Customs and Courtesies in the Army
The Army in an extremely nostalgic organization with a copious amount traditions and has about a million different methods of conducting its business. Some are old and some are new, but possibly the oldest one that has been around since before the Army was officially established and still lives today is the Armys rules, regulations and policies on customs and courtesies. In this form of a remedial block of instruction given to me by my team leader, due to certain circumstances I am to explain the Armys customs and courtesies and the importance they have always and still do hold within the Army.
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The Army is an organization that imprints pride and discipline in its soldiers, both enlisted and commissioned officers, because of its history, mission, capabilities, and the respect it has earned in the service of the nation. A reflection of that pride and discipline is visible in the customs, courtesies, and traditions the Army holds. Inversely the pride and discipline is visible because the customs, courtesies and traditions of the Army are regularly practiced. There are many ways in the Army to instill discipline, such as drill and ceremony for example.
Like drill and ceremony, practicing of the customs, courtesies, and traditions is yet another effective means of instilling discipline, a sense of pride in ones self and ultimately the Army, and professionalism that we are well known for. Courtesy among members of all the branches of the military is important to maintain discipline. Military courtesy essentially means having good manners and respect in dealing with other people. Courteous behavior provides a foundation for developing good people skills. Its inevitably one of the small pieces that make up the bigger picture of serving in uniform.
Failing to conduct ones-self in these mannerism IAW AR 600-24 or chapter 4 of FM 7-21. 13 just labels that person as careless or raised poorly. A scary amount of people however seem to forget that courtesy and respect is not a one way street and that you have to give respect to get respect, at least between two men anyway. Customs and traditions have their rightful in garrison life but they still serve what might be an even more important purpose in combat as well. In war they keep the soldier fighting, they urge him, they motivate him, they ush him, they give him the will, they give him to the desire to want to face his enemy, close with and destroy him as the many soldier with unflinching bravery before him did. The pride and discipline passed down from the beginning until present day possesses us in the face of the enemy. We as soldiers fight for our brigade, our battalion, our company, our platoon, our squad, and our battle buddies to out left and our right. When most people in the Army today think about customs, courtesies and traditions they just know and think about one kind.
All they think about is, standing at parade rest for NCOs and saluting officers. Yes of course that important for the sake of discipline and professionalism and shouldn’t be forgot but there is so much more to who we are and the things we do than just that. Another way customs, courtesies and traditions serves us in combat is this, if a soldier doesn’t respect his seniors then the soldier won’t listen to them in combat when they could be getting told to do something of importance.
The soldier will neglect his duty and could very well get himself or multiple other solders hurt or killed, plan and simple. Unless his senior is just a complete idiot (and lets not be naive because there are way too many of them out like that out there) he should respect him and listen to him/her. Not displaying the proper customs and courtesies also has a negative affect not on just the person guilty of this but on his team as a whole. From the outside looking in people see an NCO who cant control and discipline his soldier.
That NCO might possibly want to go to a school or might desire some sort of favorable action and his leadership is going to see that he cant properly raise a soldier and deny him these things and give it to an NCO they see as more deserving of such privileges. The soldier guilty of these acts is just hurting his own career in the long run by getting negative counselings which after so many are going to turn into an article 15 with extra duty or lose of pay and rank or all three combined. The other soldier or soldiers on the team could end up suffering as well just by having to work with such a dysfunctional team.
Or perhaps one of the other soldiers might want to go to a school or something of the sort they might look at how the team functions and assume that he is the same as well and will consider what they will see as a better choice for certain opportunities, privileges and favorable actions. Aside from just making your individual team look bad it’ll make your whole platoon look bad in the eyes of the rest of the company. They will see a team leader having a hard time with his soldier and the only thought that will be going through their mind is “look at how that platoon is”.
They will not see it as just one person, they will see it as that specific section or platoon as a whole. This comes from my own personal experience and the things I have heard people say when it comes to such matters. It is important to practice good customs and courtesies because actions and behaviors are contagious. They can either influence people to do good or spread like a poison and cause damage which I have personally seen as well. Proper customs and courtesies help start and maintain good relations between people and once that tie has been severed it will be hard to repair once again.
Maintaining proper customs and courtesies is definitely a little bit difficult to do considering that its mostly one-sided in favor of the higher ranking person but the consequences of not practicing proper customs and courtesies out weigh how good it might feel to say or do something. Also refuse to do practice proper customs and courtesies long enough and it could end up with the soldier being separated from the Army for negative reasons which is only going to hurt that person when they get out of the Army.
