Tag Archives: jrotc

Why The DrillMaster for Cadets?

I was asked a short time ago why someone would hire me or use the skills I’ve acquired. That is an excellent question. Why indeed.

Question: Concerning drill, what would you tell someone who is just coming into JROTC, whether they are an instructor or a cadet?

Read. Read your service drill and ceremonies manual. You need to know it so well that you can start reciting quotes from it in your sleep. Then, you need to practice, practice, and practice. Strive for excellence in every movement, armed and unarmed.

Question: But you have just negated the need to bring in the DrillMaster.

My response: From the outside, that would seem to be true, but we are talking about competitive regulation drill in the JROTC world. The key word here is, competitive and the service manuals were not made for competitive drill. To highlight this, the Army’s TC 3-21.5 states that drill is incorporated in the military to move from point A to point B. That is it unless you are assigned to a unit that has a specific need for a much more advanced level of drill and ceremonies. I am definitely needed.

I teach a course called DrillUp! that helps cadets learn the necessary tools for competitive regulation drill and also have two books that are made specifically to teach every aspect of competitive regulation drill for the flight/platoon and color guard. These two DrillMaster Field Manuals help build that competitive drill foundation that cover all areas that cadets and instructors need to know for JROTC in pocket-sized.

If the instructor is comfortable teaching, great. If not, I am available to work with the cadets and the instructor to ensure they all have a solid foundation.

Many JROTC instructors do not have a firm grasp of drill and that can be daunting. Afterall, drill and ceremonies is not a major aspect of military life like it once was and is only given a cursory overview during professional development courses, and that’s only for the Enlisted, drill falls under the purview of the non-commissioned/Petty Officer meaning commissioned officers do not receive training. There are cases where the officer had ROTC and was on the college’s drill team, but this is fairly rare.

Regulation Drill: Cadets need to learn 1) unarmed and 2) armed Regulation Drill and then 3) color guard. The sequence works best in that order.

Question: Once Regulation Drill gets nailed down, then what?

Move to Exhibition Drill (XD). Regulation Drill (RD) is the foundation that must be taught first and XD can then be layered onto that foundation. Unarmed XD gives cadets a good understanding of this http://www.lulu.com/shop/john-marshall/the-drillmaster-filling-in-the-gaps-vol-ii/paperback/product-21908902.htmnew level of performing and armed XD takes drill to an even higher level.

My books, Exhibition Drill for the Military Drill Team and Vol II of the same name, The DrillMaster: Filling in the Gaps and it’s Vol II, The World Drill Association Adjudication Manual and Continuing Education book are must-haves for every drill team out there. My favorite saying is, education is key! and I really mean that.

Question: What about units that want a ceremonial program?

Many JROTC, ROTC, and first responder departments have an honor guard unit and my book, The Honor Guard Manual, is the perfect addition for their training library. It is the only published manual that covers every aspect of a military honor guard.

What I provide in a course comes right from my books. I do not need to be there if someone has a good understanding of drill and ceremonies and they are teaching from my books. Most of the time, I need to be there to get everyone going whether that be a weeklong honor guard academy or a weekend drill clinic. After that, the teams usually have the required knowledge to push on from there. However, I am always a phone call or email away if questions arise!

There are three types of military drill: I teach Regulation, Ceremonial, and Exhibition Drill. There are two types of Exhibition Drill: Standard (high school drill teams) and Ceremonial (think of the service drill teams).

The Colors Counter March How-To

The Marine Corps’ Counter March for the Color Guard can be somewhat of a mystery. Why? The guiding directive, MCO P5060.20 is not as crystal clear as one would like.

Before we continue: “If a female is part of the color guard she wears trousers and not a skirt, for uniformity. When designating the uniform for the color guard, consideration should be given to the effect that the color bearers’ slings may have on ribbons and badges. Slings are adjusted so that the colors are the same height when at the carry or, if this isn’t possible, the national colors are slightly higher than the organizational colors. If necessary, have the senior color bearer slightly taller than the organizational color bearer. All members of the color guard wear the pistol belt (white belt if in blues); the color bearers wear the pistol belt over the sling to keep the sling firmly in place. If the color guard is wearing the service cover, then they use two chinstraps. One is worn normally and the second one is worn under the chin.

