HQ USAF JROTC decided that the nondescript uniforms that some drill teams developed over the years are no longer authorized.
As the DrillMaster, do I agree with the decision? Yes. No. Well, yes. I do agree that the Air Force needs to be better represented across the nation and around the world at high school drill competitions. But I also disagree to some extent.
How could I disagree when I’m a retired USAF NCO and have been working with JROTC units since approximately 1990? Easily. There are three different types of military drill:
- Regulation Drill (RD)
- Exhibition Drill (XD)
- Ceremonial Drill (CD)
Regulation Drill covers three of the phases of a drill competition: Inspection, Regulation, and Color Guard. The fourth phase of a competition is Exhibition Drill. This may be news to some, but there are two types of exhibition drill:
- “Standard” Exhibition Drill (SXD)
- Ceremonial Exhibition Drill (CXD)
“Standard” Exhibition Drill?
What I labeled as SXD (for lack of a better term at the moment) is all of the XD you have ever seen at a high school competition- all of the weird and wild things that some people love and others love to hate: spinning a rifle while laying down on the ground, stacking team members on rifles, etc. All the out-of-the-box moves that you would expect from many high school teams. The out-of-box thinking has now been given a big blow since wearing the complete uniform is going to demand more of a professional flavor- this is especially true for unarmed teams.
Ceremonial Exhibition Drill?
Think of college ROTC teams, or, much more to the point, the service honor guard drill teams in and around Washinton DC. You will never see any of the service drill teams perform about 90% of the moves that high school teams perform. Why? Mainly because of their unit’s mission. CXD has a “laid-back intensity” and extremely professional. Much of the rifle moves of today’s JROTC drill teams would not work well with full service dress, even with the slight modifications that are allowed.
Here is the text of the policy letter dated 8 May 15
MEMORANDUM FOR ALL AFJROTC & NDCC UNITS
SUBJECT: Drill Team Uniform Policy
1. This policy letter establishes guidance regarding US Air Force distinctive drill uniforms.
2. Drill competitions are an important extracurricular activity in AFJROTC that teach a number of important lessons to our cadets and complement our program objectives of citizen development. It is important that AFJROTC cadets represent the Air Force during competitions. By 1 March 2016, all AFJROTC and NDCC drill team uniforms to include exhibition uniforms must be a distinctive Air Force dress uniform and must be a combination of the Air Force blue uniform (blue pants/skirts, light blue shirt, and/or blue service dress coat). ABUs may be worn only with approved ABU headgear. Units may accessorize drill team uniforms with berets, ascots, shoulder cord, and a silver, white, blue, black, or grey stripe on the pants if desired.
3. Units are required to submit uniform waiver requests in order to receive approval of exhibition drill team uniforms. A waiver request with 2 photos (profile and full front view) must be submitted in WINGS, approved, and on file before competing in any drill competition.
4. These changes will be placed in the next revision of Chapter 7, Uniform and Awards, Operations Supplement that can be found in WINGS / Published Files / Directory / JROTC / Operational Supplements. HQ AFJROTC will coordinate this change with Sports Network International who will incorporate the change into their drill competition Standard Operating Procedures.
5. These changes will ensure that the Air Force is properly represented at drill competitions by the wearing of uniforms that are Air Force distinctive and cannot be mistaken for another service. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this change, please contact your Regional Director.
And it is signed by the AFJROTC Director, Colonel Bobby C. Woods, Jr.