Form squad command

When I was forming the squadron up for final parade we had 20+ cadets so I thought it would be appropriate to just call, “Form a squad quick march”. As I thought having to call, of three ranks was not needed as it was clearly going to be that. And it worked.

But one of the staff said you can’t assume anything when doing drill. So do you always need to call how many ranks there will be?

Our resident WO will be along shortly but “form squad, quick march” is the order so why would you add more?


Yeah 818 says “Form Squad, Quick March” as the order

Its common practice to add "Form 2/3 ranks, quick march " during training with newbies but shouldn’t be used post basic drill training, the key bit is to educate them once they have got the grasps of it of how its done out of training.

also this is an ACP19 hangover.

Also as a side note generally if 9 or more bodies form the Squad would require 3 ranks. But if the environment doesn’t permit this then 2 ranks is sufficient

on a secondary side note, i wouldn’t recommend going to your staff and telling them the internet said they are wrong, it probably wont end well for you. If you want more details on the correct protocols Part 2 Chapter 3 of AP818 will give you all the details you require.


Because if there’s less than 9 you’d call, “form a squad of 2 ranks, quick march” so he was saying you need to make it clear that it’s 3

Ah yes, either relying on cadets not being able to count or you not moving people after they’ve formed up.

Ultimately however it’s likely that what your OC says would be correct for your Sqn

One of the staff is wrong… We assume an awful lot during drill. We assume that all cadets have been taught the same drills correctly. There is no need to spoon-feed.

If being properly correct, you never say how many ranks there will be. That part of the command is “Form squad, quick march” no matter what the number of personnel. As far as drill is concerned, there are always three ranks when forming up.
If you want to move the squad/flight/&c into two ranks there is a movement for that, and it starts with them being in three ranks.

The cadet-ism about forming in 2 ranks if there are less than [insert locally made-up number here] is just that… a cadet-ism.

Whilst, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with having a local decision where cadets automatically form in two ranks if under a certain number, it’s not strictly by the book.

Contrary to my learned colleague, I wouldn’t personally advocate including extra made-up parts of the command during training. Arguably, during training is when they should learn how it’s going to work in the real world.
One can simple pre-brief them if required… “I want you to form in two ranks this time because there are only 6 of you…” before giving the proper commands.

All that being said… There is also no need to ‘borrow’ commands from a movement (“form squad, quick march” is part of “Sizing a Squad”; it’s not, strictly, a command to be used on its own).
If one wants the group to just fall in, one can simply say “fall in!”; which, if cadets have been trained to know what it means, should have the same effect and is universally applicable.

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I would second this, just highlighting its common practice and if its done then yeah tell them in the real world its x y z

My unit would do this, and then immediately go into a full sequence of forming up a squad. Absolutely baffled me. Already formed them up, why would you do it again.


The difficulty of course, as I’m sure you find too, is that most squadrons don’t properly explain “we are doing this because [we’ve only got space for 2 ranks in the hall, &c]”; nor do they properly practice the ‘correct’ movements outside where space is not an issue.

The result is that when one gets 20 squadrons together for drill, one tends to find that cadets get confused because they’ve been taught at least a dozen different local approaches.
We definitely need to do what we can to make it easier for cadets by sticking as closely to the book as feasible and properly explaining where and why we’ve had to make local tweaks.

Falling in is one of my pet peeves… You know how it is… the programme is running late, the cadets need to be somewhere 5 minutes ago and you brief an NCO to get them fell in and marched off sharpish… The next thing you hear are the words “Right Marker! Tallest on the right, shortest on the left…”
Nooooooooooooooooo Just get them fell in… Like… NOW!


AP818 does say < 9 people means 2 ranks under “THE FORMATION OF A SQUAD/FLIGHT” lesson. Does this just apply when doing the “get on parade”?

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Technically, it is only included the PTN for that particular lesson, and not for sizing a squad. Probably because sizing a squad is primarily important for training new recruits and for looking smart on formal parades. In those cases (for the RAF) there will always be more than 9 people, so it’s really not a consideration.

That’s what I mean when I say that as a cadet-ism we have applied something which is not strictly correct by the book to sizing.
As I say, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that; but ‘get on parade’ has no special command to tell people how many ranks they should form… They are just expected to learn that when there are less than nine they form in two ranks. The same approach can be taken to sizing if required. There’s no need to make up new words of command.

You might also find, for example, a squadron where they have 20 people in a flight, but they have to form in 2 ranks because they’ve got a shallow parade hall…

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So basically what this is all about is the cadets should know what their doing. And the drill manual is different depending on your squadron traditions and needs.

Kind of…

  1. Yes, cadets should know what they’re doing, and it’s important that we train them by the book as well as explaining why we may need to make local alterations.

  2. The drill manual isn’t different - but it’s a ‘best practice guide’ and the way it is applied may need to be tweaked to fit the local circumstance. Not really because of “traditions”, but where available space or number of personnel, for example, make it necessary. If a sqn has the means to do it by the book, then they should do so, ‘traditions’ be damned. There are a lot of weird local ‘squadron traditions’ which have been born out of ignorance.

To be fair, if the cadets should know what there doing whats the point of calling tallest on the right shortest … Why not just call get in order or something, unless there is a command for them to get in some other order like age order.

A good point… The only answer is “because that’s the way it’s done”.

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I’m a big fan of this phrase in the book:

“The squad is to practice collectively-individually-collectively”

I’d be interested to see what individual practice of sizing looks like!

Also, right incline, but in the notes it says “a correct left turn is carried out”


Sounds like a parade night filler right there

“go size yourself while we fix the projector”



Unfortunalty at my squdron the internet is playing the part of the projecter in said joke :frowning:
But fortunatly I now know an impossible task to give my cadets while I sort it out. But to be fair it does seem that Virgin Media has fallen on its ■■■■ as many people are experiancing problems with it

One thing I’ve never been able to work out is why we use ‘Squad’ instead of ‘Squadron’…I’m sure it’s languishing in the regs somewhere and I’m sure that my learned colleagues here will know…‘squad’ has always been a ‘green’ command to me…as far as I know the Dambusters aren’t known as 617 Squad…