The Army has its own customs, both official and social. Some have been handed down from the distant past while others are of comparatively recent origin. Those customs that endure stand on their own merits. As a long established social organization, the Army observes a number of customs that add to the interest, pleasure, and graciousness of Army life.
A custom is an established practice. Customs include positive actions-things you do, and taboos-things you avoid. All established arts, trades, and professions, all races of people, all nations, and even different sections of the same nation have their own practices and customs by which they govern a part of their lives.
Many Army customs compliment procedures required by military courtesy, while others add to the graciousness of garrison life. The breach of some Army customs merely brands the offender as ignorant, careless, or ill bred. Violations of other Army customs, however, will bring official censure or disciplinary action. The customs of the Army are its common law. These are a few:
- Never criticize the Army or a leader in public.
- Never go “over the heads” of superiors-don’t jump the chain of command.
- Never offer excuses.
- Never “wear” a superior’s rank by saying something like, “the first sergeant wants this done now,” when in fact the first sergeant said no such thing. Speak with your own voice.
- Never turn and walk away to avoid giving the hand salute.
- Never run indoors or pretend you don’t hear (while driving, for example) to avoid standing reveille or retreat.
- Never appear in uniform while under the influence of alcohol.
- If you don’t know the answer to a superior’s question, you will never go wrong with the response, “I don’t know sir, but I’ll find out.”