On the conduct of a US military officer

  • dtbro

    Posts: 8

    Mar 24, 2015 10:52 PM GMT
    So I commission tomorrow morning. I'm super stoked, but I want to get advice on things I need to avoid. I've done quite a bit of research online, but I could only find much about fraternization. My understanding of that is no romance, no hanky-panky with any enlisted members of any branch. Other than that it tends to be very general 'conduct unbecoming of a military officer' type wording. I'll probably put a shirt on when taking profile pictures, I guess. Any anecdotal advice from you guys? I know in the end it's up to my command, but I'm having difficulty finding guidance.
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    Mar 25, 2015 2:55 AM GMT
    dtbro saidSo I commission tomorrow morning. I'm super stoked, but I want to get advice on things I need to avoid. I've done quite a bit of research online, but I could only find much about fraternization. My understanding of that is no romance, no hanky-panky with any enlisted members of any branch. Other than that it tends to be very general 'conduct unbecoming of a military officer' type wording. I'll probably put a shirt on when taking profile pictures, I guess. Any anecdotal advice from you guys? I know in the end it's up to my command, but I'm having difficulty finding guidance.

    I taught college ROTC in North Dakota, where you live, and advised cadets on these very points.

    I don't know how you received your commission. Direct because of a particular professional degree? Army or Air Force ROTC, or a Navy commissioning program should have already told you what you're asking. But March is an odd month to receive an ROTC commission.

    Yes, fraternization with enlisted is not permitted. You can be on friendly terms, but limited. Anything sexual is not allowed. In fact, even dating among Officers of different ranks is problematic. A Major, for instance, might run into some flak for dating a junior Lieutenant (or a Navy Lt. Cmdr. with an Ensign)

    I'll be glad to discuss with you further in PE. It is indeed a sometimes vague area, with many nuances to the governing regulations.
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    Mar 25, 2015 1:38 PM GMT
    Congrats dude. AF Officer here. As far as the fraternization goes:

    all throughout ROTC all I heard was "DON'T HAVE RELATIONSHIPS WITH ENLISTED". like seriously, it was hammered into our heads every day.

    my first assignment, after I commissioned, my sponsor told me about a Captain who was getting kicked out because he had sent some dirty emails to a young enlisted girl. She send emails back as well, but ultimately he is losing his job and she got a slap on the wrist.

    I was shocked because all I had ever been taught was not to do this, and here the very first thing I heard about my squadron was some fraternization stuff.

    If you have a decent head on your shoulders, a lot of this stuff will come easy for you though. As a young Lieutenant (Ensign, for you Navy folk), young Airmen (Sailors) are infatuated with you. they will ask you a million questions. they will want to be friends with you because you're generally in their same age group.

    But there's definitely a difference between being friendly at work and being friendly outside of work. And ALL enlisted know that if you answer something with, "uhm, that's none of your business" or "I don't think we should be talking about that" they will say, "Yes Sir" and move on with life. It might be kinda awkward for a few minutes but before you know it things are "back to normal".

    If you ever want to, feel free to send me a message and we can talk more. again, congrats on your commission!
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    Mar 25, 2015 3:13 PM GMT
    You can still do shirtless pictures, just keep them in the proper context such as a picture of you shirtless at the beach, or playing a sport shirtless (ie. shirts vs skins), or even a professional-looking shirtless self-portrait (those are very difficult, BTW).

    As for the shirtless mirror selfie, well, IDK, but I personally wouldn't do it unless I could make it look professional.

    25939c18fda686f6e89392ad76b30f36.jpg
  • whytehot

    Posts: 1166

    Mar 25, 2015 3:35 PM GMT
    ^^basically don't do that
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    Mar 25, 2015 4:27 PM GMT
    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

    Yeah. Good luck with that.
    --had such a crush on my LT.
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    Mar 25, 2015 5:45 PM GMT
    dtbro saidSo I commission tomorrow morning. I'm super stoked, but I want to get advice on things I need to avoid. I've done quite a bit of research online, but I could only find much about fraternization. My understanding of that is no romance, no hanky-panky with any enlisted members of any branch. Other than that it tends to be very general 'conduct unbecoming of a military officer' type wording. I'll probably put a shirt on when taking profile pictures, I guess. Any anecdotal advice from you guys? I know in the end it's up to my command, but I'm having difficulty finding guidance.


    I went my entire enlisted "career" (~6 years, 1.5 Navy - where I spent most of my time in an IA slot, and ~5.5 years in the Army) without a relationship or anything else (until almost the end of my ETS).

