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.
While there are a couple other definitions of success, they don’t fit our purpose which is learning and effectively executing military drill. Here is my preferred definition.
Success: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose
Air Force Manual (AFMAN) 36-2203 is the US Air Force’s drill and ceremonies manual. The quoted text in the title is what an individual wrote to me. That individual wrote for an organization, we can then take this statement to be the official position for that organization. Actually, the statement was, “The AFMAN simply doesn’t set one up for success by design”, but that was too long for the title of this article.
We can infer from this ignorant statement that this individual (and the organization) believes that the US Air Force purposefully wrote the AFMAN to be so vague so as to not allow for successful completion of the mission. The mission here being learning and effectively executing military drill. Of course, I do not believe that for one instant as that is a ludicrous premise! Allow me to refute this unfounded claim.
First, just for fun, let’s read the first paragraph of AFMAN 36-2203 (2013) and then we will proceed with the refutation.
1.1.1. Units or organizations required to drill under arms will use the procedures in US Army Field Manual 22-5, Drill and Ceremonies, SECNAV 5060.22, Marine Corps Drill and Ceremonies Manual, or Air Force Academy Cadet Wing Manual 50-5. The types of weapon used will determine the appropriate manual.
It’s like the Air Force designed the manual to be used with other manuals instead of reinventing the wheel. Imagine that. In the above quote, we need to update the referenced manuals to the current versions which I will do below. So, let’s continue.
A Little History
I spent 20 years in the Air Force (85-05) and for four years before that, I was a member of my high school’s AFJROTC program. In my high school days (79-83), we had to learn AFR 50-14 (now AFMAN 36-2203), Drill and Ceremonies, which has not changed much since then.
After the USAF was created as its own uniformed service on September 18, 1947, it went from using Army Regulations to writing and using it’s own. When it came to drill and ceremonies the newly created service looked at the Marine Corps and Army drill manuals and chose from what it considered the best from each. One thing the USAF left out was information for the rifle. Why? Because the Army had already accomplished that task with, FM 22-5 (now TC 3-21.5), and Airmen did not have a daily use for rifles like Soldiers and Marines. We march, so the USAF creating a drill and ceremonies manual was logical.
What did Airmen do for ceremonial rifle information? We had copies of FM 22-5 and used the manual of arms there. Simple, especially when the pictures of AF color guards had the guards wearing sidearms (the above image from 1996). Using both manuals is even what every Base Honor Guard unit did across the Air Force before the USAF Honor Guard took over that program in the late 90s and created and Air Force-wide ceremonial standard. Notice in the picture above the use of the right arm to hold the flagstaff.
Today, the pictures in the AFMAN include guards armed with rifles. However, the pictures only show technique for Order, Parade Rest, Right Shoulder (Carry), and Attention. What has never been a concern is how to get the rifle from one position to the other. Why? Because we use TC 3-21.5 for technique, but we use the beginning and ending position techniques of the AFMAN. Again, simple.
There is no reason for Air Force JROTC teams to not march the AFMAN. None, except for untrained judges – who are only briefed about the TC standard.
Side note: The picture above, from the 2013 version of the AFMAN, is NOT REVERSED (as the individual wrote to me), the color bearers are just using the wrong arm in the picture – the text says to use the right arm. Also notice the rifles on the outside shoulders. What technique is used here to move to and from the shoulder? Amazingly, the Marine Corps already has this taken care of in their Marine Corps Order P5060-20. Once again, simple.
Disparaging the AFMAN or any other service manual only shows a peculiar unawareness of the concept of military drill standards. JROTC teams need to learn, perfect, and march their service manual. Let them do so.
Cadets, start reading instead of trying to gain your knowledge from this year’s seniors who were taught by last year’s seniors, etc., etc.
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!
Geared more toward honor guard units, but cadets can also use this information. With apologies to William Shakespeare…
Color teams have a choice, based on ceremony location, size of the area (room or outside area), size of the audience, and time limit, as to whether the team should “Show-n-Go” or post.
Equipment needed: two sets of colors, floor stands, harnesses and weapons. Either the team brings two sets of colors, or the organization (City Hall, for instance) already has a set pre-posted. That means, the team arrives and hour early, practices a couple times, dresses, and 10 minutes before performance time forms up at Ceremonial at Ease, and, on the cue from the announcer, comes to Attention and Port or Right Shoulder (depending), moves to center, faces the audience, presents the colors, the National Anthem plays or the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, the team assumes Port and departs. That’s it.
Port or Right Shoulder/Carry? It depends on how high the height of the ceiling and if there is adequate room between the front row of the audience and the color team.
More colors pre-posted than presenting? Sometimes this will happen- you present the American and state flags, but the pre-posted flags include several more. You really should present all of the colors that are pre-posted as the standard however, every situation is different and sometimes you just have to play it by ear.
Posting The Colors
Equipment needed: a single set of colors, harnesses and weapons. The same sequence as above, except that after the presentation, the team executes Port, color bearers turn and post the colors in the stands, reform with the guards and the team departs.
More colors pre-posted than presenting? Hopefully, this will happen very seldom- you present the American and state flags, but there is one or two more pre-posted flags. You really should post all colors without any others being pre-posted. Again, every situation is different and sometimes you just have to play it by ear.
Formal Retrieval of the Colors
This is reserved for extremely formal occasions. You reverse the posting procedure. When the colors are only presented, they are not presented again at the close of a ceremony. If the ceremony is formal enough, you will have posted the colors.
For a memorial service or funeral service inside a chapel (church, synagogue, etc.) there are a couple of setups from which the ceremonial team can choose:
Either setup that you choose, you have to consult with the pastor/rabbi as to what he prefers for the color team. There are to situations:
Standard. Everyone enters (besides the pallbearers when they escort the casket/urn) without a cover (hat) and unarmed.
Also acceptable. Everyone enters unarmed but wearing covers.
Pallbearers wear their covers entering and departing since their hands are full or, some have their hands full and all are covered for uniformity. The pallbearers move to their assigned seats, remove their covers and take their seats. On cue, they rise, replace their covers and move into position to fold the flag or move the casket to the coach/caisson. The team can also leave the chapel and wait for their cue.
Color Team rifle/axe guards usually enter unarmed, but that depends on the pastor/rabbi. The team can also enter and leave uncovered. However, this requires pre-planning to find a place to remove the teams covers and leave the rifles. Leaving someone to watch over the items. The team either posts the colors or posts themselves, covered or not, armed or not. Law enforcement sidearms do not fall into this category, wear them all the time.
And Casket Watch?
This is a bit different. Armed (with a rifle, axe or shotgun) casket watch is usually not accomplished, unarmed (except for LEO sidearms) is the standard. Casket watch members should be in full uniform (Ceremonial, Class A, etc.) including the cover. For more on casket watch, click here.
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.