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Marine Corps Drill and Ceremonies (Basics)

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Marine Corps Drill and Ceremonies- Introduction to Marine Drill


1.  The Marine Corps Drill and Ceremonies Manual is designed to provide uniformity and standardization for all Marine Corps organizations.  This Manual prescribes procedures for all close order drill and military ceremonial evolution. Commanders will only deviate from prescribed procedures when expressly authorized for specific provisions of this Manual.  The use of ceremonial drill movements authorized for Marine Barracks, Washington DC are not authorized for any other Marine Corps organization.

2.  Online Access.  In addition to the information found in this Manual, organizations and individuals may access the Marine Corps Drill web site by linking from Marine LINK at http://www.usmc.mil/.  This web site not only contains an electronic version of this Manual but also sample LOIs for the various ceremonies described in this Manual.

3.  Purpose of Drill.  Commanders use drill to:

a. Move units from one place to another in a standard, orderly manner.
b. Provide simple formations from which combat formations may be readily assumed.
c. Teach discipline by instilling habits of precision and automatic response to orders.
d. Increase the confidence of junior officers and non-commissioned officers through the exercise of command, by the giving of proper commands, and by the control of drilling troops.
e. Give troops an opportunity to handle individual weapons.

4.  Purpose of US Marine Military Formations:

a. To build unit cohesion and esprit de corps by recognizing Marines during awards and promotion ceremonies.
b. To maintain continuous accountability and control of personnel.
c. To provide frequent opportunities to observe the appearance and readiness of the uniforms, arms, and equipment of the individual Marine.
d. To keep the individual Marine informed by providing the means to pass the word.
e. To develop command presence in unit leaders.
f. To instill and maintain high standards of military bearing and appearance in units and in the individual Marine.
g. To add color and dignity to the daily routine by reinforcing the traditions of excellence associated with close order drill.

Common US Marine Corps Drill Commands and Definitions

1.  Alignment-  The dressing of several elements on a straight line.
2.  Assembly Area-  A designated location for forming units of platoon size or larger in preparation for a parade, review or ceremony.
3.  Arms-  A term used to normally designate the service rifle but can refer to any weapon.  When in formation and a mix of weapons is carried the term arms will be used to designate all types of weapons.
4.  Base-  The element on which a movement is regulated.
5.  Cadence-  A rhythmic rate of march at a uniform step.
6.  Center-  The middle element of a formation with an odd number of elements or the left center element of a formation with an even number of elements.
7.  Ceremony-  A formal military formation designated to observe a specific occasion.
8.  Column-  A formation in which elements are placed one behind the other.  A section or platoon is in column when members of each squad are one behind the other with the squads abreast of each other.
9.  Commander of Troops (COT)-  The COT is the senior officer taking part in theceremony.  If an enlisted ceremony the COT is the senior enlisted.
10.  Depth-  The space from head to rear of an element or a formation.  The depth of an individual is considered to be 12 inches.
11.  Distance-  The space between elements in the direction of depth.  Between individuals, the space between your chest and the person to your front.  Between vehicles, the space between the front end of a vehicle and the rear of the vehicle to its front.  Between troops in formation (either on foot, mounted, or in vehicles), the space from the front of the rear unit to the rear of the unit in front.  Platoon commanders, guides, and others whose positions in a formation are 40 inches from a rank are, themselves, considered a rank.  Otherwise, commanders and those with them are not considered in measuring distance between units.  The color guard is not considered in measuring distance between subdivisions of the unit with which it is posted.  In troop formations, the distance between ranks is 40 inches.
12.  Double Time-  Cadence at 180 steps (36 inches in length) per minute.
13.  Element-  An individual, squad, section, platoon, company, or other unit that is part of a larger unit.
14.  Extended Mass Formation-  The formation of a company or larger unit in which major elements are in column at close or normal interval and abreast at a specified interval greater than normal interval.
15.  File-  A single column of troops or vehicles one behind the other.
16.  Flank-  The right or left extremity of a unit, either in line or in column. The element on the extreme right or left of the line.  A direction at a right angle to the direction an element or a formation is facing.
17.  Formation-  Arrangement of elements of a unit in line, in column, or in any other prescribed manner.
18.  Front-  The space occupied by an element or a formation, measured from one flank to the other. The front of an individual is considered to be 22 inches.
19.  Guide- The individual (base) upon whom a formation, or other elements thereof, regulates its march.  To guide: to regulate interval, direction, or alignment; to regulate cadence on a base file (right, left, or center).
20.  Head-  The leading element of a column.
21.  Interval-  The lateral space between elements on the same line.  Interval is measured between individuals from shoulder to shoulder and between vehicles from hub to hub or track to track.  It is measured between elements other than individuals and between formations from flank to flank.  Unit commanders and those with them are not considered in measuring interval between elements of the unit.  Normal interval between individuals is one arm’s length. Close interval is the horizontal distance between shoulder and elbow when the left hand is placed on the left hip.
22.  Left (Right)-  Extreme left (right) element or edge of a body of troops.
23.  Line-  A formation in which the elements are side by side or abreast of each other.  A section or platoon is in line when its squads are in line and one behind the other.
24.  Line of March.- The line on which individuals or units are to march on.
25.  Line of Troops-  The line on which troops are to form when in formation.
26.  Loosened Sling-  Indicates a sling adjusted for the movement sling arms.
27.  Mass Formation-  The formation of a company or larger unit in which the major elements are in column at close interval and abreast at close interval.
28.  Muffling-  The procedure of draping colors for mourning with a mourning streamer or black bunting.  It also refers to the process of muffling the musical instruments of a band for specific types of ceremonies.
29.  Pace-  The length of a full step in quick time, 30 inches.
30.  Parade-  A parade is a ceremony that involves the movement of marching units.
31.  Parade Sling.- A sling that has all excess slack removed and is taught.  The keeper is adjusted and locked in a position next to the sling tip.  The sling lies on the left side of the rifle.
32.  Piece-  An individual firearm such as a rifle.
33.  Point of Rest-  The point toward which all elements of a unit establish their dress or alignment.
34.  Quick Time-  Cadence at 112 to 120 steps (12, 15, or 30 inches in length) per minute.  It is the normal cadence for drills and ceremonies.
35.  Rank-  A line of troops or vehicles placed side by side.
36.  Review-  A review is a type of ceremony that omits certain elements found in a parade, but includes an inspection (trooping the line) not found in a parade.
37.  Rigged-  This term refers to the condition when uniforms and equipment are properly fitted out in the manner for which they were intended for use.  Swords are considered rigged when attached to the frog (non-commissioned officers) or sword sling (commissioned officer).  A Marine is rigged when wearing the prescribed uniform or equipment.
38.  Slow Time-  Cadence at 60 steps per minute.  Used for funerals only.
39.  Snap-  In commands or signals, the quality that inspires immediate response. In drill the immediate and smart execution of a movement.
40.  Step-  The distance from heel to heel between the feet of a marching individual.  The half step and back step are 15 inches.  The right and left steps are 12 inches.  The steps in quick and double time are 30 and 36 inches, respectively.
41.  Strong Grip-  The strong grip is when the thumb is wrapped around the front of the staff with the fingers wrapped to the rear.
42.  Unit Leader-  Is the individual who is drilling the unit.  This can be any individual who is conducting drill or can be those assigned a specific billet such as squad leader, platoon sergeant, platoon commander, etc.
43.  “V” Grip-  The “V” grip is with the staff placed in the “V” formed by the thumbs and forefinger with the fingers extended and joined.


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