Carrying a Color in the Port Position

Marine-Style Port Arms with M14When a rifle is in front of your body at an angle with the muzzle dissecting the left shoulder and butt stock over the right hip, that is the Port Position. If both of your hands are in the proper place, that is called Port Arms. The picture at right shows Port Arms that is more of a Marine Corps style with the right forearm horizontal. There are several versions of Port Arms, depending on what you are doing and your branch of service.

Guidon at PortPort Arms is used when marching at double time with a guidon. Please keep in mind though, that a guidon is not a color.

The Port Position, as described above, with a color is not an authorized position, it is not a very dignified position for carrying our nation’s flag, or other flags in a ceremonial-type situation. Marines running PT with the national flag at Port is another matter.

The Navy, Marines and Coast Guard do have a position for the color that is very similar to the honor guard Port Arms. Here is Trail Arms for a color, but only for the three aforementioned services. It is used when traveling in formation for short distances to and from a ceremony.

Trail Arms with Colors

The honor guard Port Arms position would have both rifle guards at Port and the color bearers in the same position- bottom ferrule of the staff off of the ground 4″ to 6″ and the left forearm horizontal across the body with fingers extended and joined.

Honor Guard Color Guard at Port

So then, what is one to do when moving in a color team (color guard) formation and there is a doorway or low ceiling? Go to what is called, “Angle Port.”

You have probably not heard of Angle Port because it is a position that military honor guards use (although, the MCOP does describe the position without naming it). Why this is not in service drill and ceremonies manuals, I don’t know- it would be very helpful for those out in the field, so to speak. Here is the Angle Port position:

Angle Port for a Color Bearer
Angle Port for a Color Bearer


The command to get here is Bearer’s, Ready Two. “Bearers” is to identify the color bearers. The command is called from the honor guard Port Arms position described in Trail Arms paragraph, above.

Now you know how to appropriately handle a low ceiling or doorway.

The Honor Guard Color Team Performance Critique

Another great free tool from The DrillMaster!

Click here to view/download: The Honor Guard Color Team Performance Critique

Use any time you have a color team (color guard) performing- even in a training situation. It is a great way to enhance knowledge and develop a keen eye in your honor guard members for what is right and wrong in a color team performance!

Here is a screen shot for you:

HG Performance Critique for Web


An Open Letter to Sports Network International (SNI)

Before we begin, the results: positive. See you inside the Ocean Center this year.

Some Background
When I was stationed in Netherlands in the early to mid 1990s, I was trained in visual adjudication by two expert staff members of WGI who flew over and spent time with me and other prospective judges for Color Guard Nederland, the Dutch offshoot of WGI. I spent hours reading, quizzing, watching videos and making recorded commentary and then spent the next couple of indoor (Marching band-type) color guard seasons judging General Effect.

In 2009, I began writing books for the Military Drill World (MDW). My second book was an adaptation of Winter Guard Internationals Adjudication Manual that I adapted for the MDW with WGI’s permission. While I was writing it, I was also explaining it the best I could on a couple different forums with one of those forums belonging to SNI. In that forum I’m sure that I came off as a know-it-all to the owners and staff of SNI and also other forum contributors and readers. That was not my intention, but at the time, I did not know how else to relay the information that I had.I thought I could help others see what I saw, even if it ruffled some feathers at first.

I not only ruffled feathers, I insulted SNI’s the owners and staff by what I wrote in the forum- with the intention of explaining how the adjudication system I wrote would serve the MDW much better than any other system. Now, while I still believe that, I could have come across much better and even waited until I finished writing the manual and even sent complimentary copies to SNI’s staff for their perusal.

My insults to the National High School Drill Team Championships judging system was a slap in the face to Justin Gates and Samantha Ste.Claire. and Justin took appropriate steps by removing me from the forum and banning me from SNI events. I forced you into taking steps that, in the eyes of some, made you the bad guys, when it was my fault all along.

And the Main Point
sni_nhsdtc_logoIt is embarrassing to write this, to admit I was very wrong in my approach to something I have been so passionate about for decades. However, sin must be called sin and as a Christian man, while I may never live up to, Jesus, the Model set forth by God, I must strive to reach that goal and ask forgiveness when I fall short and boy, did I fall short.

Justin and Samantha: I sincerely apologize to you both and to the others who I may have offended on the SNI forums or elsewhere concerning this issue. Hindsight may be 20/20, but sometimes it takes some time for an incident to come into focus.

