Parade (military)

From Academic Kids

A parade refers to any times soldiers are in formation with restriction of movement.

This comes from the old tradition of formation combat, in which soldiers were held in very strict formations as to maximize their combat effectiveness. Formation combat was seen as an alternative to melée combat, which required strict soldier discipline and competent commanders. As long as the formations could be maintained, the 'civilized' soldiers would maintain a significant advantage over their less organized opponents.

Although modern warfare has shirked this in favour of guerilla combat and loose formations, modern militaries still use parades for ceremonial purposes or in noncombat environments for their efficiency and ease of organization. Roughly synonymous are "drill" and "march".

Four directions

Parades consist of four directions:

  1. Advance
  2. Retire
  3. Left
  4. Right

The Advance is the primary direction of movement, regardless of which direction the soldiers are actually facing (similar to a ship's bow.)

The Retire is opposite the advance, against the primary direction of movement (similar to a ship's stern.)

The Left is to the left of the Advance (similar to a ship's port.)

The Right is to the right of the Advance (similar to a ship's starboard.)

If the Advance is changed, then all other directions are changed to be based off the new Advance.

There is only one person in charge of a parade at a time. Changing this person is very ceremonious. This is to make it obvious to the soldiers who is currently in command, and therefore who to pay attention to.

During parades, unless explicitly told otherwise, soldiers have restricted movement, meaning they can only move exactly when they are told, and then only doing exactly what they are told to do. In most stances any movement at all is disallowed, and is held to such an extent as to have soldiers fainting on parade, (although anything short of plural hours standing still in the hot sun is considered a medical disability.)

If this is caused by a soldier's inappropriate actions or inactions, the soldier can be formally charged. If a soldier makes a move when not told to, or a false move when told to, it can be considered disobeying a direct order from a superior (typically an officer,) and formally charged, although they are typically allowed to make mistakes with only minor reprimands.

Four-part commands

The typical parade commands are spoken extremely clearly and emphatically, and consist of four major parts.

  1. Identifier, or who is to follow the command. This is typically (number) Section, (number) Platoon, (letter) Company, or (name) Regiment, although the prefixes are often dropped when there is no ambiguity (Section, Platoon, Company (Coy,) or Regiment.) Parade can only be given by the parade commander, and always refers to the entire parade, regardless of size.
  2. Precautionary, or what is to be done in an adstract sense: Move to the Advance, Move to the Retire, etc.
  3. Cautionary, or the first part of what is to be done.
  4. Executive, or execution, a single syllable on which the soldiers actually move. In the USA, this is often simply huh, much to the chagrin of any other military to use parades. There is always a significant pause between the Cautionary and the Executive.


  • 4 Platoon (Identifier,) Moving to the Right in File (Precautionary,) Right (Cautionary,) Turn (Executive.)
  • B Coy (Identifier,) Advance (Precautionary,) Left (Cautionary,) Turn (Executive.)

Often there is no chance of ambiguity, and much of the command can be unspoken. In such cases there must always be the Cautionary and the Executive.

