Tag Archives: marching

Ask The DrillMaster: Commander Procedures for Columns?

Let’s begin with defining where a team commander has control. This is called the “Span of Control.” As yo can see from the diagram below, a commander’s “span of control” is 180-degrees all around the formation at 3 steps from the formation. However, in competition team commanders are to maintain a position to the left side of the formation.

Having defined where the commander positions him/herself, let’s take a look at the column movements (for the Regulation Drill (RD) phase at a drill meet).

For the Column Left: (command is called on two consecutive left steps) On the next left step after giving the command, “MARCH,” begin Mark Time and when the team has moved to where you are centered, execute a Left Flank and, if AF, pick up Half Step and give Forward March, all other services, continue marching at a full step when ranks are aligned.

Column Left AF-MC-N-CGThis is the Column Left for the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force & Coast Guard however, all service team commanders execute the move in this manner: maintaining the 3-step interval and waiting for the center of the team during the team’s movement to execute a face-in-march to the left.

For the Column Right: (command is called on two consecutive right steps) After giving the command, “MARCH,” march forward at a full step and pivot at the same line where the squad/element leaders executed their pivots, march the most direct route until centered on the team. Army, move into position; MC, N, AF & CG, execute another pivot centered on and 3-steps from the formation and, if AF, pick up Half Step and give Forward March, all other services, continue marching at a full step when fully aligned.

Column Right Army

This is the Column Right for the Army with the commander moving in an arc, just like the rest of the team. This can take a considerable amount of time to accomplish, though. While the Army team commander executes a single pivot, as shown in the image above, all other service team commanders execute two pivots marching the most direct route to the new position as shown below. The Army team commander can do this while still executing the single pivot and reestablishing the proper alignment and distance.Column Right Army 2maintain their 3-step interval throughout

 

What about “Parade Position”? The Commander in front of the platoon/flight, is not required for JROTC since the RD sequence is more of a commander putting a formation through its paces. However, it is a requirement for ROTC competitions.

The RD sequence was designed to make you think and that’s good, especially for ROTC teams and the varied drill cards they may potentially march.

Images copyright The DrillMaster

The Column Half Left (Right)

Here is what the Army says:

To change the direction of a column by 45 degrees, the command is Column Half Right (Left), MARCH. On the command MARCH, the leading airman of the right (left) flank advances one full 24- inch step, pivots 45 degrees to the right (left) on the ball of the left (right) foot, and advances another full 24-inch step, maintaining coordinated arm swing. The Airman then takes up the half step and continues in a half step until each member in his or her rank is abreast of each other. Then all members of that rank resume a full 24-inch step. In the meantime, the remaining individuals of the leading rank pivot 45 degrees to the right (left), with coordinated arm swing and without changing the interval, and continue marching in full 24-inch steps until they are abreast of the base file. At this point, they conform to the step of the individual in the right (left) flank and establish the proper interval. The remaining airmen in each file march to the approximate pivot point established by the element leader and perform the movement in the same manner. They then dress to their right and cover directly behind the person in front of them.

Here is what the Air Force says (same thing, basically):

(Squad) To change the direction of march 90 or 45 degrees when marching, the preparatory command Column Right (Left) or Column Half Right (Half Left) is given as the foot (in the desired direction) strikes the marching surface. The command of execution MARCH is given the next time the foot in the desired direction strikes the marching surface. On the command of execution MARCH, the lead man takes one additional step, pivots in the commanded direction as the pivot foot strikes the marching surface, and continues to march in the new direction. Other members continue to march forward and execute the pivot as prescribed from the Halt.

(Platoon) To change the direction of a column by 45 degrees, the command is Column Half Right (Left), MARCH. On the command MARCH, the leading airman of the right (left) flank advances one full 24- inch step, pivots 45 degrees to the right (left) on the ball of the left (right) foot, and advances another full 24-inch step, maintaining coordinated armswing. The Airman then takes up the half step and continues in a half step until each member in his or her rank is abreast of each other. Then all members of that rank resume a full 24-inch step. In the meantime, the remaining individuals of the leading rank pivot 45 degrees to the right (left), with coordinated armswing and without changing the interval, and continue marching in full 24-inch steps until they are abreast of the base file. At this point, they conform to the step of the individual in the right (left) flank and establish the proper interval. The remaining airmen in each file march to the approximate pivot point established by the element leader and perform the movement in the same manner. They then dress to their right and cover directly behind the person in front of them.

Here is what the Navy/Marine Corps says:

[Cue crickets chirping- there is no description that I can find, so you follow the Arny’s guidance]

Here is what it looks like:

Here is what the feet will look like:

  • Fourth Element/Squad takes a full step and executes Half Step,
  • Third Element/Squad takes approximately 4 full steps and should be in line to pick up Half Step,
  • Second Element/Squad takes approximately 6 to 8 full steps and should be in line to pick up Half Step,
  • Third Element/Squad takes approximately 8 to 10 full steps and should be in line so that everyone can now resume full steps.

Yes, I actually measured the whole process. Below is a picture of how I did it using my shoes and a pair of my wife’s. :-)

Before we get into today’s article, keep the following in mind; just FYI stuff:

  1. The USAF considers the depth of a person (chest-to-back) to be approximately 12 inches.
  2. The USAF also considers the width of a person (shoulder-to-shoulder) to be approximately 22 inches.
  3. In a column formation, the distance between to people (one’s back to the other’s front) each service uses a distance of 40 inches.
  4. The distance from one’s shoulder to another’s shoulder is always said to be “an arm’s length” in each manual. While I set up the shoes above, I did some measuring of my own and found that my arm from shoulder to fingertip is about 23 inches long. Using that measurement and those that the USAF uses as guidelines, I found that from the center of one individual to another (in a flight or platoon formation) the distance to each side and to the front and back all equals about 46 inches. Even though my artistic abilities are not wonderful, tt looks like this:

 

 

The Left Flank and The Column Left

Keep this image in mind as you read below.

Span of Control

CT asks:
Hello DrillMaster,

I would like to know if after giving left flank can the commander march backward while the platoon marches forward towards the commander during Regulation Drill. I have looked everywhere and nowhere can I find it.

Answer:
It’s good to hear from you; thanks for the question. The answer is: no, it’s not necessary and here is why:

(For the MC, Navy & CG) For the Left Flank (before a Right Flank), the commander obtains a 15-step interval and then calls the command. While the commander catches up to the team as it executes the command, the next command then is Right Flank, so would the commander then would keep marching forward enabling him/her to be centered on the team.

(For the Army & AF) The commander flanks with the team calling the next command over the right shoulder.

The Column Left
(For the MC, Navy & CG) The commander halts at the command, March, and then executes a Face-in-March to the left to continue with the team and pick up half step.

(For the Army & AF) The commander executes Mark Time at the command, March, and then flanks to the left to continue with the team and pick up half step.

 The Column Right
(This is an option for each service)
I thought I needed to add something about this as well. In the image above, The Span of Control, you can see that the commander should not move toward the front of the formation since he would ‘lose control.’ To deal with this situation during a column right the commander would execute a right flank immediately after the command of execution, “MARCH.” This movement places the commander to the right of the formation (having begun from the left). To move back to the left, execute a left flank for the column left.

(All Services) The commander makes his/her way around the team keeping to the left of the formation. It just takes a little while.