In an on-line forum discussion about what language teachers need to know about pronunciation, one unusual suggestion made was this, from David Deterding:
We should teach them the Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta alphabet. Then, when they cannot be understood [when spelling a word out aloud], they could easily solve the problem. (And it would also be brilliant for telling someone your name.)
I agree that this is something that it is useful to know. I was taught it in my teens, as part of “corps” at school (= officer cadet training corps, playing at soldiers). I use it from time to time, particularly when giving information over the phone to travel agents, airline call centres and the like.
It is particularly useful for distinguishing letters whose traditional names are easily confused, such as F ef and S es or T tiː and D diː. How much clearer to say foxtrot and sierra, tango and delta.
That’s why in LPD I decided to include the relevant “communications code name” at the entry for each letter of the alphabet. Before we had the web it could be difficult to lay your hands on the list, though nowadays of course you can quickly access it on Wikipedia. For avoidance of doubt, as the lawyers say, it goes Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliett, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.
Although it’s often known as the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, it is neither an alphabet (it’s a list of letter names) nor particularly phonetic, and NATO is only one of a number of international organizations that have adopted it.
The list on the Wikipedia page includes a column headed “phonic (pronunciation)”, which explains the intended pronunciation of each letter name by respelling it in accordance with English spelling conventions, with all the ambiguity that can imply.
So, although Delta is keyed to “DELL-TAH”, it is normally pronounced by speakers of English as ˈdeltə (rather than the ˈdeltɑː that could be implied by this respelling). There is no indication of stress in the list given (though there is here), so while anglophones will say Uniform (“YOU-NEE-FORM or OO-NEE-FORM”) as ˈjuːnɪfɔː(r)m, francophones, for example, are apparently free to stress it anywhere or nowhere, in accordance with their native habits. On the other hand we English speakers are supposed to stress Papa with final-syllable stress and to say Quebec with no w. No one seems to take any notice of the instruction to pronounce Golf as if it were Gulf. The Wikipedia page has an analysis of the various versions to be found in officially recommended recordings.
The choice of letter names has changed slightly over the years. When I learnt them in the 1950s, N was called Nectar. Clearly, November is an improvement, being less likely to be confused with Victor.