The Army General Orders: An Overview

We all learned the three General Orders while we were at basic training, and had to recite them verbatim. I know I was relieved that it was those three, as opposed to the eleven that the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard use.  Learning stuff at Basic Training can resemble putting your mouth up to a fire hose, and some of the attention to detail related things seem pointless. Then you realize that building good habits and paying attention to detail on the tiniest things, will translate over into doing the same with the bigger things, especially when you become a leader and/or deploy overseas.

I thought it would be beneficial to review the three General Orders and discuss why they are important.

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 5 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 always 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.

Bottom line: I believe the General Orders, while simple, are fundamental to being a Soldier and are important to understand in regards to how we complete our duties.  What do you think?

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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. 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. 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. 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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