“All colors carried by the color guard are attached to staffs of equal height. The standard color staff consists of a 9 1/2-foot, hardwood pole capped at each end by metal ferrules. The use of the all-metal staff is only authorized for Marine Barracks, Washington, DC. A metal spearhead screws into the top of the staff.”

Alignment of the color guard members. The text and pictures* do not match in the manual. “The color guard is formed and marches in one rank at close interval [yet, at least two pictures show the color team shoulder-to-shoulder while standing fast and marching, DM] with the color bearers in the center. While marching, members of the color guard do not swing their free arms. ”

*Some of the pictures are of Marines attached to the honor guard in DC and thereby show hand positions that are not authorized for the rest of the fleet and JROTC units: knuckles horizontal when at attention and index finger pointed to the ground when using the strong grip on a flagstaff. The first one got me, but followers on social media were able to help me figure it out.

Counter March text from the manual


1. The command is “Countermarch, MARCH.” It may be executed while halted, marking time, or marching. When marking time or marching, the command of execution “MARCH” is given as the left foot strikes the deck. When this command is given while marking time or marching, the color guard will take one more 2-inch vertical step in place or one more 30-inch step forward with the right foot before starting the half steps for this movement. If executed from the halt, the color guard will immediately begin the designated steps starting with the left foot. (See figure 7-18.)

Counter March

2. The national color bearer pivots to the left [a Face-in-March works, so does marking time, stepping to the left and turning in place. DM], moving into the position formerly occupied by the organizational color bearer, facing the new direction of march and begins marking time.

3. The organizational color bearer takes one-half step forward, pivots to the right outside the national color bearer, moving into the position formerly occupied by the national color bearer, facing the new direction of march and begins marking time.

4. The right color guard takes two half-steps forward, pivots to the left, outside the organizational color bearer, moving into the position formerly occupied by the left color guard, facing the new direction of march and begins marking time.

5. The left color guard takes three half-steps forward, pivots to the right outside the right color guard, moving into the position formerly occupied by the right color guard, facing the new direction of march and begins marking time.

6. Upon completion of this movement, the entire color guard marks time until it is halted or until it receives the command “Forward, MARCH” or “Colors, HALT.”

Notice that in the description above the pivot foot is not necessarily indicated. One can then assume that a pivot on the outside or inside foot is appropriate. Also, even though step counts are given, it does not mean those counts are when the pivots must take place.

Take a look at this video and see what I mean about the pivots happening on the inside (right rifle guard) and outside (MC color bearer and left rifle guard) feet and step counts- all team members take three steps and pivot on that thrid step.

Also, notice that the Marines glide as they march- this is proer marching technique and comes from using the hip, buttocks and leg muscles as they were meant to be used. Let us not forget the core muscles as well!

The text coupled with the video should help many in the MC, N & CG JROTC cadets better understand their responsibilities.

The Graveside Sequence For Funeral Directors Part 1

This is a Full Honors Funeral with all elements present. A Standard Honor Funeral would encompass the pallbearers also firing the Three-Volley Salute as the firing party.

Military and first responder funerals are about the deceased, but for the family. With that being, the family needs to be able to see every element of the honor guard.

Funeral Setup

In the image above, we see where to station each element of a full honors funeral. Notice that there are clear lines of sight for colors, bugler, and firing party. The ability of the family to see each element is paramount and funeral directors, this is part of your job. Am I dictating to funeral directors? No, I am explaining what is supposed to happen. Many do not have a complete understanding of a military/first responder funeral sequence, speaking of sequences, here is a standard military funeral sequence.

  1. The honor guard arrives one hour before the ceremony and makes a couple of dry runs in their travel uniform.
  2. Fifteen to 20 minutes before the funeral, the team changes into their ceremonial uniform and forms up each element, pall bearers should face the grave.
  3. When the family arrives in the cemetery, the team should “tighten up”.
  4. At 100 yards out, team leadership calls everyone to attention.
  5. At 50 yards out, key members render a hand salute.
  6. The hearse, say “coach” in front of the family, pulls up with the casket (6-sided coffins are not really used much anymore in the USA). Salutes are dropped.
  7. The family and guests exit their vehicles and gather around the coach. The funeral director signals the commander of the team to begin.
  8. The pallbearers remove the casket and transport the casket to the grave all elements render a salute.
  9. The pallbearers place the casket on the mockup and all elements drop their salutes.
  10. The pallbearers bring the flag to “tabletop” and wait to begin military honors.

