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Saluting Civilians - Military Etiquette?  
User currently offlineComorin From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4896 posts, RR: 16
Posted (5 years 2 months 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 11175 times:

I noticed that the POTUS salutes the Marine fguard as he exits Marine One. Isn't this incorrect protocol? Aren't you just supposed to stiffen up in recognition, like standing at attention? Basically, you are not supposed to salute if you are not in uniform, AFAIK.

Servicemen, thanks for clearing this up.

42 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineYOWza From Canada, joined Jul 2005, 4882 posts, RR: 15
Reply 1, posted (5 years 2 months 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 11170 times:



Quoting Comorin (Thread starter):
Basically, you are not supposed to salute if you are not in uniform

I recall seeing Dubya do it too although I always thought the same as your with regards to be being in uniform.

YOWza



12A whenever possible.
User currently offlineWhappeh From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 1563 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (5 years 2 months 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 11159 times:



Quoting Comorin (Thread starter):
Basically, you are not supposed to salute if you are not in uniform, AFAIK.

Wouldn't the President, who is Commander in Chief of the military (and thus in the military) over ride that? Every President has done it that I can remember.



-Travel now, journey infinitely.
User currently offlineShyFlyer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (5 years 2 months 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 11131 times:

You are not required to salute if you or the higher ranking officer are not in uniform. Some service members do salute a higher ranking officer when out of uniform as a courtesy, but it is not required.

As for the POTUS returning a salute, they'll never be in a military uniform while holding the office obviously, so they do it out of courtesy as well. However, it is required that service members salute the POTUS.


User currently offlineComorin From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4896 posts, RR: 16
Reply 4, posted (5 years 2 months 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 11123 times:



Quoting Whappeh (Reply 2):
Wouldn't the President, who is Commander in Chief of the military (and thus in the military) over ride that? Every President has done it that I can remember.



Quoting Whappeh (Reply 2):
As for the POTUS returning a salute, they'll never be in a military uniform while holding the office obviously, so they do it out of courtesy as well. However, it is required that service members salute the POTUS.

My point is that even if you are a General in civilian clothing you do not salute, even as a courtesy. You either brace or stand at attention. How do I find out for sure? Perhaps there is an exception for heads of State.


User currently offlineDL021 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 11447 posts, RR: 75
Reply 5, posted (5 years 2 months 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 11104 times:
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It has been a longstanding tradition for the President to return the honor, and as Commander in Chief he is always to be saluted in situations requiring a salute. Same goes for SECDEF since he is also number 2 in everyone's chain of command.

There is no one of sufficient rank to tell the President he cannot return the salutes, so there you go.



Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
User currently offlineShyFlyer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (5 years 2 months 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 11104 times:

Quoting Comorin (Reply 4):
How do I find out for sure?

You could Google for the regs of the various services, but that might only tell you when saluting is forbidden.

Quoting Comorin (Reply 4):
Perhaps there is an exception for heads of State.

The only one that I'm aware of is POTUS (probably VPOTUS as well). EDIT: SECDEF as well (thanks DLO21!)

In addition, Medal of Honor recipients rate a salute as well. They, like the President, are not required to return the salute, but will likely do so anyway.

[Edited 2009-06-29 10:15:01]

User currently offlineDragon6172 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 1202 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (5 years 2 months 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 11088 times:



Quoting Comorin (Reply 4):
My point is that even if you are a General in civilian clothing you do not salute, even as a courtesy. You either brace or stand at attention.

I have never seen a general in civilian clothes, or uniform for that matter, stiffen up or brace to return a salute. In uniform they will salute you back, out of uniform they may salute you or they may just acknowledge and return your greeting.

Quoting Comorin (Thread starter):
Isn't this incorrect protocol? Aren't you just supposed to stiffen up in recognition, like standing at attention?

It almost sounds like you are talking about rendering a salute for colors or the national anthem. If the anthem plays or the color guard passes and you are not in uniform then you stand at attention (no hand over the heart).

I am pretty sure every President has returned the salute of the Marine One crew chief.



Phrogs Phorever
User currently offlineComorin From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4896 posts, RR: 16
Reply 8, posted (5 years 2 months 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 11037 times:

Thank you all for educating me on this topic - I'm just a humble, transplanted civilian!

