The military is an organization usually authorized by its greater society to use lethal force in defending its nation state by fighting perceived or actual threats. Throughout the history of military services, there have been many established traditions that illustrate a high level of discipline and courtesy. Custom is described as a way of acting in a manner that has been continued constantly for a long period of time and the act has come to be accepted by the larger society as the norm. Courtesy on the other hand refers to a way of displaying good manners and politeness when interacting with other people. Discipline entails the training that soldiers undergo to develop character, self control and efficiency. The subjection to exerted control is usually for the good of the military unit. Military courtesy is one of the features among many other features that define a professional military force (Bailey, 28). The concept of military courtesy entails several forms that constitute a strict and in other cases an elaborate code of conduct. Examples of military courtesies include proper forms of address, the salute, proper wear of military headgear, related concepts of standing at attention and rules of behavior in various ceremonies.
Military courtesy has over the years been known to convey respect both down and up the chain of command. The most commonly recognized form of courtesy and custom is the military salute. This has been recognized as an exchange of greetings ever since the age of good manners. During this time in history, the knights were mounted with steel armor that completely covered their body. When two friendly knights met, it was custom for one to raise his visor and expose their face to another. Since the left hand was used to hold the reins, the salute gesture was always done with the right hand. Furthermore, since the right hand was also used as the sword hand, the salute gesture involved removing the right hand from the vicinity of the weapon hence creating a friendlier environment and act of confidence (Bailey, 32). In as much as the age of the steel body armor is long gone, the raising of the right hand is recognized as the proper form of greetings between soldiers. The military salute is usually presented in a manner of pride when recognizing a fellow military comrade in the honorable profession of artillery. Another historical account of the development of the salute greeting is that it begun in the late Roman times when assassinations were the order of the day. Therefore, any civilian who desired to see a public official had to approach while raising his right hand in order to indicate that he did not hold any weapon. In the contemporary society, it is established that soldiers should salute all civilians entitled by the custom to the salute, the national flag, and commissioned officers using a proper manner of saluting.
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Military courtesies and customs have proven essential in providing guidelines for all actions in which all military members are expected to follow. In practicing courteous communication for example, a military soldier addressing a higher ranking officer is usually expected to use the word ma’am or sir in a similar manner as any polite civilian would do when addressing someone they wish to show respect. The difference between the two however, is that the matter of who gets to say sir or madam is clearly defined in the military service as opposed to the civilian life whereby it becomes a matter of discretion. Still on the aspect of courteous communication, the military insists on clear communication and alignment. The language used by the soldiers such as “mission”, “tactics” and “vision” is important in reinforcing their mindset hence influence how they think. Their actions whatsoever are therefore directed towards achievement of certain outcomes. The military units are also known to create high performing teams that define the team’s goals, the member’s responsibilities and roles and their action plans (Snider et al, 41-15). This empowers the soldiers to be part of high performing team in their organizational setting. In as much as we may all desire leadership positions, successful outcomes are best realized when people are part of a team and are willing to be good followers. The military is also known for the strength of training the soldiers to evaluate a dynamic environment and make a move in the face of uncertainty. The military achieves this by having a clear vision accompanied by specific missions that enable the soldiers act in alignment with the organizational objectives. To further ensure that organization activities continue running such as in a combat system, the military ensures that junior officers are trained to assume the roles of their superior at the moment of notification. Last but not least, courteous communication entails asking for help when need be in order to get a certain job done to perfection. In a military unit, one maybe leading an efficient team but still requires resources from another division which triggers the need to ask for help.
It is important to note that military courtesy is not only accorded to senior officials but also to subordinates hence reinforcing the aspect of functioning as a unit. This concept is extremely important in achieving organizational success thus making the military an outstanding organization that can be emulated by other paramilitary organizations seeking to achieve success. Military courtesy is important since it is an expression of consideration for other soldiers. It promotes good relationship within the military unit (Snider et al, 38). It is through courteous greetings and communication that closer coordination and teamwork among the members of the military is realized. Military courtesy is also of vital importance in promoting and developing a proper spirit of togetherness among soldiers. It is intended to reinforce the chain of command and discipline hence defines how soldiers treat their superiors and how the superiors treat their juniors.
Military courtesy reflects self discipline and shows respect. Since the military operates as a unit, consistent and proper military courtesy is a clear indicator of unit discipline. Simple courtesy is an important indicator of an individual’s bearing, manners and discipline. Several psychological researches indicate that most people respond positively to genuine courtesy and politeness. The spirit of togetherness is important in exploring different avenues that would bring about the realization of organizational goals. It is no wonder when the military set out to combat perceived or actual threat they always come out successful and ensure the safety of the majority of the civilians. The same applies to soldiers whereby courteous greeting restate pride in the unit and make obvious the professionalism and discipline of a unit’s soldiers. It can be concluded that military courtesy is an extension and formalization of courtesies that characterize mankind’s culture in everyday life.
Bailey, Theodore L. Military Courtesy. New York: Review Publishing Co, 1919. Print.
Snider, Don M, Don M. Snider, John A. Nagl, and Tony Pfaff. Army Professionalism, the Military Ethic, and Officer ship in the 21st Century. Carlisle Barracks, Pa.: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 1999. Print.