Military parade

A military parade is a formation of soldiers whose movement is restricted by close-order manoeuvering known as drilling or marching. The military parade is now almost entirely ceremonial, though soldiers from time immemorial up until the late 19th century fought in formation. Massed parades may also hold a role for propaganda purposes, being used to exhibit the apparent military strength of one's nation.


The terminology comes from the tradition of close order formation combat, in which soldiers were held in very strict formations as to maximise their combat effectiveness. Formation combat was used as an alternative to mêlée combat, and required strict discipline in the ranks and competent officers. As long as their formations could be maintained, regular troops could maintain a significant advantage over less organised opponents. Military parades are not to be confused with military show of force.

Although the firepower of breechloading rifles and machine guns long ago rendered close formations in battle suicidal, modern armies still use parades for ceremonial purposes or in non-combat environments for their efficiency, ease of organization and encouragement of discipline. Roughly synonymous are "drill" and "march". The English word "drill" is of Middle Dutch origin, dating from the 16th-century drill of the Dutch army of prince Maurice of Orange, which was widely copied throughout Europe at the time, decreasing the volley time of musket formations.

In ancient times, drilling increased in importance when men stopped fighting as individuals and began to fight together as units. Drilling as a vital component of a war machine further increased with the increases in the size of armies, for example when Phillip II of Macedon disciplined his army so they could swiftly form the phalanxes that were so critical to his successes as a general. Military drilling later was used by the Roman Army to maximise efficiency and deadliness throughout their long history. After the fall of the empire, and the Dark Ages set in Europe, most feudal lords more heavily relied on peasant levies and their wealthy knights to fight their wars, the knights for the most part reverting to fighting as individuals. Massed military drilling was used mostly by only the foremost armies and nations, such as the Normans.

The U.S. drill is based on the contributions of Baron von Steuben, a Prussian Army officer who served in the Continental Army.[1] During the winter quarters in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, von Steuben taught a model company of 100 soldiers musket drill. These soldiers, in turn, taught the remainder of the Continental Army.

The oldest, largest and most famous regular military parade in Europe is the Bastille Day Military Parade which is held each 14 July, on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, during France's national day celebrations.[2][3]


A military drill is memorizing certain actions through repetition until the action is instinctive to the soldiers being drilled. Complex actions are broken down into simpler ones which can be practised in isolation so when the whole is put together the desired results are achieved. Such is necessary for a fighting force to perform at maximum efficiency in all manner of situations. However, depending on the army and the drills it adopts, drilling may destroy flexibility and initiative in exchange for predictability and cohesion.

Recruits in most modern militaries are taught drill to teach them how to work and move as a team. In addition, formations are still used in riot control, where mêlée combat is still the norm.

Four directions

Parades consist of four directions:

  1. Advance
  2. Retire
  3. Left
  4. Right

The Advance is the primary direction of movement, regardless of which direction the soldiers are actually facing (similar to a ship's bow.) On a parade square, the advance is determined by the position of the dais or flags. When these are not present, the direction of the drill commander is the advance.

The Retire is opposite to the advance, against the primary direction of movement (similar to a ship's stern.)

The Left is to the left of the Advance (similar to a ship's port.)

The Right is to the right of the Advance (similar to a ship's starboard.)

If the Advance is changed, then all other directions are changed to be based on the new Advance.

There is only one person in charge of a parade at a time. Changing this person is very ceremonious. This is to make it obvious to the soldiers who is currently in command and therefore to whom to pay attention.

During parades, unless explicitly told otherwise, soldiers have restricted movement, meaning they can move only exactly when they are told, and then doing only exactly what they are told to do. In most stances, any movement at all is disallowed and is held to such an extent as to have soldiers fainting on parade, although fainting under any conditions short of plural hours standing still in the hot sun is considered a sign of medical disability.[4]

American usage allows the service member to be at four states of alert:

  1. Attention: standing straight, eyes forward, chest out, knees straight but not locked, feet together at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Parade Rest: A modified position of attention in which the left foot is moved to shoulder width (typically measured as exactly 12 inches) and the hands are placed in the small of the back with the right hand placed inside the left with all fingers together and pointing rigidly straight (exception: U.S. Air Force usage is modelled after Commonwealth practice - see below).
  3. Stand At Ease: Same as Parade Rest, but the soldier may look at the speaker.
  4. At Ease: The service member is allowed to move around all but the right foot, but must remain silent.
  5. Rest: Service member may talk, smoke (if command authorized) and may move as long as their right pivot foot remains grounded.

A formation must be brought to the position of attention before it can go to a higher state of alert.[5][6]

Commonwealth of Nations countries allow four states of alert:

  1. Attention: standing straight, eyes forward, heels together, feet at a 30-degree angle (540 mils). The hands are held in tight fists with the thumbs aligned with the seam of the trousers.
  2. At Ease: a modified position of attention in which the left foot is moved to shoulder width and the hands are placed behind the back with arms fully extended. The right hand is placed inside the left. U.S. military usage is "Parade Rest."
  3. Stand-Easy: Legs remain in the At Ease position, arms are brought to the sides to a more natural standing position. Member may relax their muscles and make minimal movements. U.S. usage is "At Ease," however a common mistake in U.S. military practice confuses "At Ease" with "Rest" (below).
  4. Relax: Legs remain at position at ease, member may make more significant movements or look around. Members may not move the feet. If the troops are not being addressed by a commander, they are generally allowed to talk quietly. U.S. usage is "Rest."

