Every solder will recognize this as their 1st General Order that they are taught in basic training. All of the general orders are a throwback to when the grand Army of the Republic would move from camp to camp and have to post sentries to alert the main force if and when an enemy was present. There used to be more than three of them and I believe the USMC still has more than three to learn. For the Army folks, the orders have been reduced to just the three (to be honest I believe the first one in the title above is actually broken down into two separate orders for Marines where the comma separates the sentence). They have been altered so that they are pertinent not only to sentry duty but also to all duties in your military life.
1st General Order
""I will guard everything within the limits of my post, and quit my post only when properly relieved.” Your post is whatever you are assigned to do, you maintain and protect it. That is from a checkpoint leading into the Green Zone in Baghdad, patrolling in your Stryker in Afghanistan to sitting at your desk in the admin section of your unit at Ft. Carson. You don’t leave until the mission is completed and when told to do so.
2nd General Order
“I will obey my special orders and perform my duties in a military manner” Special orders is everything you are told to do in detail outside of your general orders. Your special order may be to guard the entry to your LOGPAC site and only allow US and Coalition vehicles with proper clearance to pass. Performing it in a military manner means to obey all laws under the UCMJ and regulations as posted, to include the proper conduct or yourself in a professional manner.
3rd General Order
“I will report violations of my special order, emergencies and anything not covered under my instructions to the commander of the relief.” If you come into a situation that you do not know what to do based upon the commanders intent and your special orders you let someone know so that the situation can be rectified.
All soldiers learn these orders their first few days at basic or suffer the consequences. I remember waaaaay back in the 80’s going through Infantry OSUT at Ft. Benning and forgetting them! It was a hot and humid Georgia day in the early fall. We had been at a range all day for something or another and had marched there both way…5 or 6 miles one way it seems. We had finally gotten back in time to eat dinner chow and the only thing I could think of was getting some cold water or maybe kool aid in my mouth…serious cottonmouth at this point in the day. I had completed my pull ups to get into the chow line and was standing there with everyone else in the “parade rest, attention, step forward as the guy in front of you moves, stop, come to attention and back to parade rest” routine when one of my drills walked past asking questions from our “blue book” that we used to learn stuff like this. “whats the effective range or your rifle”….”what’s the prepatory command in the command “Parade Rest””. He came up to me and asked “Whats your 3rd general order?”….and I froze. Maybe it was the cottonmouth or just being caught off guard while thinking about that ice cold water…but I froze, big mistake. “I’M TALKING TO YOU PIVOT (derogatory term for private, because all we did was pivot in place to commands) WHAT IN THE HELL IS YOUR 3RD GENERAL ORDER?!?!?” And I blurted out….”I WILL GUARD EVERYTHING…..” And then I saw it coming……
I only caught a glimpse of the big black meat paw headed towards my head…WHAP!!!! Full force contact to the side of my head…my helmet line flew off and landed somewhere off to my right….”WHAT THE HELL DID YOU SAY!! ARE YOU TELLING ME THAT YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR GENERAL ORDERS?!?!!?” Oh shit, I was in the hurt locker now….and then 2 more drills showed up…yeah, the deep dark hurt locker…I tried to talk my way out of it…wrong move..
“Drill Sergeant I know my general orders!” I said….mistake. “OH WELL THEN YOU JUST DECIDED TO SWITCH THEM THEN!!! HEY SENIOR DRILL SERGEANT WE GOT US A THINKER HERE” ……hell was open for business and everything was on sale now..
Needless to say after 15 or 20 minutes of probably providing some stress relief for this guy while he worked through his faltering marriage, subpar NCOER for drinking and overseas orders for Iceland or some shit I finally got off the ground and was allowed into the mess hall dripping from head to toe in sweat. Yeah, that was a good day.
The reason I bring this subject up is that guarding things is one area that the US Army does well. To be more specific, the 3rd US Infantry (not to be confused with the 3rd Infantry Division) does it well. The 3rd US Infantry is the unit assigned to duties, both functional and ceremonial in the nations capital. Their ceremonial duties include parades and rendering of honors for both US and Foreign dignitaries. Their functional duties include the actual defense of the nations capital. Somewhere in between is the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. While largely a ceremonial duty – nobody is really going to steal the tomb – the symbolic gesture of standing watch on a fellow soldier that was not able to be claimed by his family means much to the military community in this country. The men and women that make up the detail (yes, I did say women) guard this tomb 24/7 every day of the year, regardless of weather. The attention to detail and skill required to wear the badge of a tomb guard mean that only a very few select individuals get to have the honor of walking those hallowed 21 steps across the front of the tomb. The picture above was taken on August 27th, 2011 as the Washington area was bearing some of the brunt of Hurricane Irene and much of it was shut down. This is not the first time that the guards have walked during adverse area….2 feet of snow on the ground…the guard will walk through the deep snow as his comrades work to clear a path for him. High wind or thunderstorms…the guards will walk with their M14 rifles tipped with metal bayonets. In very rare circumstances they will be allowed to seek refuge in a small guard shack adjacent to the tomb, but they never cease to have a visual surveillance on their post.
And for those that think all they are are toy soldiers for display, don’t cross into their turf….or talk or laugh….or…