General Order One

The purpose of General Order 1 is to identify conduct that is prejudicial to the maintenance of good order, optimal readiness and discipline of all forces and select civilians assigned to the Area of Responsibility (AOR) for which the General Order has been issued.

Each Combatant Commander either affirms the pre-existing General Order 1 or issues a new General Order 1 upon assuming command.

General Order 1 is applicable to all DoD personnel, US Coast Guard personnel, and certain other interagency personnel (while TACON to DoD), including certain contractors operating within the AOR of the COCOM that issues the order.

With respect to cultural property, all current General Order 1 instruments apply the same basic concepts and/or use the same or similar language. For example, USCENTCOM General Order 1C (GO-1C), says in Paragraph 2(f):

f. National Treasures. This Order prohibits removing, possessing, selling, defacing, destroying or defiling archeological artifacts or national treasures. The term “defiling” includes actions that are indecent, reproachful, or detract from the significant, status, or position of a national treasure.”

However, as stated in Paragraphs 2j(b), this General Order does not preclude:

“the lawful acquisition of tourist souvenirs if such items can legally be imported into the United States or overseas U.S. military in accordance with U.S. or international laws.”

With respect to religious or sacred spaces, which are often synonymous with cultural properties, Paragraph 2k(3) states:

“This Order prohibits intentionally desecrating or defiling the following:
(a) religious items or symbols (regardless of the religion);
(b) religious holy books, such as the Qur’an, Bible or Torah;
(c) any religious shine or place of worship (such as a church or mosque);
(d) national flags containing religious notations (such as the Afghanistan, Saudi and Iraqi national flags);
(e) any historical or cultural relic, or location;
(f) the terms “desecrating” means divesting or diverting from a sacred to a profane use or purpose by blasphemous, sacrilegious, irreverent, contemptuous, or disrespectful action. The term “defiling” includes actions or words that are abusive, cruel, indecent, reproachful, or detract from the significance, status, or position of a person or property.”

With respect to host nation (HN) laws, which includes HN cultural property and cultural heritage laws, Paragraph 2(l) states:

“l. Violations of Host-Nation Laws. This Order charges all personnel subject to this Order with the responsibility to become familiar with and respect the laws, regulations, and customs of their host-nation insofar as the host-nation laws, regulations and customs do not interfere with the execution of official duties. Violations of host-nation laws, regulations and customs may be punishable under applicable U.S. criminal statutes or U.S. military administrative regulations.”

General Order 1 stipulates in Paragraph 3 that all prohibitions described in Paragraph 2 are punitive.

“3. PUNITIVE ORDER. Paragraph 2 of this General Order is punitive. Persons violating this Order are subject to appropriate administrative, non-judicial, or judicial action. DoD civilians may also face criminal prosecution or adverse administrative action for violation of this Order.”


USCENTCOM General Order 1. On 21 May 2013, the Commander in Chief of USCENTCOM, General Lloyd J. Austin, III, rescinded General Order 1B (GO-1B), dated 13 March 2006, and all waivers granted pursuant to GO-1B, and issued General Order 1C (GO-1C), which remains in force for all CENTCOM personnel serving in the Iraq and Afghanistan Theater of Operation.

USSOUTHCOM General Order 1. On 28 May 2012, SOUTHCOM Commander U.S. Air Force General General Douglas M. Fraser rescinded all previous General Orders and all waivers granted pursuant to previous General Orders and issued General Order Number 1 (GO-1), which remains in force for all DoD personnel and related parties, as described in the Order, serving in the SOUTHCOM AOR.