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Chalk number

Definition A chalk number is a term used in military operations to identify a specific unit or group of personnel and their accompanying equipment that are assigned to a particular aircraft for transport. This numbering system allows for easier organization, loading, and tracking of troops and their gear during deployments and missions. The term “chalk” […]


A chalk number is a term used in military operations to identify a specific unit or group of personnel and their accompanying equipment that are assigned to a particular aircraft for transport. This numbering system allows for easier organization, loading, and tracking of troops and their gear during deployments and missions. The term “chalk” is derived from the historical practice of marking aircraft with chalk to designate the assigned units.

Key Takeaways

  1. Chalk number refers to the specific numbering assigned to military personnel, vehicles, or equipment in a mission or operation, ensuring organization and effective communication.
  2. It is commonly used in airborne operations, where the chalk numbers help identify units, load assignments, and drop sequence during aircraft deployment.
  3. Chalk numbers play a crucial role in maintaining order and cohesion among units, especially during large-scale operations and boarding/deboarding processes, to enhance the overall mission efficiency.


The term “chalk number” holds significant importance in military operations as it serves as a crucial organizational tool, ensuring the smooth and efficient execution of operations.

Chalk numbers are assigned to groups of soldiers, vehicles, or aircraft, allowing military personnel to easily identify, coordinate, and track the movement and deployment of units within a larger force.

By streamlining communication and promoting operational clarity, chalk numbers contribute greatly to the overall success and effectiveness of military missions.


A chalk number is a military term used for organizing and identifying specific groups or units during military operations, particularly in airborne or air assault missions. The main purpose of assigning chalk numbers is to facilitate smooth and precise coordination among the participating elements of a military force.

As these operations often require rapid deployment and efficient maneuvering, it is crucial for each unit involved to know their designated position and role in the operation. The chalk number is a simple tool that ensures the military personnel are organized and deployed according to plan, reducing confusion and minimizing the chances of error during these high-intensity missions.

In the field, the chalk number is assigned to an aircraft or a group of personnel who are about to be transported and deployed in a specific location or mission. The chalk number assists in maintaining both an on-ground and in-flight accountability of the troops, ensuring that all members are accounted for and in their designated positions.

During paratrooper missions, for example, a chalk number not only identifies the aircraft but also denotes an entire stick, which is a group of paratroopers scheduled to exit that specific aircraft together. Clear identification provided by the chalk numbers allows military commanders to maintain effective control during large-scale airborne or air assault operations, ultimately contributing to the success of the operation.

Examples of Chalk number

“Chalk number” in military operations refers to a designation assigned to a group of personnel or a specific piece of equipment, typically marked with an actual piece of chalk for easy identification during operations. This term is often used for assigning and organizing troops or equipment in airborne operations and military transport missions. Here are three real-world examples:

Operation Overlord (D-Day): During the D-Day invasion in World War II, one of the largest and most significant airborne operations in history, Allied airborne troops were divided into different chalk numbers. Each chalk number represented a specific aircraft and its occupants, ensuring that soldiers and equipment were organized and loaded efficiently for the massive parachute and glider assault into Normandy, France.

Operation Just Cause: In the US invasion of Panama in 1989, chalk numbers were used to organize and manage the transportation of personnel and equipment involved in the operation. For example, the 1st Battalion of the 508th Infantry Regiment was assigned chalk numbers for their C-141 aircraft to facilitate effective communication and coordination between units during their parachute jumps into the combat area.

Modern Airborne Training: Chalk numbers continue to be used in military airborne training and deployment exercises today. For instance, the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division may assign chalk numbers to specific aircraft and paratrooper groups during their regular training jumps, to ensure that personnel and equipment are organized and can be quickly accounted for throughout the exercise.In each of these examples, chalk numbers serve as essential organizational tools to promote clear communication, coordination, and accountability during military operations.

FAQ – Chalk Number

What is a chalk number in military operations?

A chalk number is a unique identifier assigned to each unit or group of personnel in military operations, particularly during air transportation processes. It is used to effectively manage, control, and track troop movement and allocations.

Why is it called a chalk number?

Historically, the military used chalk to write identification numbers on the sides of aircraft, vehicles, and the equipment used for transporting soldiers or supplies. This practice of writing numbers in chalk has evolved into the term “chalk number” to indicate an assigned number for any grouped unit during military operations.

What is the purpose of chalk numbers in military operations?

Chalk numbers serve several critical purposes in military operations. They help to streamline the organization of troops, ensuring that units embark and disembark in the correct order. They also facilitate accurate movement tracking, allowing military leaders to efficiently resource allocation and maintain operational control. Finally, chalk numbers provide a means of communication and identification between different units and command levels, contributing to clear and effective coordination during military missions.

How are chalk numbers assigned and communicated?

Chalk numbers are typically assigned by a higher-level commander or a designated planning authority. They take into account pertinent factors such as unit size, tactical priorities, and mission requirements. The chalk numbers are then communicated to the respective units and personnel through briefings or written orders, ensuring that everyone understands their number and allocated position during the operation.

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