodging, lodging

The most common acronyms we see get confused are TLA and TLE. So, let’s do a little breakdown. First, TLA – Temporary Lodging Allowance and TLE – Temporary Lodging Expense.


  • OCONUS only

  • For meals and lodging while waiting for housing

  • Can be used up to 60 days (or longer with approval)



  • For lodging and meals while leaving or arriving at a duty station

  • 10 days total – a combination at losing and/or gaining duty station

  • Not for the days you are traveling between duty stations

The money

Within the past few years, you may have heard people cursing the GTC. We’re not sure what you imagined it is, but it stands for the Government Travel Card. Simply put, this is a credit card that you can put all your authorized travel expenses on while you are PCSing. (Or when you’re on TDY, but that’s another can of worms.)

Each branch is doing different things with this, so the best thing to do is:

  1. Read your orders, and

  2. Ask.

For example, the Army is not authorizing advanced travel pay or DLA – oh, another one, hold on, we’ll get there – in advance if you have a GTC. They expect you to put it on your GTC, and then they pay that off when reimbursing you for your move. Any extra money earned they will give to you.

Now, DLA is really important, so pay attention. Dislocation Allowance is an entitlement everyone gets, but you may have to ask for it. It’s designed to help you cover the expenses of setting up a new household. Things like utility deposits, pet deposits, etc. It’s not going to cover everything, but it’s a good start.

You’re now ready to handle any PCS military acronym thrown your way, right? Let us know your favorite! is a community of military and veteran families helping each other with our biggest relocation needs through trusted reviews. Help us to help each other and submit your base housing and neighborhood reviews today. Together we can make a difference!

Rebecca Alwine

Rebecca Alwine is an Army wife, mother of three and lover of her adorable pirate dog. Over the past 15 years, she’s discovered she enjoys coffee, lifting weights and most of the menial tasks of motherhood. Her days consist of working out in her garage gym, audiobooks and pretending to cook while her Instant Pot and Air Fryer do all the work. Her motto: work smarter, not harder.