USA Military Drill Commands


The basic fundamentals of military drill movements actually have their roots in historic battlefield maneuvers and in moving troops from one location to another. Most drill command movements are used to familiarize the military servicemen and women with body discipline and order. Over time, drills increase the body's ability to stay still for long periods of time, through rough conditions such as adverse weather and temperature, which is essential for maintaining stealth and for rifle accuracy. Numerous drill commands are used in the U.S. military.


  • The position of attention as a command is used to make all service-members stand completely still. The position includes standing with straight posture, heels touching with the feet forming a V shape, arms straight at the sides with fingers curled and the thumb pointing down in line with the trouser seam. During this position, movement is forbidden. This position is common during platoon formations, ceremonies and funerals, typically when a commanding officer is addressing the unit and when the U.S. flag is being raised or lowered.

Port Arms

  • The port arms command is used to instruct the service-members carrying rifles to bring the rifles into the front position. The rifle is held at an angle with the left hand on the rifle fore-grip and the right forearm parallel to the floor with the hand gripping the small of the buttstock. This command is typically followed by a forward command such as "Forward March" or "Double-time March" when on a movement. The port arms command is also used during rifle inspections by commanding officers, though this also incorporates additional movements.

By the Left or Right Flank

  • The commands "By the Left Flank" or "By the Right Flank" are used to make the platoon move in unison in either the left or right direction. U.S. military branches have different versions of this same movement such as "To the Left," "Flank Left March," or other variations. At the time of the command, the entire platoon pivots on the left foot toward the direction called, in unison.

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