The funeral can go one of two ways, depending on what the family wants:

  1. Religious service first. A chaplain says a few words and the funeral director says, “Ladies and gentlemen, please rise (prepare) for the rendering of (military) honors”. Then military honors, all elements depart.
  2. (Military) honors first. The firing party fires the Three-Volley Salute, the bugler sounds Taps, the pallbearers fold and then present the flag to the next of kin. Then the religious service, all elements depart.

See part two for the Modified Honors/Retiree Funeral.

What a JROTC Drill Team Commander Should Know

studyBeing a Leader
Question 1: I was thinking about my weaknesses & strengths and a problem appeared to me. I want to be drill team commander, but I’m going to be a second-year cadet. Some of the other cadets are 3rd year, and it would appear to me that they would say, “why wasn’t I chosen?” This is going to be my first time actually leading a competing team other than an in-class team, and I thought about what do I do to make the team stay motivated and focused without them leaving and saying they don’t have to listen to me. Please help me get a better understanding of what I could do to become a better leader.

Answer 1: The best way to become a leader is by developing your educational foundation. That means, read about exhibition and regulation drill. Study your service drill and ceremonies manual and read every article at my website that pertains to you. Then, read about leadership: how to lead, what to say, how to motivate, etc.

My books are also available to you. Learn how to create an exhibition drill routine: how to write the drill and then layer the body movements and, if your team is armed, the rifle movements, on top of the written drill. You have much studying to do and at times it may seem dull, but your end goal will make studying so worthwhile.

You also have me. I am here to answer your questions or to just give you that extra motivation. Whatever I can do. You have my personal email address now, so make good use of it.

Let your instructors know that you are interested in becoming the drill team commander, that you plan on spending the summer deep in study and that you will return next school year a much-educated cadet.

A Quick Overview of Leadership Styles

While some have identified 13 or more styles, simplicity is the key for this introduction to leadership. I will go over the three main styles that the military uses: Directional, Participative, and Laissez-Faire. One does not choose a style and stick with it

  1. Directional is an autocratic style of leadership. It means that those under your supervision need you to direct each step. This is a beginning style of leadership, when those you supervise are new to the task (e.g. teaching drill). It can also be a punitive style that you can use when one of those you lead makes a big mistake, you bring them back to the beginning of the training process and direct their every move and progress onto the next style.
  2. Participative leadership means that those you supervise need little direction from you to complete the task. It is the next step in leadership and means that you can let them come to you for guidance and can also check on them throughout the day. You must  check and not rely solely on those you are training to come to you.
  3. Laissez-Faire is a French term meaning, let do. It is a hands-off approach to leadership. Use this style when those you supervise have mastered their task requirements.

Developing a PROPER Command Voice
Question 2: I just attended a leadership camp and I was able to meet many cadets from schools all over my area. Which means, of course, different cultures and sounds, etc. Which made me think, what is a good command voice for AFJROTC? Please help me understand and build my command voice to the best of my abilities.

Answer 2: Good to hear from you again! This is a great learning situation in which you find yourself. You’ve come to the right place. There are standardized, proper ways to call commands- probably none of which you might have heard this summer. Please read my article, Your Command Voice.

Strictness and The Other Guy Lost
Question 3: I’ve tried your tips, and they have worked! Many cadets have told me to get more strict, but I don’t want to come off as mean, and have all my team leave. Please help me find the balance.

Also, I have a cadet who wanted the position of drill team commander, but I got it, so I felt tension from him when he saw I got it. Do you know any possible way I can resolve these problems?

Answer 3: Strictness is a matter of perception. What you really need to do is establish and maintain standards. That is not being mean-spirited to others, it is upholding standards.

Standards like

  • Arriving on time
  • Learning and maintaining standing manual, the manual of arms
  • and/or the manual of the flagstaff
  • Respect, integrity, etc.
  • Uniform wear
  • Just about anything else of which you can think

In my junior year, I beat out another cadet who wanted drill team commander. He eventually got over it and I fully supported him in his unarmed solo exhibitions- in which he absolutely blew away the competition. Make the other cadet feel as though you support him and make him feel that he is part of the team, just like the others. Maybe offer him the ability to help design the team’s routine or make adjustments to it.