I would be curious if this is also true in the case of Her Majesty's Forces - anybody from the other side of the pond reading this?

Quoting DL021 (Reply 5):
There is no one of sufficient rank to tell the President he cannot return the salutes, so there you go.

well, that settles it!  Smile

Quoting Dragon6172 (Reply 7):
out of uniform they may salute you or they may just acknowledge and return your greeting.

I didn't realize U.S. General Staff could salute when not in uniform.


User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21571 posts, RR: 55
Reply 9, posted (5 years 2 months 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 11026 times:



Quoting Whappeh (Reply 2):
Wouldn't the President, who is Commander in Chief of the military (and thus in the military)

But he's not in the military. One of the very important things about the US government is that the military is under the control of the civilians, not the other way around.

The president is the Commander in Chief, but he is not a member of the military (even if he once served).

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineDXing From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (5 years 2 months 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 10969 times:



Quoting Dragon6172 (Reply 7):
I am pretty sure every President has returned the salute of the Marine One crew chief.

All except one, once. He took so much grief for it he never did it again.

Quoting Mir (Reply 9):
The president is the Commander in Chief, but he is not a member of the military (even if he once served).

Regardless he is at the head of the military food chain. Go into just about any HQ and you will see his picture followed by the SECDEF, followed by the secretary of the branch of that service, followed by the military head of that service, so forth and so on down to the level of the HQ you are in.


User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21571 posts, RR: 55
Reply 11, posted (5 years 2 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 10889 times:



Quoting DXing (Reply 10):
Regardless he is at the head of the military food chain.

Never said he wasn't, but he's still not a member of the military.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineDXing From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (5 years 2 months 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 10876 times:



Quoting Mir (Reply 11):
Never said he wasn't, but he's still not a member of the military.

Nor is the Queen of England I believe, yet is she not titular head of the military just as our President is? Just because the don't ordinarily wear, or aren't issued a uniform with rank on it does not mean they are not considered a vital part of the military and are not given the respect their individual titles deserve.


User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21571 posts, RR: 55
Reply 13, posted (5 years 2 months 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 10867 times:



Quoting DXing (Reply 12):
Just because the don't ordinarily wear, or aren't issued a uniform with rank on it does not mean they are not considered a vital part of the military and are not given the respect their individual titles deserve.

I don't disagree.

If you notice, my original response was to this:

Quoting Whappeh (Reply 2):
Wouldn't the President, who is Commander in Chief of the military (and thus in the military)

Which is not true. The president is certainly the commander of the military, and that position entitles him to respect by members of the military, but he himself is not a member of the military. If he were, then we'd have a country run by the military. But we don't - all three branches of the government are civilian.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineDXing From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (5 years 2 months 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 10858 times:



Quoting Mir (Reply 13):
Which is not true. The president is certainly the commander of the military, and that position entitles him to respect by members of the military, but he himself is not a member of the military. If he were, then we'd have a country run by the military. But we don't - all three branches of the government are civilian.

He is the C in C, a civilian member of the military same as the SecDef and the Secretaries of the indvidual branches. Again, simply because he does not hold a military rank or not issued a uniform does not mean he is not in the chain of command in the military. You are correct that if he was we would have a military run government but the Founders saw the problem with that and worded the Constitution to ensure civilian control. However, that being said, if the President, on the day of his inauguration, gives the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs a legal order, the response is Yes Sir and the order is carried out just as if a brand new butter bar gave an order to a grizzled old Command Sargeant Major. The President salutes the military out of courtesy, the military salutes the President out of regulation.


User currently offlineDragon6172 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 1202 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (5 years 2 months 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 10835 times:



Quoting Comorin (Reply 8):
I didn't realize U.S. General Staff could salute when not in uniform

They are generals, have been in a long time, and pretty much do what they want. There is not a salute etiquette police out there, and if there was, what MP would dare tell a general that he was incorrect?
A bit of an extreme and sarcastic repsonse, but you get my drift. I do not believe the salute is sacred. A general or the President returning a salute when they are not in uniform does nothing to diminish what a salute stands for; it is respect and acknowledgement of a chain of command. Personally I would rather them return a salute out of uniform than give me a thumbs up or some other ridiculous gesture.