Common parade commands

  • Fall In. Have designated troops move into an already existing formation on the parade square and/or ground.
  • Fall Out. Have designated troops wheel out and to the right of their formation, then halt facing the parade commander to be dismissed.
  • Dis -Miss. Telling designated units to leave the parade square and stop drilling.
  • [Parade Size]/Parade, [Parade Size], Atten-Tion (Shun) (U.S.: Atten - Tion (Shun)). Have the soldiers uniformly adopt the Attention position, the most constrictive position (with feet together), but the only position from which soldiers can actually be made to move. In the United States military, the position is defined as heels together, feet at a 45-degree angle, arms straight, palms inward with fingers naturally curled, thumbs along the seams of trousers, shoulders square and head erect, looking forward. In the Royal Navy, the order "Shun" is replaced with the order "Ho". For Example, the most common usage is "Guard Ho!" With a small pause between words.

Alignment commands

Commonwealth version

  • Right Dress, - all personnel in front row and right side column except the right marker take one step forward, pause, and only the front rank bring up their right arms parallel to the ground. At the same time, all members of the formation snap their heads so they are facing right. After this, they pause, and then shuffle back to a new position, where their hand is extremely close to the soldier's shoulder on their right, unless otherwise specified (Elbow Dressing, Shoulder Dressing). Some Armies, e.g. the Australian Army, will raise the left arm (the right arm holding the service weapon).
  • Left Dress, - all personnel in front row and left column except the left marker take one step forward, pause, and only the front rank bring up their left arms parallel to the ground. At the same time, all members of the formation snap their heads so they are facing left. After this, they pause, and then shuffle back to a new position, where their hand is extremely close to the soldier's shoulder on their right, unless otherwise specified (Elbow Dressing, Shoulder Dressing).
  • Inwards Dress/Centre Dress, used when a parade is formed up in two or more groups with Colours, Guidons, or Banners on parade. This is used so that dressing is off the colours. The formations to the left of the Colour Party will dress to the right and the formations to the right of the Colour Party will dress to the left. All personnel to the right of the Colours in front row and left column except the left marker take one step forward, pause, and only the front rank bring up their left arms parallel to the ground. At the same time, all members of the formation snap their heads so they are facing left. All personnel to the left of the colours in front row and right side column except the right marker take one step forward, pause, and only the front rank bring up their right arms parallel to the ground. At the same time, all members of the formation snap their heads so they are facing right. Some Armies, i.e. the Australian Army, will raise the left arm (the right arm holding the service weapon). After this, they pause, and then shuffle back to a new position, where their hand is extremely close to the soldier's shoulder on their left or right (depending on the direction of dressing), unless otherwise specified (Elbow Dressing, Shoulder Dressing).
  • Eyes Front, following Right/Left/Inwards Dress, the front rank snaps their arms down and faces forward, while all other ranks simply face forward.

American version

  • Dress Right, DRESS - all personnel in the unit except the soldiers at the far left bring up their left arms parallel to the ground and at the same time snap their heads so they are facing right. The person on the far right will keep his head straight. After this, they pause, and then shuffle back to a new position, where their hand is extremely close to the soldier's shoulder on their left. If the command is preceded by "At Close Interval", the left arm is bent at the elbow rather than parallel to the ground. If the command is preceded by "At Double Interval", both arms are extended. "Dress Left" reverses the instructions (Right arm up, look left).
  • Ready, FRONT - all personnel snap their arms down and faces forward.
  • COVER - used after any movement is halted to realign the formation. All personnel in the formation except the squad leaders make short, choppy steps to align themselves with their squad leaders, then come to attention.[5][6]

Rest positions

  • Stand at Ease (U.S.: PARADE REST). Have the soldiers adopt the more relaxed position At Ease position, with feet shoulder width apart, hands clasped behind back but with upper body half still in position of attention (chest out, shoulders back). This is typically used when soldiers must wait a short duration, ready to adopt the position of attention e.g. if waiting for an Officer to arrive for an inspection. Changing from At Ease to Attention and back again, or the converse, is standard when the command of a parade is transferred (typically between the commanding officer and his Sergeant-Major), since command of a formation is not actually transferred until the new commander makes a command. There is no talking allowed at Parade Rest; personnel must come to the position of attention before speaking.
  • Stand at Ease (U.S.) This is the same as Parade Rest, except that soldiers are expected to turn their heads to look at whoever is addressing them. This should not be confused with At Ease.
  • Stand Easy. (U.S.: AT EASE) Have the soldiers adopt the next easiest stance, where hands are still clasped behind the back, however, the soldiers can relax their upper bodies (the shoulders can be slacked) and quietly speak. This is often, but not always, followed by an implicit 'Relax' ('Rest'). This is typically used when being addressed/lectured for a long period of time where the positions of attention or at ease would be too painful/uncomfortable to hold.
  • Relax (U.S.: REST) The only parade instruction given in an ordinary voice, rather than the raised, emphatic parade voice. This is the only position that actually offers soldiers freedom of movement. Soldiers are typically allowed to move other than moving their feet, though, when it is given by a high-ranking officer, soldiers typically move a minimal amount after a bit of stretching.

