United States Army

General Orders and Code of Conduct

The eleven General Orders for sentries never change.   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.

Army recruits in boot camp must memorize these General Orders.   Woe be unto the unfortunate recruit who can not shout out, verbatim and without hesitation, all eleven of them.   Such a recruit will incur a firestorm of wrath from his Drill Instructor.   There is sound logic for this rigid training.   The eleven General Orders will guide each Soldier throughout his years in the Army:

I remember 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 40 rounds of ammunition.   I had all night to really think about my 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.

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

General Order 1

To take charge of this post and all government property in view.

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.

General Order 3

To report all violations of orders I am instructed to enforce.

General Order 4

To repeat all calls from posts more distant from the guardhouse than my own.

General Order 5

To quit my post only when properly relieved.

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, and officers and noncommissioned officers of the guard only.

General Order 7

To talk to no one except in the line of duty.

General Order 8

To give the alarm in case of fire or disorder.

General Order 9

To call the sergeant of the guard in any case not covered by instructions.

General Order 10

To salute all officers and all colors and standards not cased.

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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