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The purpose of this essay is to explain the basic principles and importance of military and professional bearing, even while off duty or on social media. Having a professional military bearing can bring pride and honor to a team, foster discipline, and set an example. A Soldier’s looks and conduct while on duty and in uniform plays a key role. But they must also keep this bearing while off duty as well, from how they conduct themselves in public, to posting on social media, to taking part in political movements.
United States Army soldiers must remain professional to bring credit to themselves and the Army as a whole.
First, professionalism and bearing are a part of what makes the U.S. Army work. Leaders who conduct themselves professionally create esprit de corps. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Esprit de corps as” the familiar spirit existing in the members of a group and inspiring enthusiasm, devotion, and strong regard for the honor of the group” A leader must encourage this familiar spirit by always doing the right thing.
They must take pride in themselves, so their team members have someone to look at and do the same. A group is only as strong as its weakest link, and a member who does not display the proper bearing could bring down the whole team. To keep a professional bearing, one must keep the discipline to do so. Soldiers foster discipline not only for themselves but for their teams by setting the example. Leaders display the proper discipline by taking pride in their appearance and demeanor; their team members will look to them for this guidance.
By leading from the front, a true leader will guide their team to conduct themselves appropriately. Showing a soldier ‘what right looks like’ will help foster their pride, discipline, and how to set the example themselves while on duty.
Moreover, military bearing is how a soldier represents themselves daily. How they look, how fit they are, and how they adhere to their military courtesies all play a part. Maintaining a proper military appearance is a big part of professionalism. According to AR 670-1, “Proper wear of the Army uniform is a matter of personal pride for all Soldiers.” Army personnel should dress to the standard; doing so would not only build confidence but also gain the confidence of others. Leaders cannot correctly lead their troops when they have no trust in them because they look unfit for duty. Physical fitness and body composition is another aspect of proper appearance, and it can significantly affect how others view a soldier. AR 600-9 states, “Soldiers will meet Army body composition standards, as prescribed in this regulation, for the individual and collective benefit to themselves, their unit, and the entire Army.” Physically overweight soldier brings down the reputation of themselves their unit and Army as a whole. Using proper military courtesies shows respect for rank and leadership. If a Non-Commissioned Officer did not salute an Officer who passes him, it would make the NCO look like he lacks respect and would make his subordinates question his leadership abilities. The way a soldier conducts themselves while on duty is essential in professional military bearing.
However, military bearing extends to when Army personnel are off duty as well. Soldiers conduct themselves off duty and in public, on social media, and at political events, all require military bearing and strict discipline. If Soldiers do not keep the proper professionalism, there could be punitive action under The Uniform Code of Military Justice. Following local laws, Service Members can drink off duty, but they still need to conduct themselves and remain disciplined. If a Soldier has too many alcoholic drinks and acts in a disorderly manner, they discredit the United States Army. Under the Uniform Code of Military (UCMJ), this disorderly conduct can have punitive action against the soldier. Under Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military about drunk and disorderly conduct, “That, under the circumstances, the conduct of the accused was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.” Soldiers need to remember their discipline while using sites such as Facebook, Tiktok, and even Tinder. Posts on social media that disrespect superiors can also be punishable under Article 134 of the UCMJ. These posts bring discredit not only to the individual but also to the United States Army itself. Personnel needs to keep their discipline and Military bearing while posting on these sites. Service members must also display discipline while expressing their political views. Soldiers cannot wear a uniform to a political rally and can bring discredit to the United States Army by making it seem partisan in political stance. Army personnel must keep their military bearing even while off duty, online, and out in public.
Given these points, a general understanding of the principles and the importance of military bearing, not only while on duty but also off duty, should be clearer. A leader should bring pride to their team and represent the United States Army through their actions. The way a Soldier wears their uniform stays in shape and extends proper courtesies also reflect on their image and the image of the branch. If a service member loses their bearing while in public or even on social media, it would discredit the United States Army and result in punitive action. Every United States Army Soldier represents the branch, even when they are not wearing the flag on their sleeve.
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