I’ve had a few questions about this over the years and I even put together a presentation on it that will be part of the online training offered here eventually.
The focus of this article is to explain exactly how the Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard are supposed to execute this from the commander’s point of view.
Test from MCO 5060.20: p 1-11,
- When giving commands, commanders face their troops.
a. For company formations or larger, when commanding marching troops from the head of a column or massed formations, commanders march backward while giving commands.
That’s it. There is no other information for the commander when executing To the Rear March or other commands. However, some Marine Drill Instructors teach the following method:
The Unofficial Technique
This section title could also be: The Unauthorized Technique. Many Marines will tell you they’ve never heard of this and others will tell you that this is the only way to do it. Keep reading, please.
We will start with the formation commander (officer/NCO) facing the platoon in Line Formation.
Sea Cadets, Sea Scouts, MCJROTC, NJROTC, CGJROTC, and Young Marines team commanders take a position of and maintain a three-step distance at all times.
The technique for the commander here will be “MARCH!” on the right foot, bring the next left foot to the right to halt, Left Face, Left Face, step off.
The Official Technique
The MCO for drill and ceremonies does not have the two facing movements to the left. Replace them with a standard 180-degree pivot to the rear and everything else is the same.
So why is the above taught and not in the current MCO? Apparently, it was an oversight.
What to do in Competition?
The facing movement technique is not in the MCO, that technique should not be used. Will you be crucified by Marine, Navy, or Coast Guard judges because you did not execute them? Maybe, but not everyone knows of the two left facing movement technique. However, you have the MCO on your side and can challenge the judge’s decision.