Tag Archives: uniform

New AFJROTC Drill Team Uniform Policy

AFJROTCHQ USAF JROTC decided that the nondescript uniforms that some drill teams developed over the years are no longer authorized.

As the DrillMaster, do I agree with the decision? Yes. No. Well, yes. I do agree that the Air Force needs to be better represented across the nation and around the world at high school drill competitions. But I also disagree to some extent.

How could I disagree when I’m a retired USAF NCO and have been working with JROTC units since approximately 1990? Easily. There are three different types of military drill:

  1. Regulation Drill (RD)
  2. Exhibition Drill (XD)
  3. Ceremonial Drill (CD)

Regulation Drill covers three of the phases of a drill competition: Inspection, Regulation, and Color Guard. The fourth phase of a competition is Exhibition Drill. This may be news to some, but there are two types of exhibition drill:

  1. “Standard” Exhibition Drill (SXD)
  2. Ceremonial Exhibition Drill (CXD)

“Standard” Exhibition Drill?
What I labeled as SXD (for lack of a better term at the moment) is all of the XD you have ever seen at a high school competition- all of the weird and wild things that some people love and others love to hate: spinning a rifle while laying down on the ground, stacking team members on rifles, etc. All the out-of-the-box moves that you would expect from many high school teams. The out-of-box thinking has now been given a big blow since wearing the complete uniform is going to demand more of a professional flavor- this is especially true for unarmed teams.

Ceremonial Exhibition Drill?
Think of college ROTC teams, or, much more to the point, the service honor guard drill teams in and around Washinton DC. You will never see any of the service drill teams perform about 90% of the moves that high school teams perform. Why? Mainly because of their unit’s mission. CXD has a “laid-back intensity” and extremely professional. Much of the rifle moves of today’s JROTC drill teams would not work well with full service dress, even with the slight modifications that are allowed.

Here is the text of the policy letter dated 8 May 15


SUBJECT: Drill Team Uniform Policy

1. This policy letter establishes guidance regarding US Air Force distinctive drill uniforms.

2. Drill competitions are an important extracurricular activity in AFJROTC that teach a number of important lessons to our cadets and complement our program objectives of citizen development. It is important that AFJROTC cadets represent the Air Force during competitions. By 1 March 2016, all AFJROTC and NDCC drill team uniforms to include exhibition uniforms must be a distinctive Air Force dress uniform and must be a combination of the Air Force blue uniform (blue pants/skirts, light blue shirt, and/or blue service dress coat). ABUs may be worn only with approved ABU headgear. Units may accessorize drill team uniforms with berets, ascots, shoulder cord, and a silver, white, blue, black, or grey stripe on the pants if desired.
3. Units are required to submit uniform waiver requests in order to receive approval of exhibition drill team uniforms. A waiver request with 2 photos (profile and full front view) must be submitted in WINGS, approved, and on file before competing in any drill competition.

4. These changes will be placed in the next revision of Chapter 7, Uniform and Awards, Operations Supplement that can be found in WINGS / Published Files / Directory / JROTC / Operational Supplements. HQ AFJROTC will coordinate this change with Sports Network International who will incorporate the change into their drill competition Standard Operating Procedures.

5. These changes will ensure that the Air Force is properly represented at drill competitions by the wearing of uniforms that are Air Force distinctive and cannot be mistaken for another service. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this change, please contact your Regional Director.

And it is signed by the AFJROTC Director, Colonel Bobby C. Woods, Jr.

Do Standards even Matter?

Drill Team Uniform for XDThe picture at right was sent to me by a Facebook friend who is an Army JROTC instructor in Texas. He sent it with the note that, at this particular drill meet, the SOP stated that only authorized service uniforms were to be worn. He told me the reason for the strict uniform requirements:

One year I saw a color guard there wearing western wear. They had black denim trousers, western style shirts, cowboy boots and hats, and even wore red bandannas around their necks. It was getting ridiculous.

The Fancy or Basic Uniforms? article.

My response follows.

While I think the white Kevlar helmets are a strange choice, I don’t understand the Army’s (or any service’s) stiff-necked approach to uniforms. While I understand and fully support inspection, regulation and color guard in only authorized service uniforms, I don’t see why there is an issue regarding “exhibition uniforms” when it comes to exhibition drill. I in no way support any other kind of uniform when it comes to all regulation drill.

That being said, if instructors and cadet leaders cannot be bothered to read the SOP/OI, then the cadets should suffer the consequences which, unfortunately, ruins the purpose and experience of a drill meet.

