2017 Joint Service Drill Exhibition is on April 8, 2017!
HistoryThe Marine Corps won the first competition years ago when it was held inside a shopping center. You can see brief videos of that on YouTube. There was a long hiatus and the competition started back up, this time in front of the Jefferson Memorial. The JSDE is now held at the Lincoln Memorial.
Exhibition? What happened to the Competition?
Wasn’t it called the Joint Service Drill Competition? It was. The last JSDC, which I judged, was in 2011 and the Air Force was the winner- by a hair. Why the change? Fairness. The Marine Corps and Army have had their separate drill teams in one platoon and the members of those platoons have had their specific job of perfecting the routine. The Air Force eventually created a flight that does the same thing. I’m not completely informed as to the Navy’s team, but they probably have a platoon that is only for drill. That leaves the Coast Guard. They will never be able to win- that is not a statement that should in any way be associated with the CG’s team being poor. It is not. I am thrilled to watch all of the team’s performances every year ad love to watch the Coast Guard’s team. Why won’t they win? They are the smallest honor guard and are unable to have honor guard members totally dedicated to the drill team. All of the Coast Guard honor guard members must master every element of the honor guard: Colors, Pall Bearers and Firing Party. They all can switch around as needed so most of their time is spent practicing all of their duty related tasks, drill team is extra. Those who are on the drill team put in extra hours- and do a great job, mind you- but the routine must be kept relatively simple. The other teams that have dedicated honor guard members can create complex routines that “wow” the crowd and while the Coast Guard drill team still “wows” crowds with their performances, their routine, when viewed through a judges lens of Overall Effect, Composition Analysis, Equipment and Movement is unable- on purpose- to be as complex and still have the excellent execution that we see in the other service honor guard teams.
So, instead of handing the trophy back and forth between the Air Force and the Army, with the Marines getting in there every few years, we can go and watch and appreciate all of the performances since, in reality, they are winners just because they get up every morning, put on a perfect uniform, honor our country’s war dead and heads of state and then go off to practice drill.
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I’ve been teaching in various official capacities since 1986 and since 2009, I’ve been teaching various elements of what I have developed into a formal clinic for cadets, mainly, and JROTC instructors. The best news is that the clinic is free! I teach it to JROTC units as I travel the country instructing first responder ceremonial units.
The text of the flyer that I created is below and you can download the flyer at my Downloads page under the heading DrillMaster University. The best thing to do is get cadets from all over your area to attend the clinic that last three to five hours, depending on how many cadets attend.
Each service used to have its own drill and ceremonies manual and then the Navy opted to use the Marine Corps Order for drill and ceremonies and the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines went along with that. Now, we have three manuals: The Army’s Training Circular 3-21.5; the Corps’ MCO P5060.2; and Air Force Manual 36-2203. You can download the latest versions at my Downloads page, here.
Using your service D&C manual as a training tool can be quite cumbersome and difficult, that’s why I created two books, The Color Guard Coach’s Field Manual, DMFM 22-5A, and The Platoon/Flight & Drill Team Coach’s Field Manual, DMFM 22-5B. DMFM stands for DrillMaster Field Manual. Both of these books are available in perfect-bound and spiral bound. The links above take you to the spiral bound book store pages. Both FMs are only 6 inches by 9 inches to fit in a cargo pocket and most of the pages have space for your notes. It’s like having a lesson plan in your pocket. The books are not a rehash of the service D&C manuals, I took only the parts that pertain to cadet daily and competition marching from each service to highlight certain requirements. Each cadet still needs to be familiar with their service manual.
I ran into a big problem about three weeks ago (as of this publishing date) and immediately scrambled into action to fix the issue.
I blew it. I had the wrong file uploaded as the master contents for the Color Guard FM. That file was more of a place holder while I completed the true master which, I just realized, was incomplete! What a huge oversight on my part!
I have a copy, now what?
If you purchased a copy of the Color Guard FM from www.paradestore.com before October 20th, you should already have been contacted by them and will be shipped a new book immediately. If you purchased a copy of the book from my Lulu bookstore, before the same date, please contact me here, I will reply to that email, and all you have to do is send me a picture of you holding the book and your address. I will ship a new book to you right away.
Paradestore’s stocks are updated, the old version is gone and I sincerely apologize for this terrible oversight of mine. I will make every effort to not let it happen again!
“Right now we as a nation are struggling with many negative issues in our country, but the one thing I can tell you is this… Americans love their veterans and Operation Honor Guard shows this by the overwhelming response and outpouring of monies and support by community members.”
The 2016 Operation Honor Guard Day of Giving was a huge success! Community members and corporate partners combined to donate over 170,000.00. The response has been overwhelming and honor guards in Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan will soon be looking more uniform as their honor guard details head out to honor fallen veterans. Operation Honor Guard started out as just a local fundraiser in Vermilion County, headed by funeral director Rich Darby of Sunset Funeral Homes in Danville, IL. The fundraiser was such a success in year 3 when it raised over $60,000 that Rich knew it was time to turn this fundraiser into its own nonprofit organization. Operation Honor Guard now a 501(c)(3) organization exists to solely outfit and eventually train veteran service organization honor guards throughout the nation.
It takes over $800 to properly outfit 1 honor guard member. On top of this other costs are flags, rifles, rifle repair, transportation, training, and any other item needed in the regular use of an ceremonial team. Funds raised this year will help numerous teams across Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan and this number will continue to rise each year as honor guard members are reaching out and asking for financial assistance. If you have questions, call Operation Honor Guard direct at 844-409-1049 or visit their website at www.operationhonorguard.us.
