Army Special Forces members search a simulated casualty during a training exercise
General Military Questions

What Are NODS in the Military?

If you serve or are about to head off for boot camp, you may notice that those in the military seem to speak a foreign language.

For instance, you might hear the military term NODS and wonder what it means.

The term NODS is an acronym that stands for a piece of military equipment necessary to see in low-light conditions.

AKA night-vision.  Learn more about the term below, including what it stands for, its history, and more.

Related ArticleWhat Is A POG In The Military?

What does NODS stand for in the Military?

NODS military equipment for low light conditions

The term NODS is an acronym for Night Observation Devices, although sometimes it stands in for Night Optical Device.

A common NODS military device for the Navy is the AN/AVS-6 vision goggle.

More recently, the Army is looking at the L3Harris ENVG-B, which mounts to a helmet and is a dual waveband night goggle.

There are several more types of NODS as well, including:

  • AGM Global Vision NVG-50
  • ATN PS31-3 Night Vision Goggle Gen 3
  • PVS-14 Monocular

No matter which brand, they tend to have some overlapping features.

Night Observation Goggles are commonly used by the US Military during operations.

For instance, SEAL Team 6 (aka DEVGRU) wore NODS when they raided Osama Bin Laden’s compound in 2011.

Also, the Persian Gulf War in the 1990s was most fought during the night.

Therefore, the United States military utilized NODS to ensure their campaigns were a success.

For a long time, the United States military dominated night-time fighting partially because of technology.

However, these days, plenty of our adversaries utilize the same technology.

NODS Military Origins

US Airman tests panoramic NODS military equipment

Night vision and low-light devices go way back to the late 1930s. The Germans started experimenting with infrared night vision on tanks.

Eventually, the Soviets began testing NODs a few years later.

Around the same time, the United States began to work on its own technology to make seeing possible for snipers and other troops in low-visibility situations.

By the 1960s, the United States was using NODS during the Vietnam War.

Since the beginning, subsequent versions of NODs that have allowed troops to see in low-light conditions have continued to improve.

These days, NODS include technology such as sensors, thermal optics, image intensifiers, wireless connectivity, and even the ability to switch their views.

Why are they called NODs?

Just like many military acronyms and jargon, using terms like NODS tends to roll off the tongue quicker than Night Observation Device.

This holds true for several other military items, like the ones below.

Related ArticleWhat Is A Navy Squid? 11 Slang Nicknames For Navy Sailors

Other Sayings for Military Equipment

There is a never-ending flow of military slang, terms, and jargon to explore. We gathered up a few.

#1 IED

An IED is an Improvised Explosive Device. Essentially, it’s a homemade bomb.

IEDs were routinely used against coalition forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).


The Navy spends a lot of time on the water, so water training is necessary.

The SEALs have a closed-circuit breathing device called the Full range Oxygen Gas System or FROGS.

#3 Water Buffalo

Anyone spending any time out in the field knows the giant water tank, often on a trailer, contains potable water. Got to fill the canteens somewhere.

#4 Fitty

Those who carry the .50 caliber machine gun may refer to the M2 as a ‘fitty’ as a play on the caliber size.

#5 Birth Control Glasses

While military issue eyeglasses are not top on the list of military equipment, they deserve mention.

When recruits go to basic training, they see an optometrist if they wear prescription eyeglasses.

Since the military values uniformity, everyone gets the same style of glasses.

Recruits refer to these glasses as Birth Control Glasses, or BCGs because they pretty much guarantee abstinence.

BCBs evolved a while ago to a more updated frame, but they still are nothing to write home about.

Related Article194 Common Military Terms / Slang / Jargon / Lingo


As we mentioned earlier, the NODS military term means Night Observation Device.

These devices help our military personnel see in low light conditions such as night-time, smoke, or even dust.

There are several different types of NODS between all the military branches.

The history of NODS goes back to World War II, although it is safe to say that technology has evolved exponentially since then.

If you have any questions on any of the above, feel free to leave a comment below.


Rob V.
Military NODS

Military NODS

4.8 out of 5 (82 Ratings)

Wondering what NODS mean in the military? Find out what it stands for, when it was started, and other sayings in the military.
Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click and purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I have personally vetted. Learn more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *