Military soldiers walking together

Military courtesies and etiquette are a vital part of every soldier’s day. Courtesies are deeply rooted in military tradition but are viable today as they “improve relations between people, ease the conduct of business affairs and add smoothness to what otherwise could be an awkward and undesirable situations,” says The Air Force Officer's Guide. While walking, or near, a higher-ranking officer, a soldier must follow strict protocol in respect for the senior.

Walking Next to a Senior Officer

The lower-ranked soldier walks to the left of a senior or non-commissioned officer.

Walking Past a Senior Officer (Opposite Direction)

The soldier salutes when six to 10 paces away. Hold the salute until it is returned. If armed, give the rifle salute.

Walking Past a Senior Officer (Same Direction)

The junior soldier salutes when abreast of the officer and says “by your leave sir/ma’am.” The senior responds “carry-on” or “permission granted,” and the soldier may lower the salute and walk past.