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No saluting for soldiers in theatre of war
Canadian Press via Sun Media ^ | 2007-11-16 | Bill Graveland

Posted on 11/16/2007 7:16:21 AM PST by Clive

MASUM GHAR, Afghanistan - There's nothing quite like a snappy military salute, but here in Afghanistan you don't see it very often.

In fact, a sign on the boardwalk at Kandahar Air Field proclaims that the base that is home to most Canadian troops in Afghanistan is a "no hat-no salute area."

With the notable exception of U.S. forces, the traditional military greeting is pretty much a non-starter in Afghanistan.

The salute has always been a sign of respect. It's origin is unclear but it is believed by some to go back to the Middle Ages when a knight would raise the visor on his helmet and expose his face to the view of another.

This was always done with the right hand and was a significant gesture of friendship and confidence since it exposed the features and also removed the right hand from the vicinity of a weapon.

The virtual abolishment of the salute in the Afghan theatre has more to do with security.

In previous eras, marksmen would target opposing officers, often easily identified by the different uniforms they wore. Killing one of the leaders was an easy way to demoralize and confuse enemy troops.

The fact is, out in the field, the uniforms for all ranks are pretty much identical these days. Gen. Rick Hillier, chief of defence staff, was clad in full battle gear during a late October visit to troops in the field and was indistinguishable from his subordinates.

That's the reason the salute was removed as well: to prevent the identification of those in charge since non-commissioned soldiers traditionally salute superior officers.

"That's a policy that we've been putting up throughout," said Master Warrant Officer Michel Carriere.

"It's always been a sign of respect, so if a general would show up in a room, in a confined area there's no reason we wouldn't do that (salute)," Carriere said. "But as a safety precaution we wouldn't do that in the theatre."

The same rule applies for most of the other coalition forces, including the Dutch and the British.

"There are so many different countries here it would be too confusing for soldiers to recognize the various uniforms of the officers," said one British officer. "And there is the matter of safety. We don't want the officers identified when we are out beyond the wire."

"It's security for sure. That's the general idea," added Canadian Warrant Officer Gary White. "If I was an officer I wouldn't want anybody saluting me."

There are exceptions of course. It is still permissible indoors and at the recent Remembrance Day ceremony in Kandahar the assembled soldiers saluted the 71 Canadian soldiers killed in the line of duty since the mission began five years ago.

"On the camp or out in the field we don't salute each other. We don't salute other nations," explained Lt.-Cmdr. Pierre Babinsky. "Normally in the field you won't salute in order for enemy observers to establish . . . the commanders and the officers."

And in Afghanistan, there are Taliban spies everywhere. There isn't a military manoeuvre that takes place that isn't being watched by someone, with the information often quickly relayed to the Taliban leadership.

"Snipers can be a threat," Babinsky. "But simply observers gathering intelligence can determine our rank structure to identify possible targets for future times. Those are all possibilities."

"The focus here is on operations. Saluting is a courtesy and entrenched in our culture. But here we agreed we would not salute and remain operationally focused and it's working fine."


TOPICS: Canada; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: afghanistan; canadiantroops; check; frwn; isaf; sniper
Box photo:

A sign indicates Afghan-theatre specific
instructions to the troops, at the boardwalk
at Kandahar Air Field, on Thursday.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Graveland

1 posted on 11/16/2007 7:16:22 AM PST by Clive
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To: SandRat

-


2 posted on 11/16/2007 7:17:56 AM PST by Clive
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To: Alberta's Child; albertabound; AntiKev; backhoe; Byron_the_Aussie; Cannoneer No. 4; ...

-


3 posted on 11/16/2007 7:18:09 AM PST by Clive
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To: Clive

They didn’t salute in the field in Nam either, for the same reason. Nothing new, except to journalists


4 posted on 11/16/2007 7:20:41 AM PST by PapaBear3625
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To: Clive

I don’t think this is completely new. I believe this practice was followed in some areas during WWII (and, I’m sure, other conflicts).


5 posted on 11/16/2007 7:20:56 AM PST by ClearCase_guy (The broken wall, the burning roof and tower. And Agamemnon dead.)
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To: Clive
No saluting for soldiers in theatre of war

DUH

6 posted on 11/16/2007 7:23:15 AM PST by DungeonMaster (WELL I SPEAK LOUD, AND I CARRY A BIGGER STICK, AND I USE IT TOO!)
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To: PapaBear3625

Didn’t they listen to Lt. Dan?


