Effective military etiquette forms one of the most important aspects in the military that indicates its internal harmony and external might. This is brought out by the sense of respect and coterminous outlook manifested under the guiding rules and regulations followed from the main military protocol demands. Indeed, as The Washington Artillery (2005) points out all the activities of the US military and most importantly during the formal events are guided by protocols that determine how the officers should conduct themselves and the events should be operated. Over the years, it has come to be generally accepted that the most important aspect that the military should have, is the military discipline which is purely manifested through etiquette.
As a culture, the etiquette has further been extended to dictate the expected codes of conduct that civilians should assimilate in their relations with the military. Though the latter demand has recently attracted great criticism nationally, the military holds that the system is meant to strengthen the institutions in their holistic capacity to disperse their duties as opposed to infer the military orders to the general public.
It is in this respect that this paper seeks to evaluate the military etiquette as applied by the US forces. From different occasions that require strict military protocol observance, the paper offers a clear analysis of the etiquette as applied by the military. In addition, the paper cites possible loopholes in the etiquette requirements and gives recommendations on possible improvement of the military outlook and operations.
2. The manner of dressing
Military dressing code is perhaps the most remarkable aspect during their formal meetings and operations. According to The Washington Artillery (2005), uniform in the military is used as a major communication tool between the military officers at different classes. With all the military arms operating on a caste format which is highly hierarchical, the uniform is used to differentiate one group from the other and the levels upon which they are ranked in the military system. Wearing of the military uniform is considered to be part of the main pride for the military as well as the country too. Therefore, failure to adhere to the correct dressing code is not considered as a simple conduct of misbehavior, but a strong sense of indecency which disregard US military as an institution. It may therefore attract strong penalties based on the occasion involved and the judged intent.
According to The Washington Artillery (2005) continues to say that in business meetings of the military affairs, uniform is used to denote the sense of authority that is bestowed to the different participating officers. Currently, the Army Service Unit wears the green service uniform generally referred to as the “class As” for the military officers participating in the different business meetings. Though it is in the process of being disbanded to adopt a different color by the year 2014, the army personnel wear it with clear insignia at the color to indicate their branches of operations. To add to that, it is required that all the high ranking officers display their proficiency badges on the upper left pocket flap while earned ribbons for different training and duties are displayed above it. With a ligament crest, the foreign and unit awards are attached above the pocket, while unit patches are displayed on each shoulder of the jacket.
Though analysts have differed over the major system that have been in use by the military on experience to display the general ability, it is no doubt that the high ranking officers’ long time knowledge ensures that only the most viable considerations are undertaken. It is also required that during the official meetings, the officers are on their white shirts, a four-in-hand tie, or a black bow tie
For the lower rank military officers, they generally use the same army green color but with minimal additions in form of recognitions attached to them. It is also required that all the military officers are on their hats at all the formal functions to indicate their completeness and readiness. All the officials are also required to have clear glossy outlook as a sense of thoroughness
3. Display of the flag
Since the historical periods of the military operations in US, it has become a major requirement for the different military arms to display their flags in different operations. This has been used as a further sign of authority and independence of their operations within the demands of the established laws. During the different meetings, it is mandatory that US flag and that of the respective military branch are both displayed as a sense of strength of the military and royalty to the country. According to Edith (2008), display of the flag in US like other countries is used as a major unifying factor between the military themselves and the different branches of the military. It is indeed held as one of the most important aspect of the military unit and no major official function can take place without its clear display. In an event when an officer of the military has passed away, the military flag is flown halfway during the major business meetings and military briefings for a period decided by the authorities.
During the hoisting and lowering ceremonies of the flag, all the soldiers are required to stand attention and face the direction of the flag until the process is through. To add to that, they are also required to render a military salute as it gets hoisted or lowered. In the case of night official events, it is required that the both flags being displayed are fully illuminated to be visible by all the participating members of the meeting.
4. Military communication
Military communication is perhaps one of the most complicated aspects in its operations. The earlier noted aspect of the dominant hierarchy has strong effect when it comes to passing of information. It is considered that with experience and greater recognitions that make one to raise in rank with time, the officer should be able to guide the juniors in the process as they equally gain similar experience. It is from this consideration that briefings are always addressed by the senior members of the military as the juniors take orders to follow. Edward (2006) points out that this culture has been built on the fact that forces are managed on a highly top-bottom model of management where the commands are given to be followed. Even with this model being highly questionable by the modern scholars, US military indicates the overall efficiency of the system to induce the necessary discipline as the main factor for the success of any military is very effective. Therefore, the lower ranking officers during such meetings are highly passive and to show the required sign of cooperation with their leaders.
Besides, the presenters are usually required to brief and to use the necessary military language with authority in reference to their different military demands. Though the summoning of the meetings for different communications have the regular schedules, they may equally be sudden during which the soldiers are required to take the necessary orders as appropriate. However, in different formal meetings on management issues of the military, there are high levels of consultations and analysis mainly involving the high ranking military officers who report the same to the lower ranking officers (Robin, 2000). Though this system has equally been questioned especially in the modern dynamic period, it has a general consensus is evident due to the overall consideration for the secrecy demands in the forces.