You could get chaptered and lose your benefits ranging form the GI bill or all of them. The most common things I have seen people do that go against how customs and courtesies are suppose to work are criticize leadership in public, turning around or moving away from someone to avoid having to salute and going over the heads or supervisors. Criticizing leadership in public, as stress relieving as it might feel is not only wrong in the Army but one of the most disrespectful things you can do as a man because you are talking about someone behind there back.
Granted in the Army you are kind of forced to because to speak the truth, especially about someone’s leadership abilities, is considered wrong. Once you know the truth and meaning behind the salute you will understand that to turning around or moving away to avoid having to salute is extremely disrespectful and an officer not returning the salute is equally disrespectful. The salute is widely misunderstood inside the military. Some consider it to be annoying and just do it because they have and many people think “why should I have to salute him, he is no better than me” but we know that it is quite the opposite.
The salute is an expression that recognizes each other as a member of the profession of arms, that they have made a personal commitment of self-sacrifice to preserve our way of life. The fact that the junior extends the greeting first is merely a point of etiquette, a salute extended or returned makes the same statement. The salute is not simply an honor exchanged. It is a privileged gesture of respect and trust among soldiers. Remember the salute is not only required by regulation but is also recognition of each other’s commitment, abilities, and professionalism (as stated in FM 7-21. 13, chapter 4).
So freakin salute each other. And I huge issue in the Army is soldier going over their chain of commands head. This is a major sign of disrespect in the sense that the soldier is pretty much saying he does not trust his chain of command or they are not competent enough to recognize and rectify his/hers issue so they go directly to S1 for example, it also leaves your team leader, squad leader and platoon sergeant uninformed. It is both customary and tradition to use the chain of command to resolve issues within the platoon and it is uncourteous and disrespectful to go over people in such a manner.
Military courtesy shows respect and reflects self-discipline. Consistent and proper military courtesy is an indicator of unit discipline, as well. Soldiers demonstrate courtesy in the way we address officers or NCOs of superior rank. Some other simple but visible signs of respect and self-discipline are as follows standing at the position of attention until told otherwise when talking to an officer, standing at parade rest when talking to an NCO and getting out of your car while driving when retreat is played.
Of all the things people could do to show that they have respect and discipline through customs and courtesies this are the things that people do the most along with responding with yes SGT or no SGT or yes sir or no sir while talking to NCOs and officers. In short customs and courtesies are there for you and ultimately to help better the Army. Do it. The Army has its own customs, both official and social. Some have been handed down from the distant past while others are of comparatively recent origin. Those customs that endure stand on their own merits.
As a long established social organization, the Army observes a number of customs that add to the interest, pleasure, and graciousness of Army life. A custom is an established practice. Customs include positive actions—things you do, and taboos—things you avoid. All established arts, trades, and professions, all races of people, all nations, and even different sections of the same nation have their own practices and customs by which they govern a part of their lives. Many Army customs compliment procedures required by military courtesy, while others add to the graciousness of garrison life.
The breach of some Army customs merely brands the offender as ignorant, careless, or ill bred. Violations of other Army customs, however, will bring official censure or disciplinary action. The customs of the Army are its common law. These are a few: • Never offer excuses. • Never “wear” a superior’s rank by saying something like, “the first sergeant wants this done now,” when in fact the first sergeant said no such thing. Speak with your own voice. • Never appear in uniform while under the influence of alcohol. If you don’t know the answer to a superior’s question, you will never go wrong with the response, “I don’t know sir, but I will find out. ” Courtesy among members of the Armed Forces is vital to maintain discipline. Military courtesy means good manners and politeness in dealing with other people. Courteous behavior provides a basis for developing good cohesion and earned respect. To me I believe that Customs and Courtesies are one of the main fundamentals of military life custom and curtsies are the glue that holds the United States Armed Forces together.
Customs and Courtesies dates back to the inception of the military service, and are one of the defining features of a professional within that service the idea that at any point in time that they can be lapsed, forgotten about is completely crazy because all it accomplishes to do is to undermine spirit de corps. First I will attempt to define what is customs and curtsies second show its history , thirdly by showing good customs and courtesies it facilitates good order and discipline in the Armed Forces for without customs and courtesies we would have chaos nd be ineffective as an Armed Force. I define custom and Courtesies in the Armed Forces is as a way of acting in a specific way over a long period of time that it has come like law (a way of life pretty much), it’s vital for the maintenance of discipline. A courtesy is a form of polite behavior and excellence manners. For example on such Courtesy is the Hand Salute the salute is a symbol of respect and a sign of comradeship among service personnel. The salute is simple and dignified; but, there is great significance in that gesture.