7 posted on 11/16/2007 7:23:52 AM PST by JZelle
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Comment #8 Removed by Moderator

To: Clive

This has been SOP since before I started running in military circles.


9 posted on 11/16/2007 7:28:36 AM PST by AntiKev ("No damage. The world's still turning isn't it?" - Stereo Goes Stellar - Blow Me A Holloway)
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To: Clive

Slow news day?


10 posted on 11/16/2007 7:31:23 AM PST by xsrdx (Diligentia, Vis, Celeritas)
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To: Clive
ass**** news media discovers the obvious
11 posted on 11/16/2007 7:31:57 AM PST by Doogle (USAF.68-73..8th TFW Ubon Thailand..never store a threat you should have eliminated))
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To: Clive
"no hat-no salute area."
Unless you are here in Kabul, and American. Every other nation goes without cover except us. We don't salute, but we wear our covers when outside.

Things that make you go "What the heck?!"
12 posted on 11/16/2007 7:33:14 AM PST by tongue-tied (ANAAC is the future of the IRoA)
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To: Clive
'No saluting for soldiers in theatre of war'

Sorry, but I've gotta do it....

13 posted on 11/16/2007 7:37:17 AM PST by Condor51 (Rudy makes John Kerry look like a Right Wing 'Gun Nut' Extremist)
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To: PapaBear3625
They didn’t salute in the field in Nam either, for the same reason. Nothing new, except to journalists

Yep. that's the way I remember it.

14 posted on 11/16/2007 7:38:10 AM PST by HIDEK6
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To: Clive
The article seems to suggest that the US is unique in maintain the practice of salutes on base.

I was recently talking to a colleague was was an US Army infantry officer, who served as an exchange officer with the British Army. We talked about the differences in the interaction between officers and enlisted in the US and British armed forces. His suggestion was that the American military had a very formal, enforced, and artificial distinction between officers and enlisted that served a critical purpose, but was unnatural to the people involved (not talking about the relationship between a private and general, but think about Staff NCOs and officers).

He contrasted this with the British system where he believed their was a very deep but unspoken divide between officers and enlisted, which was natural (because of their culture) and was always present, even when the two were interacting less formally.

He made a good case that the US distinction between officers and enlisted was inconsistent with the American civilian culture’s general uncomfortably with social classes (except for famous people). The British, very often, have a some aversion to class identification, but these distinctions still seem to exist overtly, and are accepted (even if the middle class may seem more popular overall). Therefore, there is some natural feeling that officers are of a higher class (which isn’t always the case anymore, but had been true of much of the British military throughout history), that their members of the armed forces are able to fall into their expected roles easier.

15 posted on 11/16/2007 7:39:58 AM PST by NYFriend
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To: PapaBear3625

I didn’t think you were supposed to salue indoors or when under arms. This simply shows how little the media understand military protocol. “No Hat, No Salute” means that the area is considered indoors. It is also military custom to remove your “headgear” indoors.


16 posted on 11/16/2007 7:41:38 AM PST by Lonesome in Massachussets (NYT Headline: Protocols of the Learned Elders of CBS: Fake but Accurate, Experts Say)
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To: Clive

So I am supposed to Paint the General instead?


17 posted on 11/16/2007 7:41:39 AM PST by The_Repugnant_Conservative
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To: PapaBear3625

I was taught this very thing in boot camp following ‘Nam. Sheesh, there is nothing new here.


18 posted on 11/16/2007 7:43:16 AM PST by Obadiah
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To: Clive

“It’s origin is unclear but it is believed by some to go back to the Middle Ages when a knight would raise the visor on his helmet and expose his face to the view of another.”

This is its origin, why is it unclear? 0-Canada has no knights or history of such honor.


19 posted on 11/16/2007 7:43:33 AM PST by edcoil (Reality doesn't say much - doesn't need too)
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To: Clive
Going back to my days in the Corps I once was chewed out for not saluting a battalion commander (Lt. Colonel) while on field maneuvers in Turkey. I was manning an outpost directing traffic thru a narrow cut in an area of steep hills. Traffic was confined to one way and I received a radio call from my counterpart a couple of miles away to tell me 3 vehicles were headed my way and to hold traffic at my end. The vehicles approached with no discernible markings that would distinguish them from others that had passed thru earlier. This time it was the battalion commander and although I was standing alertly at the side of the road I didn’t salute ... thinking it was inappropriate under field conditions. He stopped his vehicle summoned me over chewed my butt asked me who my CO was and passed me off to a Gunny in his entourage for further counseling. I told the Gunny why I hadn’t saluted he sort of winked and proceeded on. I thought my young butt was in big trouble ... however nothing came of it ... so me thinks the Gunny put in a good word.
20 posted on 11/16/2007 7:48:20 AM PST by BluH2o
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To: Clive

