“Cherry Picking”

DrillMasterColor Guard/Color Team, Commentary Leave a Comment

I’ve been told twice in two days that I “cherry pick” information. In one instance it was purely an insult, but it came from an adult who doesn’t like accuracy or the truth.

The second time came from a college level cadet who thought the two USAF D&C standards and who is authorized to follow them, doesn’t make sense.

Let’s break this down.


There are three drill and ceremonies manuals for regulation drill, three for ceremonial drill, protocol manuals, flag manuals, instructions and regulations from each service and the DoD that I keep up with to give out information that is as accurate as possible. Of course I’m going to be succinct in my articles and social media posts. That’s called being accurate. “Cherry picking” is using information that only supports your agenda. My agenda is to educate.

Just because you don’t like what I write or say, or the methods with which I choose to communicate, doesn’t make what I write or say picking and choosing or “cherry picking” that information. Call it whatever you want. Obviously, you do not want to listen and understand the concepts about which I’ve written (Don’t Form a Color Guard, for example). The information I provide is based on standards, some of which need a broader understanding of certain protocols. I’m willing to research that. You don’t have to read what I write, but I know you do.

The Two USAF Standards

AFPAM 34-1203 governs drill and ceremonies for all Airmen and Guardians. Its reach extends to SROTC and JROTC cadets. This is regulation drill.

AFMAN 34-515 and the AF Base Honor Guard Manual detail drill and ceremonies for the USAF Honor Guard and Base Honor Guard members. This is ceremonial drill.

All formations manned by Airmen and/or Guardians for a ceremonial nature (which is odd, because a ceremony is a ceremony right?), that is all who are assigned to the Honor Guard, perform all movements per 515/BHG manual. This includes parades/passes-in-review, color guards, etc.

All formations manned by Airmen and/or Guardians for a ceremony that is not governed by ceremonial drill is run by the AFPAM. This includes parades/passes-in-review, color guards, etc.

For example. The color guard in the photo below is made up of new 2nd Lieutenants for their graduation from USAF Officer Candidate School. Course members march a pass-in-review in flight formations with a color guard. In this case, only AFPAM 34-1203 applies and that means the team cannot march shoulder-to-shoulder and the right forearms of the bearers must be horizontal when at Carry (notice the US bearer’s arm).

What about SROTC or USAF Academy?

College cadets have taken it upon themselves to use some ceremonial standards for color guards. This seems to be an extension of AFJROTC/SFJROTC units being allowed to for a “special team” that can wear certain uniform items authorized only for Airmen and Guardians who are Ceremonial Guardsmen. While it is not necessarily authorized, many have turned an ignorant eye to cadets using these standards. That’s not a “blind eye”, as that would indicate that people are aware of both standards and who is authorized to perform them. Unfortunately, most senior AFROTC color guards perform rather poorly since most everyone relies on senior cadets to teach junior cadets with no one ever reading the appropriate manual.

Having said that, ceremonial techniques, especially for a color guard, are much more complete. In any case, rifle guards for AF/SF color guards follow the techniques for the guards MCO 5060.20 because they are on the outside shoulder and the team uses TC 3-21.5 for movement in general. See The Argument From AFPAM 34-1203 for more on this.

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