After receiving the same question several times, I decided I had to write this.
Some instructors or even cadets try to force cadets on a color team into tallest-to-shortest (viewer’s left-to-right) no matter the skill level. That’s a recipe for embarrassment. The height of the members of a military color guard/color team is a secondary issue. The primary issue is knowledge and experience.
Let’s take a look at some (J)ROTC color guards and how they navigate the height differences of the cadets. Note- we’re concentrating on height, not their technique. Rip some of these teams to shreds another time…
This one above is what I prefer, tallest in the American flag position.
The American flag bearer always needs to be the most knowledgeable member of the team and is always the commander. The second most knowledgeable is the right rifle guard, then the left rifle guard and finally, the other color bearer. Service honor guards go with the most experienced.
But what about Rank!
Yes, our military manuals state that an NCO should hold the American flag, but the manuals were written for the military, not cadets. Even so, military teams attempt to have the same height in their team members or they at least balance the height differences.
All colors must be at the same height as per our military manuals, but since cadets are growing and sometimes vary greatly in height, as long as the American flag is higher, everything is fine.