Authorized Formations For The Color Team

DrillMaster Honor Guard, Instructional Leave a Comment

Remember, at The DrillMaster, Color Team = military color guard and Color Guard = marching band or winter guard color guard.

Since approximately WWI (I cannot find anything dated earlier) America has had specific guidelines (namely, FM 22-5 which is now TC 3-21.5) for military and military-type color teams. All military (active duty, reserve and guard), military veterans and anyone forming a color team from military guidance (first responder honor guard units and scouting activities) are bound by this guidance. I have taken the info I have collected about military color guards and created diagrams to help everyone involved see exactly what formations a color team can make.

The Standard Formation: Two rifle guards (USAF guards can carry handguns in holsters unless you are a Base Honor Guard- no handguns), US flag is on the far right and all other flags are in line to the left in order of precedence (here is AZ, LOE, Fire, EMS).


The “Don’t even think about doing this” Formation: This has NEVER been an authorized formation, ever. You may be wondering why, since the US flag is higher. That is a legitimate question and here is the answer, the “nothing is higher or to the right of the American flag” guideline is for mounted/stationary flags (i.e. flag poles cemented into the ground, flag poles with the base screwed into the structure of a building). When forming a color team, all flags must be the same size and type, all flagstaffs must be the same type and size, all flags are carried at the same height and the US is on the marching right. Period.


The Wedge Formation: This is mainly used by scouting activities and some veteran organizations. Military honor guard units do not use this formation even though, according to the above mentioned FM, they could. When using this formation, you can have guards or not and the formation must be maintained the whole time, start to finish.



The Diamond Formation: This can actually be an impressive-looking way to present the colors for an indoor ceremony. It is not a usual or standard and should not become a team’s trademark, but can be reserved for very special occasions. I created diagrams for a 4- and 5-man color team. Anything larger than 5, would be cumbersome and loose the special flavor of the formation since the guards would have to compensate with a great distance in front of and behind the line of colors. The colors maintain the shoulder-to-shoulder 4-inch distance.


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