Orders to Sentry is the official title of a set of rules governing sentry (guard or watch) duty in the United States armed forces. While any guard posting has rules that may go without saying ("Stay awake," for instance), these orders are carefully detailed and particularly stressed in the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, and United States Coast Guard. Also known as the 11 General Orders, the list is meant to cover any possible scenario a sentry might encounter on duty.
All recruits learn these orders verbatim while at recruit training and are expected to retain the knowledge to use for the remainder of their military careers. It is very common for a drill instructor or (after boot camp) an inspecting officer to ask a question such as, "What is your sixth general order?" and expect an immediate (and correct) reply.
The General Orders for Sentries are quite similar between the Navy and Marine Corps, the main differences being the titles of positions referenced in the orders. The Navy Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (NJROTC), Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC.) also use the following General Orders to the Sentry.
The General Orders for Navy and Marines are as follows:
1. To take charge of this post and all government property in view.
When you are a sentry, you are "in charge." This means that no one—no matter what their rank or position—may overrule your authority in carrying out your orders. The only way that you may be exempted from carrying out your orders is if your orders are changed by your superior. For example, if your orders are to allow no one to enter a fenced-in compound, you must prevent everyone from entering, even if an admiral tells you it is all right for him or her to enter. The petty officer of the watch (or whoever is your immediate superior) may modify your orders to allow the admiral to enter, but without that authorization you must keep the admiral out. Situations such as this will not often, if ever,...