When I was a cadet at New Mexico Military Institute, we had a yearly inspection competition between each company. It was called the Sally Port Inspection. A sally port is a controlled entryway to a fort or even a prison. In the image below is the entry point or Sally Port for Hagerman Barracks. What cadets call the “Box” at NMMI.
The cadet regimental staff’s rooms were above the sally port and the inspection would happen there. Hence, the name.
Each company selected a cadet who would study the cadet manual, our Blue Book, general orders, the chain of command from squad leader to the President for at least two weeks before the inspection.
The uniform inspection was extremely unique, and the preparations were unique as well. The whole company would get together and work as a team on the uniform. One cadet would be assigned each shoe that took hours to shine, one worked on the shirt, another one or two went through the uniform, inside and out, cutting and burning each tiny string. Tape was used to get lint off the inside of the trousers and blouse. Cadets were assigned to shine the nametag, the bill of the hat, the chin strap, and the belt buckle while another would work on the collar brass, and still another would shine the oakleaf clusters on each ribbon. The cadets would set up the blouse with a micrometer, ensuring everything aligned down to the tiniest of measurements. Finally, the cadets would steam and iron each crease. It was an all-night affair and teamwork was essential. About an hour before the assigned inspection time, the cadet would be dressed by everyone. He would not sit down or even bend his elbows or knees for fear of creasing the perfectly shined shoes or wrinkling the uniform. Everything was absolutely perfect. Tape was rolled over the uniform one last time on the outside just before heading to the inspection room. Once in the room, it began. No one yelled, it was calm but very intense.
The one to be inspected would march in, render a hand salute, and report in. He was then immediately surrounded by 5 inspectors asking rapid-fire questions for the whole inspection and scouring the uniform. While answering questions, every millimeter of the outside of the uniform was inspected, inspectors would then request removal of one shoe, the cover, and eventually the blouse. The inside of the uniform was now gone over with a fine-tooth comb. Any string, mark, wrinkle, or piece of lint anywhere on the inside or outside of the uniform, anything even slightly out of alignment was a gig or demerit. Cadets might finish their inspection with dozens of gigs on their scoresheet but still be in line to win. When each cadet was finished being inspected, he would leave holding everything he was asked to remove, marching as best he could while holding that one shoe.
The World Drill Association Ultimate Inspection is one of the best ways for teams to show teamwork while supporting each other to support one representative to go through what will probably be the most intense inspection of their life.