An Officer's Oath

If the Progressive/Socialist agenda of the Democrats continues to run unchecked, the American military will face a unique problem in coming years. Whereas many nations’ military officers swear allegiance to their respective homelands, leaders and people, American officers take a very unique oath. We do not swear allegiance to a land mass, a president, a legislature, or a court system. We do not even swear to defend our land or our people. Officers do not swear to obey the orders of superiors, not even the president.


Here’s the oath I took when sworn into the United States Air Force:


I, (state your name), having been appointed a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, that I bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that I take this obligation freely with no mental reservation or purpose of evasion and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office I’m about to enter. So help me God.


United States military officers swear allegiance not to a country or a man, but to a document and the ideals it represents. This is why many American soldiers tend to be conservative.  It is in our very nature to bristle at and defend against any attempt by politicians to subvert the Constitution of the United States, the ideals we swore to protect and so many died to preserve.


Realistically, most of the Constitution deals with the organization of the three branches of the Government, election procedures, confirmation of Supreme Court Justices, representation of the States, voting rules, etc. Nowhere in the Constitution does it mandate capitalism, the free market, supply and demand, stock and commodity exchanges, nor any other economic ideology.  Our capitalist, free-enterprise system of economy is a direct result of our freedoms, our unalienable rights. They are tangible manifestations of liberty. The Constitution does mandate the political structure of the representative republic.


There is very little in the main body of the Constitution for American military officers to worry about. The Liberal Progressives stretch things a bit, but the main body is not their target. The main target for the Progressives is that pesky Bill of Rights. Here is where a conscientious American military officer may have pause. With the steady erosion of the First, Second, Fourth and Fifth Amendments, as well as the virtual burial of the 10th Amendment, the American military officer will find it more and more difficult to rationalize the actions of one of our political parties.


At some point, men of conscience will have to ask themselves if they are truly upholding the oath they took. At the outset of the Civil War many officers had to make some very difficult decisions in a very short time. I’m sure many of them initially downplayed the threat, since it was coming from within, rather than from a foreign power. The truth was the Civil War was as much a threat to the United States as any war we fought before or since.  The same dilemma may occur in our near future.


American military officers are not required to follow illegal orders, and they may be prosecuted for crimes if they do. If the officer faces tough decisions, then the enlisted man faces something even worse. The enlisted oath of office does say “I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” 


In the world of military ethics, the officers are free to determine the legality of an order. The world of the enlisted man is far more ambiguous. The officer may win his court martial if he can convince the jury he was refusing an illegal order. The enlisted man or woman should be off the hook for following an illegal order, but in reality they are not. Though the intent of the oath is to provide a legal barrier between the officers and the enlisted, in reality, if an officer orders his enlisted troops to massacre a village, the enlisted soldier who follows orders may be tried for war crimes. The catch in the enlisted oath is interpretation of “according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” The enlisted man is still on the hook.


So what happens when orders from above run contrary to the Constitution of the United States? In a foreign war this is rarely a problem, since enemy combatants are not guaranteed life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness under the US Constitution. In a civil war or insurrection, the legality of orders will come into play. If the military is called in to break up a Tea Party rally, or shut down  a conservative radio station, or arrest political opposition members, officers and enlisted alike will have to choose—and choices will be made.


Many of my friends have speculated that military officers of integrity will desert rather than violate their allegiance to the Constitution. Many will, but many won’t. The same is true of the enlisted troops. This will leave gaps in the military ranks, which you can be sure Government will fill with the desperate, the unemployed, the unprofessional, maybe the radical, perhaps even the criminal.


This will put the American public in the uncomfortable position of not being able to trust their own military forces. The sight of an Abrams tank in the town square, a B-52 circling overhead, even a soldier on foot patrolling the streets, will strike fear in the hearts of American citizens. We just won’t know if we’re seeing defenders of freedom or harbingers of tyranny.


If the economy collapses some day and rioting breaks out (like in Greece) as people fight for scarce resources, you can bet the farm the National Guard, even the active duty military, will be deployed to keep the peace. When you roll up to the checkpoint and are staring down the barrel of that M-16—it may be a coin toss as to whether you can trust the man behind the trigger.


Friend of Liberty