Marching with weapons/saluting


  • Shoulder/Slope Arms: Although Left and Right Shoulder Arms are both valid commands, left is assumed if it is unstated. Soldiers must be at attention to shoulder weapons. This is typically done through a throw rather than a carry. British and Commonwealth parade commands call this as "Slope Arms". The command of "Shoulder Arms" in the Commonwealth and Britain, is done when a rifle is brought on the left or right sides by the shoulder. In US ceremonies, if the soldiers have the weapons at the order, then it is brought up and carried on the right shoulder, and all shoulder commands must specify the shoulder, and may be performed while marching in step.
  • Port Arms: The weapon is brought out in front of the soldier, and held by the right hand on small of the butt, or equivalent, and the left hand about the forestock, or equivalent. Usually for preparation of Feu De Joie/Fire of Joy for Parades. In the United States, Port Arms is the required carry position for marching at double time.
  • Present Arms: The soldiers bring their weapons to the front of their bodies, and move adjust their right foot position. Soldiers without weapons use a salute appropriate for their headdress. Often officers can salute on behalf of their troops, and any such ambiguity will be discussed with the troops beforehand. This, in the case of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations, is often used with the precautionary General/Commander's Salute or Royal/Presidential/Prime Minister's Salute, when appropriate. In U.S. usage, all soldiers salute, except if he or she is holding a weapon. Guidons and organizational colors are dipped to 90 degrees above the ground (but not touching the ground, but in the Commonwealth it is common practice). The U.S. national colors are never dipped (it is also the case in Colombia, Chile, Brazil and Spain) but the British or Commonwealth national colors are dipped to the ground when the salute is performed. This command is used whenever saluting during ceremonial inspections in most countries (like Germany, France, Russia, Poland, Italy, Serbia and Ukraine as well as in Chile, Argentina, Ecuador and Colombia), and eyes are pointed to either the left, on the front, or the right to the direction of the honors being paid to. The command for recovery is "Shoulder/Slope Arms!" or "Order Arms!" depending on the situation.
  • Order Arms: If the soldiers are carrying a weapon which can be ordered they will lower it so that is resting on the ground, touching the outer toes of the right boot, and being supported by a slightly bent right arm. Usually given in Shoulder/Slope Arms or Present Arms position.
  • Ground Arms: The soldier takes a full pace forward, bending their knees, so the right leg is parallel to the floor below the knee, and at the same time leaning forward and laying their rifles down to the ground (ejection port up). They then take the appropriate pause time, then stand up into attention.
  • Trail Arms: Same as Order Arms but with hands holding on the rifle above the ground.
  • Sling Arms: If the soldiers have a "sling" (strap) on their rifles, then this command can be called. The soldiers will loosen the sling so they can now have their rifles strapped around their shoulders.
  • High Port, Arms: This is a higher variant of Port Arms, with both arms holding the weapon high.
  • Fire of Joy, load weapons: This command is used in parades such as the National Day Parade in Singapore, and Trooping the Colour. The soldier will load the rifle with the blank round in preparation of the Feu de joie, French for Fire of Joy in parades. This is called in Polish as the Salwa Honorowa or Honor Volley.
  • Fix Bayonets: In US ceremonies, whenever the bayonets are to be fixed to the weapons, this command is called out. In times, the accompanying bugle call for it is used before the order is done. The troops pull out their bayonets from their uniforms and attach them to the weapon.


  • Draw Sabres: used to draw the sabres.
  • Return Sabres: used to return the sabres.
  • Present Sabres: used for officers to salute using their sabres.
  • Shoulder/Slope Sabres: used for officers to slope the sabre in their left-hand shoulder.
  • Order Sabres: the sabre is lowered to the ground after presenting or sloping.

Forming the parade for the march past/pass in review

  • Pass in Review - used in the US to denote the start of the march past segment of parades. When this command is said the parade prepares in readiness for the march past. It is also used as a way for a newly assigned commander to inspect the troops he/she commands.[7][8]
  • Parade, in close order, left/right dress - in the UK, this command is used to commence dressing of parade units in close order
  • Company, in close order, form three/four ranks - in the UK, this command is used to form companies into three or four ranks of personnel each
  • Staff behind me, (forward) march - in the US, this command is used by the parade commander to form his parade staff in readiness for the march past/pass in review segment of parades
  • Parade will now advance/retire in slow/quick time, about turn - in the Commonwealth the command is used to form parade formations when arranged in line formation for the march past

Compliments and Saluting

Saluting on the march

In the Commonwealth countries, the following saluting on the march commands are ordered with a preparatory command of 'Saluting on the march...'. For example, 'Saluting on the march, to the front Salute' and always called on the left foot.

  • To the front Salute or Salute: The parade is halted and the right arm is raised so the forearm is placed at a 90° angle, while pointing at the temple. This is lowered and then repeated again, followed by an about turn and a resume in marching (off the left foot). The timing is: "Call, Check, Halt, 2, 3, Up, 2, 3, Down, 2, 3, 4, 5, Up, 2, 3, Down, 2, 3, About, 2, 3, In, 2, 3, Left, Right, Left!" It is one of, if not the longest drill movement in the military.

In British Corps, the drill movement for saluting to the front is the following. Two, three, up. Two, three, down.

  • To the Right Salute: The right arm is raised so the forearm is placed at a 90° angle, while pointing at the temple. It is generally to a count of "Up, two, three, four, five, down, swing!"
This is done while looking to the right, except the right marker, who must stay looking to the front, to keep the flight, squad, platoon, etc. staying straight.
  • To the Left Salute: The right arm is raised so the forearm is placed at a 90° angle, while pointing at the temple. It is generally to a count of "Up, two, three, four, five, down, away!"
This is done while looking to the left, except the left marker (as they are the front most of the saluting flank), who must stay looking to the front, to keep the flight, squad, platoon, etc. staying straight.

In the United States, the command for saluting on the march is "Eyes, RIGHT/LEFT." The parade leader and other officers execute the hand salute, while everyone but the right file or left file in either case turns their heads to the right." The command for recovery is "Ready, FRONT." If the command does not have rifles, they will salute if given the command present ARMS. The arms will be lowered back to their normal position on the commands Order ARMS. They can also salute if given the command Hand SALUTE. The salute is raised when the parade leader finishes saying "salute", and is lowered in after being held for the same amount of time elapsed between the words "hand" and "salute."