Yes, I would like to be allowed back into SNI’s competitions, but I know that it may not be the right time yet, that is up to Mr. Gates and Ms. Ste.Claire. I do not expect open arms and embraces any time soon, but maybe one day I can sit down with you both after a long Nationals weekend and we can laugh at how stupid my actions were.

I have never wished SNI, the owners or staff any ill, I only hope the best for them all. After all, a Nationals weekend is something that lives on in the memories of thousands of former cadets across the Drill Nation.

The Not-so-New Problem for JROTC DrillTeams

Canadian Air Cadet DTNumbers and attendance. It’s nothing new to JROTC or some other high school activities. However, when it happens during your four years of school, it seems like a brand new problem has popped up. Over the years, I have received pleas from cadets who so badly want to march on their school’s drill team, but cannot seem to generate enough interest in the program among other cadets.

I received two messages within two days last week, one through Instagram and one through Kik, about drill team practice attendance numbers dropping.

I posted a question on Instagram and Facebook and received some interesting replies like these:

  • More community service hours opportunities are given in reward.
  • I started with a squad and did an exhibition routine with them and presented it to my Battalion. After they saw the things that we could do, it encouraged them to join.
  • I think drill teams should do more small performances in middle schools ms elementary schools. They should do basic stuff within the routine but still look super sharp and cool. They should also wear a nice beat uniform. Appearance attracts also

There are lean years where the extra-curricular activities in JROTC are scraping to get by and then there will be several years of more than enough cadets to fill all of the positions. Many schools experience this phenomenon almost cyclically.

I began to see a pattern, though, with the complaints of instructors not being fully involved tying in with poor attendance at drill team or color guard practice. For those who said their numbers were dropping, I asked if the instructors were involved and received these comments:

  • Not really. [Drill team is] mostly cadet run. It just seems commitment with the new cadets and seniors is just non existent.
  • Our instructors are not really there when we are training. They’re never there during drill. They do however get involved in certain functions, but I don’t really see them as being heavily involved, which is what we really need.

Lack of instructor involvement is an issue that needs to be addressed. But, here is what I see as a possible culprit to this issue: lack of drill and ceremonies awareness. When it comes to senior NCOs and CPOs, they are more management than anything else. While some do have experience with being a Drill Instructor, many do not and, even so, competitive military drill is very different when it comes to advanced training requirements. JROTC instructors who do not have drill experience are more likely to want to stay away from the drill pad when it comes to a drill team because of a lack of knowledge in this area. Something that I truly hope to change through my books and educational clinics.

Click here for all of the articles with the tag, Drill Team Training.

Relevant articles to this issue:

Team Training Difficulties
How to Restart a JROTC Drill Team
Drill Team Drama
My Drill Team Needs to Get Better!

I’ve written articles with suggestions on how to try to conquer this problem (listed above), but here I offer another, very different, suggestion: a community drill team and/or color team (see why I put “team” there instead of “guard,” here). Even partnering with a local Civil Air Patrol, Sea Cadet or Young Marine organization is an option.

The Community Drill Team
Here is a possible situation: You have a certain number of high schools in your area with maybe 5 or 6 cadets who are really interested in forming a team, not enough members for a team from that school, but pool those members into one team and you have a district or community team ready to march in competitions and parades.

There are several issues that come to mind from the beginning:

  • Where to hold practice?

Rotate between schools or hold practice in a central location.

  • How to get to practice?

Car pool to the central location

  • If different services, what manual to follow?

The senior service takes precedent in this order: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force & Coast Guard

  • What uniform?

Having a squad of each service would work well. It’s different, but then so is this whole situation.

  • Who is in charge, instructor-wise?

This could rotate on a weekly basis.

  • Who is in charge, cadet-wise?

As with the service honor guards, rank will always be respected, but the most competent of the members, regardless of rank, should be in charge. Is there more than one cadet who could lead well? Then have different formation commanders for phase of the competition: exhibition, regulation and inspection.

There are probably more questions to answer based on your unique situation, but I think you get the idea.

Could this work? I believe so, with patience and a willingness to work together, all hurdles can be surmounted.

Exhibition Drill Application Levels

Performance Measurements
Drill Application LevelsThere are five standard levels (“Boxes”) with corresponding number grades and definitions for each box that the World Drill Association Adjudication System grades, for each class: Junior, A and Open. The labels for each box represent the achievement of the performance: Seldom, Rarely, Sometimes, Frequently and Constantly. For WDA World Class, there is a sixth box which is labeled, Sets New Standards. For this example, though, we will simplify the measurement standards and use, Basic, Intermediate and Advanced.

