United States Army

General Orders and Code of Conduct

There are three General Orders for Boot Camp.   They are what most soldiers learn, expecially if they never have to pull Guard Duty in a foreign country..

U.S. Army General Orders for Boot Camp

General Order 1

"I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved."

General Order 2

"I will obey my special orders and perform all of my duties in a military manner."

General Order 3

"I will report violations of my special orders, emergencies, and anything not covered in my instructions, to the commander of the relief."

U.S. Army General Orders for Sentries (Guard Duty)

There are eleven General Orders for Sentries.   They constitute the unyielding bedrock upon which Soldiers enforce military security in the United States and throughout the world.   General Orders dictate the conduct of all Soldiers on guard duty.   These orders apply to all Soldiers at all bases and outposts in time of peace, and in time of war.

I remember back in 1967, the first time I pulled real guard duty, not barracks' fire watch or guarding a training facility, but "real" guard duty in a jungle, in a foreign country.   After a quick inspection by the Sergeant of the Guard, I was posted in our missile launcher area with my M14 rifle and 80 rounds of ammunition.   I was alone and had all night to really think about the 11 General Orders, which prior to actually being on guard duty, had just seemed like so many words.   Now, alone, standing my post in the dark, they suddenly had a whole new meaning for me.

I especially liked General Order 11.   It appears so simple, "be especially watchful at night" and "challenge all persons on or near my post", but imagine doing that at night, on a SAM site in the middle of a jungle, in the middle of the Vietnam War and it takes on a whole new meaning.   Anyone who showed up at "night" inside the missile launcher fence line was going to get more than "challenged".

If you've never pulled guard duty at night, at a fire base in the middle of a jungle, think about what it must have been like before you read the "Orders".   I must be getting old, but I remember the real meaning behind these words, because even today, after all the time that's gone by, I get emotional when I read them.   This was very serious stuff then and it still is today.   These General Orders for Sentries and the Code of Conduct haven't changed over time - everyone stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan is still governed by these words and their actions are judged by them.

General Order 1

"To take charge of this post and all government property in view."   Where your post is and the limits of your post will be spelled out in your special orders. Within these limits a sentry has authority over all persons entering on his post.

General Order 2

"To walk my post in a military manner keeping always on the alert and observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing."   When you take charge of your post you will conduct yourself in a military manner at all times; being alert to everything that takes place around you.

General Order 3

"To report all violations of orders I am instructed to enforce."   A sentry will report immediately any violation of orders, apprehending (to temporarily hold) any offender.

General Order 4

"To repeat all calls from posts more distant from the guardhouse than my own."   If another sentry calls to the Sergeant of the Guard and you are closer to the guardhouse than he is, repeat the call exactly as you heard it.

General Order 5

"To quit my post only when properly relieved."   A sentry may leave his post to apprehend an individual who is violating an order, but will at all other times remain on his post. If time comes for his relief, he will not leave his post but will call the Sergeant of the Guard.

General Order 6

"To receive, obey, and pass on to the sentry who relieves me, all orders from the Commanding Officer, Officer of the Day, officers and non-commissioned officers of the guard only."   Orders may change or new orders may be received while you are walking your post. You must be sure that your relief has these orders explained to him.

General Order 7

To talk to no one except in the line of duty."   When a sentry is asked a questions, he answers briefly and courteously. You will allow no one to remain on your post to carry on a conversation except those members of the guard conducting inspections.

General Order 8

"To give the alarm in case of fire or disorder."   The first rule is to sound the alarm loudly so that the Sergeant of the Guard will hear you. If there is a fire, sound the alarm and clear the building. If a disorder comes about on your post, call the Sergeant of the Guard and attempt to apprehend the individuals causing the disorder.

General Order 9

"To call the Sergeant of the Guard in any case not covered by instructions."   When in doubt call the Sergeant of the Guard. If a situation arises that is not covered by either general or special orders, call the Sergeant of the Guard.

General Order 10

"To salute all officers, colors, and standards not cased."   A sentry walking his post during periods when he does not have to challenge and armed with a rifle (except at sling arms) will execute the proper rifle salute to all officers on or near his post. If the sentry is at sling arms he will render a hand salute. When a sentry is addressed by an officer, before challenging or after challenging, the sentry while at the halt will render a present arms. A sentry who is armed with a pistol does not salute after challenging. He stands at raised pistol and holding a conversation, he does not salute, but remains at raised pistol until the person has passed. No salute will be rendered by a member of the Guard who is engaged in the performance of a specific duty which would prevent saluting. Cased colors or standards are those which are furled and enclosed in a protective covering.

General Order 11

"To be especially watchful at night, and during the time for challenging, to challenge all persons on or near my post and to allow no one to pass without proper authority."

Code of Conduct for the United States Military

The Code of Conduct for Members of the United States Armed Forces Article 1 really says it all. The Code of Conduct is the same for the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard.

1. I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life.   I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

2. I will never surrender of my own free will.   If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.

3. If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available.   I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape.   I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

4. If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith in my fellow prisoners.   I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades.   If I am senior, I will take command.   If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and back them up in every way.

5. When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth.   I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability.   I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.

6. I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free.   I will trust in my God and the United States of America.

The Code of Conduct was established by Executive Order 10631 on January 1st. 1955

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