According to that, the briefing and meetings communication are generally very brief and to the point with the lower officials introducing the senior officials or delivering their messages to the lower ranking officers. By assimilating these procedures, it has turned out to be a major part of the common culture held by the military fraternity.
Due to the high levels of discipline inculcation to the military officers, saluting has been assumed as a major consideration to maintain high degree of courtesy through reasonable impression between the different officers in the forces. It is a requirement for all the military officers to acknowledge others depending on the ranks they have assimilated with time. Two major consideration used to categorize the type of address include the consideration of whether the superior officer is commissioned or not. The expected salute from a junior officer to a commissioned officer during the formal occasions should be “yes sergeant major” for a positive consideration while the senior officer is expected to respond “yes sir”. Unlike it is constantly thought, this form of communication is a strong indicator for respect between the seniors and juniors and used to create the necessary interlink based on personalities and roles for each. Though the same case applies for the business meetings in the case of two different members of the meeting with different rankings, officers of the same level salute one another using the same notion like “hello sergeant” who responds “yes sergeant” (Leonard, 2007).
However all the officers are entitled to hand salutes or finger salutes that is used to indicate a sense of respect to either the senior or the junior officers. Commonly, the military salute entails raising of the right hand and bent to the forehead where the palm faces outwards with the fingers touching the right eyebrow. Even though other hand shakes may follow depending on the type of briefing or business meeting that was taking place, it is mandatory for all the officers in such meetings. Other forms of salutes used during briefing include headgear removal and riffle shots in the air (Michael, 2000).
6. Military Formal balls
Perhaps military balls form one of the informal meetings that allow the officers to be in non official outfits. However, they are strictly restricted by the different protocols where the attire being worn by the military officers strongly reflect the demands and harmony of the forces. To add to that, it allows different officers to bring non military officers to such functions. Though the protocols do not describe the actual colors that the officers should be on, it is required that they should be very formal and give the military a strong sense of wholeness even from the outside. Many analysts link this consideration to the perception of holistic preparedness to take up one’s roles and duties at any time.
Though the command do not equal the business meeting application or the military briefs where all the audience comprehends the language of the forces, it posses the necessary authority for a military officer. However, major evaluation of this consideration has been focused on the civilians who accompany the officers to the military ball events. Even without having any military training, the civilians have been observed to follow strict dressing codes that equally reflect on the military. Myrtle (2003) points out that most of the different military events have made the attendees to seek the necessary support in terms of determining the best colors and fashion that fits not just to the general military consideration but to the particularistic occasion. Dresses chosen are mainly ‘knee to floor length’ to give the correct reflection of the military officers who have come with their mistresses. Holding the fact that the military ball may involves some dancing and dinner, most of the officers spouses are also lured to low heel shoes that makes them more comfortable. As a further complement, brightly colored dresses are also preferred by many owing to their overall capacity to raise the necessary mood of the occasions as opposed to the darker ones. Unlike the military systems where all aspects including the saluting, communication, and even reference as indicated earlier take a highly military format, military balls communication between the military officers and reference to non military audience is allowed to be informal.
7. Summary and conclusion
Military etiquette has developed with time to reflect the high level of discipline that has been assimilated by the military forces to the present day. Indeed, the system has been held under the general notion that for an individual to make a good military officer and generally for the whole forces, the most important aspect is the code of conduct. As indicated earlier, the overall ability to conduct the general business within the guidelines of the military rules and regulations acts as a major facet and an indicator for progress. While many of the different analysts have been questioning the application if the different systems that push the hierarchical protocol forces of the military etiquette demands, the notion is indeed far fetched in that the system supports the military to be on high alert at all times ready to be called for different roles at any time. To add to that, it forms a clear outline upon which the general ethics can be drawn to guide the military which has been severally accused of unbecoming behaviors at different times.
It is from this consideration that this paper concludes by supporting the highly held etiquette by the military in US. However, there is need for greater autonomy for the different military officers which should be enhanced by creating more support sub-branches along the major hierarchy aimed to strengthen it.
8. Reference list
Edith, B. (2008). The Etiquette of To-day. New York: Sage.
Edward, C. (2006), History of West Point and Its Military Importance During the American Revolution: And the Origin and Progress of the United States Military. Washington: Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College,
Leonard, W. (2007), Knowing when to salute. Washington: Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College.
The Washington Artillery, (2005). Military etiquette. Retrieved from: http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Woods/3501/favorite.htm
Michael, W. (2000), Flag burning: moral panic and the criminalization of protest. New Jersey: Aldine Transaction.
Myrtle, F. (2003). Law, liability, and ethics for medical office professionals. Washington: Cengage Learning.
Revolution: And the Origin and Progress of the United States Military. Washington: Kessinger Publishing, LLC.
Robert, F. (1999). The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2000. New York: World Almanac Books
Robin, E. (2000). Theorizing the standoff: contingency in action. New York: Wagner-Pacific Publishing press.