When a Driller or team performs, there are four aspects of a performance that should to be measured.

The level of education, training and skill is evidenced in a performance. You need to ensure that your solo or your team’s performance has all of the following aspects locked in at your team’s level of performance.

Performance Aspects

  1. Drill: the choreographed design of what you march; your position in the drill area and the direction you face.
  2. Body work: whether you are marching armed or not, you must consider incorporating your body in movement, or even keeping your ‘cross’- I assure you, others will.
  3. Footwork: how your feet fit in with your performance. Do they accentuate certain moves? Or are they just there to keep you from falling over?
  4. Equipment Work: rifle, sword/saber, swing flag (for the Cali teams) or guidon, what you spin needs to be a seamless extension of your body.

Measurement Examples

Drill Application LevelsWhat I see in the majority of solo performances that I judge is displayed here at left. Drillers concentrate so much on their equipment work (rifle or sword/saber), that they tend to forget, or they don’t know about, the other aspects of a performance.

This is not necessarily a bad thing- one has to begin somewhere and the process of improving the performance begins with knowledge.

Drill Application LevelsAs another example, some drill teams will have a performance that looks like the picture at right. An unarmed team might look like the picture just below.

Drill Application Levels (3a)You can see how each performance aspect is at a different level. This makes the performance unbalanced and not as effective. Communication from the soloist/team to the audience, including the judge, is not clear. Clear communication is the standard to meet.

Disparities like these two examples show that training is unbalanced- either because the team does not know of each aspect, or because the team does not know how to address and improve the different aspects that are lacking.

The Sum of the Parts- Greater than the Whole

Drill Application LevelsThis image at left is, obviously, what you want. The synergistic affect of all of the performance aspects coming together at an advanced level gives the team that intangible feeling of performance perfection.

But how do you achieve it? Through the different techniques used in precise Training and then Practice and Rehearsal.

A trained judge can see training and practice come through in a performance.

What about the Team that cannot make it to the Advanced Level?
Drill Application Levels (4a)This is a great question! It is OK, to attain a certain of proficiency and remain there.

Manuals for Teaching Regulation Drill for Each Service!

Cover- Front Color Team (Color Guard) Coach's Field ManualYou can’t very well take your service’s drill and ceremonies manual outside with you and train from that- but training from the source is the best thing to do. How can you get around this obstacle to teaching?

Announcing the publishing of DrillMaster’s Color Team Coach’s Field Manual. Yes, for the field! Take it with you in your pocket, it is 6″ x 9″. Teaching regulation drill has never been easier!

Soon, the DrillMaster’s Drill Team Coach’s Manual will be available. Teaching regulation drill will be much easier with both of these new tools in your pocket!

Created to help instructors and cadets of competitive color teams and drill teams, these manuals mirror exactly what is in each service’s drill and ceremonies manual, but in an easy-to-handle spiral-bound book form. No more guessing what is exactly the correct way to execute a more or procedure while out on the drill field. Every movement of a competitive routine is listed from Standing Manual through the Manual of Arms, Manual of the Flagstaff, Marching, etc. These are quick reference guides with room for your notes- they do not replace the service drill and ceremonies manuals!

January: Drill Season is Here!

While some JROTC units have a busy first semester that includes drill meets, for many across America January is when the competitions begin. Some states, like Florida, do not have any drill meets until the end of January, leaving the first semester to Raider meets.

Drill O-clockMaybe, like the school where I teach, Merritt Island High School, you have been having a once-weekly practice to get your first-year cadets up to speed with standing manual and the manual of arms or, as in MIHS’s past, you might begin that work on the first day back to school in January- that is a tough way to begin; having to wedge in enough training to give the cadets their foundation to then start practice. If that is the case, you may already be behind the power curve or eight-ball , as the saying goes. Time is working against those who are unable to begin training at the beginning of school, or better yet, before school starts in the summer. Click here for more on the differences between Training and Practice and here for Rehearsal.

Maybe you need to restart your team? Click here, then.

In any case, military drill season is here! Do you have a training plan? Do you have a schedule to follow with schedule checkpoints along the way? Get going!