I’m glad my advice is helpful!

Kings Dominion Drill Competition 2015!


Kings Dominion, the World Drill Association (WDA) and the DrillMaster partnered together to bring the first Kings Dominion Drill Competition in October or 2015. It was a huge success, the teams performed, received an education and were eager to find out when the next competition is scheduled!

The purpose of the competition, so early in the school year, is to create a foundational as well as educational score with WDA adjudication system feedback. From there, teams can only learn and grow in future competitions!

Kings Dominion, the WDA and the DrillMaster are excited about the prospects for KDDC16, stay tuned- on INstagram follow @KingsDominionVA and @DrillMasterTraining!

Click on the links below to download the DrillMaster Audio Performance Feeback files.

Excellence is More Than “Clean”

“Clean” has many different definitions. In visual terms, however, we use it to mean, “having no needed corrections; easily readable”.

WHOA! what is this “easily readable” stuff, are we are talking about drill teams? Yes, drill teams are a part of the visual performance family. This family includes, dance, marching band, step, etc. Click here for my article explaining Readability.

See this article, The Difference between Accuracy and Precision. Accuracy: the quality or state of being correct, and, Precision: the quality, condition, or fact of being exact.

Excellence: the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.

More than just the absence of error
You will notice how there are timing and technique issues, but the audience is always mesmerized and fully appreciative of the drill team’s performances, no matter what service team performs. The military service drill teams strive for audience engagement. The way you can tell is the constant use (all of the service drill teams do this) of the basic manual with slight adaptations and very little advanced exhibition rifle manual. In fact, the teams usually pick 2 or 4 soloists that have a more advanced and wider vocabulary with the rest of the team using the adapted manual.

Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.

Harriet B. Braiker

JROTC Cadets May Not Wear Service Uniform Items

AFHG Cover

UPDATE: AFJROTC cadets may wear the Hap Arnold, Wing and Star cap device only if the unit has written permission from HG AFJROTC. Individual cadets may not wear the device, but special teams may with the written permission. For more on seeking permission, read the article, New AFJROTC Drill Team Uniform Policy.

JROTC Cadets May Not Wear ANY Service Uniform Items. Cadets in JROTC are not in the military.

A few Air Force JROTC cadets created a little stir in the Military Drill World a little while ago when a friend of mine and I discovered pictures on Instagram and Facebook showing cadets wearing uniforms items that are solely for military service members. What began with Air Force and even Army JROTC cadets wearing the AF Base Honor Guard Badge continued with cadets wearing the Hap Arnold, Wing and Star cap device and other cap devices. Rest assured, those instances were taken care of by a colleague of mine at HQ AFJROTC.

Army JROTC, Marine Corps JROTC, Navy JROTC, and even Coast Guard CPJLP cadets all have guidance on the authorized accouterments for your specific uniform. Find those guidelines (listed here) and follow them. Ignorance is unacceptable. Please remember: Federal law imposes certain restrictions on wearing a military uniform.

For AFJROTC cadets, here is the information that you need to know:

AFJROTC Consolidated Operational Supplement, August 1, 2015, 7.6.8: Badges or insignia from Active Duty, Guard, Reserve, or any other non- AFJROTC group are not authorized on the AFJROTC uniform.

What is authorized? Here is a picture showing the proper device (picture from supplyroom.com).

AFJROTC Cap Device


Thanks to MSgt Lee Messina for the uniform guidance quote.

Service Core Values and You


Each Service several years ago began codifying what the service stands for and what standards the service members needed to uphold. Even if you are a first-year JROTC cadet, you need to take on these standards and make them your own. It will be so beneficial for you right away and in the long term.

Don’t follow the ways of all of the junk broadcast on TV and in movies. Set standards and maintain them. You can also go a step beyond that and exceed the standards.

In service order:

Army Pall Bearers_200x280US Army (LDRSHIP)

  1. Loyalty – Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit and other Soldiers.
  2. Duty – Fulfill your obligations.
  3. Respect – Treat people as they should be treated.
  4. Selfless Service – Put the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your subordinates before your own.
  5. Honor – Live up to all the Army values.
  6. Integrity – Do what’s right, legally and morally.
  7. Personal Courage – Face fear, danger, or adversity [physical or moral].