    Think about it as a job. What you have to do on duty is be a professional. You have a job, everything else is miscelaneous. Off duty, that's when you can have your personal life, and nobody really cares what you do. Just don't make the service look bad. That's all they really care about. They're not looking into your personal life like the Gestapo. Until they hear of a problem, there really isn't any problem.

    When you're deployed, it's not that different. Sure we do lots of random stuff to pass the time, like "who's hotter, Jessica Alba or ...", and off-duty you're hanging out with friends. But I prefered to keep it professional.

    If you do meet someone, keep it out of your direct chain of command; even out of your unit is preferable.

    I was in a unit with fraternization, in our case it was an SSG with a PFC. Everybody knew, and that guy looked like a shitbag. At that unit, I had a lesbian SSG, and nobody gave her any shit. She kept it very professional.

    In officers, I preferred seeing those who used "transformational" leadership - those that would inspire me to follow them, and I followed orders not because I was supposed to, but because they made me *want* to.

    I've had a brand new 1LT take us 15K in the wrong direction, ignoring the advice of NCO-infantry people, because he thought he was high speed.

    Remember, as long as your prefix is LT, you're basically a PFC/SNR/airman basic. Decisions are your job, but take the advice of your NCO's. When they do good, make them look good.

    Also, praise in public, reprimand in private.
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    Mar 25, 2015 6:47 PM GMT
    I'll give you an example of how it works. One time the NCOs who worked for me were having an evening party in one of their homes, civilian dress. Plus they invited their Sergeant friends from throughout this General Officer Command. They ranged in rank from Sergeant Major (E-9) to buck Sergeant (E-5).

    I was a Lt. Colonel at the time, the "Old Man" in Army slang, the senior ranking officer there. Along with a few lower ranking officers. We officers were invited as a courtesy, which I appreciated, atypically having been a Sergeant myself early in my career. But it wasn't a requirement of protocol that we be invited to a private enlisted party, a generous gesture that they did it.

    So I stayed about 30-45 minutes, to be polite, but I knew my presence was a damper on the party. I had to be addressed as "Sir" and everyone was self-conscious and had to be on their best behavior. There's something we used to call "Sergeants' Business" and I knew I was preventing that.

    And who knows, maybe some of them would have wanted to bad-mouth me behind my back. Fine, that's their priviledge as Americans, providing they still obeyed me, and didn't sabotage me.

    So I made my exit, and signaled to the junior officers to do the same. And we left the Sergeants to have thir Sergeants Time together. And that's an example of non-fraternization, and yet still mingling socially.
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    Mar 25, 2015 7:06 PM GMT
    No fraternization with enlisted - ever.

    And you don't say what branch you are in, but if it is the army or marines, learn to rely on your sergeants. They know a hell of a lot more than you about the tasks, can keep you out of trouble, and make things run smoothly.
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    Mar 25, 2015 8:10 PM GMT
    I got the impression that you aren't even allowed to get into a (sexual) relationship with someone in your command (i.e., someone with the same commanding officer) regardless of whether they're enlisted and you're an officer or you're both officers or enlisted. This impression comes from having watched the tv show Carrier that aired on PBS awhile ago. There was a guy and a woman, both enlisted, who got a hotel room together in one port and were caught and got in trouble. It was odd to me to see women on an aircraft carrier; when I was in the Navy back in the 1970s there were no women on combat ships.
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    Mar 25, 2015 8:45 PM GMT
    Lumpyoatmeal saidI got the impression that you aren't even allowed to get into a (sexual) relationship with someone in your command (i.e., someone with the same commanding officer) regardless of whether they're enlisted and you're an officer or you're both officers or enlisted. This impression comes from having watched the tv show Carrier that aired on PBS awhile ago. There was a guy and a woman, both enlisted, who got a hotel room together in one port and were caught and got in trouble. It was odd to me to see women on an aircraft carrier; when I was in the Navy back in the 1970s there were no women on combat ships.


    True. Both are fraternization. Byt O&E level fraternization is arguably worse, because the O-level has more "power".

    However, there are allowances for an O&E to have a relationship if the E will be pursuing commissioning and they will be married within 1 year, as far as I remember on the briefing that day. One, however, will have to change units so they're not working together within the same direct chain of command.
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    Mar 25, 2015 9:41 PM GMT
    Art_Deco saidI'll give you an example of how it works. One time the NCOs who worked for me were having an evening party in one of their homes, civilian dress. Plus they invited their Sergeant friends from throughout this General Officer Command. They ranged in rank from Sergeant Major (E-9) to buck Sergeant (E-5).