Compliments on the March

  • Eyes Right: The parade turn their heads to the right after a check pace. The parade leader salutes while looking in the direction they gave.
This is done while looking to the right, except the right marker, who must stay looking to the front, to keep the flight, squad, platoon, etc. staying straight.
  • Eyes Left: Similar to the Eyes Right except the parade looks to the left.
This is done while looking to the left, except the left marker, who must stay looking to the front, to keep the flight, squad, platoon, etc. staying straight.

Saluting at the halt (static)

  • To the front Salute or Salute: The right arm is raised so the forearm is placed at a 90° angle, while pointing at the temple. It is generally to a count of "Up, two, three, down!"
  • To the Right Salute: The right arm is raised so the forearm is placed at a 90° angle, while pointing at the temple. It is generally to a count of "Up, two, three, down!"
  • To the Left Salute: The right arm is raised so the forearm is placed at a 90° angle, while pointing at the temple. It is generally to a count of "Up, two, three, down!"

In the United States, salutes at a halt are given on the command "Hand Salute". They are lowered in the same amount of time elapsed between the two words. The command "present arms" will cause the command to salute if the command is not given rifles for the ceremony, but the salute will be held until they are ordered to lower it with the command "order arms".

  • Advance in Review Order: This is used to pay final compliments to the reviewing officer. On the command: ADVANCE IN REVIEW ORDER, BY THECENTRE, QUICK...MARCH, the unit being reviewed advances 15 paces and halts automatically before presenting arms to the reviewing officer. It is usually employed by the British Army and the Canadian Army.[9][10]

Colour commands

Marching with colours

  • Let Fly the Colours: The colours are normally held in a semi-taut position. This is a simple, ceremonial letting fly and catching of the colours.
  • Slant Colours: The colours are normally kept upright, but this can represent a problem both when dealing with standard doors. This slants the colours forward sufficiently to negate this, and they are brought back up afterward.
  • Slope/Shoulder Colours: The normal method for carrying colours can be tiresome for the bearer. This has the colours taken out of their frogs and sloped over the right shoulder at about 45°.

Colour commands at the halt (static)

  • Order Colours: Essentially the same as Order Arms, except used exclusively for the Colour Party.
  • Carry Colours: This is equivalent to Shoulder Arms. The right arm lifts the colours up so they line up with the body's centre line, with the right arm held in front of the soldier, at mouth level parallel to the ground. It is caught and guided into its frog with left hand, which is then returned to its side.
  • Change colours: This is used when the senior flag officer decides that he/she and the other flag holding members, have held their flags for a long time, and that their arms are tired, so, when the command "Change - colours!" is given, the flag holders put their arms in line with the flag, their other hand on top of their first hand and move the first hand down to attention, so that the other hand is now at the first hands' original position.

Turning motions

Turning motions at the march

  • Right Turn (U.S.:Column right, MARCH): A 90° turn to the right done by rotating on the right heel and left ball. The cautionary and executive are both called on the left foot. The left leg is then brought up to be parallel to the ground (although exceptions are made for kilted regiments) and slammed into the ground in the position of attention. This motion is done at a particular fixed point.
  • Left Turn (U.S.:Column left, MARCH): A 90° turn to the left, done by rotation on the right ball and the left heel. The right leg is then brought up to be parallel to the ground and slammed down into attention. This motion is done at a particular fixed point.
  • About Turn (U.S.: To the rear, MARCH): A 180° turn to the right, done as an exaggerated version of the right turn. United States units do not make exaggerated gestures with the legs or arms.
  • Right Flank MARCH or Right turn, it is still the same even on the march for some countries: All members marching execute 90° turn to the right done by rotating on the right heel and left ball.
  • Left Flank MARCH or Left turn, it is still the same even on the march for some countries: All members marching 90° turn to the left, done by rotation on the right ball and the left heel.
  • Right Incline (U.S.:Column half-right, MARCH), is a half turn to the right, usually used when a flight, squad, platoon, etc. is not in its proper alignment. All members marching turn by 45° to the right, done by rotation on the left ball and the right heel.
  • Left Incline (U.S.:Column half-left, MARCH), is a half turn to the left, usually used when a flight, squad, platoon, etc. is not in its proper alignment. All members marching turn by 45° to the left, done by rotation on the right ball and the left heel.
  • Right Wheel, is a turn to the right, differentiated from a Right Turn in that the order of march remains the same.
  • Left Wheel, is a mirror of the Right Wheel.

Turning motions at the halt (static)

United States Armed Forces:

  • Right Face: The body is rotated on the heel of the right foot and then the left heel is brought forward to meet the right heel in the position of attention.
  • Left Face: A mirror image of Right Face.
  • About Face: The right toe is brought back to behind the left heel; the body pivots on the right toe and left heel 180°.
  • Half-Left Face: Exactly the same as a left face, but one turns only 45°.
  • Half-Right Face: Exactly the same as a right face, but one turns only 45°.

Commonwealth of Nations

  • Right Turn: The body is rotated 90° to the right members shall bend the left knee, straighten it in double time and smartly place the left foot beside the right to assume the position of attention. In the Royal Navy, the heel movements mirror that of the US Armed Forces.
  • Left Turn: A mirror image of Right Turn.
  • About Turn: The body is rotated 180° in a clockwise direction, knees locked. Members shall bend the left knee, straighten it in double time and smartly place the left foot beside the right to assume the position of attention. In the Royal Navy heel movements are the same for Right Face.
  • Right Incline: Exactly the same as a right turn, but one turns only 45°.
  • Left Incline: Exactly the same as a left turn, but one turns only 45°.