US Marine Corps

  • Marine ColorsHonor This is the bedrock of our character. It is the quality that empowers Marines to exemplify the ultimate in ethical and moral behavior: to never lie, cheat, or steal; to abide by an uncompromising code of integrity; to respect human dignity; and to have respect and concern for each other. It represents the maturity, dedication, trust, and dependability that commit Marines to act responsibly, be accountable for their actions, fulfill their obligations, and hold others accountable for their actions.
  • Courage The heart of our Core Values, courage is the mental, moral, and physical strength ingrained in Marines that sees them through the challenges of combat and the mastery of fear, and to do what is right, to adhere to a higher standard of personal conduct, to lead by example, and to make tough decisions under stress and pressure. It is the inner strength that enables a Marine to take that extra step.
  • Commitment This is the spirit of determination and dedication within members of a force of arms that leads to professionalism and mastery of the art of war. It promotes the highest order of discipline for unit and self and is the ingredient that instills dedication to Corps and country 24 hours a day, pride, concern for others, and an unrelenting determination to achieve a standard of excellence in every endeavor. Commitment is the value that establishes the Marine as the warrior and citizen others strive to emulate.

US Navy


  • Navy Honor Guard from FlikrI am accountable for my professional and personal behavior. I will be mindful of the privilege I have to serve my fellow Americans. I will:
  • Abide by an uncompromising code of integrity, taking full responsibility for my actions and keeping my word.
  • Conduct myself in the highest ethical manner in relationships with seniors, peers and subordinates.
  • Be honest and truthful in my dealings within and outside the Department ofthe Navy.
  • Make honest recommendations to my seniors and peers and seek honest recommendations from junior personnel.
  • Encourage new ideas and deliver bad news forthrightly.
  • Fulfill my legal and ethical responsibilities in my public and personal life.


  • Courage is the value that gives me the moral and mental strength to do what is right, with confidence and resolution, even in the face of temptation or adversity. I will:
  • Have the courage to meet the demands of my profession.
  • Make decisions and act in the best interest of the Department of the Navy and the nation, without regard to personal consequences.
  • Overcome all challenges while adhering to the highest standards of personal conduct and decency.
  • Be loyal to my nation by ensuring the resources entrusted to me are used in an honest, careful and efficient way.


  • The day-to-day duty of every man and woman in the Department of the Navy is to join together as a team to improve the quality of our work, our people and ourselves. I will:
  • Foster respect up and down the chain of command.
  • Care for the personal and spiritual well-being of my people.
  • Show respect toward all people without regard to race, religion or gender.
  • Always strive for positive change and personal improvement.
  • Exhibit the highest degree of moral character, professional excellence, quality, and competence in all that I do.

US Air Force


911 Airlift Wing Res in PA flag on leftThe Airman is a person of integrity, courage and conviction.

Integrity is a character trait. It is the willingness to do what is right even when no one is looking. It is the moral compass, the inner voice, the voice of self-control and the basis for the trust imperative in today’s military.

Integrity is the ability to hold together and properly regulate all of the elements of a personality. A person of integrity, for example, is capable of acting on conviction. A person of integrity can control impulses and appetites.

But integrity also covers several other moral traits indispensable to national service.

A person of integrity possesses moral courage and does what is right even if the personal cost is high.

Honesty is the hallmark of the military professional because, in the military, our word must be our bond. We don’t pencil-whip training reports, we don’t cover up tech data violations, we don’t falsify documents and we don’t write misleading operational readiness messages. The bottom line is: We don’t lie, and we can’t justify any deviation.

No person of integrity is irresponsible; a person of true integrity acknowledges his/her duties and acts accordingly.

No person of integrity tries to shift the blame to others or take credit for the work of others. “The buck stops here” says it best.

A person of integrity practices justice. Those who do similar things must get similar rewards or similar punishments.

Professionals of integrity encourage a free flow of information within the organization. They seek feedback from all directions to ensure they are fulfilling key responsibilities, and they are never afraid to allow anyone at any time to examine how they do business.