The Difference Between Practice and Rehearsal

It may seem strange, even silly, to define practice, training and rehearsal down to the “nth” degree. However, there are JROTC units that do not have the luxury of an experienced drill coach. Many JROTC instructors have never marched much past their Basic training days and that’s OK. Our military jobs came first and for many, marching was a thing of the past. Even with some JROTC instructors having marching experience, we now come into the competitive marching world which is a whole new ball of wax for just about everyone and defining our terms helps everyone learn.

I wrote about the difference between practice and training here. Please read this very important article. Here is a quote from that page to refresh your memory:

“We train to learn a new skill and then we practice that skill over and over.”

Now let’s look at something you may not have considered.

drillteam practicePractice
Everyone needs to practice their skills, those in the military and the civilian workforce practice all of the time and when it comes to a sport or a hobby than one is passionate about, practice can make all of the difference.

Our “hobby” is military drill: exhibition, regulation and/or ceremonial and when we practice our skill(s), we cement that action, through muscle memory into our actions so that we can perform that skill (a flag fold or a certain segment in an exhibition routine, for instance) almost exactly the same each time.

Let’s look at an exhibition drill routine. During practice, we can maybe feel that something is not quite or that if the rifle rotates another half-spin and it is then caught while the body is rotated to face this direction, then we can… I think you get the point. Practice helps us refine our skills that we learned during training and also helps us explore new options that we may not have considered before when we were just beginning to learn that skill. Practice and training can be interrupted again and again until the manual’s or our level of perfection is achieved, depending on the skill.

drillteam practice1Rehearsal
It is not just for dancers or musicians. If it isn’t already, this term needs to be incorporated into your preparations for a performance. You may already be doing this, but you are just not aware of how different this term is from the others previously mentioned.

A rehearsal is when, after training and much practice you run through your performance (posting the colors, a regulation sequence, etc.) from start to finish without stopping. Here, you can look at timing and boundary issues, if there are any. Rehearsing over and over is very necessary to create both muscle and visual memory and it helps to ensure that the team knows exactly what happens before, during and after the performance.

So, you knew about rehearsing? Excellent! I’m glad that you and your team have time allotted for that aspect of your training program. You didn’t know, or you kinda-sorta knew? That’s fine, everyone learns and now you can all pass along this vital information to the rest of your teammates to ensure that your program flourishes for years to come!

1st Female USADT Commander

Being a female officer in a mostly male military is not the easiest job; however, their are women who continue to tear down the walls and barriers that have prevented them from certain positions.
1st Lt. Lauran Glover, a military police officer, has paved the way for women in the U.S. Army when she was recently selected as the first woman drill commander of the U.S. Army Drill Team [USADT], 4th Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard).
For more than 50 years, the USADT has showcased the U.S. Army both nationally and internationally through breathtaking routines with bayonet-tipped 1903 Springfield rifles.
As the commander, Glover will lead that team of Soldiers in drill and ceremony during performances for military, government, non-profit, and civilian organizations.
“I am honored and proud for this opportunity to represent the Army, women and my country,” said Glover.
A graduate of the officer candidate school, Glover was first assigned as a military police officer at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Following that assignment, she became a platoon leader for the 289th Military Police [MP] Company (The Old Guard) on Joint Base Myer – Henderson Hall, Va.
“When I joined the Army, I had know idea the Army even had a drill team,” said Glover. “After I saw one of their performances, I knew I wanted to be part of that team and their legacy.”
She added only at The Old Guard can a Soldier conduct tactical training one day and then perform a world-class ceremony for the American public on the next day.
Performing in ceremonies is nothing new to Glover; after all, she was as a key member in the Military District of Washington’s 2014 Twilight Tattoo [TLT] and Spirit of America [SOA] performances.
TLT and SOA are live-action military pageants featuring Soldiers from The Old Guard and the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own.” They give a glimpse into American history through performances by The U.S. Army Blues, vocalists from The U.S. Army Band Downrange and U.S. Army Band Voices, The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, and The U.S. Army Drill Team.
“I enjoyed my time as a narrator during those shows,” said Glover. “It took countless hours of preparation and execution to prepare for the crowds averaging in the thousands from all across the country.”
Glover’s performances earned her numerous positive comments from not only the attendees but also from the senior leadership at The Old Guard.
“I have great leaders at here, and their experience and guidance has helped mold me to be the commander of the drill team,” said Glover. “It shows that, if you work hard, it doesn’t matter what your race or gender.”
Glover said she is happy that more women in the military are stepping up to take on rolls traditionally filled by men.
“I hope I do inspire other women and Soldiers just as I was inspired by my mother, who also serve in the military,” said Glover. “If you want to be or do something, it is all up to that individual.”


