The Army General Orders: An Overview

In today’s post, I’d like to share a detailed list of the Army General Orders.

I doubt I will ever forget what I learned more than 25-years ago during Basic Training. I remember my Drill Sergeants screaming at me and making me do endless pushups until I could recite these without thinking about it.

Well, I am “old school.” I believe you all should know and memorize all 11 Army General Orders, so in today’s post, I will give the complete list of Army General Orders.

What Are General Orders

So, what are General Orders and what do you need to know about them? This is what I found online:

General orders are the set of rules guiding sentry duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and provide guards—including sentries and officers—a set of specific rules and guidelines. They describe the proper conduct of a sentry while on duty in every possible operational scenario. General orders are essential guard duties for all branches of the military, but differ from special orders which superiors may issue for specific guard duties. ~

In my own words, your General Orders are the basics of being a Good Soldier and knowing how to complete your guard duties in a military manner.

List of Army General Orders

In the following paragraphs, I will share the Army’s 11 original General Orders. Each order is in bold and italics. After each order, I will share my own two cents on the topic. Enjoy.

# 1: You will take charge of this post and all government property in view.

As a Soldier, you are responsible for the post you are assigned to, and you must guard, protect, and keep track of all government owned items that are within your sight.

# 2: You will walk your post in a military manner, always on alert and observing everything that takes place within your sight or hearing.

When we wear the Army uniform, it is our responsibility to conduct ourselves in a military manner. Awareness must be a top priority for all Soldiers.

# 3: You will report all violations of orders you are instructed to enforce.

Any, and all violations of enforceable orders must be reported to your superiors immediately.

# 4: You will repeat all calls from more posts more distant to the guardhouse than your own.

Even with today’s communication technology, this still is an important General Order. By doing this, all Soldiers will stay informed and updated on conditions.

# 5: I will quit my post only after I am properly relieved.

This General Order speaks for itself. Never, ever leave your post until you are properly relieved.

# 6: To receive, obey and pass on to the sentry who relieves you all orders from the commanding officer, officer of the day, and non-commissioned officers of the guard only.

This means you must update the person relieving you of your specific orders, so they can also obey them.

# 7: You will talk to no one except in the line of duty.

Chit chat is only to be conducted when a Soldier is off duty. While on duty you must be mission focused.

# 8: You will give an alarm in case of fire or disorder.

It is your responsibility to warn all others who are in the vicinity if an emergency is taking place.

# 9: You will call the Sergeant of the Guard in any case that does not have instructions.

Very simply, if you are unsure, ask!

# 10: You will salute all officers and all colors and standards not cased.

This means exactly what it says. If you are under arms, you perform a rifle salute. All officers are saluted, and every flag is saluted unless it is encased which means being rolled and bagged. If you are unsure whether to salute perform the salute. It is better to look stupid than disrespectful.

# 11: You will be especially watchful at night, and during the time for challenging, to challenge all persons on or near your post, and to allow no one to pass without proper authority.

Protect your post. Do not let people enter unless they know the password and have credentials.

Today’s Army

In today’s current Army, there are only three General Orders to follow. Here they are:

1st General Order:

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

Whether your post is five square feet of space outside the CQ office or one of the gates to a FOB in Afghanistan, this General Order makes you aware of how important it is to not only guard everything within the limits of your post, but to not stop doing your job until your relief shows up. This means no distractions, no quitting!

2nd General Order:

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

The General Orders are just that, general. There will always be special orders for each duty from the commander that pertain specifically to where you are and what you are doing. It is imperative to follow these rules, and if you don’t understand them, then ask for clarification. Performing your duty in a military manner is a fundamental task that you should understand by the time you are done with basic training. We are an organization that is instilled with discipline and competence, and we need to remember that.

3rd General Order:

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

This is also a simple order to follow. If anything happens that doesn’t fall within normal limits, or wasn’t covered, then report it! I believe this is similar to knowing Commander’s Critical Information Requirements (CCIR) – PIR, FFIR and EEFI.

How to Memorize

Memorization comes easy to some people. For others it’s a challenge. Here is some advice I found online about how to memorize your General Orders.

The best way to memorize the Army general orders is to NOT memorize them in order. It’s good to know them in order, however, your drill sergeants will be asking you them in any order they wish. So the ensure that you’re on top of your game, it’s best to memorize them in any order. Have your friends or family simply ask you “General Order Number #”, and you spout it off right away. A couple of days of practice is all it takes to have these 3 general orders memorized! ~ US Army Basic

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, I believe the General Orders, while simple, are fundamental to being a Soldier and are important to understand. What do you think? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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10 thoughts on “The Army General Orders: An Overview”

  1. Candace, this was a good post and these three orders are the basics of discipline where you learn to put those you serve with and the mission above yourself.

    The discipline you learn definitely carries over into civilian life as well.

  2. These three rules should be followed in civilian life as well. You don’t leave a shift until you are relieved. It sounds simple enough, but that’s where that ‘me’ attitude comes in. Feeling that it isn’t your responsibility. You are a soldier 24/7, not just when you are technically on duty. A soldier who takes these General Orders to heart will have the foundation for a long and successful military career. That’s why it’s taught during Basic Training.

    1. Candace Ginestar

      Ty, I totally agree with this! These apply very well to civilian life, and some who never join the military already do this intrinsically. However, I think learning these is very helpful to people who don’t understand how important it is to be there and covering down.

  3. It was 1981 when I completed basic training at Ft Benning, GA. I still remember these General Orders like the back of my hand. I believe they also help with civilian life and duties also.

    #1 I will not leave my job post until relieved. I see many workers in service jobs leave their jobs unattended just because their relief hasn’t showed. They wonder why they get laid off.

    #2 If you follow this in civilian life, you will gain super respect.

    #3 Following this in civilian duties will also gain you respect and will keep the company you work for running smooth.

    This was a great reminder. Thank you.

    1. Candace Ginestar

      Greg, I agree with your assessments for each of these orders. I hope that Soldiers do apply this to their civilian lives. This is why we can such a tremendous asset to the civilian world, even if we do have drill and other duties that take us away from work sometimes.

  4. I learned these General Orders in Basic Training and still remember them some 18 years later. What’s funny is during my time in the military I would frequently ask young soldiers what their General Orders were and they didn’t even know. Many of these soldiers had just graduated Basic Training and had forgotten already. I hope these are still taught and emphasized in Basic Training. Knowing these three things is part of the foundation of being a good Soldier.

    1. I do not think that they stress teaching this at BCT anymore… I remember them simply from the daily questioning by my DS on what they were and knowing what they meant. Don’t think that is the case anymore…

      1. Candace Ginestar

        I don’t think these are taught the same way anymore. We had to recite them in our sleep, at a moment’s notice, no matter what we were doing. Our DS taught us that these were the foundation of being a Soldier.

  5. Great article, Candace. I think for the most part we tend to forget our General Orders and what they mean to us as Soldiers. Great reminder!

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