This glossary includes the most frequently encountered terms related to explosives safety. These terms and many more are found in Defense Explosives Safety Regulation 6055.09: Glossary.

Glossary of Terms

Active installation

A military installation that is currently in service and being regularly used for military activities.

Ammunition and explosives (AE)

Includes, but is not necessarily limited to, all items of U.S.-titled (i.e., owned by the U.S. Government through the Department of Defense Components) ammunition; propellants, liquid and solid; pyrotechnics; high explosives (HEs); guided missiles; warheads; devices; and chemical agent substances, devices, and components presenting real or potential hazards to life, property, and the environment. Excluded are wholly inert items and nuclear warheads and devices, except for considerations of storage and stowage compatibility, blast, fire, and nonnuclear fragment hazards associated with the explosives. (See military munitions / ammunition)

Ammunition (Ammo)

Generic term related mainly to articles of military application consisting of all kinds of bombs, grenades, rockets, mines, projectiles, and other similar devices or contrivances.  (See military munitions)

Chemical warfare materiel (CWM)

Items generally configured as a munition containing a chemical compound that is intended to kill, seriously injure, or incapacitate a person through its physiological effects. CWM includes V- and G-series nerve agents or H-series (mustard) and L-series (lewisite) blister agents in other-than-munition configurations; and certain industrial chemicals (e.g., hydrogen cyanide (AC), cyanogen chloride (CK), or carbonyl dichloride (called phosgene or CG)) configured as a military munition. Due to their hazards, prevalence, and military-unique application, chemical agent identification sets (CAIS) are also considered CWM. CWM does not include: riot control devices; chemical defoliants and herbicides; industrial chemicals (e.g., AC, CK, or CG) not configured as a munition; smoke and other obscuration producing items; flame and incendiary producing items; or soil, water, debris or other media contaminated with low concentrations of CA where no CA hazards exist.

Environmental regulators and safety officials

Includes, but may not be limited to, environmental regulators, environmental coordinators, or hazardous material coordinators, law enforcement officers, and safety personnel of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, State, interstate, and local governments (which may include Federally recognized Indian tribes and Alaska Native entities), and other Federal land managers. When appropriate, public health officials of various agencies may also be involved.

Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD)

The detection, identification, onsite evaluation, rendering safe, recovery, and final disposal of unexploded ordnance and of other munitions that have become an imposing danger, for example by damage or deterioration.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) personnel

Military personnel who have graduated from the Naval School, Explosive Ordnance Disposal; are assigned to a military unit with a Service-defined EOD mission; and meet Service and assigned unit requirements to perform EOD duties. EOD personnel have received specialized training to address explosive and certain chemical agent hazards during both peacetime and wartime. EOD personnel are trained and equipped to perform render safe procedures (RSP) on nuclear, biological, chemical, and conventional munitions, and on improvised explosive devices.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit

A military organization constituted by proper authority; manned with EOD personnel; outfitted with equipment required to perform EOD functions; and assigned an EOD mission.

Explosive hazard

A condition where danger exists because explosives are present that may react (e.g., detonate, deflagrate) in a mishap with potential unacceptable effects (e.g., death, injury, damage) to people, property, operational capability, or the environment.

Explosives or munitions emergency response

All immediate response activities by an explosives and munitions emergency response specialist to control, mitigate, or eliminate the actual or potential threat encountered during an explosives or munitions emergency. An explosives or munitions emergency response may include in-place render-safe procedures, treatment or destruction of the explosives or munitions, and/or transporting those items to another location to be rendered safe, treated, or destroyed. Any reasonable delay in the completion of an explosives or munitions emergency response caused by a necessary, unforeseen, or uncontrollable circumstance will not terminate the explosives or munitions emergency. Explosives and munitions emergency responses can occur on either public or private lands and are not limited to responses at Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) facilities. (40 CFR 260.10)

Explosives safety

A condition where operational capability and readiness, people, property, and the environment are protected from the unacceptable effects or risks of potential mishaps involving Department of Defense military munitions or other encumbering explosives or munitions.


A chemical reaction of any chemical compound or mechanical mixture that, when initiated, undergoes a very rapid combustion or decomposition, releasing large volumes of highly heated gases that exert pressure on the surrounding medium. Also, a mechanical reaction in which failure of the container causes sudden release of pressure from within a pressure vessel. Depending on the rate of energy release, an explosion can be categorized as a deflagration, a detonation, or pressure rupture.

Formerly used defense site (FUDS)

Properties previously owned, leased, or otherwise possessed by the United States and under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Defense.

Military munitions

Military munitions means all ammunition products and components produced for or used by the armed forces for national defense and security, including ammunition products or components under the control of the Department of Defense, the Coast Guard, the Department of Energy, and the National Guard. The term includes confined gaseous, liquid, and solid propellants; explosives, pyrotechnics, chemical and riot control agents, smokes, and incendiaries, including bulk explosives, and chemical warfare agents; chemical munitions, rockets, guided and ballistic missiles, bombs, warheads, mortar rounds, artillery ammunition, small arms ammunition, grenades, mines, torpedoes, depth charges, cluster munitions and dispensers, demolition charges; and devices and components thereof.

The term does not include wholly inert items; improvised explosive devices; and nuclear weapons, nuclear devices, and nuclear components, other than nonnuclear components of nuclear devices that are managed under the nuclear weapons program of the Department of Energy after all required sanitization operations under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. 2011 et seq.) have been completed. (10 U.S.C. 101(e)(4)(A) through (C))

Munitions response

Response actions, including investigation, removal actions, and remedial actions to address the explosives safety, human health, or environmental risks presented by unexploded ordnance (UXO), discarded military munitions (DMM), or munitions constituents, or to support a determination that no removal or remedial action is required.


A situation in which unexploded ordnance, discarded military munitions, or chemical agent, regardless of configuration, are either entirely or partially exposed above the ground surface (i.e., the top of the soil layer), or entirely or partially exposed above the surface of a water body (e.g., because of tidal activity).

Operational range

A range that is under the jurisdiction, custody, or control of the Secretary of Defense and that is used for range activities; or although not currently being used for range activities, that is still considered by the Secretary to be a range and has not been put to a new use that is incompatible with range activities. (10 U.S.C. 101(e)(3)(A) and (B)). Also includes “military range,” “active range,” and “inactive range” as those terms are defined in 40 CFR §266.201.


Explosives, chemicals, pyrotechnics, and similar stores (e.g., bombs, guns and ammunition, flares, smoke, or napalm). (See military munitions.)


An object projected by an applied force and continuing in motion by its own inertia, as a bullet, bomb, shell, or grenade. Also applied to rockets and to guided missiles.


An agent such as an explosive powder or fuel that can be made to provide the necessary energy for propelling a munition.


A designated land or water area that is set aside, managed, and used for range activities of the Department of Defense. The term includes firing lines and positions, maneuver areas, firing lanes, test pads, detonation pads, impact areas, electronic scoring sites, buffer zones with restricted access, and exclusionary areas. The term also includes airspace areas designated for military use in accordance with regulations and procedures prescribed by the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. (10 U.S.C. 101(e)(1)(A) and (B))

Small arms ammunition

Ammunition, without projectiles that contain explosives (other than tracers), that is .50 caliber or smaller, or for shotguns.

Unexploded ordnance (UXO)

Military munitions that:

(A) have been primed, fuzed, armed, or otherwise prepared for action;

(B) have been fired, dropped, launched, projected, or placed in such a manner as to constitute a hazard to operations, installations, personnel, or material; and

(C) remain unexploded whether by malfunction, design, or any other cause. [10 U.S.C. 101(e)(5)(A) through (C)