A Package Deal: A Rundown of Basic Mil-Spec Packaging Concepts

boxesboxesMilitary standards promote interoperability, but the jargon behind these standards is often intimidating. In fact, the number of US defense standards stood at 28,300 in 2003. This is due to their comprehensive nature, from the extremely specific such as programming language standards to broader fields like military packaging and transport.

Like all standards, military-grade packaging has a dictionary of terminology. This list does not detail these terms, but explains the core concepts of this standard.

  1. MIL-STD-129

This standard regulates the specifications of packaging. This involves labeling and the methods used to package supplies and equipment through container ships. One of the most important aspects of this standard is to simplify the identification of equipment, allowing the military to request for replacements.

Defense contractors employ MIL-STD-129P packaging. In addition, an industry is booming in the field of mil-spec packaging software, such as those of Milpac Technology, that simplifies the inventory and invoicing of defense-related deliverables.

  1. UID

UID stands for Unique Identification Marking, a compliance process that identifies every unit of equipment that costs over $5,000, consumables, and mission-critical gear. UIDs are similar to Social Security in that they cannot change, even if the item is re-engineered or revised.

  1. CAGE

CAGE is the five-digit Commercial and Government Entity code that the Defense Logistics Agency awards to suppliers for federal and military agencies. The system allows identifying any entity, especially those connected to the government, at any location. Any supplier that wishes to form a contract with the Department of Defense gains a CAGE code, which expires after a year.

  1. RFID

Radio frequency identification is an electronic method to track and identify tags on objects and items, and for military applications, to read UIDs. Many applications of RFID exist, such as for pets, anti-theft devices, and tracking endangered species. Military contractors use RFID to tag and recognize any item’s ID, catalog them and/or forward them as needed.


Not all good things come in small packages. MIL-STD-129 is certainly not small, but an idea of how the Department of Defense requires material to be packaged is the first step in one hundred percent compliance.