The Army Officer Oath of Office: What You Should Know

There are many types of jobs and responsibilities that require the person committed to them takes an oath. The military is included in that. In the Army, both enlisted personnel and officers are required to take an oath before they are inducted into the United States Army.

We are going to talk about that in today’s post. Lets examine the Army Officer Oath of Office and what you should know. First, this is what a person who is becoming an Officer in the U.S Army must say:

“I, _____ (name), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.”


Military oaths go back a very long time. In the days of the Roman Empire, soldiers had to swear oaths of service to certain campaigns. When the campaign was finished, the oath was expired. Around 100 B.C., Roman soldiers had to swear an oath for their full Military Obligation, which was normally 20 years.

Rulers realized that forcing subjects to take an oath put them in a position of loyalty, and the fear if they should break that oath they would be subject to what could be harsh punishments or even death. Kings established oaths and even the Pilgrims who landed on American soil created an oath to King James.

When the United States Army was formed, or Continental Army as it was called then, the founding Fathers did not want to pledge allegiance to any certain person. That is exactly what they were trying to escape. They just wanted the Constitution supported, so the first oath developed for Army Officers was very short and to the point:

“I, ______(name), do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.”

Both enlisted and officers gave the same oath, and in 1790 it was slightly changed dropping support the Constitution to “to bear true faith and allegiance to the United States of America”.

In 1862, the oath was changed to a much longer version to guarantee that no one entering Officer ranks of the Union Army had supported the Confederacy. In 1868, the Officer Oath was essentially changed to what Army Officers now say.

Breaking Down The Army Officer Oath of Office Piece by Piece

I Do Solemnly Swear (or Affirm)

Some will ask, why not just swear, or just affirm? Members of Congress wanted to offer a choice for religious reasons. Since our Supreme Being (God) is mentioned, some have an issue with the term swear, so they have the ability to use affirm. It means commitment and personal responsibility.

That I Will Support and Defend the Constitution of the United States

Courtesy of the FBI at their publication of September 2009

How many Officers have actually read the United States Constitution. As an Officer, you are pledging to support it, but do you really know what you are supporting. You are also required to defend that same Constitution. In some other countries, oaths require that Officers obey any and all orders of their superiors. The Constitution is the ultimate superior for Army Officers. If ordered to break the Constitution by any person over you in rank, you are obligated to disobey them and obey the Constitution. I believe we may be on the edge of this with varying laws and regulations being enacted. One example that may come up soon is the right to keep and bear arms.

Against All Enemies, Foreign and Domestic

This essentially covers the possibility of attacks from United States citizens against our freedoms and Democracy. This means we will also use all means to determine possible enemies by the use of intelligence gathering.

That I Will Bear True Faith and Allegiance to the Same

This also takes us back and reiterates that our faith and allegiance is to the Constitution and not to any one group or one person. This is why I think every person who is going to become an Officer in the United States Army should be required to read the Constitution completely.

That I Take This Obligation Freely, Without Any Mental Reservation or Purpose of Evasion

I would bet that this part of the Army Officer Oath has kept some from defecting or running during extreme battles and wars. It adds a large measure of loyalty which falls on the person’s integrity. Just think about this statement… You are not being forced, it is your choice no matter the dangers you face.

And That I Will Well and Faithfully Discharge the Duties of the Office on Which I Am about to Enter

In the choice to become an Officer in the United States Army, you are also vowing to give 110% to the job you have taken on. It isn’t a 50/50 or 80/20; it is you giving your all, and extra. This is why we have the best Army in the World, because we have Officers who give their all.

So Help Me God

Yes, atheists have screamed about this, but is there really such a thing as an atheist? Everyone has a god of some kind. While I may get debated on that, just really think about it. You may not believe in a Supreme Maker of Heaven, Earth and man, but money, alcohol, women, your car or house has control over you.

All I can say is: if this last part of the Army Officer Oath is taken away, I believe that the United States will cease to have the most powerful military in the World. So, please help us God.

Final Thoughts

So, when you took that Oath, did you really examine what all you were swearing too? I am no longer a member of the United States Army, but I would stand and vow this oath right now, because I long to live it even as a civilian. We have the best country in the World. Yes, we have some problems, but it is men and women who take this oath that will help us solve those problems and endure as One Nation Under God, With Liberty, and Justice For All!

What are your thoughts? All opinions are welcome, even if not in agreement. If you have any questions, you can ask them here too. Thank you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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