The Army does it again! Back in the 90s it was the first female Tomb Sentinel and now the Army’s drill team!

See on Scoop.itDrillCenter eMagazine

When in Doubt, Salute!

The title of this article served me and many others very well for many years. If you don’t know, a salute won’t hurt. If you don’t salute, you could get an ear-full.

“That’s Disrespectful!”
SaluteSaluting with the left or right hand has nothing to do with being disrespectful. The salute, in and of itself, no matter which hand is used, is respectful. The US military uses the right hand for a reason and that reason is utilitarian, not an issue of respect. Here is the history of the American military’s salute, courtesy of the US Army Quartermaster Historian.

No one knows the precise origin of today’s hand salute. From earliest times and in many distant armies throughout history, the right hand (or “weapon hand”) has been raised as a greeting of friendship. The idea may have been to show that you weren’t ready to use a rock or other weapon. Courtesy required that the inferior make the gesture first. Certainly there is some connection between this old gesture and our present salute.

One romantic legend has it that today’s military salute descended from the medieval knight’s gesture of raising his visor to reveal his identity as a courtesy on the approach of a superior. Another even more fantastic version is that it symbolizes a knight’s shielding his eyes from the dazzling beauty of some high-born lady sitting in the bleachers of the tournament.

The military salute has in fact had many different forms over the centuries. At one time it was rendered with both hands! In old prints one may see left-handed salutes. In some instances the salute was rendered by lowering the saber with one hand and touching the cap visor with the other.

The following explanation of the origin of the hand salute is perhaps closest to the truth: It was a long-established military custom for juniors to remove their headgear in the presence of superiors. In the British Army as late as the American Revolution a soldier saluted bv removing his hat. But with the advent of more cumbersome headgear in the 18th and 19th centuries, the act of removing one’s hat was gradually converted into the simpler gesture of grasping the visor, and issuing a courteous salutation. From there it finally became conventionalized into something resembling our modern hand salute.

As early as 1745 (more than two-and-a-half centuries ago) a British order book states that: “The men are ordered not to pull off their hats when they pass an officer, or to speak to them, but only to clap up their hands to their hats and bow as they pass.”

Whatever the actual origin of today’s hand salute, clearly in the tradition of the US Army it has always been used to indicate a sign of RESPECT – further recognition that in the profession of arms military courtesy is both a right and a responsibility of every soldier.

When and Who to Salute
Protocol requires a salute to the following:

  • President of the US
  • Commissioned and Warrant Officers
  • All Medal of Honor Recipients
  • Officers of Allied Foreign Countries

Render a salute for the following:

  • US National Anthem, “To the Color”, “Hail to the Chief”, or the playing of any foreign national anthem
  • When national colors are uncased outdoors
  • Reveille and retreat
  • Raising and lowering of the flag
  • When honors are sounded
  • Pledge of Allegiance – outdoors
  • When reporting
  • When turning over control of formations
  • Arrival and departure ceremonies for state officials

Authorized Left-Handed Salutes
Left SaluteDid you know that there are only two authorized salutes for the American Military? Along with the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps drum major, Boatswain’s Mates are authorized to salute with their left hand when piping a senior officer aboard a ship in either the Navy and Coast Guard. The pipe is held in the right hand when played, and the salute is rendered with the left hand.

Left Salute Fife Drum MajorThe Drum Major as well as the unit he leads, follows Revolutionary War standards of drill and ceremonies. That’s why the left-hand salute and the fact that his salute has the palm facing forward.

No one else is authorized to render a left-handed salute, but is there an exception? Yes. Any veteran missing their right arm is not going to be lectured as to the “proper” way to render a salute.

What about the “Latte Salute”?
While each American President is most likely briefed on how to properly render a return salute, it is not something a President is supposed to do. Actually, any civilian is not supposed to return the salute. President Ronald Reagan began returning the salutes rendered to him (he had a great deal of respect for the military) and it has continued since.

But, what about Exhibition Drill?
There is no such thing as an “authorized” move or position in exhibition drill. Judges: in the case of exhibition drill, please put away your perceptions of “right” and “wrong” that are based on what you have learned through the military. Cadets: have fun creating, but don’t allow something that someone else has created to become “absolute law” for you or your team- JROTC cadets have a great tendency to never pick up the manual and only learn by observation. Hence, what one sees must be how “it” is accomplished and no one can tell them any different.

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Training and Education for Drill Teams and Honor Guard Units

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