11 General Orders for the Navy

Instructor: Erin Krcatovich

Erin teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in Political Science, Public Policy, and Public Administration and has a PhD in Political Science.

This lesson reviews the 11 General Orders of the Navy, which all sailors must learn as part of their military training, including the background, purpose, and language of these orders.

General Orders for the Navy: An Introduction

Imagine you have decided to join the Navy. What can you expect from basic training? One important part of your training is understanding and memorizing the 11 General Orders, which explain exactly what you will be expected to do when you are standing guard as a sentry. A sentry is a person who guards a particular location. For example, sentries guard the deck of a ship, docks, airplane hangars, and military bases. When you serve sentry duty, you must remain alert and observant, obeying orders without distraction until you are relieved from the post by the next sentry.

General orders apply to all sentries, no matter where he or she serves, and explain the proper behavior for a sentry. Guard duty involves standing at attention and focusing on observing potential threats in a given area for a predetermined period of time. It is important to know these general orders backwards and forwards in order to react immediately to any issues that might arise. For this reason, all new recruits must memorize these orders and recite them whenever asked by a commanding officer.

Purpose of General Orders

General orders are constant and apply to all sentries, regardless of the situation. In contrast, special orders are specific to the time and place of a given sentry duty. General orders describe how to stand sentry, whereas special orders identify, for example, who the commanding officer will be at a given post. It is important to know the chain of command for each sentry post, as it may affect how you carry out the general orders while on duty. The chain of command explains the order of authority from the President of the United States down to the newest recruit.

11 General Orders of the Navy

The 11 General Orders of the Navy, which all recruits must learn, include the following italicized points. A description of each is given to help you understand these orders, summarized from Chapter 3 of Nonresident Training Courses.

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