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What makes the US Forces Special Pt1 The Military Oath

Updated on June 30, 2013
Duty Calls
Duty Calls

The Journey Begins

This article begins a series of essays on what makes the US Military a unique force in the world. There are many aspects to this and as of this writing I’m not absolutely sure how parts it will have. But like all adventures it must start at the beginning.

The beginning of this story for all US military members, be they Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, or Coast Guard starts with one of the most significant acts they will undertake not only in their careers but in their lives. That is the Oath of Enlistment for enlisted members or the Oath of Office for Officer Personnel. There are significant differences which I will point out later.

I use the term unique in the above paragraph and for good reason. While Armed Services world wide almost invariably require an oath of their members; as in the examples below of Britain and Germany, the pledges are to rulers (as in Britain) or to laws and territories (Germans). Well enough for them I carry no argument for or against them, I just point out the difference.

British Forces

I swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors and that I will as in duty bound honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, her heirs and successors in person, crown and dignity against all enemies and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, her heirs and successors and of the generals and officers set over me.

German Forces

"I pledge to faithfully serve the Federal Republic of Germany and to bravely defend the law and the freedom of the German people."

What is the difference you ask? Our service members all make the same Oath or Affirmation to “Support and Defend The Constitution of the United States”. It matters not, that they are Army, Navy, Airman, Marine, or Coastguardsman. Their oath is not the piece of paper, but the ideals as stated therein. I was told this made us different on more than one occasion during my years of service but my research on the internet has born its truth.

So take a moment and read these oaths and keep in the back of your mind that you can go world wide and ask service members of all branches the question “Why are you here?” and the answer will almost invariably be “To Support and Defend the Constitution of the United States.” It is a remarkable understatement to describe it as fundamental.

US Oaths of Service

Oath of Enlistment

I (state your name) 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 and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

Oath of Office

I, [name], 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 on which I am about to enter. So help me God.[1]

The chief difference between the officer and enlisted oaths is that the oath taken by officers does not include any provision to obey orders; while enlisted personnel are bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice to obey lawful orders. All officers in the service of the United States (From the President down to a lieutenant) are bound by this oath to disobey any order that violates the Constitution of the United States.

This is an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. Not one to defend any individual person, property, or territory. It is a defense most particularly against all enemies foreign or domestic; there is no person or place exempt from the US forces defense of our constitution.

Once taken, it is a lifetime affirmation. There are no time limits; it is the fundamental life duty of all who serve to continue this task until they are laid to rest under our flag. Carrying a weapon in its defense is only one aspect of this service. But this life of service is defined by this first step with the military in doing your duty as you see it. It must be entered freely and without reservation by those who serve.

So are the US Forces special? I think so but I am a bit biased in my view. However I think the above is compelling evidence of why our troops make such a difference in the countries they deploy to. We do not deploy to subjugate, we deploy in our national interest to support and defend the Constitution of The United States (period).

Now I know that last statement will bring out many who have a view on current deployments. You are welcome to post it here but if you have some patience; there will be opportunities in upcoming hubs that will deal with the current deployments.

I would however, be very interested in hearing from my friends around the world who have served on how this differs from their countries pledge. Thanks


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