Military Time Overview
Military Time operates on a unique time system. Military time is a concise method of expressing time that is used by the military as well as emergency services such as law enforcement, firefighting and emergency medical personnel as well as hospitals. Military time operates on a 24- hour clock that begins at midnight which is referred to as 0000 hours, with 1:00 a.m. being 0100 hours, 2:00 a.m. being 0200 hours, etc. all the way to 11:00 p.m. being 2300 hours.
The most notable difference between regular and military time is the manner in which hours are expressed. Regular time uses numbers 1 to 12 to identify each of the 24 hours in a day. With military time, the hours are numbered from 00 to 23. Under this system, midnight is 00, 1 a.m. is 01, 1 p.m. is 13, and so on. Minutes and seconds are expressed exactly the same way with military and regular time. It is not necessary to change anything regarding minutes and second when one switches from military time to regular time and vice versa.
Military time utilizes a rather special two-digit number to identify each of the twenty-four hours in a day so a.m. and p.m. are not necessary. Regular time requires the use of a.m. and p.m. to clearly identify the time of day.
The chart below provides a summary and comparison of Military Time and Regular Time.
Military Time and Regular Time use the same number of minutes per hour and in the same way. One does not need to convert minutes between these two systems because military minutes do not exist. Occasionally encounter time written in a format that appears to use minutes larger than 59 (for example 7:82 or 7.82). Time written in this manner is being expressed in decimal hours (hours and hundredths of hours), not military time. Converting from decimal hours to hours and minutes is a different issue than converting between regular and military time.
What about Midnight?
The question sometimes arises whether midnight is written as 2400 or 0000. Military and emergency services personnel refer to midnight both ways. However, digital watches and clocks that display time in a 24-hour format and computer equipment treat midnight as the start of a new day and express it as 0000.
Writing Military Time
Military Time will be written differently by various organizations and professional groups. The military, emergency services and hospitals usually write military time as hours and minutes without a colon and often add the word "hours" afterward. The format is:
Example: 1331 or 1331 hours
When expressing time down to the second, they insert a colon between the minutes and seconds using the format
Example: 1331:42 or 13:31:42 hours
Colons are usually inserted between the hours, minutes, and seconds by science and engineering entities. The formats used to express time are:
Example: 13:31 and
Sources of Military Time
Both digital wristwatches and 24-hour clocks are sources of military time. Many digital watches provide the option of displaying the time in either regular or military format. Switching back and forth is usually done by pressing a button labeled "12/24" or something similar several corporations manufacture 24-hour clocks.
Time Conversion Examples
Military to Regular Time
One assumes that an event occurs at 0001 military time. In order to convert this to regular time, separate the hours from the minutes. The hours are shown below in red:
Look up the hour digits (00) in the conversion table (above). The table shows that 00 hours in military time is 12 a.m. in regular time.
The next two digits (01) represent the minutes past the hour. Since military time and regular time use minutes in exactly the same way, no conversion is required.
Thus, 0001 military time translates to 12:01 a.m. or one minute past midnight regular time.
Regular to Military Time
When you wish to convert 1:17:42 p.m. (forty-two seconds past 1:17 in the afternoon) to military time. Using the above conversion table, we see that this translates to 13:17:42 or 1317:42 military time (depending which style you use to write it).