To have integrity is also to respect oneself as a professional and a human being. A person of integrity does not behave in ways that would bring discredit upon himself/herself or the organization to which he/she belongs.

A person of integrity grasps and is sobered by the awesome task of defending the Constitution of the United States of America.


An Airman’s professional duties always take precedence over personal desires.

Service before self tells us that professional duties take precedence over personal desires. At the very least, it includes the following behaviors:

To serve is to do one’s duty, and our duties are most commonly expressed through rules. While it may be the case that professionals are expected to exercise judgment in the performance of their duties, good professionals understand that rules have a reason for being – and the default position must be to follow those rules unless there is a clear, operational reason for refusing to do so.

Service before self, tells us also that a good leader places the troops ahead of his/her personal comfort. We must always act in the certain knowledge that all persons possess a fundamental worth as human beings.

Professionals cannot indulge themselves in self-pity, discouragement, anger, frustration or defeatism. They have a fundamental moral obligation to the persons they lead to strike a tone of confidence and forward-looking optimism. More specifically, they are expected to exercise control in the following areas:

Military professionals and especially commanders at all echelons are expected to refrain from displays of anger that would bring discredit upon themselves and/or the Air Force.

Those who allow their appetites to drive them to make sexual overtures to subordinates are unfit for military service. Likewise, the excessive consumption of alcohol casts doubt on an individual’s fitness.

Religious toleration
Military professionals must remember that religious choice is a matter of individual conscience. Professionals – and especially commanders – must not take it upon themselves to change or coercively influence the religious views of subordinates.


Every American Airman strives for continual improvement in self and service.

Excellence in all we do directs us to develop a sustained passion for continuous improvement and innovation that will propel the Air Force into a long-term, upward spiral of accomplishment and performance.

We must focus on providing services and generating products that fully respond to customer wants and anticipate customer needs, and we must do so within the boundaries established by the tax-paying public.

Military professionals must seek out and complete professional military education, stay in physical and mental shape and continue to refresh their general educational backgrounds.

Community excellence is achieved when the members of an organization can work together to successfully reach a common goal in an atmosphere that is free from fear and that preserves individual self-worth. Some of the factors influencing interpersonal excellence are:

Mutual respect
Genuine respect involves viewing another person as an individual of fundamental worth. Obviously, this means that a person is never judged on the basis of his/her possession of an attribute that places him/her in some racial, ethnic, economic or gender-based category.

Benefit of the doubt
Working hand in glove with mutual respect is that attitude that says all coworkers are innocent until proven guilty. Before rushing to judgment about a person or his/her behavior, it is important to have the whole story.

Excellence in all we do also demands that we aggressively implement policies to ensure the best possible cradle-to-grave management of resources.

Material resources excellence
Military professionals have an obligation to ensure that all of the equipment and property they ask for is mission essential. This means that residual funds at the end of the year should not be used to purchase “nice to have” add-ons.

Human resources excellence
Human resources excellence means that we recruit, train, promote and retain those who can do the best job for us.

There are two kinds of operations excellence: internal and external.

Excellence of internal operations
This form of excellence pertains to the way we do business internal to the Air Force from the unit level to Air Force Headquarters. It involves respect on the unit level and a total commitment to maximizing the Air Force team effort.

Excellence of external operations
This form of excellence pertains to the way in which we treat the world around us as we conduct our operations. In peacetime, for example, we must be sensitive to the rules governing environmental pollution, and in wartime we are required to obey the laws of war.

The Coast Guard Honor Guard stands in formation before the beginning of the Coast Guard's Veteran's Day wreathlaying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetary.  USCG photo by PA1 Adam EggersUS Coast Guard

  • Honor

Integrity is our standard. We demonstrate uncompromising ethical conduct and moral behavior in all of our personal actions. We are loyal and accountable to the public trust.

  • Respect

We value our diverse work force. We treat each other with fairness, dignity, and compassion. We encourage individual opportunity and growth. We encourage creativity through empowerment. We work as a team.

  • Devotion to Duty

We are professionals, military and civilian, who seek responsibility, accept accountability, and are committed to the successful achievement of our organizational goals. We exist to serve. We serve with pride.


