In the military, we are very focused on rendering proper honors and following the tradition of certain customs and courtesies. There are several field manuals and regulations we can choose from if we want in depth and specific information. Chapter 4 of AR 600-20, Army Command Policy, talks about discipline, Soldier conduct, and other related topics. AR 600-25, Salutes, Honors, and Visits of Courtesy, will be helpful if you are asked to plan a ceremony. TC 3-21.5 (formerly known as FM 22-5), Drill and Ceremonies, is very helpful if you have a question about any of the particulars of formation movements. DA Pam 600-60 is A Guide to Protocol and Etiquette. My favorite resource in this area, which I read when I was a private, is FM 7-21.13, The Soldier’s Guide.
In this guide, you get an overview of everything that matters to a new Soldier, including discussion of the Army Values, what our individual roles and responsibilities are, pay and other benefits, what Army Training Management is, Counseling, and our Customs, Courtesies, and Traditions.
Chapter 4 covers Customs, Courtesies and Traditions. While you can research the other publications for more in depth information, this chapter is a great quick reference for all the general things we are supposed to know when it comes to saluting and what courteous behavior consists of.
It is incumbent upon leadership in the Army to understand basic customs and courtesies, and to uphold the standards. An example: When I was at AIT for 92F, I was asked to serve as the Student 1SG. That meant every morning at first formation, I got to report to the actual 1SG with company accountability. One particular morning, we had some Soldiers who had the privilege of raising the colors. Since we are used to having people on various details, I reported the Soldiers as being on ‘flag detail’. The 1SG stopped me and asked me if I thought that working with the colors was a chore or an honor. I told him, “An honor, 1SG!” He asked me what would be a more appropriate name for the detail. I started the report over and told him the Soldiers were on flag honors. It was an important lesson to me, as a PFC, that I understand that even the wording of certain details could be important.
Final Thoughts: Chapter 4 is important for everyone to read and understand. The entire FM is great reading, and I would encourage leaders to have their Soldiers review it. It is an honor and a privilege to be a leader of Soldiers, and making sure we all follow the customs and courtesies properly ensures greater pride in our profession and how we present ourselves in uniform.
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