Military in the media peeve/question

There’s a cliche I’ve noticed more and more lately in movies and TV shows that’s starting to get on my nerves. When a military-type group is in a tough situation, and their commander gives some surprising instruction, the commander invariably has to follow it up with, “That’s an order!”

Now, I’m not a military person - far from it - but I’m willing to bet that such a phrase is rarely if ever actually used. My understanding is that when your commander instructs you to do something, that’s an order. He doesn’t need to clarify whether it’s an order or just an idle whim. Anyway, it’s just starting to irritate me, especially considering how common this little exchange of dialogue is.

Any military people out there want to clarify the situation?

I’ve seen that happen in real life, more than once. Usually it was a weak person trying to command a shitbird.

You’re right, though. It is annoying to see that over and over and over again on television.

I’ve also seen it more often in the Reserves/Guard than among active duty people.

I’ve been a reservist for 12 years and I can’t remember ever hearing “that’s an order” except on the occasional sarcastic occasion: “Shaddup, and that’s an order.”

Most of what we do is actually really boring and mundane and when a commander gives an order, it’s typically for a standard procedure. I can’t think of a lot of cases where commander had to improvise something which was so out of left field that his/her subordinates needed to be reminded that it was an order.

In other words, TV is bullshit.

You’re correct, Smeghead. I’ve been in the Air Force for 16 years and all I can say is ditto to Bryan Ekers’ post.

While I wasn’t in the service all THAT long, the only think I think of when I hear “And that’s an order!” is Maj. Frank Burns.

And maybe Hotlips.

But mostly Burns.

I’ve been in for 7 years and have neither heard it nor used it.

I’m in the Marine Corps Reserve, and no, I’ve never heard that used. Most of the time, people understand that orders come down and things have to get done, and will do them without complaint (…well, when a sergeant or higher gives the order, since most corporals and lance corporals are about the same age, and most people find it an affront to pride to take orders from someone the same age).
By the way–Smeghead, are you the same person that used to post on the Blood 2: The Chosen Forum?

In my experience, it’s when you want to just ask the troops to do something and it’s NOT an order, that you clarify so. Every service-related instruction from a superior is an order. If it’s something absolutely mad or criminal, then it may be an unlawful order, but still an order.

Hollywood just manages to always contrive the storyline so there is some bogus “deep moral conflict” involved; or the people involved have some sort of unmilitarylike personal relationship that blurs proper command lines; or one character or the other is clearly written to be either a buffoonish fuggup or a dangerous frag-worthy psycho.

Wow. I can’t believe that I’m the only person who’s seen a direct order disobeyed. I saw it in Basic, at Fort Leonard Wood, where a private all but told our drill sergeant to fuck off–I’m pretty sure the private is no longer in the military. I saw it again when I was at Fort Sam Houston. Years later, in the Guard, I actually heard the words “That’s an order!” used–this was in a fight between a specialist and a sergeant who had been a specialist a couple weeks prior over who got to drive the nice air conditioned ambulance and who had to drive the nasty old deuce-and-a-half in a convoy. In this last unit I saw a bunch of fights between various people in various places in the chain-of-command, and saw a bunch of orders simply ignored on a regular basis. I even did some ignoring of my own in that unit once, when I was told to do something that very definitely would have been to the detriment of somebody who had managed to get hurt (initially I was in trouble for my actions, but was later vinidicated–I think it was the battalion commander where we found common sense). It was my experiences in this last unit which led me to once again become a full-time civillian.

I think of it as the same crappy writing that leads characters to say “Now listen to me very carefully” instead of just saying what it is that’s so damn important. That has bothered me for years.

The only time I ever heard it in my nine years of service was in the rare situations where someone balked or seemed ready to balk at an order. Usually the phrasing was more colorful in those situations, something like: Did you hear me, fuckwad? That was a fucking order, you fucking piece of shit. Now move your fucking ass." Etc.

Sir Rhosis

Except of course in the British comedy “'Allo, 'Allo!” where [hokey French accent]“Now listen to me very carefully. I will say this only once.”[/hokey French accent] was a running joke.

I’ve seen lawfull orders disobeyed (never a direct order), I’ve seen insubordination, and I’ve seen weak leaders trying to command shitbirds, but in 15 years in the Nav, not once did I ever hear “That’s an order!”

Real leaders, even weak ones, rarely resort to Hollywood cliches IRL.

And, yes, I find it annoying as all hell, too.

Firebat - nope. I’ve no idea what that is.

Everyone - thanks! That’s what I thought. I appreciate the vindication. I will now feel fully justified in getting irritated when I hear that.

… and would “Shitbird and the Weak Leaders” or “Weak Leader and the Shitbirds” be the better band name? :smiley:

… and would “Shitbird and the Weak Leaders” or “Weak Leader and the Shitbirds” be the better band name? :smiley:

The latter. And I’ve never heard it either. And I too find it annoying.