Marching motions

  • Quick March: The standard pace is typically 116 beats/minute with a 30in. step. There is also a Rifleman's Pace, 140 beats/minute and a Highland Pace, 110 beats/minute (typically done with a kilt.) The pace is based on the individual regiments, the pace given by the commander, and the speed of the band's rhythm. The way the march is performed depends on the regiment's nationality.
  • Slow March: This is a ceremonial pace, used for funerals and when a unit's colours are marched out in front of the troops. The standard pace is 65 beats per minute.
  • Half Step March or Cut the pace:
  • This is a U.S. march pace. It is at the same tempo as Quick Time, but instead of 30 inches, the step is 15 inches.
  • There is also a Canadian and Commonwealth version of this, used for when the front file/rank is getting too far ahead of the rest of the flight, squad, or platoon, it means that front file/rank should make their steps smaller, to allow for the rest of the flight, squad, or platoon, to get back into proper dressing.
  • Double March: This is essentially a moderate jog at approximately 180 paces per minute. It creates a travel speed of approximately double that of Quick Time, designed to be used even when carrying heavy burdens. This is often erroneously used to describe a sprint or an ordinary run. The U.S. command is "Double Time, MARCH."
  • Easy March: This is an unrestricted march at approximately Quick Time. This is designed for field marches and other rough conditions, though is not used in combat areas. The U.S. command is "Route Step, MARCH." In the Canadian Forces the command "March at, EASE" is given while the unit is on the march. It can not be given from the halt.
  • Mark Time: This is essentially a stationary march with the knees coming up parallel to the ground or the foot dangling six inches off of the ground. This is designed to maintain the time of large parades when portions need no forward speed. The U.S. equivalent command is "Mark Time, MARCH."
  • Step For -Ward or Forward or Forward, March: This causes troops marking time to resume a normal march.

Melee weapons and unarmed combat

The most familiar form of melee weapon and unarmed combat drill in the modern world is the Kata and the Hyung in Eastern martial arts. However, there were once similar drills in the martial training of warriors in all cultures worldwide. They all had exactly the same purpose, to make instinctive an appropriate reaction to an attack or opening by conditioning the mind and body, through repeated and constant repetition of a series of actions (building up muscle memory). Probably one of the last survivors of such drills in the Western martial tradition are the reaction drills and rhythm exercises in the modern sport of fencing.

Historical drill commands for parade

Musket drill

The 18th-century musket, as typified by the Brown Bess, was loaded and fired in the following way:

  1. Upon the command "Prime and load". The soldier will bring the musket to the priming position, with the pan opened.
  2. Upon the command "Handle Cartridge". The soldier will draw a cartridge. Cartridges consist of a spherical lead bullet wrapped in a paper cartridge which also holds the gunpowder propellant. The bullet is separated from the powder charge by a twist in the paper.
  3. The soldier should then bite off the top of the cartridge (the end without the bullet) and hold it closed with the thumb and index finger.
  4. Upon the command "Prime". The soldier should pour a small pinch of the powder from the cartridge into the priming pan. He should then close the frizzen so that the priming powder is trapped.
  5. Upon the command " 'Bout" (About). The butt of the musket is then dropped to the ground by the left foot with the trigger guard facing to the rear and the soldier having just poured the rest of the powder into the barrel. Once all of the powder is poured into the barrel, the soldier should have stuffed the paper and the ball into the barrel, the paper acts as wadding to keep the gunpowder in the barrel and also packing it down.
  6. Upon the command "Draw ramrods". The soldier should draw his ramrod from below the barrel. First forcing it half out before seizing it backhanded in the middle, followed by drawing it entirely out, while simultaneously turning it to the front and placing it one inch into the barrel.
  7. Upon the command "Ram down the cartridge". He should then use the ramrod to firmly ram the bullet, wadding, and powder down to the bottom followed by tamping it down with two quick strokes.
  8. Upon the command "Return ramrods". The ramrod is then returned to its hoops under the barrel. Then the musket is returned to the shoulder arms position.
  9. Upon the command "Make Ready". The musket is brought to the recover position (held vertically in front of the body with the trigger guard facing forward) and the cock (hammer) is drawn back to the full-cock position.
  10. Upon the command "P'sent" (Present). The musket is brought up to the firing position in anticipation of the command "Fire".
  • Under battle conditions, many of these commands were combined for speed and efficiency. On the command "Prime and Load" troops would, without further order, carry out all movements up to and including "Make Ready". Because of the size of the companies and the general noise of battle, these commands could be and were often communicated through specialized drum beatings.
  • This process was drilled into troops until they could do it by instinct and feel. The main advantage of the British Redcoat was that he trained at this procedure almost every day. The standard for the British Army was the ability to load and fire three rounds per minute. A skilled unit of musketeers was often able to fire four rounds per minute.

Cavalry drill

Cavalry drill had the purpose of training cavalrymen and their horses to work together during a battle. It survives to this day, albeit in a much-diminished form, in the modern sporting discipline of dressage. The movements sideways or at angles, the pirouettes, etc., were the movements needed for massed cavalrymen to form and reform and deploy. Of the proponents of classical dressage from which modern dressage evolved, probably the best known are the Lipizzaner Stallions of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police's Musical Ride gives an inkling of what massed cavalry drill at speed would have looked like.

