The military alphabet is a phonetic alphabet that replaces letters with words. For example, A becomes Alpha, B is Bravo, C is Charlie and D is Delta. Each word is distinct from the other words for clarity of communication, especially important when troops must communicate via radio.
The military or phonetic alphabet helps people to distinguish between letters that sound the same. M and N, which sound very similar, become Mike and November, words that are easily distinguished from each other. D and T, two other similar letters, become Delta and Tango. Likewise, C and E become Charlie and Echo.
The military alphabet was first established in 1913. However, the words representing letters have changed since then. The word for A was first Able in 1913, changed to Affirmative in 1927 and was shortened to Afirm from 1938 through World War II. A only became Alpha or Alfa in 1957. J for Juliett first started out as Jig until 1957. As of 2014, only a few letters and words, such as X-ray for X and Mike for M, have remained constant since 1913. A few other letters and words have changed only a little. For instance, Foxtrot started out as Fox. The current phonetic alphabet was established in 1957 by international agreement.