One of the first things you will learn in the United States Military is how to stand duty. You will also be required to recite verbatim the General Orders of a Sentry. It is a vital but most basic function of the military.
The General Orders of a Sentry is a list of rules a military member must know verbatim and practice while standing duty (or watch). All guard posts have rules to follow, and the Eleven General Orders are detailed but universal to all military members. You will have to learn these General Orders when you arrive at Basic Training, so get a head start before you arrive for Day 1 of Boot Camp.
The Eleven General Orders of a Sentry as required in Marine Corps Boot Camp (and after, when performing sentry duty) are listed below with a short description:
- Take charge of this post and all government property in view.
When on duty as a guard or sentry, you are in charge of your area and have the authority to stop and question any rank who seeks to pass your area.
- Walk my post in a military manner, keeping always on the alert and observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing.
Stay observant with keen attention to details. It is easy to get complacent after many hours on duty - especially if you have not had many people to deal with. But your ability to pay attention to your surroundings will save your life and others.
- Report all violations of orders I am instructed to enforce.
You will have a written log to keep track of all events that occurred while on watch. Record everything, but report anyone not following the rules.
- To repeat all calls [from posts]more distant from the guardhouse than my own.
Pass the word to your fellow members of the guard either by radio, land line, signal, or vocal.
- Quit my post only when properly relieved.
Do not leave your post, until someone has arrived to take your place.
- 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.
Make sure you pass down all details of the watch and any special orders given during your duty day to the person who relieves you.
- Talk to no one except in the line of duty. It is all business when on duty.
No cellphones, texting, or other business but protecting and guarding your area is what you do.
- Give the alarm in case of fire or disorder.
Anytime a major disruption or danger occurs, sound the alarm and call for back up.
- To call the Corporal of the Guard in any case not covered by instructions.
When not sure of a situation, ask your superiors to confirm.
- Salute all officers and all colors and standards not cased.
Standard military courtesy applies as senior members and color guard pass.
- 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.
Stay vigilant! Make sure everyone who enters the area you protect are authorized.
If you are standing watch (duty) for the first time, as long as you know these eleven basic orders, you will be able to perform the task without issue. The last thing you want is an Article 113 of the UCMJ. Take the General Orders seriously. There will be times you will be challenged by higher-ranking members in the military, but the General Orders of the Sentry give you the authority over any member not following the rules and regulations of that post. The one thing you want to avoid is complacency as there is a saying, "Complacency Kills." Stay alert, vigilant, and do your duty to keep the post you are guarding secure.
The terms standing watch, guard duty, standing duty, guarding my post are all synonymous with sentry duty.