Phrogs Phorever
User currently offlineDL021 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 11447 posts, RR: 75
Reply 16, posted (5 years 2 months 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 10802 times:
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Quoting ShyFlyer (Reply 6):
In addition, Medal of Honor recipients rate a salute as well. They, like the President, are not required to return the salute, but will likely do so anyway.

Medal of Honor recipients invariably return salutes, although there are none remaining on active duty (that I know about) so it's sort of up in the air. Common military courtesy requires that salutes are to be returned, although as a previous poster mentioned out-of-uniform recipients occasionally are made uncomfortable by out of uniform salutes and simply acknowledge the courtesy via other means (a wave and handshake often does the trick).

Quoting Mir (Reply 9):
The president is the Commander in Chief, but he is not a member of the military (even if he once served).

Dave, this is one of those things....the President is a member of the military in that he's the Commander in Chief. He and the SECDEF are the only civilian members of the chain-of-command, but the rank they hold is specific and due all the privileges and obligations of command.

Our military is certainly led by civilians at the top. They are certainly members of the military. And they oughta be....they're making decisions concerning life and death.



Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21571 posts, RR: 55
Reply 17, posted (5 years 2 months 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 10790 times:



Quoting DXing (Reply 14):

I get the feeling that all we're really arguing is semantics. I agree with everything you say regarding status and respect due him, and the fact that he gives the orders, etc. I just don't consider him to be an actual part of the military. His position was bestowed on him by popular vote of the people, something you can't really say about any member of the military.

Quoting DL021 (Reply 16):
Dave, this is one of those things....

Yeah, it probably is. He's both part of the military and not part of the military. Sort of like the whole Holy Trinity "God is one thing and three things at the same time" concept.*

-Mir

* Just to make things perfectly clear, my use of that analogy in no way constitutes a statement that Obama is God. That would just be silly.  Wink



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineDeltaMD11 From United States of America, joined Dec 2002, 1701 posts, RR: 34
Reply 18, posted (5 years 2 months 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 10769 times:

The President, as CiC of the Armed Forces, is rendered full US military honors wherever he goes and it is entirely appropriate for him to salute back. This is the same when the President enters a room in a military atmosphere. The first person recognizing the President should call the room to attention, where it would be customary for him to order an "at ease" or "as you were" command to personnel present.

To touch on some other ideas that have been brought up, the standards saluting while out of uniform varies by branch as far as I am aware. I know that Army wise it is acceptable to salute an officer out of uniform, though most folks rarely do it and in my experience more something that is cordially shared by officers who are acquainted but are of different rank. I was having a conversation with one of my Marine Corps buddies a few weeks ago on this same topic and he found it odd that this practice would be acceptable. Regardless, I don't render a salute out of uniform and on the same don't expect to be saluted in civies. Just my perspective, hope this helps.

Bryan



Too often we ... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. - John Fitzgerald Kennedy
User currently offlineRFields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7607 posts, RR: 32
Reply 19, posted (5 years 2 months 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 10760 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 11):
but he's still not a member of the military.

You are correct that he is not a member of the military, but he is a member of the military Chain of Command.

He quite literally commands the military forces of the United States and has the legal authority to countermand orders, change any standing military orders, or issue new orders down to the individual level.

The US Constitution defines his role

Quote:
..shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.

General George Washington was appointed Commander in Chief by the Continental Congress - the only Commander in Chief who as not President at the time.

During his second administration, President Washington did assume field command of a federalized militia force of about 15,000 and led them in helping put down the Whiskey Rebellion.

President James Madison assumed personal command of field troops in battle during the British attacks on Washington.

President Obama has the authority to do so if he so chooses.

While the President not being a member of the military is a very important legal distinction, to members of the US military, he is part of their command structure - and rates a salute as being senior in rank to even the highest general/ admiral.

[Edited 2009-06-30 19:15:04]

User currently offlineComorin From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4896 posts, RR: 16
Reply 20, posted (5 years 2 months 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 10758 times:



Quoting DeltaMD11 (Reply 18):
Regardless, I don't render a salute out of uniform and on the same don't expect to be saluted in civies. Just my perspective, hope this helps.

Bryan

Thanks, that's exactly what I was looking for.

It seems to me now that saluting is a tradition as much as a rule, and that what's common practice in one circumstance may be quite different in another.


