Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Counter Column, a.k.a. "That Thing I Can't Do Right"

The Counter Column has got to be the #1 most botched task at LDAC and in the Army at large.  It is such an uncomfortable command for troops that they occasionally stop marching and wait to be directed, or other times make up an approximation of it on the spot.  It doesn't have to be that way.  When rehearsed properly, it is actually one of the simplest commands to follow.

Counter Column is used to turn a moving formation in upon itself, so that it faces the opposite direction without causing that train wreck we mentioned earlier.

The Counter Colum: not as hard as it has to be.  Image: https://rdl.train.army.mil

The procedure is simple.  At the preparatory command, Counter Column, the formation prepares to execute the maneuver.  At the command of execution, MARCH the following happens simultaneously:

1.  Third Squad immediately executes two column-lefts so that it is moving in the opposite direction of Second Squad at a half-step (fifteen inch).

2.  Second Squad takes one additional step forward and executes a column right, followed by two steps and another column right so that it is moving opposite Fourth Squad at a half-step.

3.  Fourth Squad takes two additional steps forward and executes a column left, followed by three steps and another column left so that it moves opposite First Squad and parallel to Third Squad.

4.  First squad takes three additional steps forward and executes a column right, followed by four steps and another column right, so that it moves opposite Fourth Squad and parallel to Second Squad. 

The key to this is rehearsal.  A good platoon leader will drill outside during spare time in the first few days, so that the unit becomes used to it.