During my 20-year US Air Force Career, I was stationed in three European countries and Japan as well as two states. I had not been to the Middle East or the African continent. Those two places are now added to the list.
Six Months in Planning
Apparently, I have a fan or two overseas. One just happens to live in Qatar and is part of the Police College of Qatar (PCoQ). He contacted the translation staff at the college asking for them to initiate a discussion as to how I could accomplish a significant task for them. The next six months were all about ironing out details and ensuring we were talking about the same thing in two different languages, Arabic and English.
Exhibition Drill Around the World
All one has to do is go to YouTube and see all kinds of videos that highlight drill teams performing exhibition drill. The bulk of videos is going to be of American drill teams, mostly high school JROTC. However, if you keep searching you will see some very interesting exhibition performances from all across Asia, Europe and even a few from the Middle East.
Of the performances outside of the USA, most are made up of a single-file line with some amazing ripple movements (see the Belarus Ripple Line here). That is because the rifles used now (M-16 like) do not facilitate any other effective manipulation or armed exhibition drill that includes tossing rifles around is just not a cultural thing.
After judging all kinds of visual performances since 1986, my view as to a limiting factor for exhibition drill outside America, is the use of what I consider highly ceremonial British-styled (foot) drill. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the style and have worked with a Canadian Army Cadets team as well as spent a few hours learning how to march being taught by British Army cadets and staff. I enjoyed learning the style and exchanging good-natured slighting remarks.
You can see this limiting factor that I previously mentioned in videos that display the style. The style does not allow for a consistent horizontal or even vertical flow for an exhibition performance (read about Flow here). As I said, it is very ceremonial in nature, and that is what makes watching the style so mesmerizing at times. For exhibition drill, though, it creates severe performance restrictions. As an example, see these selected videos (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLcRniWQELcW4uU89-FEIL4po_e6boF6Up)
So, what is one to do when the prevailing style is British and yet one wants to knock the socks off of everyone with an exhibition drill performance? Teach a new style that is specifically for the performance and this is exactly what the PCoQ training staff was looking for.
Below is the video of the opening ceremonies of the PCoQ. The PCoQ does not have it’s own compound, it is part of the Police Training Institute. The PCoQ’s own compound will be finished some time in 2017.
The cadets here were trained for five weeks before the ceremony by the staff of the PCoQ. Just weeks prior, the cadets were in high school having not marched before. I think they did an outstanding job!
Note: I do not have pictures and video that I can share due to the Qatar Military Secrets Act, I cannot publish anything other than official work from the PCoQ. I’ll have that soon. The pictures and video I have were used for training purposes.
New, New, New!
Now that we established the style that the cadets and staff know by heart, we can see what the three-week training session entailed.
Once established, muscle memory can be difficult to recreate and that is exactly what Matt and I had to do with the 15 staff members, recreate their muscle memory. We worked Standing Manual, teaching the staff to stand with their feet together at the heels and toes, new facing movements and then a new manual of arms with totally different rifles (thank you Joe Rivas of Glendale Paradestore!), not to mention the rifles being quite a bit heavier than what the staff members were used to! We even had classroom time for briefings on how to train, how to write drill and how to judge/develop a critical eye.
Only Three Weeks?
Three weeks is not enough to learn a completely different way of drill, let alone an exhibition routine, but the staff did an amazing job of just that and they learned almost four minutes of the routine! Here is a glimpse of the graduation ceremony performance:
Much more work, much more. The ultimate performance will be for the first graduation of the PCoQ in 2019. That means a great deal of practice and still more training to come and that means more news to come!
South Africa is quite a wonderful, hard and difficult country, for me, at least. For seven years Tshepo (“Tse-poh”) Tautshwane and I have known each other through Facebook. He has been very interested in drill and has wanted to start a drill team/(marching band) color guard for his church’s marching band.
Tshepo is the drum major of his band and a student at North West University majoring in music education. He plays tuba extremely well and has a passion to teach others. Below are some pictures of my trip. Top left is my wonderful new family, Lilly, Elizabeth, Nkepile (Tshepo and Elizabeth’s mom), and Natsu. Lilly and Natsu are Tshepo’s Nieces. Christian, who had to run off to school before the picture, is his nephew.
The bottom right picture is of Tshepo and fellow drum major for another marching band, Motlatsi Moloi. I took six color guard rifles over to help create the new auxiliary for the band. They learned some military manual of arms and also how to spin the rifles.
There is also much more to come from South Africa and the DrillMaster!
Yes, it is true! The DrillMaster has been international for years now, but my travels have not taken me outside of the country until today. At 1 pm Eastern, I will fly with my good friend and exhibition drill colleague, Matthew Pereau. We are truly excited and blessed for this opportunity!
Our first stop is Qatar where we will train a group for three weeks. Matt will fly back home and I will continue on for four days in Johannesburg, South Africa. I will publish the many details about the trip complete with video and pictures upon my return.
If George Costanza (from the TV series Seinfeld) can have “The Summer of George!” Then those of us in the military drill world can have The Summer of Drill! Every summer! But our summers will be filled with training and performances!
Each summer, I am heavily engaged with the Cadet Joint Service Honor Guard Academy in Flemingsburg, Kentucky at the National Cadet Training Center at Camp Sousley, training cadets at drill camps, and working with first responders teaching Honor Guard Ceremonial Unit Academies across the country. I even travel internationally, at times, writing and teaching exhibition drill.
Competitions: Solo exhibition drill competitions are just about everywhere. Seek and you will find. If you would like to advertise your competition on this website contact me!
If you contact me, please be patient as I will be working long, thoroughly enjoyable days. I will get back to you as soon as I can!
My best advice? Read, read, read, read, read. Knowledge is key!