Other drills

Other tasks may be broken down into drills, for example, weapons maintenance, the British army used the rhythmic, poetic almost, "naming of parts" as a memory aid in the teaching and learning of how to strip, cleaning and reassembly of the service rifle.

Modern era

Drill is today used to demonstrate discipline and cohesion in a modern military force. Large military parades are today held on major holidays and military events around the world. It usually held on occasions of national importance such as a country's independence day, and therefore is presided over by the head of state who, in most cases, is the commander in chief of the combined national military forces of that country. Today, military parades include all aspects of military drill, from an exhibition drill of precision drill teams and military bands (in addition to the occasional corps of drums, fanfare band, and/or drum and bugle corps), as well as an exhibition of military weapons such as a mobile column, the occasional mounted cavalry column (led by a mounted band), a naval parade, and a fly past by the country's air force. When on parade, most of the participating soldiers wear their ceremonial uniforms and carry the standards/colours of their respective battalions/regiments/corps/academies. In many countries, the military contingent is joined by contingents from youth cadet organizations, personnel from the police and fire services and by occasion jail and border services, youth police and fire cadets, veterans and personnel of the civil service.

By country


Albania has long been influenced by Greek and Italian influences and even Soviet/Russian tradition. During the era of the People's Socialist Republic of Albania, Liberation Day, which then the main national holiday, was celebrated with a military parade of the Albanian People's Army on Tirana's Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard. These parades have been held in 1954,[11] 1959,[12] 1964, 1974,[13] 1984[14] and 1989. They usually consist of veterans, schoolchildren, militiamen alongside regular force personnel.[15][16]

Today, military parades of the Albanian Armed Forces are held on Albanian Flag Day and Constitution Day on 28 November. One of the more notable modern military parades was held on the 100th Anniversary of the Independence of Albania, in which a special unit of 65 soldiers from the Kosovo Security Force as well as other foreign contingents participated. The other took place on 4 December 2007 in honor of the 95th anniversary of the Albanian Armed Forces.[17]


Argentina's long history of military parades are a heritage inherited from the times of the Spanish colonia Viceroyality of Rio de la Plata, with influences from Germany, France, Britain and Italy. Today the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic, together with the paramilitary Argentine National Gendarmerie and Argentine Naval Prefecture hosts massive military parades featuring armed companies, cadets, and military bands on the following days (national events unless otherwise noted):

Australia and New Zealand

As both Commonwealth realms, Australia and New Zealand share the customs and traditions of parades of the British Armed Forces. The friendship and cooperation of the defence services of both countries can be seen in the annual Anzac Day parades every 25 April, in memory of the namesake Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, which was heavily involved in the long Battle of Gallipoli and were the first Allied forces to land there on that day in 1915. On this day, in many major cities in these two countries, parades are held involving personnel of both the Australian Defence Force and the New Zealand Defence Force, veterans' organizations, cadet organizations and other youth uniformed groups and personnel of the police and fire services, as well as students of schools and universities honoring many of their fallen alumni of the long campaign.

Parades are also held jointly in these two countries on 11 November, Remembrance Day.

Aside from these two days, the schedule of annual military and civil parades held in these two countries is as follows:

  • For parades in Australia:
    • National level parades are held on:
      • 26 January, Australia Day
      • The second Monday of June, the Queen's Birthday, marked in most of Eastern Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory
        • typically the last Monday of September or the first Monday of October, Queen's Birthday Holiday for Western Australia
        • 1st Monday in October, Queen's Birthday Holiday for Queensland
    • Local parades involving armed forces, police and fire personnel are held on:
      • 2nd Monday in March in the ACT, Canberra Day
      • 6 June in Queensland, Queensland Day
      • first Monday in June in Western Australia, Western Australia Day
      • first working day after Christmas Day, Proclamation Day in South Australia
    • Parades are also held in the following cases:
      • during change of command, retirement and recruit and cadet passing out parades and regimental anniversaries within the service branches of the ADF and all military academies
      • During holiday parades held in major cities as can be permitted by the commander of the unit taking part, including:
        • the AFL Grand Final Parade in Melbourne
  • For parades in New Zealand:
    • National level parades are held on:
      • 6 February, Waitangi Day
      • on the 1st Monday in June, the Queen's Birthday
    • Local parades involving armed forces, police and fire personnel are held within the anniversary days of the former Provinces of New Zealand, which were abolished in 1876, the days of which are as set by their respective district and city governments.
    • Change of command, retirement and recruit and cadet graduation parades, together with regimental anniversary parades, are also held occasionally within the service branches of the NZDF and its training institutions.


Within Canada, the now tri-service Ceremonial Guard performs the marchpast for senior dignitaries of the Canadian Armed Forces during change of command ceremonies and state arrival ceremonies, typically held in Ottawa, the national capital. The two Primary Reserve Canadian Army regiments that typically provide personnel for the guard, the Governor General's Foot Guards and The Canadian Grenadier Guards, together with the Governor General's Horse Guards and guard of honour detachments from both the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force take part in these events. In addition, the CG and optionally both the GGHG and the CGG take part in military parades such as the more common Trooping the Colour, also in Ottawa and special parades during the jubilee years of the monarch or of national foundation. The CAF personnel, as well as the Canadian Cadet Organizations and military veterans also parade during national holidays such as Remembrance Day, Victoria Day, Canada Day or Canadian Forces Day, as well as during parades celebrating anniversaries of regiments, brigade groups or wings, and divisional level formations and passing out parades of the Royal Military College of Canada, Royal Military College Saint-Jean and recruit training bases, as well as in local holidays in the provinces and major cities. Across the country, the annual Warriors Day military parade has since 1921, been a traditional event of the Canadian National Exhibition. It is specifically devoted to formally recognizing veterans of the CF.[18] Like in the UK, the regimental march of the unit being honored is played by the band and/or pipe band if present.


