Saluting a display of mutual respect, trust, confidence

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- With the Red Flag exercise season quickly approaching, don't get caught off guard by a multitude of foreign military on base.

In the coming exercises, Red Flag-Alaska will host participants from several countries, including Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Japan, Germany and Korea. In addition, the base will welcome Foreign Attachés and Executive Observers from around the world throughout the summer months.

Eielson's foreign guests will be walking and driving around base. As we encounter them, Air Force instructions require us to render the proper customs and courtesies, just as if they were in the U.S. military. So why should we salute foreigners?

The custom of saluting dates back hundreds of years and is not only a display of respect, but also a universally recognized greeting to a military brother or sister in arms. The salute is a symbol of greeting; it's an outward gesture of mutual respect, trust and confidence.

Although it's initiated by the junior in rank, there's no loss of dignity on either side. You will never be out of line to salute another person, regardless of rank.

Now you're armed with knowledge, how will you know who's higher ranking?

Some of the uniforms our visitors will be wearing range from simple to extravagant so it's easy to get confused.

Go back to that old, trusty saying, "When in doubt, bust it out."

A general rule for deciphering rank is if you see chevrons or diagonal stripes, you can safely assume they're enlisted and even if the chevrons or diagonal stripes are accompanied by crowns or stars, you're probably safe. If there are horizontal lines or bars, they're probably an officer.

Also keep in mind that equivalent ranks of colonel and above will be driving in staff cars with U.S. rank insignia displayed.

Stay alert and show our guests that we are true professionals.

If you have questions about etiquette, contact Wing Protocol at 377-7686. 

Editor's note: In the next exercise, Eielson AFB is expecting visitors from Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom; for information on specific countrie's rank insignias, please visit the following Web site:




United Kingdom