The Silent Drill Platoon is a unit of hand picked marines from bases around the country. It executes a 10 minute drill that exemplifies the strict discipline that identifies all Marines. The calculated movements handling 10 pound M1 rifles with fixed bayonets is performed completely without verbal commands. This precision drill comes to a climax with a rifle inspection that is anything but routine.
- Commentary from Marine Corps video1
The United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon is a 24-soldier rifle platoon which performs a unique precision drill exhibition. For anyone who has seen any branch of the military perform in parades, flag ceremonies, honor guard formations, or any similar drill and ceremony, you quite often don't hear (or even see) them speaking. Regardless, there is nearly always at least one person in the group giving commands just loud enough for the rest of the formation to hear such as "Attention", "Parade Rest", "Right, Face", or any of dozens of others. These commands allow the soldiers to do everything in sync. The notable exception to this is the Silent Drill Platoon. They perform their entire complex routine without uttering a single command or cadence - an absolutely amazing feat.
This platoon first performed in 1948, and received such an incredible response that they started routinely performing at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. The Marines in this unit use hand-polished M1 Garand rifles with fixed (and fully sharpened) bayonets. Their routine typically lasts about 10 minutes, and reaches a climax at the rifle inspections. In it, the platoon and Platoon Leader perform some very elaborate rifle spinning and tossing with as many as three 10 pound rifles (again with sharp knives on the end) whirling through the air at a time, and never miss a beat.
Each Marine is individually chosen and interviewed. If selected, they go to a special 4 month school in Yuma, Arizona. If they make it, they are transferred to the 8th and I Marine Barracks in the nation's capital where they serve a specialized 2 year tour. Here they train year round up to 10 hours a day to perfect the ceremony. Experienced members of the platoon can audition to become rifle inspectors where they are graded by the inspectors of the previous year. The two best receive this honor. The platoon performs regularly at the Marine Barracks, and at numerous events throughout the world. In the spirit of the saying, "Every Marine a rifleman," each of these soldiers also participates in Infantry field exercises.
- 1 Video at: http://marines.com/about_marines/silentdrillplatoon.asp