* AFROTC: The 54 Commands

A marching drill used for training Air Force cadets in the 1980s.

When I was in AFROTC at MIT (1984-1988), we used “The 54 Commands” as a marching-training drill. I believe the drill was timed and you had to start and end in the same position (typically on a football field or the like). The drill appears to no longer be in use (retired circa 1993). But it popped into my mind the other day so I’m including it here for posterity.

01. Present, Arms
02. Order, Arms
03. Parade, Rest
04. Flight, Attention
05. Right, Face
06. Close, March
07. Extend, March
08. Left, Face
09. Dress Right, Dress
10. Ready, Front
11. Left Step, March
12. Flight, Halt
13. Open Ranks, March
14. Ready, Front
15. Close Ranks, March
16. Right Step, March
17. Flight, Halt
18. Right, Face
19. Eyes, Right
20. Ready, Front
21. Left, Face
22. Dress Right, Dress
23. Ready, Front
24. Right, Face
25. Forward, March
26. Change Step, March
27. Count Cadence, Count
28. Column Right, March
29. Forward, March
30. To the Rear, March
31. To the Rear, March
32. Close, March
33. Forward, March
34. Extend, March
35. Forward, March
36. Column Right, March
37. Forward, March
38. Right Flank, March
39. Flight, Halt
40. Forward March
41. Left Flank, March
42. Column Right, March
43. Forward, March
44. Right Flank, March
45. Left Flank, March
46. To the Rear, March
47. To the Rear, March
48. Eyes, Right (marching)
49. Ready, Front
50. Column Right, March
51. Forward, March
52. Flight, Halt
53. Left, Face
54. Present, Arms (Flight Commander salutes Chief Judge)

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Erik J. Heels is an MIT engineer; trademark, domain name, and patent lawyer; Red Sox fan; and music lover. He blogs about technology, law, baseball, and rock ‘n’ roll at erikjheels.com.

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8 Replies to “* AFROTC: The 54 Commands”

  1. Vandenberg I, 1989. We used the 54 Commands at the Dets to prepare for camp, but for some reason when the drill/ceremonies competition came, the staff that year gave us a set of random commands in a card. The challenge was to end up in the same spot you started, by inserting whatever commands you needed to accomplish it. In fact, we were told during the first week to forget about the 54, because it would “probably” not be used.

    Sadly, my Flight’s FTO had not placed much emphasis on “get back to the starting point” part when he did our individual D&C evaluations, so when we went to compete as a flight, we ended up very far from where we started, and the guy marching us wouldn’t do a thing to get us back there, so we ended dead last even though our marching was spot on.

    Good times.

  2. Did the 54-command sequence at Vandenberg AFB field training, summer 1978. Was done within a box (chalked outline) and was timed, I think max 3 min. We practiced this at Arizona State during GMC years so was very familiar by summer camp time. Surprised to hear it was “retired” – thought it was a good idea exercise (as marching goes…)

  3. OH yeah! The 54 Commands; 1984-86 at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University! Gotta earn that dime during inspection! LOL!

  4. Thanks for posting this. I am at the lake with a buddy on vacation, who I was at Det 670 Oklahoma State in the 80’s with. His oldest son and buddy are with us at the lake, and they are in ROTC now at OSU. We got to discussing the “54” with them when I came across your blog doing a google search. We remember it having a set boundary as well as being timed. Just can’t remember the specifics. Marlon Johnson, I recognized your name immediately from when my dad was PAS at Det 670 when you were there. Small world.

  5. Wow! Does this bring back memories!! AFROTC Det 650 Ohio University and training camp at Dover AFB, DE 1985. I don’t remember being timed either but I do remember having to stay in the box!

  6. Count me as another who remembers. I was at Dyess AFB, TX, 1976, from AFROTC Det 670, Oklahoma State University, 1974-78. As I remember, there was a designated drill box, and the goal was to execute all the commands without stepping outside the box. I’m not sure I remember being timed.

  7. Remember it well. Also used in the 70’s. Commandant’s award in 1972 at Grissom AFB, Indiana. Why did they ever stop using it?

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