Military Customs and Courtesies In the Army and throughout every branch there are certain customs and courtesies that every soldier and military member must follow in order for there to be order and discipline on a daily basis. Customs and courtesies are put in to place to show respect for Non Commissioned Officers and for Officers of all rank.
In this essay, I will be writing about the importance of salutes, standing at the correct position when talking to someone higher ranking than yourself, using proper language when talking to someone of a higher rank, where you should walk when walking with someone of a higher rank, as well as other customs and courtesies you find throughout the army and all other branches. A custom is an established practice. A custom can include positive things and or actions you should do as a soldier.
A custom also includes things you should not do or avoid doing as a soldier as they can be seen as disrespectful or rude to someone of the same rank or higher ranking to you. Military customs are “Common Law” and should be followed by everyone. A few examples of “don’ts” I have found are, never criticize the Army in public or your leader, never offer excuses as to why something was not done or for anything else, if you don’t know the answer to something, never answer with just I don’t know. You will not go wrong with saying “I do not know sir/ma’am/ sergeant, but I will find out and let you know as soon as I find out the answer.
Do not jump your chain of command, and never “wear” your superior’s rank, don’t appear in uniform in public while intoxicated. Those are just a few examples of things to avoid that make you and the Army look cheap and unprofessional. The salute is a gesture of respect towards officers and shows trust among soldiers. It is also given to show honor. Not only is it required by Army and military regulations, it is a way to recognize another soldier’s ability in the military to be committed and professional about his or her own job. Some people believe the hand salute began in late Roman times when assassinations were common.
A civilian who wanted to see a public official or a military member had to approach with his right hand raised to show that he did not carry a weapon with him. Knights in armor raised their visors with their right hand when meeting a fellow knight. Saluting eventually became a way of showing respect and around the year 1820, the salute was modified to touching the hat to avoid removal of headgear, and ever since then it has become the hand salute used today. You salute to show respect toward an officer, flag, or to show respect for our country.
The way you salute says a lot about you as a solder. A sloppy salute might say that you do not have confidence as a soldier, that you are not proud of yourself or proud of your unit, and in some extremely rare and unlikely cases, no one taught you how to salute properly. According to the army study guide, the following is the correct way to salute, “The proper way to salute when wearing the beret or without headgear is to raise your right hand until the tip of your forefinger touches the outer edge of your right eyebrow (just above and to the right of your right eye).
When wearing headgear, the forefinger touches the headgear slightly above and to the right of your right eye. Your fingers are together, straight, and your thumb snug along the hand in line with the fingers. Your hand, wrist, and forearm are straight, forming a straight line from your elbow to your fingertips. Your upper arm (elbow to shoulder) is horizontal to the ground. ” Never avoid saluting an officer when walking by him or her by avoiding eye contact or turning around and walking the other way. There is NO excuse to not salute him or her.
They earned their rank and deserve the proper salute when appropriate. A salute is also rendered during the following, when the United States National Anthem, “To the Color,” “Hail to the Chief,” or foreign national anthems are played, to uncased National Color outdoors, on ceremonial occasions such as changes of command or funerals, at reveille and retreat ceremonies, during the raising or lowering of the flag, during the sounding of honors, when pledging allegiance to the US flag outdoors, when turning over control of formations, when rendering reports and to officers of friendly foreign countries.
Salutes are not required when you are indoors unless you are reporting to an officer or when on guard duty or when saluting is obviously inappropriate. It is important to show noncommissioned officers respect as well. You do not salute them; you stand at parade rest when talking to them and address them by their proper rank. The ranks you say when speaking to a noncommissioned officer are Corporal, sergeant, master sergeant, first sergeant and sergeant major. When talking to an NCO, you always finish your sentence with his or her rank.
Here is an example: “I do not know the answer but I will find out and let you know Sergeant. ” It is simple and easy to remember for most soldiers, while other soldiers need to remind themselves constantly to do this. Another military custom from ancient times states that you should always sit or walk to the left of your superiors. This custom came about in old English times and stems from very old English tradition. The right is known as the “position of honor. ” Most people are right handed and back in the time of knights, the majority of knights would hold their sword in their right now and their shield in their left hand.
Therefore, walking to the left is in a way an acknowledgement that your superior is in a sense “shielded” or protected by you. Military courtesy is one of the defining features of a strong and professional military. These courtesies form a strict and sometimes very elaborate code of conduct. Other military courtesies serve a practical purpose. In the United States Navy, “bracing” is the practice of bracing one’s self against the bulkhead (wall) at the position of attention as a superior officer walks by.
This practice arose because of the narrow passageways on ships. Since officers may need to quickly move about the ship, sailors would get out of the officer’s way by bracing. The tradition has extended to include the corridors and hallways of buildings (depending on the situation) and is mostly an obeisance; however it still serves a useful purpose aboard ships. According to Field Manual 7-21. 13 4-4 ‘’Courtesy among members of the Armed Forces is vital to maintain military discipline. Military courtesy means good manners and politeness in dealing with other people.
Courteous behavior provides a basis for developing good human relations. The distinction between civilian and military courtesy is that military courtesy was developed in a military atmosphere and has become an integral part of serving in uniform. ’’ Military courtesy has been established over many years from early and sometimes remote customs and traditions. But one thing they all have in common is they show the respect and honor the soldiers and their superiors have for one another. Military courtesies are often similar to the civilities found in civilian daily life.
The only difference is that it is mandatory for the courtesies seen in the military to be followed by its soldiers. If these courtesies are not followed, the offending soldier can, and almost always will, be punished. This punishment can come in the form of corrective training, known commonly to the soldiers as “smoking”, essays, extra duty and can go as far as UCMJ action, jail time and/or being discharged from the military. In the military, manners and levels of respect help to identify the difference between junior to senior ranking members.
Courtesies and customs of the Army have been practiced for hundreds of years. They involve a code of conduct that is mandatory for every member of the army to follow. Some are obviously against the rules of professionalism such as public display of affection in uniform, as is being intoxicated in uniform and violent behavior are actions that are punishable in the military. These customs and practices instill and show discipline and professionalism among its members. Most military courtesies have similar manners in the civilian world.
For example, it is mandatory for members of the military to address officers with “sir” or “ma’am,” and senior enlisted with their rank, such as “sergeant” or “first sergeant”. This is similar to many parents teaching their children the way to address an adult. Even though it is not necessary for the senior officers to be considerate and polite, military courtesy is designed to foster mutual respect among its members. It is give and take. A private will find it hard to respect and show courtesy to an officer if they do not return the same respect.