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The Oath of Office is a solemn oath taken by officers of the United States Uniformed Services on commissioning. It differs slightly from that of the oath of enlistment that enlisted members recite when they enter the service. It is statutory (i.e. required by law) and is prescribed by Section 3331, Title 5, United States Code[1]. It is traditional for officers to recite the oath upon promotion but as long as the officer's service is continuous this is not actually required.[2] One notable difference between the officer and enlisted oaths is that the oath taken by officers does not include any provision to obey orders; while enlisted personnel are bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice to obey lawful orders, officers in the service of the United States are bound by this oath to disobey any order that violates the Constitution of the United States.[3]

Text of the Oath

I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.[1]

Note that the last sentence is not required to be said if the speaker has a personal or moral objection, as is true of all oaths administered by the United States government. Article Six of the United States Constitution requires that there be no religious test for public office. In addition, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are examples of government policies and agencies preventing discrimination on the basis of religion.

Note also that this is not an oath to defend any specific territory or persons or property. This is an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States.

Note also that there is no duration defined in the Oath. Once taken, it is a lifetime affirmation.

Officers of the National Guard of the various States, however, take an additional oath:

I, [name], do solemly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State (Commonwealth, District, Territory) of ___ against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the Governor of the State (Commonwealth, District, Territory) of ___, that I make this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the Office of [grade] in the Army/Air National Guard of the State (Commonwealth, District, Territory) of ___ upon which I am about to enter, so help me God.[4]

While all Commissioned Officers are commissioned under the authority of the President of the United States with the advice and consent of the United States Senate, Warrant Officers (WO-1) are given a warrant under the authority of their respective Service Chief, National Guard officers are additionally committed to the authority of the governor of their state. They may be activated in the service of their state in time of local or state emergency in addition to Federal activation. Reserve officers may only be activated by the President of the United States.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b 5 U.S.C. § 3331, Oath of Office.
  2. ^ 10 U.S.C. § 626, Acceptance of promotions; oath of office.
  3. ^ Marjorie Cohn; Kathleen Gilberd (2009), Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent, PoliPointPress, p. 16, ISBN 9780981576923, http://books.google.com.ph/books?id=umUbGDYA29UC ;
    ^ Stjepan G. Meštrović (2008), Rules of Engagement?: A Social Anatomy of an American War Crime Operation Iron Triangle, Iraq, Algora Publishing, p. 7, ISBN 9780875866727, http://books.google.com.ph/books?id=NffFKfVotVAC .
  4. ^ Brian L. Bohlman; Col Jeffrey O'Leary (2003). So Help Me God: A Reflection on the Military Oath. So Help Me God Project. p. 99. ISBN 9781930027725. http://books.google.com/books?id=SdmaFv1rlY4C. 
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