    I was a Lt. Colonel at the time, the "Old Man" in Army slang, the senior ranking officer there. Along with a few lower ranking officers. We officers were invited as a courtesy, which I appreciated, atypically having been a Sergeant myself early in my career. But it wasn't a requirement of protocol that we be invited to a private enlisted party, a generous gesture that they did it.

    So I stayed about 30-45 minutes, to be polite, but I knew my presence was a damper on the party. I had to be addressed as "Sir" and everyone was self-conscious and had to be on their best behavior. There's something we used to call "Sergeants' Business" and I knew I was preventing that.

    And who knows, maybe some of them would have wanted to bad-mouth me behind my back. Fine, that's their priviledge as Americans, providing they still obeyed me, and didn't sabotage me.

    So I made my exit, and signaled to the junior officers to do the same. And we left the Sergeants to have thir Sergeants Time together. And that's an example of non-fraternization, and yet still mingling socially.


    Not sure about the US military, but we used to have officers' and SNCOs' exchange drinks and games nights a few times a year. These would alternate between the Officers' Mess and the Sergeants' Mess and were always pretty convivial.

    The fraternization thing is usually enforced within the chain of command, but I came across several non-commissioned/commissioned married or partnered couples during my 25 years' service (always serving in separate chains of command though).

    In one unit I served with, a Lance Corporal on my section was married to the Regimental Sergeant Major (i.e. the highest ranking Warrant Officer) of the same unit, which I thought was very odd and clearly had the potential to create a conflict of interest. I think the CO made an exception, because they were both employed in a specialization which meant they could only serve in one unit at that particular overseas location.
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    Mar 25, 2015 10:10 PM GMT
    JuanPablomv89 said
    Blah blah blah blah blah... Always the same with you Mr. honorable Barack Obama and fat ass Hilary Clinton supporter. Do you need to take viagra to get off?


    If you are not interested in the topic then kindly fuck off.
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    Mar 25, 2015 10:17 PM GMT
    Ex_Mil8 said
    Not sure about the US military, but we used to have officers' and SNCOs' exchange drinks and games nights a few times a year. These would alternate between the Officers' Mess and the Sergeants' Mess and were always pretty convivial.

    The US Army would sometimes have similar functions, at least during my tenure.

    Among our most formal events was an Officers' "Dining In". You wore at least your Dress Blues with black bow tie, though many of us wore our Dress Mess, sorta like a short waiter's jacket, with miniature medals, the whole nine yards, with gold braid shoulder knots, etc.

    And it was common to invite the most senior enlisted soldier in the command, typically a Command Sergeant Major (E-9), the highest enlisted rank the US Army has. There is a President of the Mess who presides over the function, usually some mid-level Officer, and a Mister Vice, the most junior of the Lieutenants.

    The whole thing is very ritualized. Mister Vice sits at his own table, and assigns silly penalties to anyone who violates the Rules of the Mess. Even General Officers are not exempt, and must obey this Lieutenant. Yet I can't remember ever seeing the Command Sergeant Major assigned a penalty - he's kinda off limits, at least at the Dining Ins I attended.

    US Officers are legally prohibited from abusing the enlisted ranks, despite what you might imagine from Hollywood movies. So we just abused each other. icon_rolleyes.gif

    "Mister Vice! I rise to a point of order!"

    "What is your point of order, Major?"

    "I note that Captain Smith's wine glass is not charged." (The Rules of the Mess required that wine glasses be charged [filled] at all times)

    "Agreed. Captain Smith, you will fully charge all the glasses in the Mess. And then sing a song of your choosing to entertain us, and toast the President of the Mess with your own glass."

    "Yes, Mister Vice!"

    Kinda sophomoric, and I'm not really sure why we carried on like that. Maybe mocking the military rigidity under which we functioned, I dunno.
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    Mar 26, 2015 1:02 AM GMT
    Ex_Mil8 said
    JuanPablomv89 said
    Blah blah blah blah blah... Always the same with you Mr. honorable Barack Obama and fat ass Hilary Clinton supporter. Do you need to take viagra to get off?


    If you are not interested in the topic then kindly fuck off.


    Yeah, who says shit like that.
  • Suetonius

    Posts: 1842

    Mar 26, 2015 1:19 AM GMT
    JuanPablomv89 said
    Art_Deco said


    Blah blah blah blah blah... Always the same with you Mr. honorable Barack Obama and fat ass Hilary Clinton supporter. Do you need to take viagra to get off?


    And WTF does anyone care about your opinions about american politics, as from all appearances, you are not from the US?