They had that rule in WWII

dumb ass reporters


21 posted on 11/16/2007 7:50:44 AM PST by Charlespg (Peace= When we trod the ruins of Mecca and Medina under our infidel boots.)
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To: Clive
In previous eras, marksmen would target opposing officers, often easily identified by the different uniforms they wore. Killing one of the leaders was an easy way to demoralize and confuse enemy troops.

At New Orleans in January, 1815, Tennessee and Kentucky riflemen killed all three British generals present on the field. By the time the reseve commander arrived, the route was already on.

22 posted on 11/16/2007 7:58:59 AM PST by metesky ("Brethren, leave us go amongst them." Rev. Capt. Samuel Johnston Clayton - Ward Bond- The Searchers)
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To: Clive; GMMAC; exg; kanawa; conniew; backhoe; -YYZ-; Former Proud Canadian; Squawk 8888; ...

23 posted on 11/16/2007 7:59:16 AM PST by fanfan ("We don't start fights my friends, but we finish them, and never leave until our work is done."PMSH)
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To: PapaBear3625
They didn’t salute in the field in Nam either, for the same reason. Nothing new, except to journalists

In a combat zone the journalists are the ones who should be saluted to draw fire from snipers.

24 posted on 11/16/2007 7:59:20 AM PST by KarlInOhio (Government is the hired help - not the boss. When politicians forget that they must be fired.)
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To: metesky
reseve
r

25 posted on 11/16/2007 8:01:08 AM PST by metesky ("Brethren, leave us go amongst them." Rev. Capt. Samuel Johnston Clayton - Ward Bond- The Searchers)
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To: Charlespg
"dumb ass reporters"

I think in combat zones, saluting should be reserved exclusively for reporters...

26 posted on 11/16/2007 8:06:54 AM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Clive

The Navy never salutes indoors because a cover isn’t worn indoors and the Navy doesn’t salute without a cover.


27 posted on 11/16/2007 8:15:34 AM PST by em2vn
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To: Clive

So, the article says that these other countries’ military personnel don’t salute on the FOB? That is odd. We don’t salute while out in-sector, but on the FOB, it’s basically like any other military base, except you get mortared a lot more often, and you carry your personal weapon with you everywhere you go.


28 posted on 11/16/2007 8:17:01 AM PST by Future Snake Eater (Dude, where's my adrenaline?)
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To: xsrdx

Well for their information - the covered terrace area that surrounds Walter Reed Army Med Center (WRAMC) is also a “No Hat, No Salute Area” the initial reason for that rule is there are so many Docs/nurses(officers) that you’d break your arm just walking out. However, since I’ve been down to WRAMC, given the neighborhood that surrounds it, maybe they too are afraid of snipers.


29 posted on 11/16/2007 8:17:34 AM PST by SAMS ("I may look harmless, but I raised a U.S. MARINE!" Army Wife & Marine Mom)
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To: PapaBear3625
They didn’t salute in the field in Nam either, for the same reason. Nothing new, except to journalists

That's what I was just thinking as I read the article. Journalists have to be retrained after lunch or dinner much less after each war/battle.

Ah for another Ernie Pyle!

Nam Vet

30 posted on 11/16/2007 8:23:05 AM PST by Nam Vet (Timely reporting from Attila's right flank)
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To: BluH2o
I’ve always thought that folks need to be extra careful when correcting others for missing a salute. It is a matter of discipline, so blatant disregard should be corrected. Ideally, an fficer shouldn’t have to do the “spot correction.” Usually, an NCO would witness the offense and take care of it. Of course, sometimes you just miss it.

Generally, if someone gets inside my zone and hasn’t saluted, I initiate it…so, that’s not the protocol, but I figure it is a greeting and a sign of respect…I’ll give both to any other service member gladly.

I was at Norflok Naval base recently and walked past a CAPT and CDR. Our Air Force rank is bigger and on the opposite side of our hats, so I have to look very carefully. We walk with the higher ranking person to the right. So, as I approached, I looked at the guy on the right, saw he was an O-5 too, verbally greeted them, and moved on.

The O-5 then proceeded to read me the riot act with the O-6 glaring at me. I snapped one up, apologized and excused myself. I’ve been in this business for 26 years and didn’t need the lecture. Ah….what are you gonna do?

