Lyrically and musically this song is a follow-up to The Clash's 1981 single "The Call Up
." It's a jaunty tune about the futility of war and war crimes and the actions of soldiers being defended by the age-old adage of "I was just following orders:
"The sergeant will for his sergeant's pay
Obey the general order of the battle play
The generals bow to the government
Obey the charge you must not relent"
A possible inspiration for these lyrics - written by Clash guitarist Mick Jones - is XTC's 1980 single "Generals and Majors."