The Depot

11 General Military Orders Broken Down One-By-One

General orders in the U.S. military are the most basic responsibility given to a service member. They are a framework on which the entirety of their service is constructed and the general orders vary from service to service. These are the most rudimentary of standing orders to follow when more specific orders are not available or issued.

Generally speaking, every branch of service has unique general orders, but they are all very close in purpose. Some branches have 11 general orders, while others have just three general orders. For example, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force have only three general orders while the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps each have 11 general orders.

The general orders for the Army and Air Force were condensed and simplified some years ago, but initially they also had 11 general orders. It is believed the U.S. Space Force follows, for now, the general orders of the U.S. Air Force, but they can likely also draft 11 general orders like the naval services.

Army General Orders
1. I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.
2. I will obey my special orders and perform all my duties in a military manner.
3. I will report violations of my special orders, emergencies, and anything not covered in my instructions to the commander of the relief.

The Army’s general orders are very straight forward and designed to give sentries a base of directions. These orders tend to be required memorization for trainees who are placed on guard duty during training. That is likely why the Army reduced from 11 general orders to three the number of general orders needed to be memorized.

Air Force General Orders
1. I will take charge of my post and protect personnel and property for which I am responsible, until properly relieved.
2. I will report all violations of orders that I am entrusted to enforce and call my superior in any case not covered by instructions.
3. I will sound the alarm in any case of disorder or emergency.

Likewise, the Air Force’s general orders are very basic as well and these are usually utilized by Air Force Security Forces since they are the military occupation primarily charged with protecting Air Force assets and resources. Similar to the Army, the Air Force thinned from 11 general orders the number of standing directives sentries need to memorize.

However, in the naval branches, including the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, there are 11 general orders that recruits must memorize. Normally, during basic training, recruits must memorize these 11 general orders as part of their education in boot camp.

The U.S. Coast Guard, although not officially a military branch until it is mobilized under the operational control of the U.S. Navy, also has 11 general orders, but the verbiage differs just slightly. Similarly, the Navy’s and the Marine Corps’ 11 general orders are almost exactly the same except the duty titles for the Marines’ 11 general orders are different than the duty titles in the Navy’s 11 general orders.

11 General Orders Navy
1. To take charge of this post and all government property in view.
2. To walk my post in a military manner, keeping always on the alert, and observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing.
3. To report all violations of orders I am instructed to enforce.
4. To repeat all calls from posts more distant from the guard house than my own.
5. To quit my post only when properly relieved.
6. To receive, obey, and pass on to the sentry who relieves me all orders from the Commanding Officer, Command Duty Officer, Officer of the Deck, and Officers and Petty Officers of the Watch only.
7. To talk to no one except in the line of duty.
8. To give the alarm in case of fire or disorder.
9. To call the Officer of the Deck in any case not covered by instructions.
10. To salute all officers and colors and standards not cased.
11. To be especially watchful at night and during the time for challenging, to challenge all persons on or near my post, and to allow no one to pass without proper authority.

11 General Orders Marine Corps
1. To take charge of this post and all government property in view.
2. To walk my post in a military manner, keeping always on the alert, and observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing.
3. To report all violations of orders I am instructed to enforce.
4. To repeat all calls from posts more distant from the guard house than my own.
5. To quit my post only when properly relieved.
6. To receive, obey and pass on to the sentry who relieves me, all orders from the Commanding Officer, Officer of the Day, Officers, and Non-Commissioned Officers of the guard only.
7. To talk to no one except in the line of duty.
8. To give the alarm in case of fire or disorder.
9. To call the Corporal of the Guard in any case not covered by instructions.
10. To salute all officers and all colors and standards not cased.
11. To be especially watchful at night, and, during the time for challenging, to challenge all persons on or near my post and to allow no one to pass without proper authority.