  • Present Arms
  • Atten -Tion

Common Parade Commands

  • Fall In. Have the forementioned troops fall into formation.
  • Fall Out. Have the troops fall out. This is done with a right turn followed by either three steps or a Quick March in a straight line to the edge of the parade square, determined by context.
  • Dis -Missed. A fall-out where the soldiers have free time until their next designated work period (typically done at the end of a common day, although ofter is simply an erroneous substitution for Fall Out.)
  • Atten -Tion. Have the soldiers uniformly adopt the Attention position, the most constrictive position (with feet together,) but the only position where soldiers can actually be made to move. This also returns soldiers to the attention position actions such as a salute.
  • Stand at Ease (Parade Rest). Have the soldiers adopt the more relaxed position At Ease position, with feet shoulder width apart, (although still no movement is allowed.) This is typically used when soldiers must wait a short duration. This is also the initial positions soldiers are in when they fall into formation. Changing from At Ease to Attention and back again (or the converse,) is standard when the command of a parade is transferred (typically between the commanding officer and his Sergeant-Major,) used to make it obvious who is now in command of the formation.
  • Stand Ea-Sy. Have the soldiers adopt the next easiest stance, where hand are hung at the sides and the shoulders can actually be slacked. This is often, but not always, followed by an implicit Relax.
  • relax. The only parade instruction given in an ordinary voice, rather than the raised, emphatic parade voice. This is the only position that actually offers soldiers freedom of movement. Soldier are typically allowed to do anything (within reason,) other than moving their feet. Though, when it is given by a high ranking officer, soldiers typically move a minimal amount after a bit of stretching.
  • Order Arms: If the soldiers are carrying a weapon which can be ordered they will lower it so that is resting on the ground, touching the outer toes of the right boot, and being supported by a slightly bent right arm.
  • Shoulder Arms: If the soldiers have the weapons at the order, than it is brought up an carryied on the right shoulder. Although Left and Right Shoulder Arms are both valid commands, right is assumed if it is unstated. Soldiers must be at attention to shoulder weapons. This is typically done through a throw rather than a carry.
  • Port Arms: The weapon is brought out in front of the soldier, an held by the right hand on small of the butt (or equivalent,) and the left hand about the forestock (or equivalent.)
  • Present Arms: The soldiers use the salute for their particular weapon. Soldiers without weapons use a salute appropriate for their headress. Often officers can salute on behalf of their troops, and any such ambiguity will be discussed with the troops before hand. This is often used with the precautionary General Salute or Royal Salute (when appropriate.)
  • Order Colours: Essentially the same as Order Arms, except used exclusively for the Colour Party.
  • Carry Colours: This is equivalent to Shoulder Arms. The right arm lifts the colours up so they line up with the body's centre line, with the right arm held in front of the soldier, at mouth level parallel to the ground. It is caught and guided into its frog with left hand, which is then returned to its side.
  • Let Fly the Colours: The colours are normally held in a semi-taught position. This is a simple, ceremonial letting fly and catching of the colours.
  • Slant Colours: The colours are normally kept upright, but this can represent a problem both when dealing with standard doors. This slants the colours forward sufficiently to negate this, and they are brought back up afterwards.
  • Slope Colours: The normal method for carrying colours can be tiresome for the bearer. This has the colours taken out of their frogs and sloped over the right shoulder at about 45°.
  • Right Turn: A 90° turn to the right done by rotating on the right heel and left ball. The left leg is then brought up to be parallel to the ground (although exceptions are made for kilted regiments,) and slammed into the ground in the position of attention.
  • Left Turn: A 90° turn to the left, done by rotation on the right ball and the left heel. The right leg is then brought up to be parallel to the ground and slammed down into attention.
  • About Turn: A 180° turn to the right, done as an exaggerated version of the right turn.
  • Quick March: Begin marching at the Quick March speed with the left foot. The standard pace is 120 beats/minute with a 30in. step. There is also a Rifle Pace, 160 beats/minute and a Highland Pace, 80 beats/minute (typically done with a kilt.) The pace is based off the individual regiments, the pace given by the commander, and the speed of the band's rhythm. The way the march is performed is based off the regiment's nationality. Western bloc nations typically lift their opposite arm up to the breast pocket, kept strait and used similar to a guided pendulum. Eastern Block nations frequently goose step, or keep their legs straight during the entirety of the step. Both of these are actually functional, as they maintain individual pace, unit pace uniformity, and actually help the soldiers march is their relatively elevated pace.
  • Slow March: This is a ceremonial pace, used for funeral marches and when a unit's colours are marched out in front of the troops. The feet are kept parallel to the ground and the arms are never used.
  • Double March: This is essentially a moderate jog. It creates a travel speed of approximately double that of Quick Time, designed to be used even when carrying heavy burdens. This is often erroneously used to describe a sprint or an ordinary run.
  • Easy March: This is an unrestricted march at approximately Quick Time. This is designed for field marches and other rough conditions, though is not used in combat areas.
  • Mark Time: This is essentially a stationary march with the knees coming up be parallel to the ground. The time of what they were previously marching is kept or Quick March is used if no time is supplied. This is designed to maintain the time of large parades when portions need no forward speed, but is also used as a common punishment or physical training because of its tiring nature.
  • Step For -Ward: This causes troops marking time to resume a normal march. If it is implicitly used (as when the marking time is used to align formations or to wait for the former rank to pass when entering Column of Route from a depth-style formation,) the (typically,) Right Marker stomps his foot to signal it to the rest of the troops.

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