Ask The DrillMaster: Commander Procedures for Columns?

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Let’s begin with defining where a team commander has control. This is called the “Span of Control.” As yo can see from the diagram below, a commander’s “span of control” is 180-degrees all around the formation at 3 steps from the formation. However, in competition team commanders are to maintain a position to the left side of the formation.

Having defined where the commander positions him/herself, let’s take a look at the column movements (for the Regulation Drill (RD) phase at a drill meet).

For the Column Left: (command is called on two consecutive left steps) On the next left step after giving the command, “MARCH,” begin Mark Time and when the team has moved to where you are centered, execute a Left Flank and, if AF, pick up Half Step and give Forward March, all other services, continue marching at a full step when ranks are aligned.

Column Left AF-MC-N-CGThis is the Column Left for the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force & Coast Guard however, all service team commanders execute the move in this manner: maintaining the 3-step interval and waiting for the center of the team during the team’s movement to execute a face-in-march to the left.

For the Column Right: (command is called on two consecutive right steps) After giving the command, “MARCH,” march forward at a full step and pivot at the same line where the squad/element leaders executed their pivots, march the most direct route until centered on the team. Army, move into position; MC, N, AF & CG, execute another pivot centered on and 3-steps from the formation and, if AF, pick up Half Step and give Forward March, all other services, continue marching at a full step when fully aligned.

Column Right Army

This is the Column Right for the Army with the commander moving in an arc, just like the rest of the team. This can take a considerable amount of time to accomplish, though. While the Army team commander executes a single pivot, as shown in the image above, all other service team commanders execute two pivots marching the most direct route to the new position as shown below. The Army team commander can do this while still executing the single pivot and reestablishing the proper alignment and distance.Column Right Army 2maintain their 3-step interval throughout


What about “Parade Position”? The Commander in front of the platoon/flight, is not required for JROTC since the RD sequence is more of a commander putting a formation through its paces. However, it is a requirement for ROTC competitions.

The RD sequence was designed to make you think and that’s good, especially for ROTC teams and the varied drill cards they may potentially march.

Images copyright The DrillMaster

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