What’s more, those who were running this competition did not even uphold the rules! This communicates to everyone involved that, no matter what standards are, it really doesn’t matter. I seriously doubt that this is what any JROTC command or unit wants to convey.

exhibition drill, regulation drill, color guard, color team, drill meet, drill competition, jrotc, air force, army, navy, marine corps, coast guard, standards, uniform

Lighthouse Uniform Company

Lighthouse Uniform CompanyThe Lighthouse Uniform Company, uniform outfitters of the Merchant Marines, Coast Guard Auxiliary, EMS, Federation of Fire Chaplains, Se Scouts, US Public Health Service, Passenger Vessel Association Power Squadron, Yacht Clubs and The DrillMaster, are having a year-end sale. Check this out:

The Lighthouse is running a year end Special Items 50% Internet Sale starting today (12-19-12) and will run through (1-4-13). This is just a very small thank you for your business.  The items on ‘special’  are pieces you will need if you are changing rank. Some of the items on this Special Items 50% Internet Sale are collar brass, cap badges, chin straps, cap side screws, sleeve striping, maltese crosses and buttons.

For Collar Brass: http://catalog.lighthouseuniform.com/fire/fd-collar-pins-c-155_175.html#top

For Cap Badges: http://catalog.lighthouseuniform.com/fire/cap-devices-c-155_162.html#top

For Chin Straps and Side Screws: http://catalog.lighthouseuniform.com/fire/cap-accessories-c-155_169.html#top

For Sleeve Striping please go to the below link: http://catalog.lighthouseuniform.com/fire/accessories-jacket-striping-c-155_163_180.html

For Maltese Crosses (years of service marks): http://catalog.lighthouseuniform.com/fire/accessories-fd-maltese-crosses-c-155_163_179.html#top

For Buttons: http://catalog.lighthouseuniform.com/fire/accessories-fd-buttons-c-155_163_178.html

If you have any questions please call them at 1-800-426-5225.

Ask DrillMaster- About WDA Adjudication System

Question: From Zachary: Random question about your score system- I know one section of it is labeled “equipment,” does that involve just the weapon or the uniform as well?

Answer: “Equipment” is the catch-all term for flag, rifle, sword/saber and guidon. There is at least one unarmed team that used their hats during their performance as a piece of equipment. So, technically, while the uniform is not a piece of equipment and is judged under Overall Effect, if something is manipulated then it is judged in the Equipment caption.

Thanks for the question!

All About the Shoulder Cord

 How to Attach a Shoulder Cord or Aiguillette

What’s a Shoulder Cord?

Modesto 2016 (30)

Just a standard braided rope that fits onto the shoulder either underneath an epaulet (picture below, #452) or above the epaulet on the outside shoulder seam (picture below, #484SL). The cord above was specially made for the Modesto Fire Department Honor Guard by Shoulder Cords Unlimited. Glendale Paradestore also customizes cords to suit your needs.

The enlisted Air Force uniform has the ‘problem’ of not having epaulettes on the shoulder any more and still many JROTC units use the older style ropes that fit underneath the epaulette and are fastened to the epaulette’s button. The newer AF uniform does not look good with the old style rope, since the rope was specifically made for having a button there on the shoulder. The solution for JROTC units is the “Shaker Knot” cord (picture below, #484SL) not hiking the standard shoulder cord up underneath the uniform’s collar.

What’s an Aiguillette?

Pronounced “ay-gwee-et.” An aiguillette is a more ornate shoulder cord. A standard shoulder cord as many call them does not have a tassel, while aiguillettes have one or even two tassels. They can be quite ornate with multiple cords on the inside and outside of the arm, as well.

In this picture above, #638R is the USAF Enlisted Aiguillette. Unfortunately, in this picture directly above, Glendale has this cord improperly placed as it never goes underneath the epaulette (it’s an enlisted cord, only). The USAF Officer’s Aiguillette (#638RO, which is my design, by the way) does go underneath an epaulette, since the officer uniform is the only one to have epaulettes. The picture below shows a friend of mine from when we were on the Spangdahlem Air Base Honor Guard. This is how to properly wear the USAF Enlisted Honor Guard Aiguillette.

A shoulder cord or aiguillette is worn on either shoulder, check with your unit. It is also completely up to your unit on who gets what and what color is used.

Pinning the Cord and the Tassels (“Nose Pickers”)

Standard Shoulder Cord: Pinning is not really necessary since there is not much slack in the cord when one moves.

“Shaker Knot” Cords: You really need to pin this type of shoulder cord from the inside of the blouse (“jacket” for all of you non-honor guard types) or shirt. Pin at 9 and 3 o’clock. Pinning any lower will make the cord bend inward; you want it to hang straight down.

how to pin a shoulder cord

The Tassels: Pin the knot of this rope from the inside of the blouse/shirt. Whether on a “Shaker knot” or standard shoulder cord, make sure it is hanging straight down and pin it. This will make sure the thing doesn’t knock your teeth out!


Did you know? shoulder cords are made by macrame a form of knotting. All macrame is knotting, but all knotting is not macrame.