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Countersigns and Parole Words



  1. The commanding
    officer (para 4 a) directs the
    use of the countersign and
    parole word.

    1. The countersign
      is used in combat and, when
      necessary, in garrison.

    2. The parole (word) is used to
      check on the countersign when
      inspecting guards.

    3. Any person in time of war who
      discloses the parole word or
      countersign to any person not
      entitled to receive it, shall be
      punished by death or such other
      punishment as a court-martial
      may direct (Article 101, Uniform
      Code of Military Justice).

Whom Authorized:

  1. If a countersign
    and parole word are prescribed,
    they are devised by the highest
    headquarters within a zone or
    area. This authority (app F) may
    be delegated to subordinate
    units so they can designate a
    countersign or parole
    immediately, if it becomes
    necessary; however, these units
    notify higher headquarters of
    such action without delay.

Selecting Countersigns —
Challenge and Password:

  1. The choice of
    words or sounds is made with
    care. Words are selected that
    are difficult for the
    enemy to pronounce and do not
    indicate the expected answer.
    When sounds are selected for use
    they should be distinctive and
    similar to those normally heard
    in the locality.

  2. The use of the countersign is
    rigidly controlled and the
    initiative to use it rests with
    the challenger (guard). Mutual
    identification is essential;
    therefore, the person challenged
    should not give the password if
    he fails to recognize the
    challenge. The challenger
    (guard) will use only the
    challenge, never the password,
    except as prescribed in
    titled "Using Parole Words"
    found below

  3. Positive identification by the
    guard of all persons claiming
    authority to pass is the main
    consideration. Persons whose
    sole means of identification is
    the password are not allowed to
    pass. If there is a reasonable
    doubt of the challenged person’s
    authority to pass, even if he
    gives the password, he
    apprehended and turned over to
    the commander on the relief for
    further investigation.

Using Countersigns:

  1. When a challenge
    and password are prescribed, the
    challenge is given by the guard
    after the person is advanced to
    be recognized. The password is
    given by the challenged person.
    The challenge and password are
    given in a low tone to prevent
    them from being overheard by
    others. For example, a guard at
    an ammunition dump observes a
    group approaching his post.
    While the group is far enough
    away (for the guard to take
    effective measures should the
    group rush him) he calls “Halt!
    Who is there?” After receiving
    an answer (such as “Sergeant

    Black, Delta Company”)
    indicating the group is friendly
    and that it may be authorized to
    pass, the guard says, “Advance,
    Sergeant Black, to be
    recognized.” When Sergeant Black
    reaches a point where the
    challenge, spoken in a low tone,
    can be heard only by Sergeant
    Black, the guard again says,
    “Halt!” Then he gives the
    challenge in a low tone (e.g.
    “Rainbow”). After receiving the
    correct password from Sergeant
    Black (e.g. “Archer”) and
    otherwise satisfying himself
    that Sergeant Black is
    authorized to pass, the guard
    says, “Advance, Sergeant Black.”
    The guard then tells Sergeant
    Black to bring up his men and
    identify them as they pass.

Parole Words:

  1. The commanding
    officer directs the use of a
    parole word. It is a secret word
    imparted only to those persons
    entitled to inspect the guard
    and to commanders and members of
    the guard. It is used as a check
    on the countersign.

Using Parole Words:

  1. The parole word
    is used by authorized persons to
    inspect the guards. When the
    inspector gives a guard the
    parole word, the guard gives the
    inspector both parts (the
    challenge and the password) of
    the countersign. The guard does
    not use the password at any
    other time. The parole word may
    be used before or after the
    hours of challenging; the
    inspector gives the parole word
    when he is close enough to
    prevent it from being overheard
    by unauthorized persons. Upon
    hearing the parole word, the
    guard knows
    that he is being inspected by an
    authorize person. The guard then
    repeats both parts of the
    countersign (challenge and

  2. When used during the hours of
    challenging, the inspector does
    not give the parole word until
    he is advanced to a position
    near the guard. After being
    advanced to be recognized, the
    inspector would then use the
    parole word and the guard gives
    him both parts of the
    countersign. If the guard
    challenges the inspector with
    the first part of the
    countersign, the inspector
    answers with the parole word
    instead of the password. The
    guard then gives the password to
    the inspector. If the inspector
    does not wish to reveal his
    official capacity while
    inspecting the guard he gives an
    answer such as “friend” when
    halted by the guard. Examples of
    using the parole word: The
    countersign is “Rainbow-Archer”
    and the parole word is
    “Sunshine.” During daylight
    hours the officer of the day (or
    any person authorized to inspect
    the guard) approaches a guard.
    The guard salutes the officer at
    the appropriate time. When the
    officer of the day is close
    enough to the guard he gives the
    parole word by saying “Sunshine”
    in a low tone to prevent it from
    being overheard. The guard
    answers by saying “Rainbow-
    Archer.” This is to insure that
    the guard knows both parts of
    the countersign.

  3. If the guard halts the officer
    of the day during the hours for
    challenging and receives the
    reply “friend,” then the guard
    says, “Advance, friend, to be
    recognized.” When the officer of
    the day is close enough to be
    recognized, the guard again
    halts him. The officer of the
    day then says, “Sunshine.” The

    guard answers “Rainbow-Archer.”
    If the guard challenges the
    officer of the day with the
    challenge he says, “Halt,
    Rainbow.” The officer of the day
    answers, “Sunshine,” giving the
    parole word instead of the
    password. The guard then
    answers, “Archer.”

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