02 June 2010

Change Step, March!

It's been a few years since Sherpa had to concern himself with spit-and-polish problems such as calling the cadence, drill and ceremony, and marching up and down the square. Still, in shifting my battle-blogging rhythm in preparation for field duty, I was reminded of a little trick from Army Field Manual 22-5 (now renamed FM 3-21.5).

The trick is the change-step. Something you might call a "skip."

As I recall it, the change-step is one of the few U.S. Army marching commands that is called when the right foot hits the ground. The command of preparation is "Change-step ..." and the command of execution is "MARCH!" Upon the command of "Change step, MARCH," the unit executes a half-step. By executing this maneuver, a leader can bring his unit into step with others. It can also be executed as an individual, particularly one who finds him- or herself marching to a slightly different beat.

Here's how the manual describes "change step":
This movement is executed automatically whenever a soldier finds himself out of step with all other members of the formation. It is only executed while marching forward with a 30-inch step. To change step, the command Change Step, MARCH is given as the right foot strikes the marching surface. On the command of execution MARCH, take one more step with the left foot, then in one count place the right toe near the heel of the left foot and step off again with the left foot. The arms swing naturally. This movement is executed automatically whenever a soldier finds himself out of step with all other members of the formation. (Paragraph 4-7, FM 3-21.5).
Each year, it's usual for a U.S. Army National Guard unit to perform two or three weeks of full-time military service. This year, the units of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division (2-34 B.C.T.) will conduct Annual Training (A.T.) in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan later this summer. In the coming weeks, I may be a little out of touch at times--technologically, rather than mentally.

My fellow soldiers and I will be performing our assigned duties, most likely on a 24-hour schedule and under rough-but-comfortable field conditions. I have previously suggested that a brigade Tactical Operations Center ("TOC") is like an air-conditioned inflatable circus tent populated by ninjas, and I'm sticking to that description. There is always something interesting going on at the TOC. And, if there isn't, one can always make things more interesting, if you catch my drift.

Just don't get caught, Sherpa says. Or held responsible.

While I have ready access to the very latest Army technology in my military job, I'm not necessarily going to enjoy a lot of free time or blogging bandwidth. Still, I think I've figured out how to maintain my blogging schedule, although I'm likely going to downshift to two or three times a week. And I'm gearing up with some new tech, so readers who access Red Bull Rising via Facebook may also see some "test fires" and "radio checks" in the next couple of days. As always, I'll keep you posted.

Change step, MARCH!


  1. Hmm... does FM 3-21.5 have a section on "Plausible Deniability"? :D


  2. Funny, I can retire in a few months from the "Guard" and I still hate D&C.
    However, when I think back on my 2 deployments, I can't recall ever having to actaully march troops anywhere.
    We did do some award ceramonys...but that really wasn't about the troops getting the awards...it was about the "fearless (useless) leaders getting to stand in front of everybody and look important and acting like they actually gave a shit. (they didn't).

    "Company! From front to rear--dissapear!"

  3. I've noticed the slight mis-step in your blogging rhythm. Your daily post is one of my small pleasures to see every morning. And now you're telling me to expect less.... Whatever will we do?

    Regardless, training must continue. We certainly wouldn't want you guys going anywhere with proper training. =))

    Oh, Isn't the current issue up to FM 3-24?
    Carry on!

  4. My biggest obstacle was always column left or right. I always seem to get give the command on the wrong foot. It is just a mental block I guess... perpetuated further by admission here! LOL! PDV


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