How to Understand Military Time

You are watching an action thriller movie when suddenly the main character arranges to rendezvous at 1753 hrs. And you left scratching your head wondering what time that would be? Well no need for that anymore, welcome to military time.
Military time also known as the twenty-four-hour system originated from decans, an ancient Egyptian astronomical system. According to this system, each day had twenty-four hours that were measured from sunrise until the next morning to comprise a single day and three hundred days to make a year.

Over time humans have invented devices that keep track of time such as clocks. The oldest clock was based on the military time system by using obelisks to track the movement of the sun. With invention came newer and more accurate machines such as the mechanical clock which had a verge escapement and later on the pendulum clocks. There was a consensus that the day was made of twenty-four hours divided equally between night and day. As a result, the clock had twelve distinct markings on its face, with each day starting off at twelve midnight and the first complete round ending at twelve noon marking the day to be halfway gone, while another full circuit would bring the hour hand back to twelve midnight indicating the end of the day.

While the twelve-hour system is more entrenched in the civilian world, the twenty-four-hour system is mainly used by the military, law enforcement, and medical practitioners. This is because it is dimmed to be more accurate at recording the precise time when needed. This is as a result of confusion between AM or PM and midnight or noon when it comes to the twelve-hour system. Hence the adoption of this other cool system, let’s go ahead and learn how it works and how to tell military time.

Converting Twelve hours’ System to Military Time:

The military time system starts at 0000hrs pronounced as zero hundred hours. It’s important to note that the colon between hours and minutes that is usually found in the twelve-hour system in not used here instead, the minutes are listed directly after hours such as 0057 hours which is 12:57 am in the twelve-hour system.

To convert twelve-hour system time to military time, we only add 12 hours to the time if its PM example 2:00 PM becomes 12+2=14; therefore, 1400hours.we also add a zero at the beginning if it’s below ten AM example: 9:00 AM becomes 0900hours. The hours keep on adding up from the initial 0000 hours up to 2300 hours. This is different from the twelve-hour system that resets at 12noon to switch from AM to PM. This goes on until 2359 hours, and after one minute it resets to 0000hours to indicate the start of another day.

Speaking Military Time

It is important to note how to pronounce military time as it is different with the twelve-hour system. We usually include the suffix “hours” in areas where we would use “AM.” or “PM.” 12:30 PM becomes 1230 hours (twelve thirty hours) while 13:00 PM becomes 1300 hours (thirteen hundred hours) It is critical not to omit any zeroes that come in front of a number such as 0004 hrs., this should be pronounced as “zero zero zero four hours.” While 0400 hrs. Should be “zero four hundred hrs.” Also, if the last digit is zero, then it becomes paired with the number before it example,1230 hrs. Is “twelve thirty hours.”

Use of Zulu

Zulu is used in denoting the common time zone which is the Greenwich meridian time(GMT), this is the standard time zone used to regulate all of the clocks worldwide by determining whether the location is either ahead or behind the GMT.

Converting military time to twelve-hour system

The general principle applied is that, for all military time above 1259 hours you need to subtract twelve from the first two digits then add the colon between the second and third digit, finally add the suffix PM. example: 1405 hours becomes 14-12=2 therefore 12:05PM. For the time between 1200 hours and 1259 hours, only introduce a colon between the second and third digit and add the suffix PM in place of hours’ example,1215 hours becomes 12:15 PM For military time between 0100 hours up to 1159 hours directly introduce a colon between the second digit and the third digit. Where applicable remove the zero if it is the first digit and add a suffix AM in place of hours, example: 0345 hours becomes 3:45 AM. For the military time 0000hrs up to 0059 hours, remove the first two zeroes and replace them with 12, add a colon between the second and third digit and finally add the suffix AM in place of hours, example: 0045 hours becomes 12:45 AM


Military time not only sounds way cooler than twelve-hour system but it is also highly accurate. Go ahead and learn this easy way to tell military time and have fun