At attention

The position of at attention, or standing at attention, is a military posture which involves the following general postures:[1]

  • Standing upright with an assertive and correct posture: famously "chin up, chest out, shoulders back, stomach in".
  • Arms fixed at the side, thumb or middle finger parallel to trouser or skirt seam, depending on military drill specifics.
  • "Eyes front": head and eyes locked in a fixed forward posture. Ideally eyes unmoving fixated on a distant object. Blank facial expression.
  • Keeping the heels together, with the toes apart with the feet at a 45 degree angle.
  • No speech, facial or bodily movements except when as required by military drill.
Polish soldiers standing at attention
Soldiers from the US 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division standing at attention

The above stance position is common in most military organizations throughout the world. It may also be adopted by paramilitary organizations, law enforcement, and other organizations requiring a loosely military structure such as Scouts, cadet programs, or police units, or even the Salvation Army.

It is also used in common in civilian marching bands, fife and drum corps and drum and bugle corps. To stand at attention is also a means of saluting when a junior rank meets an officer or superior but he (the junior) is not wearing a cover.


Recruits of Polish army standing at attention after their military oath

United Kingdom/British CommonwealthEdit

In the United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand Defence Force and Australian Defence Force, feet are at a 45-degree angle with heels together. In the Canadian forces, feet are at a 30-degree angle with heels together.

Russia/Commonwealth Independent StatesEdit

On the command of attention (Russian: Смирно; Smer-nah), the soldiers of any sized unit snap their heads to the front, with their chin up and looking straight ahead.[2]


In the three armies of Spain this order must be commanded after the aling up. When the drill commands the order, the soldiers, who must be in the aling up posture, snap their heads to left and, after the executive order «¡Mar!» or «¡Ar!» they low the arm, that must have extended to keep the distance with the companion in front of, keeping both arms at sides of the torso. When soldiers are in uniform, the fists must be clenched, covering the gap between the index finger with the thumbs, keeping the knuckles against the legs. If the soldiers are with in civil or sport clothes, the armas keep in the same way but the hands are open and must slap the leg when the executive order is commanded.

Other nationsEdit

See alsoEdit