Military branches all have stipulations regarding the manner of addressing an individual. For the most part, everyone in the military will call each other by their ranks or last names as per the instructions. But, as personnel remains in the military, they’ll start to notice that not everybody plays by those same rules. As familiarity arises, so does the comfortability around one another and with that comes a question which needs to be asked. Why do the upper echelons of the chain of command feel at ease calling each other by their first name, but have an issue with the lower ranks doing the same? How come sailors of junior pay grades E-1 through E-6 regularly overhear the staff personnel say their first names when addressing each other, but can’t play by similar rules?

The short answer is simple; their rules are not your rules. But, that type of answer is simply not correct on a moral/integral level. The military, and much more specifically The Navy who’s creed includes the words honor, courage, and commitment likes to reiterate the importance of having integrity when applying these three values to all actions taken during operations both inside and outside the group. Integrity in layman’s terms is basically taking the correct action even when people aren’t looking, commonly expressed as “you are what you are in the dark”.

People can’t be honorable, courageous, and committed if they’re picking and choosing which of the rules to follow. Even if they’re not in the presence of lower ranks, they should still abide by those core values that they preach on a daily basis. But, of course, there are those out there who will justify their actions.

Phrases such as “they’ve earned the right to do as they please” or “they’re experienced enough to know which rules are important”, yet this doesn’t excuse the type of behavior displayed out in the open. It’s understandable if they’re at a civilian type function where the rules and regulations of the military wouldn’t normally apply. It’s even understandable at certain semi-military functions like the Chief’s Ball or such, where it can be reasonably understood that the rules are relaxed. But, demanding their troops to not call each other by names, and proceeding to do the same exact thing they instructed others not to do is setting a terrible example for the junior members. The do as I say and not as I do mentality is a terrible concept in a military setting, yet it seems to be the norm amongst the officers, and staff personnel.

However, all this is inevitable as the military continues to become closer to a corporation than a defense group. All entities must grow and change which includes the military. The reason for the last name basis is based on avoiding unduly relations and familiarity with others, but forming those ties is nearly unavoidable. People are social creatures, and while they might strive to become objective fellows capable of measuring everyone with the same stick, it’s practically impossible. Especially in the military, where troops are asked to recognize each other as brothers in arms and the lines can become further blurred by the connections between each member.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Emmanuel "Dash the Bomber" Barbosa

Emmanuel Barbosa, AKA Dash The Bomber, is currently serving in the 7th fleet, and has over 8 years of experience in the military. A writer with a penchant for the humorous and informative, he loves to share his stories with those who would be willing to listen. Having served in deployments that have taken him around the world, Dash has seen and heard about many things that would be hard to believe. A loving father and a faithful husband, he is dedicated to protecting his family and country. For fun he enjoys cosplaying, videogames, and writing for online magazines.

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2 thoughts on “First Name Basis

  1. You’re missing the point with only focusing on “rules.” In the Air Force, first names have a history in flying crews, and currently from my experience Air Operations Centers. The idea is when SHTF, you don’t have time for formalities. Further, if a senior officer is about to make a mistake that could get someone killed, you don’t need their rank in the way of you speaking up.

    Sure, you could paint a picture that it’s just a CEO culture playing golf using first names over cigars and brandy, but there is a legitimate operational basis for established relationships that can blow past formalities.

    You just have to use tact and commonsense.

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