It is a time-honored demonstration of courtesy among all military personnel that expresses mutual respect and Pride, Another custom and courtesy is Rendering Honor to the flag, the flag of the United States is the symbol of our nation. The union, white stars on a field of blue, is the honor point of the flag. The union of the flag and the flag itself, when in company with other flags, are always given the honor position, which is on the right. When the flag is being raised in the morning, you should stand at attention on the first note of “Reveille” and salute.
In the evening “Retreat” is played prior to “To the Colors. ” (“”Colors” refer to the flag of the United States and can also include the unit flag). Army customs are somewhat desirable courses of action sanctioned by tradition and usage. In the armed forces, practically every custom has grown out of the manner in which service members of the past conducted themselves. Many service members customs have been incorporated into regulations in order to standardize conduct throughout the Army, but some of them cannot be found in written directives.
Knowing and observing these customs, both written and unwritten, is important to each service member because it keeps him mindful of the heritage and traditions of his Army, and of his duty to uphold them. In addition, it makes him feel that he is a part of the team and helps to create the strong bond of loyalty between him and all other service members that has become a distinguishing mark of the military. To be mindful of the heritage and traditions that we have come to know is what keeps us proud as service members in the armed forces.
It’s that pride that drives us, it wills us to maintain our discipline, our military bearing and respect for one another, peers, seniors and subordinates. “Customs And Courtesies, It Rests With Us To Make The Traditions And To Set The Pace For Those Who Are To Follow And So Upon Our Shoulders Rests a Great Responsibility. ” —Esther Voorhess Hasson. Esther was the first superintendent of the military nursing corps of 1908. This quote of hers couldn’t be more true.
It is our job as the service members of today to ensure that the service members of tomorrow are ready to serve and ready to lead. How they see us act and the things they see us do influence them as the young and set the course for them down the road. We single handedly as the service members of today shape and decide what the Army to tomorrow will be like, how it behaves, how it operates, how successful, how accomplished, how disciplined and how proud it will be in the future.
Like everything else in life, you get what you put. If you exhibit poor behavior and show them all the wrong then lazy no good soldiers will inhabit our Army. To break away and not live by and adhere to the customs courtesies is to defy and undo the traditions, customs and courtesies of the Army, but more importantly we attempt to defy and undo that which the soldiers of yesterday of have put into place and established for us.
It is defying and disrespecting the soldiers of the past that have died and sacrificed everything so that we can be where we are today, which is the most powerful and professional army in the world. Writing this paragraph of my RBI, which by the way I looked up and RBI stands for Reinforcement by Indosement which by the way makes me question the validity of theses things because if you look it up in the dictionary indocement IS NOT EVEN A WORD! They could have meant inducement which in simplest terms means to do something to achieve a desired outcome.
That was just a random piece of info for your knowledge. But anyway back to what writing this paragraph of my RBI reminded me of. It reminded me of all the times you here people throw the words customs and courtesies around at other people, when in actuality they barely have an understanding of what it really means. Writing this RBI was actually a good thing because it has given me a better understanding of what they really are and more of a desire to practice good customs, courtesies and traditions.
I believe the most misunderstood one of the three is courtesies. Courtesies in my own words are acts or verbal expressions of consideration or respect for others with the intention that it will be given in return. When a person acts with courtesy toward another, the courtesy is likely to be returned. We are courteous to our seniors because we are aware of their greater responsibilities and authority. We are courteous to our juniors because we are aware of their important contributions to the military’s mission.
Military courtesy is important to everyone in the armed forces today. If you know and practice military courtesy, you will make a good impression and display a self-assurance that will carry you through many difficult situations in all aspects of your life, both in the armed forces and in the civilian world. Customs and Courtesies are a very important aspect of the military life, the other being the Seven Army Values, which soldiers are expected to live and rely upon both on and off duty.
These customs govern soldiers not only in their professional life but in their social life as well, because it is not something people do in the armed forces because it is what they are told they have to do. It is practiced both at work and in their social life because it is simple the correct thing to do. It is how any man or woman, young or old should conduct themselves. Its a great way to show that you a respectable well raised human being that gives and deserves respect. A custom is a usual way of acting in given any given situation.
It is a practice that has been going on for so long that it has the force of law. An act or practice acquires the status of a custom under the following circumstances: When it is continued consistently over a long period, when it is well defined and followed by everyone, and that part is very specific. All service members follow it, it is not something service members get to chose weather or not they will do it, when it is generally accepted so as to seem almost compulsory and when it is not in opposition to the terms and provisions of a statute, lawful regulation, or order.