An Embarrassing Color Guard Performance

I created this article for two reasons:

  1. Help deflect questions that usually arise and come my way. The questions go something like this: “Can we do this/[is this proper] for our color guard?”
  2. Communicate to everyone, even Active Duty, Guard, Reserve, law enforcement, and firefighters that what you do is usually caught on camera and/or video and affects others in some way and that is communicating that ‘they must know what they are doing, so we can do it too’.

I am not writing this to lambast anyone. It’s all about educating. Bad Navy Colors2I reposted the picture at right on my Instagram page from the Yankees baseball team page. In the comments of that picture on my account, you can read comments from an individual who tears into me for pointing out the huge mistakes saying that I should “punish in private, etc.”. While that is a great rule to follow, there are dozens of JROTC cadets and even members of the military who ask me questions all the time about pictures just like this. See Reason 1, at the top.

Yogi Berra just passed (25 Sep 15) and the team paid their respects having a Navy Reserve color team from the NOSC (Naval Operational Support Center, NYC) come to present the colors since Mr. Berra was a Sailor. It was a great ceremony and everyone can give kudos to the Sailors there to present the colors, their hearts were in the right place. However… Their technique mars the performance and heart does not come into it!

If we dissect the top picture, we see the problems:

  1. The colors are in the incorrect order
  2. The right rifle guard is at Reverse Port, which is not authorized for a color team
  3. The left rifle guard is in a different position from the other- but she is the only one who is correct!
  4. The color bearer’s left hands should be at their sides since there isn’t much of a breeze.

Bad Navy ColorsIn this next picture, courtesy of cbssports.com, we get a closer look and find even more that is wrong.

  1. The color bearers’ right-hand grips are incorrect
  2. Now both rifle guards are at Reverse Port, which is again, not authorized for a color team

How did this happen? One very plausible theory is that not one of the Sailors cracked open MCO P5060.20, the Marine Corps drill and ceremonies manual that the Navy and Coast Guard also follow. They may have been taught what to do- maybe even last-minute, buy another Sailor.

This reflects poorly on the military. During my career in the USAF, we always heard the phrase, “As an NCO*, you should [fill in the blank].” NCO is Non-Commissioned Officer which is the equivalent of PO or Petty Officer, which each of these Sailors seem to be. We can see the ranks of two PO1s and one PO2. The rifle in the second picture blocks the US color bearer’s rank.

We NCOs/POs are experts in drill and ceremonies. I get it, our day-to-day jobs probably do not allow those in today’s military to march and practice as often as we would like unless assigned to a specialized unit. Preparation and knowledge are the keys to successful performances. But, we know this already. So, these egregious mistakes in this instance are inexcusable.

Drill Team Recruitment and Retention

Program Motivation/Incentives

“A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.”
Napoleon Bonapart

recruitingThis is the reason, among others, that we in the military have ribbons, medals, badges and other awards. The same for JROTC and all cadet and even scouting programs.

Ribbons and shoulder cords are worn on the standard uniform and help let everyone know that that cadet does something special, something above and beyond the norm. Special uniform accouterments (belts, gloves, spats, berets, etc.) help further provide a distinction from other cadets.

Leadership positions. While rank does go along with responsibility, sometimes rank must catch up to the position. Be that as it may, the most qualified should be put in as drill team and color guard commanders, assistant commanders, squad leaders, etc. Cadets must know that when someone in a leadership position speaks, everyone under that cadet needs to do as told, regardless of rank (e.g. a cadet captain is part of the drill team, but his squad leader is a cadet sergeant).

Training Positions. In the (marching band) color guard world, there are different instructors for each subsection of the guard, 1) Head Instructor; 2) Weapon Technician (rifle and saber); 3) Flag Technician; and 4) Movement Technician. For a JROTC drill team, you can have something similar.

A drill team could have a rifle tech and a movement/marching tech. while these other positions require some leadership qualities, they are mainly concerned with training cadets in their assigned specialty, ensuring standardization among the cadets and standardization over time (ensuring cadets maintain their initial training throughout the school year).

Have interested members write the drill and then design the rifle and/or body work that will be layered over the drill. They can download, print and use the DrillMaster Routine Mapping Tool to fit their needs (click here to go to the Downloads page, scroll down and you will see the tools listed there).

Use your imagination, keep the team members engaged- the sky is the limit!