Saluting Inside?

Factual question based on TV: In MASH, often times officers will salute the CO inside the CO’s office. I have especialy noticed this is true for visiting officers who show up in the CO’s office unannounced. (Does that make any difference?) Is this simply out of courtesy, or just a frequent mistake in MASH? I thought you never salute indoors.

Also, as a bonus, what is the origin of commisioned officer? Like, they’re there to make a sale on commision? To what does this refer? You might say the term is opposed to enlisted men, but this is also misleading. Oj, like they volunteered to sign up - as if enlisted men weren’t drafted to their post (thinking of my Dad in the Korean War, for one.)???

  • Jinx :confused:

Saluting indoors is only done during official ceremonies onstage (shake hands, take the award, and salute) or when “reporting in” to a senior officer. For instance, if I had just arrived on base for the first time, I’d report in to my new boss. If I were in trouble, my boss might ask me to “report to my office at 1600” rather than “be in my office at four” so I knew we would be conducting business with all the formalities.

It is unusual to salute higher-ranking officers indoors when they arrive. It is more appropriate to call the room to attention (aka just “calling the room”). You are supposed to “call the room” whenever the highest ranking officer in an area departs or a higher-ranking officer than is currently present enters the area. In practice, only O-6 and above have the room called for them except in training situations or when the lower ranking officer is a commander (for example, a navy O-4 might be the officer of the watch and might even have the helm on a small ship – when he enters the bridge, everyone who doesn’t have their hands full should recognize that there is an “officer on deck”).

This seems to make sense. The first-arrival scenario you mention typically the case. Also, if one is “calling the room” as you say, would they shout “atten-hut!”, or is that an outdoor shouted command?

How do you learn all the military protocol, anyway? It’s a lot to know!

  • Jinx

You learn it best by joining. It is beaten into your head.

The “commission” is a formal assignment, like you would commission an artist to make a painting.

As for the saluting, US Army does it differently than the US Marines or US Navy. Marines ONLY salute when covered (wearing a hat), and only remain covered indoors when under arms (such as working as the Officer of the Day, wearing the Duty Belt).

  • in her Majesty’s Fireeating Danish Army, you simply didn’t salute indoors.

The reason being: You only ever salute when wearing headgear. You never ever wear headgear indoors. Except if you’re carrying a weapon, in which case you don’t salute.

In place of saluting, you’d come to the “attention” position instead, if the situation was that formal. (I’ll never ever forget those rules. What is installed in you on pain of pain when you’re 19 years old WILL stay with you for the rest of your life.)

As for “calling the room”, the command is “ROOM tensh HUT!”. You can also call an “area” to attention (“AREA tensh HUT!”). The person assigned to watch the door calls the room. If no person is assigned, it defaults to the person closest to the door. If you are the lowest ranking person in the room, it typically falls to you to sit by the door to keep track of who the highest ranking person in the room is. It is rare to see this used outside a training environment, but not unheard-of. If a colonel comes by my cubicle, I stand to speak with him. I don’t holler “CUBICLE, tensh HUT”, I just come to the position of attention until he waves me off, or tells me to “stand at ease”, or to be “as you were”.

In the US Air Force, the saluting rules are much as Spiny Norman pointed out; the exceptions are as I noted above. They are the only situations I know of that saluting is ever done indoors. One more trivial exception: in a training environment, the training officer can have everyone put on their covers and practice salutes indoors if that accomplishes the mission. To wit, my ROTC “drill field” was an indoor gym with a high ceiling. When you came through the doors, you were outdoors for all intents and purposes even though there was clearly a roof. Senior cadets would often stand a few paces inside the doors, to teach new cadets to put their covers on quickly and be ready with a salute.

The military protocol is referred to as “customs and courtesies” and is a large part of every military’s training. It gets drilled into you so much that you can occasionally use it to find other military personnel out of uniform – a right handed person carrying an awkward volume of belongings in their left hand while leaving their right hand free is probably a military person, since we are in the habit of leaving the right hand free for saluting.