by Jill Davies
Military orders have become less specific since the Vietnam era, said Captain Richard Root, an army instructor at the ROTC.
“In Vietnam, soldiers were spoon-fed,” Root said. “In Desert Storm they were not.”
Root said soldiers are always given the objective but not instructed on every detail of an attack.
“To use a military phrase, `We don’t like to tell people how to chew soup,'” he said.
Root said military policy is to “give (the soldiers) the latitude of what the end results are going to be — give them a box they’re allowed to play in.” The laws of war are included in the parameters of that box, he said.
Major Cortney Brewerton of the United States Air Force and an instructor at the ROTC, said most soldiers take the responsibility of following orders seriously.
“You (raise) your arm to support the constitution and to obey the law and orders of your superior officers … nothing else (matters),” he said. “You (are) given an order and you (fulfill) that order to the best of your ability.”
Military orders are given through a pyramid of authority, beginning with the commander in chief down through platoon leaders in the army, said Root.
The chain of command differs slightly in each of the four branches of the military (Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy). For example, authority in the army is determined by the following chain of command: commander in chief, secretary of defense, secretary of the army, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, chief of staff of the army, forcecom commander, corps commander, division commander, brigade commander, battalion commander, company commander, platoon leader.