Military Drill Experts

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Basic MarchingIn the military, we do not mass-produce experts in drill and ceremonies (we do have some experts in D&C, but relatively few). That is not a goal. We produce experts in different specialties with some of those specialties having civilian equivalents and some specialties only appropriate for a military application.  After all, civilian companies do not need a sniper or someone from Field Artillery, but those companies do need the intangible skills of leadership, attention to detail, etc.

In the Air Force (my service) aircraft maintenance crews on the flight line always have the T.O. (technical order) open when they are doing their work on an aircraft. It’s a must to get it right and those in aircraft maintenance, to name just one career field, must adhere strictly to the TO’s standard where every minute detail is outlined; lives depend on that level of adherence to the standard. It is not the same for marching in the military, you will not see the drill and ceremonies manual open to the move that the platoon or flight is currently learning. It’s just not as crucial.

Military marching is a way to move a unit from point A to point B in a timely and professional manner.

Basic Trainees Marching stackflikrcomWe know that drill instills teamwork, leadership, followership, response to commands and a host of other attributes that trainees learn when attending Basic or Boot Camp. Those trainees receive their training from a Drill Sergeant, Drill Instructor or Training Instructor, depending on the branch of service, who is well versed in the service drill and ceremonies manual, of which there are three: 1) Training Circular 3-21.5 for the Army; 2) MCO P5060.20 for the Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard and; 3) AFMAN 36-2203 for the Air Force. These manuals are not meant to create drill experts in any branch of the military. Each branch of the military has a different manual for different levels of drill (i.e. honor guard manuals).

Just because one graduates their service’s Basic Training does not mean they are an expert in drill or that they know how to judge military drill. When trainees graduate their service Basic Training course, they are at a basic level of military knowledge, understanding, and application. Application, there’s the rub.

The application of marching determines the level of expertise.

Application
There are drill masters for each service. They are the extreme few in each service who train those who train the incoming trainees or work directly with the service honor guard drill team. Few DIs, DSs or TIs are experts specifically in drill for our needs (competitive drill). They know drill and its application for their service trainees and that’s all they are required to know since they have so much more information that they need to pass along. Then there are members of the service honor guard.

Installations and National Guard (NG) units have honor guards whose members perform ceremonial duties each day of their time on the team. The same goes for the Presidential Honor Guard units. While the installation and NG teams strive to achieve a certain level of ceremonial drill application, the Presidential teams maintain and even surpass the application level for each ceremonial element on a daily basis. However, there are only a certain number who could be considered experts, again, for our purposes. The general population are extremely good at the specifics of what they do, but would not be considered experts in the general sense.

It takes education, training, and practice to march. The same goes for teaching marching and that goes without saying that it is the same for judging. One does not learn how to do something and run off and become an instructor immediately. Likewise for judging. It just doesn’t happen that all the sudden you can teach or judge.

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