Military Customs and Courtesies

Military Customs and Courtesies

“Military courtesy is simply the display of good manners and politeness in dealing with other people. Military courtesy conveys respect from both subordinate and senior to each other.”

Use of Sir and Sergeant

Officers of any rank are to be referred to as “sir” or as “ma’am”. Generally, as a rule, “sir” and “ma’am” are to be used when speaking to officers in any given situation. Be that officially or socially. When a statement is completed, the word is repeated. for example: “Yes Sir. The documents are ready for your signature Sir.” Whilst speaking to officers, “yes” and “no” are to be used. Yeah, ya, yup, naw, nope, or “uh-huh” are not to be used.

All NCO’s will be addressed as “Sergeant”. This includes Sergeant, Staff Sergeant, and Sergeant First Class. However, Master Sergeant, First Sergeant, and Sergeant Major will be addressed by their full title.

The Senior’s Place Of Honor

An old military custom states that those of lower rank, must walk on the left of their seniors. For centuries armies across the world fought battles with swords and shields. Because most men were right handed, the most fighting would happen on the right of the soldiers. Of course, this meant the shield was on the soldier's left arm. Thusly the left side of the soldier became the defensive side. Armies who were more inclined on bring the fight to their enemies, and found pride in their ability to fight, considered the right of a battle line a place of great honor. Therefore, when your senior is walking on your right, they are in the place of honor.


When an Officer enters a room with enlisted soldiers in it, the room is called to attention. Should the room be filled with officers however, the room is not to be called to attention. When a room of lower officers has a senior officer walk in, it is not proper for the command attention to be given. Therefore a problem remains of how to get the officers to assume the position when a senior officer enters...

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