Originally posted in Novemeber of 2016, this is an update and the first of a three-part series.
While there are a couple other definitions of success, they don’t fit our purpose which is learning and effectively executing military drill. Here is my preferred definition.
Success: the accomplishment of an aim or purposem-w.com
Air Force Manual (AFMAN) 36-2203, now AF Pamphlet 24-1203, is the US Air Force’s drill and ceremonies manual. The quoted text in the title is what an individual wrote to me. That individual wrote for a certain “training” organization, we can then take this statement to be the official position for that organization. Actually, the statement was, “The (then) AFMAN simply doesn’t set one up for success by design”, but that was too long for the title of this article and is an absolute misstatement if there ever was one.
We can infer from this ignorant statement that this individual (and the organization) believes that the US Air Force purposefully wrote the AFMAN to be so vague so as to not allow for successful completion of the mission. The mission here being learning and effectively executing military drill. Of course, I do not believe that for one instant as that is a ludicrous premise! Allow me to refute this unfounded claim.
First, just for fun, let’s read the first paragraph of AFMAN 36-2203 (2013) and then we will proceed with the refutation.
1.1.1. This manual includes most Air Force needs in drill and ceremonies, but it does not cover every situation that may arise. For unusual situations, using good judgment and taking into account the purpose of the movement or procedure can often provide the solution.AFMAN 36-2203 (2013)
1.1.2. Units or organizations required to drill under arms will use the procedures in US Army Field Manual 22-5 [DM: Training Circular 3-21.5], Drill and Ceremonies, SECNAV 5060.22 [DM: Marine Corps Order P5060.20], Marine Corps Drill and Ceremonies Manual, or Air Force Academy Cadet Wing Manual 50-5. The types of weapon used will determine the appropriate manual.
It’s like the Air Force designed the manual to be used with other manuals instead of reinventing the wheel. Imagine that. The AFMAN dictates beginning and ending positions, the TC and MCO tell us how to go to and from those positions. As an example: the MCO tells us how to move the rifles to and from the outside/outboard shoulder for a color guard. Likewise, the TC tells us how to move the flagstaffs and, when necessary, we use USAF guidon techniques (uncasing and casing colors). Even though we use both of these other two manuals, we still must adhere to the hand and arm positions dictated by the AFMAN.
A Little History
I spent 20 years in the Air Force (85-05) and for four years before that, I was a member of my high school’s AFJROTC program. In my high school days (79-83), we had to learn AFM 50-14, Drill and Ceremonies, the contents of which changed in the 1990s through sheer ignorance of the outcome.
What do Airmen do for rifle information? We have copies of FM 22-5 and use the manual of arms there for any Armed Flight drill. Today, the pictures in the AFMAN include guards armed with rifles. However, the pictures only show technique for Order, Parade Rest, Right Shoulder (Carry), and Attention. What has never been a concern is how to get the rifle from one position to the other. Why? Because we use the MCO for transitional techniques, but we use the beginning and ending position techniques of the AFMAN. See The Argument from the AFPAM.
Disparaging the AFMAN or any other service manual only shows a peculiar unawareness of the concept of military drill standards. JROTC teams need to learn, perfect, and march their service manual. Let them do so.
Cadets, start reading instead of trying to gain your knowledge from this year’s seniors who were taught by last year’s seniors, etc., etc.