A Message From a CAP Cadet

DrillMasterAsk DrillMaster 3 Comments

A short time ago I received an email through my website that is indicative of the messages I receive from Civil Air Patrol cadets and adults in general. This is my response to the cadet.

Dear CAP Cadet, my answers are after each of your questions preceded by “%”.

I’m trying to start a color guard at my Civil Air Patrol Squadron and I’ve been reading the USAF HGMAN to do it because CAPP 52-8 just seems like it was written by somebody who had no idea what they were talking about.

% Your perception is uncanny!

I understand the manual of arms and the basics but I’m having trouble understanding when the team should be at close interval and when they should be at shoulder to shoulder, and what the commands are to fix the spacing or if it’s done automatically. I was wondering if you could help explain it to me?

% Unless your whole team has gone through CAP ceremonial training (which is lacking), you cannot use the information you’ve read in the AF Honor Guard Manual. You must use regulation technique. I’ll explain that in a minute.

I was also wondering if there’s a CAP specific resource I’m missing because I have heard you say CAP does things differently from the Air Force.

% CAPP 52-8 is the Unit HG Program (ceremonial drill), but you need to start with CAPP 60-33, CAP D&C (regulation drill). 60-33 was written in the same manner as 52-8, unfortunately, and that is where CAP D&C begins to stray from USAF D&C. CAP was never supposed to create a different standard but did with reckless abandon. There are many nuances in AFPAM 34-1203, AF D&C, that many in CAP, AFJROTC, and others just do not grasp and that is due to the AF’s poor writing. However, poor writing is no excuse to go off on your own and “rewrite” a manual for a subordinate agency. CAP should have written a supplement for cadets.

Also watching your videos you use the terms “regulation”, “ceremonial”, and “exhibition” drill, could you help explain the differences between them? Thank you.

% Regulation Drill comes from the three service D&C manuals, TC 3-21.5, MCO 5060.20, and AFPAM 34-1203. They are the “regulations” that govern service drill and ceremonies that is applicable to everyone in uniform in the Department of Defense, ROTC, JROTC, CAP, Sea Cadets, Sea Scouts, and Young Marines. It is supposed to be the default standard for every cadet organization in the USA but isn’t because of egos.

% Ceremonial Drill is strictly for service honor guard units and not for the general military nor cadets to perform. It was developed out of necessity for rendering honors and looking your absolute best. There’s more of an explanation but it’s lengthy.

% Exhibition Drill is any marching or rifle/sword manipulation. However, it has come to be understood that exhibition drill is marching and equipment use that is not specifically in a service D&C manual.

Comments 3

  1. Good evening,

    I had a few questions about the regulation color guard drill, found in CAPP 60-33. I understand you do not like this manual (nor do I), but I figured you were still the best person to ask.

    First, for the half right (or left) about, the manual essentially says to turn 90 degrees centered at the right or left guard respectively, which makes sense, but next it says that the full right and left abouts are performed the same, you just turn 180 degrees. I am not very experienced with color guard drill, but it seems strange to me that you would have makes a U shape to turn 180 degrees, so is this correct?

    I was also curious what manuals CAPP 60-33 pulls this information from (specifically regarding abouts, because I couldn’t find anything on them in AFMAN 36-2203 or AFPAM 34-1203), so I can hopefully read from a better/clearer source.

    Thank you for your time.

    Best, John

    1. Post

      Hello sir,

      First, I have to tell you (actually, anyone else who is reading) that both the CAP D&C manual and the cadet honor guard manual (CHGM) are written poorly. The CHGM should not be used as it does not even remotely reflect USAF ceremonial drill. The D&C manual also goes off on non-USAF tangents. Both are not authorized since CAP is a subordinate organization in the USAF structure and therefore cannot alter USAF standards without authorization from the D&C OPR. Next, I also have to tell you that the USAF updating the AF D&C manual in 2022 to make it a pamphlet, AFPAM 34-1203, effectively demotes the writing in it to a sticky note attached to the frame of your computer screen. It has been rewritten a few times since first issued in the 1950s and each time the writing has been slightly less descriptive/worse.

      AFMAN 36-2203 (1996 & 2013), AFPAM 36-2203 (2022) (the only versions I have access to while I’m traveling) only make reference to the Half Right/Left About (90-degree turn, an unbelievably ridiculous term created out of nowhere) in paragraph 7.32.2. with no explanation of the movement. The Left About is a 180-degree turn.

      Both turns are completed in Line Formation with the team keeping the integrity of the straight line throughout the movement. The team never bends into a “U” or any other shape other than a perfectly straight line. A team of four should take approximately 8 steps to turn 90 degrees and then 8 steps for the 180 turn. The pivot point is on the guard position going in that direction. The movement is called a Wheel for the Army (TC 3-21.5) and a Turn for the Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard (MCO 5060.20). The Wheel in the TC is your best bet for that standard the AF follows (heel strikes) because the MCO’s Turn is slightly different (toe strikes).

      Thank you for your question. I wish I was home so that I could look in my historic AF D&C manuals to see when the Abouts were first written down. I’ll make a note of this and dig into my research in 8 weeks or so and try to get back to this comment.


      1. Thank you for responding so quickly,

        I apologize for being unclear, I understood that the team should keep line formation, I just thought that a 180 degree about was centered at the middle of the team, not the left or right guard.

        I will check TC 3-21.5 soon.

        Best, John

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *