Question on US soldier's oath

I, _____, 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; and that 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. So help me God."

Always been curious about why they are defending the Constitution? Is there a specific person who came up with that wording?

officers oath is a little different:

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

Without the Constitution, the country is not worth defending. It focuses the protection on a codified set of ideals rather than simply the geography.

note that the main difference is that the officers oath does not mention following orders.

however it does say to “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office”

Does this oath predate the Civil War? It may have been an afterthought for preventing insurrections by future generations of rowdy farm boys with guns.

Even aside from the question of “worth defending”, the Constitution is what makes this country what it is. If we got into a war with Canada, and won the Yukon Territory and Alberta, then those would still be part of the same country, as long as the Constitution were still in force. If, after that, Mexico kicked our butts and captured everything south of the 49th parallel, then we’d still be the same country, even without any of our original territory, so long as we had the same Constitution. In many other nations, that sort of continuity is provided by a royal family or the like, and so soldiers will swear loyalty to the Crown. But we pride ourselves on being a nation of laws, not of men, and so we swear fealty to a law.

It was changed in 1962. Before that it said allegiance to the USA.

substituted “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” for

“bear true faith and allegiance to the United States of America; that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies whomsoever” and inserted “So help me God” in the oath, and “or affirmation” in text.

Note also that the President, members of Congress and federal judges also swear to support and defend the Consitution.

For that matter, so do FBI agents.

The FBI website explains it as well as anyone.

I had to take a similar oath as an employee of the Postal Service - I don’t remember the precise wording, but it definitely included “defend the Constitution”. I was told that all Federal employees took the oath in some form or another.

Right, the Brits swear allegiance to Her Majesty. In the absence of a crown, it sorta makes sense.

That’s interesting. Article VI of the Constitution requires that “all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution.”

According to the Army historian’s office, the first oath for the U.S. Army, for all officers, NCOs and privates, was established in 1789 with two parts: the first read, “I, A.B., do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the constitution of the United States.” The second part reads the oath you presented, to the United States of America. The historians office says that this two part oath was unchanged until 1950 for the enlisted. It seems you may be quoting only one half of the oath prior to 1950 (or 1962, it seems).

Officer’s oaths have gone through a lot more changes. You can read all the changes below:


As far as not swearing to 1 person, the enlisted oath does say they must obey the orders of the president and officers above them.

It is beaten into every recruit’s head that their allegiance is to the office of the President, and not to the individual carbon-based unit who occupies that office. That distinction is made very emphatically clear.

I prefer this one except the King slash Queen delete whichever is inappropriate part. :

*‘I comma square bracket recruit’s name square bracket comma do solemnly swear by square bracket recruit’s deity of choice square bracket to uphold the Laws and Ordinances of the city of Ankh-Morpork comma serve the public trust comma defend the subjects of His stroke Her bracket delete whichever is inappropriate bracket Majesty bracket name of reigning monarch bracket without fear comma favour comma or thought of personal safety semi-colon to pursue evildoers and protect the innocent comma laying down my life if necessary in the cause of said duty comma so help me bracket aforesaid deity bracket full stop Gods Save the King stroke Queen bracket delete whichever is inappropriate bracket full stop.’

But the UK does have a Crown, and it is embodied by the Queen. (And in case you actually meant to write “constitution”, it has one of those too.)

My dad and grandfather and various other relatives fought in wars to defend my country despite Australia not having a constitution at the time. I guess they thought it was worth defending anyway.

Essentially, it says they must obey the lawful orders of those folks.

Monty, is right, essentially that was the fall out of the My Lai massacre right, that nobody could use the excuse that you were just following orders. You are supposed to refuse illegal orders.

I’m pretty sure they swore an oath to the king or queen at the time. The idea here is that the analog of an oath to a king or queen in a monarchy would be an oath to the fundamental law of a republic. It doesn’t make one country better than another, it is just that it seems that countries want their oaths to refer to something more tangible than the concept of the country.

Australia’s had a Constitution since 1901 - the same one it has now. Prior to that, the various colonies had constitutions (which, as states of the Commonwealth, they still have). And, although Australia (and prior to 1901, the Australian colonies) fought in several wars, relatively few of them could reasonably be categorised as “wars to defend my country”, if “my country” means Australia.

My father and my mother’s father both fought in WW2, during which the Japanese Empire was not only a direct threat to Australia but was bombing us on a regular basis. Not on the level of the air war in Europe, but more than the US ever got bombed, and that’s including Pearl Harbour.

As for the other war my relatives fought in, WW1, I think that counts as defending Australia, in as much as we were defending western democracy more than three years before the US got involved.

You’re quite right about Australia having a constitution though, I managed to forget about it since, unlike the USA, nobody ever makes a big deal about it.

ETA: The actual point of my first comment was the the US constitution is not that special a thing, and there’s plenty to defend in western democracies that don’t happen to be the USA.