Does anyone know is the Navy does the “rank to the right” when walking?

31 posted on 11/16/2007 8:34:05 AM PST by TankerKC (You don't have to believe everything you think.)
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To: PapaBear3625
***They didn’t salute in the field in Nam either,***

Yet, who can forget that cartoon in THE OVERSEAS WEEKLY, of a soldier helping a wounded comrade and an officer pointing to him and demanding from another officer..”Why isn’t that soldier saluting me!”

32 posted on 11/16/2007 8:44:44 AM PST by Ruy Dias de Bivar
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To: SAMS

Maybe somebody can calibrate me here, but I recall hearing that the big open courtyard in the middle of the Pentagon is also a “no hat / no salute” area.

Again, merely for practical reasons. With so many of various ranks milling around it would look like everybody doing jumping jacks.


33 posted on 11/16/2007 8:52:18 AM PST by Ramius (Personally, I give us... one chance in three. More tea?)
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To: StarCMC

>>>believed by some to go back to the Middle Ages when a knight would raise the visor on his helmet and expose his face to the view of another.

I think there was a Canteen thread on the origin of the salute.


34 posted on 11/16/2007 9:00:22 AM PST by Calpernia (Hunters Rangers - Raising the Bar of Integrity http://www.barofintegrity.us)
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To: Ramius
Maybe somebody can calibrate me here, but I recall hearing that the big open courtyard in the middle of the Pentagon is also a “no hat / no salute” area.

Correct. Also, the area outside the doors at corridor 8 out to the Pentagon Conference center is a no hat/no salute area.

35 posted on 11/16/2007 9:34:39 AM PST by TankerKC (You don't have to believe everything you think.)
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To: Clive; 91B; HiJinx; Spiff; MJY1288; xzins; Calpernia; clintonh8r; TEXOKIE; windchime; ...

We used to call saluting or wearing bright rank insignia, even in a training environment, a SNIPER CHECK!


36 posted on 11/16/2007 2:57:42 PM PST by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: SandRat

Logic is a good thing.

:-)


37 posted on 11/16/2007 3:10:55 PM PST by fanfan ("We don't start fights my friends, but we finish them, and never leave until our work is done."PMSH)
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To: Clive; xzins
Saluting in a combat zone is commonly referred to as a Sniper Check.
38 posted on 11/16/2007 3:23:16 PM PST by Gamecock (Gamecock: Declared anathema by the Council of Trent!)
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To: Clive

Reminds me of the funniest episode of MASH. Harry Morgan {before he took the role as Potter} was General Steele and about a brick shy of a load. He and I think Hawkeye were in a war zone and Steele insisted he be saluted. At the instant the hand went up so came the bullets. Seriously though if a Zero’s ego needs stroked in such a dangerous manner under those conditions well then they have a leadership issue. My guess is 999 out of a 1000 do not.


39 posted on 11/16/2007 3:40:26 PM PST by cva66snipe (Proud Partisan Constitution Supporting Conservative to which I make no apologies for nor back down)
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To: Gamecock

LOL!


40 posted on 11/16/2007 3:52:21 PM PST by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain. True Supporters of the Troops will pray for US to Win!)
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To: NYFriend

I’ll add an anecdote to bolster your observations. While stationed with a Brit unit in Germany, the men always referred to spouses thus:

The Officers and their ladies.

The NCOs and their wives.

The lads (enlisteds) and their women.


41 posted on 11/16/2007 4:07:49 PM PST by HiJinx (~ Support our Troops ~ www.americasupportsyou.mil ~)
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To: HiJinx

Any thoughts beyond that? Not that it really matters, but I just find it interesting that there is such a difference between the way British Army and US Army officers and enlisted interact. I also wonder if these differences are present in the Navies which have very similar roots.


42 posted on 11/16/2007 4:44:07 PM PST by NYFriend
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I'm clearing the cobwebs from the brain. US Navy 1975:

You saluted the CO if you were on deck every time you saw him. You saluted other officers only once a day each.

I was at SUBMARINE BASES Groton and Pearl Harbor 1979 and 1980:

Saluting was a formality for senior officers (CDRs) ONLY.

THEN, a new CNO came in with his "pride and professionalism" policy. "No salutes in Pearl Harbor" became "If it moves, salute it, if it doesn't move, paint it."

43 posted on 11/16/2007 5:03:07 PM PST by Albert Guérisse (VFW member)
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