User currently offlineDeltaMD11 From United States of America, joined Dec 2002, 1701 posts, RR: 34
Reply 21, posted (5 years 2 months 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 10747 times:



Quoting Comorin (Reply 20):
It seems to me now that saluting is a tradition as much as a rule, and that what's common practice in one circumstance may be quite different in another.

Saluting is very much that, a tradition and a rule. It is perhaps one of the oldest signs of respect leading back to the Romans whom we adopted this practice from. I don't get too ruffled up if for some reason I am not saluted while on duty, on the other hand some guys really get their rocks off by locking guys up and making a scene out of it. I always look at the salute as a very basic measure of a person's level of professionalism and sense of respect toward a Commissioned Officer/Warrant Officer. I tend not to make a huge deal if I am not saluted while on duty, simple corrections are usually most effective if I make one and I have an impeccable memory for faces so I'll store the person away in the back of my mind as lacking basic discipline. Again, that's simply how I look at it.



Too often we ... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. - John Fitzgerald Kennedy
User currently offlineHercPPMX From United States of America, joined May 2008, 196 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (5 years 2 months 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 10742 times:

Salutes are used to acknowledge, Warrant officers, and Officers, as well as used as a sign of respect, In theory I could salute another enlisted member, while not a common practice it would still be deemed okay.


C-130; it's a love-hate relationship
User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 29795 posts, RR: 58
Reply 23, posted (5 years 2 months 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 10725 times:

Returning a salute to a 5 year old you thinks you are the greatest war hero ever...priceless.

And brings a smile.

Quoting HercPPMX (Reply 22):
In theory I could salute another enlisted member

Depends who's military you are in at the time. Some don't make a distinction between officers and enlisted in this regard.



OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21571 posts, RR: 55
Reply 24, posted (5 years 2 months 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 10713 times:



Quoting RFields5421 (Reply 19):
You are correct that he is not a member of the military, but he is a member of the military Chain of Command.

I could definitely go with that.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
25 Euclid : Interesting how different country's military etiquette will differ. From my days in the South African Defence Force the rules were as they would proba
26 YYZatcboy : Here in Canada only Commissioned officers get salutes. If the person who would be getting the salute is not in uniform or does not have their headdres
27 Comorin : Exactly! All Ex-Commonwealth Armed Forces follow that rule, which is why I was confused by POTUS saluting. I grew up in India, which as you know gets
28 ManuCH : In case anyone is interested: in Switzerland, members of the army in uniform don't salute civilians (or other members of the military dressed in civil
29 Comorin : I suspect that the US Military is the lone exception given it's 'common-man' militia origins? Rank and Nobility were much abhorred in the fledgling d
30 Jetstar : When I was in the Air Force, many moons ago, I was taught that we were saluting the uniform, not the person. On base if one of the Generals was drivin
31 HercPPMX : Combat Zones, its not a very nice thing to salute officers then. It's the one time they take offense to it.
32 L-188 : But the snipers on the wire love it!
33 Ken777 : When I was in the Navy I was very quick to salute and appreciated the return, sometimes by some rather senior (for me) officers. I always considered i
34 FlyingSicilian : National Guard members are normally required to salute their respective state governors. As noted above, in the USAF a marked general's car is saluted
35 DXing : Do you perhaps mean the "rank" and not the person? Lots of uniforms wandering around a military base on any given day.
36 CXB77L : If memory serves me right from my time in the Australian Air Force Cadets (someone please correct me if I'm wrong), Australian Defence Force members
37 MD11Engineer : Well, with basically all male Swiss citizens being militia soldiers in the Swiss Army, you wouldn´t be able to stop saluting if you were to do it in
38 DeltaMD11 : I believe that Sen. Lindsey Graham still maintains a commission in the Air Force Reserve as a COL. That's about as close as it it'll ever get.
39 FlyDeltaJets87 : As has been mentioned before, the President is the Commander in Chief. That's why he's saluted. The President does not wear a uniform since he (or she
40 Comorin : Thank you for making that clear. So going back to my original post, should the POTUS return the Marine's salute as he leaves Marine One? I know the P
41 RFields5421 : Since the Commander in Chief - President of the US - is not a member of the military, there is no correct military protocol. It is up to the descreti
42 Comorin : Thank you. That clears it up for me - if it's part of tradition then I understand.
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