Why We Follow Manuals

DrillMaster Ask DrillMaster, Color Guard/Color Team, Drill Teams 2 Comments

A Question from a cadet

Hello sir,

I need some advice. I am a [JROTC] deputy drill team Commander. I was trained both by my summer instructors and you that one should ALWAYS follow the manuals. However, my commander and my officer in charge refuse to take any ideas about following the manual. Do you have any advice?

I greatly appreciate your time and consideration.

My Response

Dear cadet,

What a seemingly tough situation. Here’s my thoughts on the subject.

Why does each branch of the military have manuals? To ensure standards are at least met if not exceeded. When a civilian ships out to Basic Training or Boot Camp, he or she is inundated with standards. When I went to Army Basic Camp (83) and then Air Force Basic Training (85), we had to line up our shoes in a specific order, fold our underwear in six-inch squares, and exactly space our hangars in the locker so that everything in the whole bay was exactly the same and in the same order. There are two reasons to do these monotonous and almost insignificant tasks.

  1. To ensure adherence to orders. Everyone follows orders or good order and discipline breaks down and the unit cannot accomplish its mission.
  2. To save lives. No, folding underwear in an exact six-inch square does not directly save anyone’s life, but it shows that you can handle the tiny, little, sometimes excruciating, details that can directly result in saving or preserving a life.

Following your service’s drill and ceremonies manual is exactly the same. Yes, we have three different manuals for regulation drill, that is due to traditions, but it is not an excuse to pick and choose what you want to follow and what you don’t.

I know, teenagers in general believe that nothing can hurt them, will live forever, and they know everything. Then, you go into post-school life and life hits with reality. My daughter, when she was 21/22 once jokingly commented to her mother and me that she wished she could go back to high school when she already knew everything.

For someone to think that they don’t have to follow what they may consider an insignificant guideline, shows a considerable arrogance and ego problem that must be dealt with immediately or the cadets with this kind of attitude are going to become adults lacking in standards, which just might get someone injured or killed- no matter what profession they choose. Ignoring standards now can even mushroom into disregarding laws later on. That’s not hyperbole, its a caution.

Comments 2

  1. I am so tired of the we have always done it this way mentality it occurs in the cadet seniors and those that have been in the program as instructors. Try being a new enlisted instructor and being told to learn the manual and then try correcting from the manual. You get it from both directions. Example would be the rifle needs to be shrugged from the shoulder and the whole-hand grip on the butt does not work for small people. To the rear needs to be done this way etc. It makes the kids not want to learn and the younger instructors not want to care. Throw that integrity thing out there and that is the most misused word in the world. Integrity means doing as your told and dont undermind while integrity means doing the best that you can while integrity means sticking to doing what you know is right and integrity means holding your tongue because some egos cant take it and they get vengeful

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