Linda Maye Adams

Hollywood Military vs. Real Military


I was watching Star Trek The Next Generation the other day.   It was the pilot episode, part II.  Q (John Delancie) shows up and Picard yells “At ease!”

That’s a standard military order.

What he said next wasn’t: “That’s an order!”

I’ve heard this particular phrase from Hollywood military a lot.  Turned up on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea on a fairly regular basis, and seems to be in just about anything in the media with military.

Never heard an officer in the Army actually say that phrase.

I think this shows up in Hollywood is because a lot of people really don’t understand the rank structure or officers vs. enlisted.  We’re taught right from the first day at basic training about following the orders of the people in charge.

Because in a war, not following the orders can cause soldiers to get killed.  In the film A Few Good Men, Tom Cruise gets a Marine colonel on the stand and traps him into confessing because that movie did understand how orders worked (Tom Cruise was pretty far away from anything military in his characterization though).  Everyone kept trying to say the people involved hadn’t followed orders, but the colonel was adamant that everyone followed orders because lives would be in jeopardy if they didn’t.

The officers don’t need to tell the people under them what they say is an order.  We all know it is.

This is a 7 step illustration of what “at ease” looks like.

6 Comments

  1. You know, I did occasionally wonder about the “That’s an order!” line. I’ve not been in the military, but it did sometimes hit me as strange to have to tell the person that the order was really an order.

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    • I might be able to see a second lieutenant, very new to the service (and possibly insecure), saying it, but anyone senior enough to be in the position Picard was … no.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for clearing that up. And I must take the opportunity to add, as I frequently do, that Over is not followed by Out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hollywood’s great at grabbing something and using it to the point of cliche. I have a friend who is blind who says that the blind do not do that touchy-feely the face thing that Hollywood really likes.

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  3. Peggy

    What about “as you were”? Does that really exist? (I’m pretty sure that “Permission to speak freely, sir?” does not, heh.)

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  4. “As you were,” yes. For example, the company commander comes into the company area for the first time that morning. A soldier sees him, calls, “Company! Attention!” Everyone snaps to attention, and the commander says, “As you were,” and we all return to whatever work we were doing.

    “Permission to speak freely,” never heard anyone say it. A first sergeant (20 years experience) could respectfully disagree with the company commander (10 years experience), but ultimately, the commander is the officer. They generally did work together because both had the same goals: Take care of the company business and soldiers.

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