Oath of Allegiance

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Oath of Allegiance


a solemn vow taken by each citizen on joining the armed forces. Oaths have been used in the armed forces of most countries since ancient times. The content of military oaths and the rituals performed when taking them reflect the class nature of the particular state and its armed forces and the historically established traditions and customs of the particular people.

In the USSR the oath taken by each Soviet citizen on joining the armed forces expresses his readiness to carry out his sacred duty to defend the homeland in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution of the USSR (arts. 62 and 63). The oath taken in the established manner becomes law for the serviceman for his entire term of military service.

The text of the solemn promise upon entry into the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army was first ratified by the All-Russian Central Executive Committee on Apr. 22, 1918. V. I. Lenin, Ia. M. Sverdlov, N. I. Podvoiskii, and other party and government figures administered the oath for the first Red Army units in the Moscow garrison. In March 1922 a decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the USSR established the day and the procedure for administering the oath to the entire army and navy. On Jan. 3, 1939, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR ratified a new text for the oath of allegiance and a statute concerning the procedure for taking it.

The present text of the oath was ratified by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on June 10, 1947. It reads as follows: “I, a citizen of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, upon entering the ranks of the armed forces, take this oath and solemnly swear to be an honest, brave, disciplined, and vigilant fighting man, strictly keep military and state secrets, and unconditionally fulfill all military regulations and orders by commanders and superiors. I swear that I will conscientiously study military affairs, protect military and public property in every way possible, and be devoted to my people and my Soviet homeland and Soviet government until my final breath. I will always be ready to come to the defense of my homeland, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, at the order of the Soviet government and, as a fighting man of the armed forces, I swear that I will defend it courageously, skillfully, and with dignity and honor, sparing neither blood nor life itself to achieve complete victory over enemies. But if I violate this solemn oath of mine, may the harsh retribution of the Soviet law and the universal hatred and scorn of the working people befall me” (Interior Service Regulations of the Armed Forces of the USSR, 1968, p. 207).

New soldiers and seamen and cadets from military schools and academies who have not taken the oath at an earlier time do so after completing the training program for a new soldier or seaman, or learning the requirements of the military regulations and the rules for handling weapons, and on grasping the significance of the oath, the unit banner, and military discipline. The time of administration of the oath is announced in an order for the unit, school, or institution.

The oath is administered ceremonially. The unit is lined up in dismounted formation with weapons and stands by the unit banner. A military band is also present. Holding his submachine gun at port arms (order arms for a carbine), each man takes the oath by reciting the text aloud and then signs a special list in the column opposite his name and takes his place in the formation. After the oath has been administered, the band plays the national anthem of the Soviet Union and the unit passes in ceremonial procession.

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