The Army general orders have been around for many years. Their purpose is to provide each guard a set of rules and guidelines for a specific duty. You should learn the general orders before ever getting to boot camp. There you will recite the general orders throughout your time in boot camp. Then the real test will come while deployed and on duty at a gate, tower, or other assignment. When you are on watch, it may be boring, or for some, it will seem less worthwhile than other duties. However, doing the right thing is about being responsible and accepting the duty that you will be held accountable for. The general orders are there to provide you with the rules and manner to perform your duties while on watch.
Army General Order Number 1
- “I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.”
What does this mean? It means that when relieving the watch before you, you should arrive at least 15 minutes early. Yes, like you are taught in boot camp! This is sign of military respect and courtesy. This way, you can understand the area of your watch and the responsibilities within it. You will be held accountable for all weapons, equipment, supplies, etc. and should sign and inventory each and make sure they’re in proper working order. You will not leave or quit your post just because your watch ends at 0400. You will maintain your watch until you are properly relieved and have passed on the responsibilities of that watch to a specified other.
General Order Number 2
- “I will obey my special orders and perform all of my duties in a military manner.”
This means that even though there are specific responsibilities, you must also accept other special orders that are added. You should test each weapon after reveille. You should always perform your duties in a military manner, meaning stay awake, alert, and ready to protect your post. This means no iPhones, iPods, iPads, or laptops with movies. A military manner is a manner of professionalism and pride, so treat each watch (no matter its area of responsibilities) as if it had a high level of importance.
General Order Number 3
- “I will report violations of my special orders, emergencies, and anything not covered in my instructions to the commander of the relief.”
This is why you must stay alert and pay attention to detail. This means you should record, write down, and report anything out of the ordinary immediately to your higher ups. This means you must know and understand all special orders and instructions provided to you. This means to trust but verify anything you’re not one hundred percent sure of.
Army General Orders Are There For a Reason
The Army general orders are there to CYA while you’re on duty. They are there to provide you with instructions, limitations, and expectations of duty. It doesn’t matter if you’re guarding a gate or a detainee; you will be accountable for your actions or lack thereof. As a soldier, you learned being on time is late and you should report at least fifteen minutes early. You should never leave your post unless properly relieved. This also includes sneaking off to the latrine unless you’re relived while you do so. The Army regulation for a sentry specifically states, “you will not have any material, object, etc. of distraction that doesn’t pertain to your watch.” This includes magazines, books, and other materials. If you’re in violation of any general order, you are subject to article 15 NJP. This includes for sleeping, smoking, drinking, or any other violation of your instructions. While on watch, you’re the keeper of the gate and need to always be alert and prepared!