Dragon Corner: drill and ceremony, core vaules

  • Published
  • By Master Sgts. Corey Lockhart and Jedadiah Moss
  • 81st Training Group
All of us are familiar with the core values; what some of us may not be so acquainted with is drill and ceremony. All of us who wear the uniform that distinguishes us as Airmen have participated in drill and ceremony at some point in our careers.

For some, it may have been a few years since the last time you may have heard terms like: "to the rear," "change step," or even performed a standard facing movement. For those Airmen that perform on any of the training squadron's drill teams, these terms are common and the movements are part of everyday routine. For this select few, drill and ceremony have become a way of life. These Airmen are dedicated to perfecting the execution of precision movements and are proud of what they do. They showcase their skill and military bearing at quarterly drill down competitions held at the drill pad behind the Levitow Training Support Facility.

You may have heard about drill down competitions or seen photos of previous winning teams in the Keesler News, but how much do you really know about these great events?
There are three graded parts to each drill down competition: open ranks, regulation drill and freestyle drill. Drill teams are comprised of eight or nine team members in each graded area. The open ranks portion is always completed first and starts at 7 a.m. Regulation drill starts at 8 a.m. and, like its name suggests, this is when each team must perform regulation moves such as change step, to the rear, column movements and flanking movements. The freestyle portion is conducted directly after the regulation portion and can include anything that can be accomplished safely. It is the fun and creative part of the performance. In the past, teams have performed blindfolded and usually spin or toss rifles. Regulation and freestyle drill are both timed. Freestyle drill lasts a minimum of three minutes and the total time of both can be no more than seven minutes.

Before each graded activity, the drill master must report to the reviewing official, usually a member of base leadership, and ask for permission to use the drill pad. Once the performance is over, the drill master must ask for permission to exit the drill pad.
The drill down competitions provide an opportunity to train and to emphasize the importance of teamwork to our nonprior service Airmen. The three elements of the drill down competition ultimately improve Airmen's attention to detail. Our core values of integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do are carefully choreographed into each and every move performed during each drill down competition.
Integrity first is commonly just associated with doing what is right when no one is watching. A closer look at this core value reveals different moral traits like courage, responsibility, accountability, and humility. Courage and humility go hand-in-hand in stepping up to and accepting the challenge of representing their squadrons at each drill down competition. Imagine knowing that not only your squadron, but roughly 2,300 other nonprior service Airmen will be in attendance. If that isn't enough, base and community leaders are always present.

Looking at the core value of service before self, most Airmen think this is just doing what the Air Force asks them to do, no matter the sacrifice. While this is true, there are other factors that go into it as well The "Little Blue Book" talks about "discipline and self-control." Drill team members exude a tremendous amount of both discipline and self-control while performing their routine. Let us not forget that team members volunteer to be part of their squadron's drill team, sacrificing valuable time while in technical training. In the training environment, there is not a better display of esprit de corps.

Only one team can bring home the title of best-of-the-best. However, each team demonstrates our excellence in all we do core value which is a "sustained passion for continuous improvement and an upward spiral of accomplishment and performance," according to the the "Little Blue Book." Every individual performing in the drill competition displays personal excellence which is a byproduct of this core value. From the moment the drill team enters the field of competition, military bearing is paramount in each team member and execution of each movement.

If you have not taken the opportunity to attend a drill down competition, it would be worth your time to do so. Feel free to come out and support any one of the training groups drill teams and you will witness some of the Air Force's newest Airmen displaying discipline and honoring tradition on a drill pad while epitomizing the Air Force's core values.
These events provide top-notch free entertainment and fun for everyone, including family members.

The event begins with the Airmen showing their squadron pride through chants. Squadron mascots are present to help get everyone in a festive mood. The drum and bugle corps, also made up of nonprior service Airmen, provides musical entertainment during the event. However, the most entertaining part is watching the Airmen show off all their hard work and dedication. All eyes are on them as they perform drill movements with precision and strive to earn competitive bragging rights with their fellow Airmen from the other squadron teams. These events are highly competitive, which also adds to the excitement and entertainment value.

The last drill down competition of this year is Oct. 25. Hope to see you there!