The tradition of military parades in Chile has origins not just in Spanish tradition, but also a mix between those of France, the United Kingdom, and particularly Germany, given the fact that Imperial German Army officers trained the army and navy in the mid-1890s in the Prussian-German traditions of military parades that are continued until today.

Currently, the Chilean Armed Forces and the Carabineros de Chile hold public parades in front of state leaders and the public on

  • 21 May - Navy Day - honoring the fallen of the 1879 Battle of Iquique, also marked as a day to celebrate the service personnel, veterans, heroes and martyrs of the Chilean Navy
  • 19 September - Army Day - while honoring the 1810 anniversary of the formal inauguration of the First Government Junta, is also marked as a day to celebrate the service personnel, veterans, heroes and martyrs of the Chilean Army

Local level parades are marked on the following days aside from 21 May:


The first military parade on the Chinese mainland can be dated to over 4,000 years ago, when Yu the Great, a legendary ruler in ancient China, hosted a gathering of tribal forces from northern and southern China.[19]

People's Republic of China
External video
Parts 1 2 3 and 4 of a documentary on the history of Chinese military parades
1981 新疆 大阅兵 Chinese Uighur Military Parade in Xinjiang (Eng narration)

The People's Republic of China holds extraordinary military parades in Beijing to celebrate National Day. The first parade of this nature took place right after the Proclamation of the People's Republic of China by Chairman Mao Zedong on 1 October 1949. Originally celebrated annually, the parade was suspended in 1960, before returning in 1984 to mark the 35th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. It is now held to mark every tenth anniversary, starting in 1999. Parades were also held in 1964, 1966, 1969 and 1970.[20]

In 2015, China held a military parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Victory over Japan. This was the first time China held a military parade for an event other than its National Day. It is currently unknown if China will continue to celebrate the end of World War II, through.

In 2017, the 90th anniversary since the Nanchang Uprising and the beginning of the People's Liberation Army was marked by a military parade, the first time ever that a military parade had been held in its honor and the first time it was held outside of the capital, having been held at Zhurihe Training Base in Inner Mongolia under the direction of General Han Weiguo of the Central Theater Command.[21][22] This was also the first field parade to take place since September 1981 when a parade consisting of troops participating in an excersise in Zhangjiakou in the presence of Deng Xiaoping to commemorate Deng's assumption to the post of Chairman of the Central Military Commission. During that parade, Deng reportedly said "Let’s hold a large-scale one if we are to hold a military exercise, so that it can be of use" in reference to the size of the parade.[23] Naval parades have also been reintroduced in recent years with a parade (which was the biggest naval review since 1949 and according to the Chinese government, the biggest in 600 years.[24]) being held in the South China Sea in 2018 and a parade for the platinum jubilee of the People's Liberation Army Navy being held in early 2019.

Smaller scale parades are also periodically held in Hong Kong, Macau, Tibet and Xinjiang. Every year on 10 March (Tibetan Uprising Day), a military parade in Lhasa to mark the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan rebellion.[25] The first military parades in the HKSAR and the MSAR took place on their first and fifth anniversaries in 1998[26] and 2004 respectively.

Republic of China

However, in the Republic of China (Taiwan), the Republic of China Armed Forces held its national parades in Taipei from 1949 until 1991 during the Double Ten Day celebrations. This practice was abandoned in 1991 though parades were recently held every five years beginning in 2011 during the Xinhai Revolution centenary and again in 2016. Special parades were held outside Taipei in 1995 and 2015 marking the 50th and 70th anniversaries, respectively, of both the Allied victory in the Second World War and the conclusion of the Second Sino-Japanese War.


Both the Military Forces of Colombia and the National Police of Colombia hold important national parades to celebrate the anniversary of national independence as well as of the Armed Forces. Such parades are a mix of the Spanish, German, French, American and British influences owing to the long history of the country's military and police forces. National level parades are held on:

  • February 15 - Air Force Day
  • July 20 - Independence Day
  • July 24 - Navy Day
  • August 7 - Army Day and Battle of Boyaca Victory Day
  • November 15 - National Police Day

Local level parades by the personnel and veterans of the armed forces and police are held on the following:

  • April 7 - Barranquilla Day
  • July 3 - Cali Independence Day
  • November 11 - Cartagena Independence Day


The Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces generally holds military parades in honor of the Day of the Cuban Armed Forces and the Triumph of the Revolution on Havana's Plaza de la Revolución. The first parade took place in 1960 for the latter event and over time, importance was transferred to Armed Forces Day in relation to military parades. In 2011, a special honor parade was held on April 16 to commemorate the golden jubilee since the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion.[27] The largest parade to be held took place in December 1986 in honor of the 30th anniversary of the revolution, in which General Humberto Ortega from Nicaragua as well as officials from the Soviet Union attended.[28] The diamond jubilee parade planned for 2016 was postponed for 1 month due to the death and state funeral of Fidel Castro, and took place during the Victory Day celebrations on 2 January 2017.[29][30]

Czech Republic

External video
Czechoslovak Military Parade "Shield-84" - Vojenská přehlídka ČSLA "Štít-84

Large mlitary parades in the Czech Republic are today held every 10 years in the capital of Prague, encompassing personnel from the Czech Army and the Police of the Czech Republic. The first of these parades occurred in 2008 in honor of the founding of Czechoslovakia on 28 October 1918.[31] Another one took place in 2018 and included foreign troops.[32]

