A correctly delivered command will be understood by everyone in the unit. Correct commands have a tone, cadence, and snap that demand willing, correct, and immediate response.

The loudness of a command is adjusted to the number of soldiers in the unit. Normally, the commander is to the front and center of the unit and speaks facing the unit so that his voice reaches everyone.
a.  The voice must have carrying power, but excessive exertion is unnecessary and harmful. A typical result of trying too hard is the almost unconscious tightening of the neck muscles to force sound out. This produces strain, hoarseness, sore throat, and worst of all, indistinct and jumbled sounds instead of clear commands. Ease is achieved through good posture, proper breathing, correct adjustment of throat and mouth muscles, and confidence.
b.  The best posture for giving commands is the position of Attention. Soldiers in formation notice the posture of their leader. If his posture is unmilitary (relaxed, slouched, stiff, or uneasy), the subordinates will imitate it.
c.  The most important muscle used in breathing is the diaphragm—the large muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. The diaphragm automatically controls normal breathing and is used to control the breath in giving commands.
d.  The throat, mouth, and nose act as amplifiers and help to give fullness (resonance) and projection to the voice.

Distinctiveness depends on the correct use of the tongue, lips, and teeth, which form the separate sounds of a word and group the sounds into syllables. Distinct commands are effective; indistinct commands cause confusion. All commands can be pronounced correctly without loss of effect. Emphasize correct enunciation (distinctiveness). To enunciate clearly, make full use of the lips, tongue, and lower jaw.
To develop the ability to give clear, distinct commands, practice giving commands slowly and carefully, prolonging the syllables. Then, gradually increase the rate of delivery to develop proper cadence, still enunciating each syllable distinctly.

Inflection is the rise and fall in pitch and the tone changes of the voice.
a.  The preparatory command is the command that indicates movement. Pronounce each preparatory command with a rising inflection. The most desirable pitch, when beginning a preparatory command, is near the level of the natural speaking voice. A common fault with beginners is to start the preparatory command in a pitch so high that, after employing a rising inflection for the preparatory command, it is impossible to give the command of execution with clarity or without strain. A good rule to remember is to begin a command near the natural pitch of the voice (Figure 3-1).
b.  The command of execution is the command that indicates when a movement is to be executed. Give it in a sharper tone and in a slightly higher pitch than the last syllable of the preparatory command. It must be given with plenty of snap. The best way to develop a command voice is to practice.
c. In combined commands, such as FALL IN and FALL OUT, the preparatory command and command of execution are combined. Give these commands without inflection and with the uniform high pitch and loudness of a normal command of execution.


Cadence, in commands, means a uniform and rhythmic flow of words. The interval between commands is uniform in length for any given troop unit. This is necessary so that everyone in the unit will be able to understand the preparatory command and will know when to expect the command of execution.
a.  For the squad or platoon in March, except when supplementary commands need to be given, the interval of time is that which allows one step (or count) between the preparatory command and the command of execution. The same interval is used for commands given at the Halt. Longer commands, such as Right flank, MARCH, must be started so that the preparatory command will end on the proper foot, and leave a full count between the preparatory command and command of execution.
b.  When supplementary commands are necessary, the commander should allow for one count between the preparatory command and the subordinate leader’s supplementary command, and an additional count after the subordinate command but before the command of execution.
FM 3-21.5

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