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What are the rest positions for the Army?

The Army utilizes several different rest positions during training, marches, and combat operations. Knowing the proper rest positions allows soldiers to rest and recover effectively while maintaining security and readiness. This article will examine the different rest positions used by the Army including the parade rest, stand at ease, at ease, rest, and kneel positions.

What is the purpose of having rest positions?

Rest positions serve several important purposes for soldiers in the Army:

  • Allow soldiers to recover physical and mental energy during downtime
  • Enable units to maintain security by having a standard ready stance
  • Provide a uniform appearance when at rest
  • Let soldiers comfortably rest weapons and equipment

Having standardized rest positions gives units discipline and cohesion. Soldiers can rest while remaining alert and ready to react to threats or orders. The positions offer a scale of rest postures from full attention to fully at ease.

When are the different rest positions used?

The Army employs different rest positions in these typical situations:

  • Parade Rest – When addressing superiors and waiting in formation
  • Stand At Ease – Halting briefly during marches and drills
  • At Ease – During breaks in training and marching
  • Rest – Extended stops during road marches
  • Kneel – When firing weapons or awaiting orders in combat

Commanders order the appropriate rest based on the operational situation and need. More relaxed positions allow greater rest during long activity periods. Formal positions maintain appearance and readiness in public areas or under threat.

What is the parade rest position?

Parade rest is one of the most formal rest positions in the Army. Soldiers assume parade rest on these occasions:

  • When addressing superiors
  • Reporting individually to an officer
  • When waiting in formation
  • During inspection by a senior officer

To stand at parade rest, soldiers:

  • Place feet shoulder width apart and hands behind their backs
  • Grasp left hand with right, holding thumbs together
  • Allow arms to hang relaxed from the shoulders
  • Remain silent and do not move unless addressed

Parade rest shows respect to superiors while allowing some rest. Soldiers remain poised to go to attention instantly.

What is the stand at ease position?

Stand at ease is a slight relaxation from standing fully at attention. Troops assume this position when halting briefly during drills and marches. To stand at ease:

  • Soldiers move the left foot ten inches to the left
  • Place arms straight down the sides with fingers curled as in attention
  • Remain silent with eyes straight forward
  • Weight rests evenly on heels and balls of feet

This position allows a short rest during repetitive routines. Soldiers can relax briefly but must maintain proper posture.

What is the at ease position?

At ease permits greater relaxation than parade rest or standing at ease. Soldiers are ordered to at ease during extended breaks in activity. To assume at ease:

  • Move left foot ten inches to the left as for stand at ease
  • Clasp hands comfortably behind back or grasp weapon by small of stock
  • Remain silent with eyes straight forward
  • Remain standing unless otherwise ordered

At ease allows reasonable movement but no talking. Soldiers must stay alert to commands and ready to go back to attention.

What is the rest position?

Rest is the most relaxed of the standing positions. Troops take this position during long halts on road marches or following strenuous activity. To assume rest:

  • Same foot position as parade rest and at ease
  • Arms hang naturally at sides, weapons grounded near right foot
  • Talking allowed in moderate tone but no other movement
  • Soldiers remain standing unless ordered to kneel or sit

Rest enables troops to relax and converse after tiring duties. It allows recovery for further action.

What is the kneel position?

Kneeling provides an intermediate stance between standing and prone positions. Soldiers employ the kneeling posture in combat and when firing weapons. To kneel:

  • Lower right knee to the ground while placing left foot forward
  • Sit on right heel with back straight and head up
  • Grasp weapon near balance point and across knees
  • Keep barrel pointed slightly upwards and maintain alertness

Kneeling makes a smaller silhouette while firing weapons and awaiting orders. It provides a stable firing platform when cover is unavailable.


The Army’s rest positions allow soldiers to efficiently rest and recover during operations. Each posture meets specific needs from ceremonial situations to frontline combat. All share the goals of maintaining security, readiness, and a professional appearance. Proper use of the rest positions develops disciplined, cohesive units ready to accomplish any mission. Knowing and properly executing parade rest, stand at ease, at ease, rest and kneel are hallmarks of the Army’s strength and training.