How far exactly is a klick?

I saw Battle LA the other day and there were Modern Warfare levels of military jargon, as expected.

One unit of distance which I’ve heard used so many times in war films is “klick”, and I’ve always wanted to find out exactly how far a klick is.

Turns out it’s pretty obvious.

Allegedly, US soldiers began using the unit in the Vietnam war, but the exact origin of the term has been lost.

One theory is that it originates from Australian infantry in Vietnam, who would keep track of distances as they moved.

The soldier would keep track of each 100 meter “lot” by moving the gas regulator on the Australian L1A1 rifle, one mark. After moving it 10 marks (1000 meters), the soldier would signal the section commander using hand signals, then indicate movement of 1000 meters by lifting the rifle and rewinding the gas regulator with a movement of the thumb, resulting in an audible “click.”

More than likely though, it’s just a natural abbreviation of the word kilometre. Presumably, every syllable counts in the heat of battle. And kilometre, that’s got, like… loads of syllables. That’ll get a man killed while giving directions.

soldier us army afghanistan iraq


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