    As to viagra - maybe you should try some - it seems you could benefit from getting off a lot more often.
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    Mar 26, 2015 1:25 AM GMT
    Suetonius said
    As to viagra - maybe you should try some - it seems you could benefit from getting off a lot more often.

    He could start by getting off the damn computer.
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    Mar 26, 2015 1:41 AM GMT
    I have a feeling OP will have a very short military career.
  • Suetonius

    Posts: 1842

    Mar 26, 2015 1:45 AM GMT
    southbeach1500 said
    Suetonius said
    JuanPablomv89 said
    Art_Deco said


    Blah blah blah blah blah... Always the same with you Mr. honorable Barack Obama and fat ass Hilary Clinton supporter. Do you need to take viagra to get off?


    And WTF does anyone care about your opinions about american politics, as from all appearances, you are not from the US?


    I look forward to you addressing the same remarks at the "meninlove" (Canada) and "Ex_Mil8" (UK) as well. icon_wink.gif


    They are just not as obnoxious as JuanPalbo is.
  • Suetonius

    Posts: 1842

    Mar 26, 2015 1:47 AM GMT
    xrichx saidI have a feeling OP will have a very short military career.


    Does he want to make it a career? He probably only has a 4 year commitment if he is not coming out of one of the academies. But why would you think that? He is just getting started.
  • Suetonius

    Posts: 1842

    Mar 26, 2015 1:54 AM GMT
    southbeach1500 said
    Suetonius said
    southbeach1500 said
    Suetonius said
    JuanPablomv89 said
    Art_Deco said


    Blah blah blah blah blah... Always the same with you Mr. honorable Barack Obama and fat ass Hilary Clinton supporter. Do you need to take viagra to get off?


    And WTF does anyone care about your opinions about american politics, as from all appearances, you are not from the US?


    I look forward to you addressing the same remarks at the "meninlove" (Canada) and "Ex_Mil8" (UK) as well. icon_wink.gif


    They are just not as obnoxious as JuanPalbo is.

    But your point applies to them as well, no?


    As to their opinions about individual politicians, yes.
    But as to american politics in general, no, because they are a both a lot more reasonable and knowledgeable about US politics.
  • oldfart

    Posts: 328

    Mar 26, 2015 3:14 AM GMT
    Congrats, dtbro.
    As many have pointed, you're an officer, so set a good example for everyone else. And make the most of your service and enjoy it.
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    Mar 26, 2015 6:59 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    Ex_Mil8 said
    Not sure about the US military, but we used to have officers' and SNCOs' exchange drinks and games nights a few times a year. These would alternate between the Officers' Mess and the Sergeants' Mess and were always pretty convivial.

    The US Army would sometimes have similar functions, at least during my tenure.

    Among our most formal events was an Officers' "Dining In". You wore at least your Dress Blues with black bow tie, though many of us wore our Dress Mess, sorta like a short waiter's jacket, with miniature medals, the whole nine yards, with gold braid shoulder knots, etc.

    And it was common to invite the most senior enlisted soldier in the command, typically a Command Sergeant Major (E-9), the highest enlisted rank the US Army has. There is a President of the Mess who presides over the function, usually some mid-level Officer, and a Mister Vice, the most junior of the Lieutenants.

    The whole thing is very ritualized. Mister Vice sits at his own table, and assigns silly penalties to anyone who violates the Rules of the Mess. Even General Officers are not exempt, and must obey this Lieutenant. Yet I can't remember ever seeing the Command Sergeant Major assigned a penalty - he's kinda off limits, at least at the Dining Ins I attended.

    US Officers are legally prohibited from abusing the enlisted ranks, despite what you might imagine from Hollywood movies. So we just abused each other. icon_rolleyes.gif

    "Mister Vice! I rise to a point of order!"

    "What is your point of order, Major?"

    "I note that Captain Smith's wine glass is not charged." (The Rules of the Mess required that wine glasses be charged [filled] at all times)

    "Agreed. Captain Smith, you will fully charge all the glasses in the Mess. And then sing a song of your choosing to entertain us, and toast the President of the Mess with your own glass."

    "Yes, Mister Vice!"

    Kinda sophomoric, and I'm not really sure why we carried on like that. Maybe mocking the military rigidity under which we functioned, I dunno.


    Yes, we had dining-in and dining-out nights. It was good to get dressed up in best bib and tucker occasionally. Some of the older British Army regiments have some weird mess customs. Here is a 1989 BBC TV documentary that includes some of them:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00jvbqm/in-the-highest-tradition-episode-1