Prior to 1918, military parades followed the tradition of their larger sovereign entity, including the military tradition of Austria-Hungary. Regular military parades were held during the period of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, with the first parades being organized in the 1950s. The first parade of the Czechoslovak People's Army (ČSLA) took place in 1951 in Letná. Since then, parades were held every five years on 9 May to mark the end of World War II and the Liberation of Czechoslovakia. To honor the latter's celebrations, the State Anthem of the Soviet Union would be performed by the massed bands on parade preceded by the Czechoslovakian national anthem. The last of these parades took place in 1985.[33][34]


Both the Armed Forces of Ecuador and the National Police of Ecuador hold important national parades to celebrate the anniversaries of national independence as well as of the Armed Forces and Police. National level parades are held on the following days:

  • February 27 - Army Day
  • May 24 - Armed Forces Day, anniversary of the victory in the 1822 Battle of Pichincha
  • July 26 - Navy Day
  • August 10 - anniversary of the Luz de America
  • October 9 - Guayaquil Independence Day
  • October 27 - Air Force Day
  • November 3 - Cueca Independence Day
  • November 18 - Loja Independence Day

Local military and police parades are held on major city and provincial anniversaries.


The annual military parade in the French capital of Paris is held on July 14 during the Bastille Day holiday. It is currently the oldest and largest military parade on the European continent. It is held on the Champs-Élysées and passes from l'Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde. Bastille Day parades are also held in smaller garrison towns such as Toulon and Belfort. The 1st Infantry Regiment of the French Republican Guard regularly performs ceremonial marchpasts in is role as the guard of honour for the President of the French Republic. Like the British, many French units have the ability to march in quick time, while only one - the French Foreign Legion - marches uniquely in slow time, while another unit of the armed forces marches in very quick time and that is of the Army's Chasseurs, especially its Chasseurs alpins.

Local parades are held on the following days:


The Germany has had a long tradition of military parades dating back to the Kingdom of Prussia. It was the Prussians who invented the goosestep, a style of marching that was used in many German armies as well as in the militaries of various countries.

During the Nazi era, military parades were commonplace as they were held as a sort of victory parade for the German Wehrmacht as they invaded countries during the Second World War. The first major parades took place in Nuremberg in September 1938 and Adolf Hitler's 50th birthday in April 1939. In the months Immediately after the German invasion of Poland, a joint German–Soviet military parade took place in Brest-Litovsk (Brest, Belarus). In Allied-occupied Germany, the major powers held parades through the center of Berlin to honor their victory. These include the Berlin Victory Parade of 1945, 1945 British Berlin Victory Parade and Berlin Victory Parade of 1946.

In the communist German Democratic Republic (GDR), parades were held according to the Russian standard, although the Soviet Army allowed the East Germans to use the Prussian tradition, something that had been dropped by their West German counterparts in the 50s. In the GDR, parades were held on the following occasions:

The first parade took place in 1 May 1956 in the presence of President Wilhelm Pieck.[35] In the 60s and early 70s, parades took place on the western half of the Palace of the Republic, which was intended as a military parade ground, even though tremors from the heavy vehicles proved dangerous due to the glass facade. By 1979, the western half was used mainly as a parking lot and military parades were moved to Karl-Marx-Allee in central Berlin.

In 1969, the first military parade of West Germany and later the entire Federal Republic of Germany was held on the Nürburgring in the town of Nürburg, Rhineland-Palatinate.[36] It took place on 6 June 1969 and was held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).[37] It was attended by Kurt Georg Kiesinger in his position as Federal Chancellor of Germany. Participating foreign and national units included those from the Bundeswehr, Canadian Forces Europe, United States Army Europe, as well as army contingents from France and the United Kingdom. Allied parades were also held later in the country's 40-year existence.

Today, military parades are held on the following holidays on a smaller scale:


The long history of the Hellenic Armed Forces and the role played in the defense and progress of the country are recalled in splendid and grand military parades that are held in major cities in the country following a hybrid of the British, French, Danish and German traditions on the following dates:

  • 25 March - Independence Day
  • 28 October - Ohi Day
  • On Liberation Days of major cities and towns, honoring the Greek fallen of the Second World War and the later Greek Civil War


Military parades in Mongolia have a long tradition that dates back to the era of the Mongol Empire. Today they closely follow the Russian model with sone modifications such as trooping of the Flag of Mongolia in a car rather than by foot.

The first official military parade in Communist Mongolia took place in 1921 in honor of the victories of Damdin Sükhbaatar in the People's Revolution. The anniversary parades that followed have been held on jubilee years (specifically in 1946, 1951, 1956, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986 and 1991).[38] After 1991, the practice was abandoned with the exception of 1996 when a parade in the National Sports Stadium commemorated the 790th anniversary of the founding of Mongolia and the 75th anniversary of the People's Revolution. After a 9-year break, the 2005 inauguration ceremony of Nambaryn Enkhbayar served as an event to hold a military parade on the central square. This took place again in 2009 for the inauguration of Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj. That same year, State Flag Day was introduced as a national holiday, which would also be celebrated with a parade.[39]

Military parades of the Mongolian Armed Forces on Sükhbaatar Square take place on the following occasions:[40]

External video
The 70th anniversary parade of the People's Revolution of 1921
Mongolian Military Parade 2011

During Mongolia's socialist period, annual civil/military parades of the Mongolian People's Army took place until 1991,[41] celebrating the following occasions:

During these events, party and government leaders were viewed ascending to the top of Sükhbaatar's Mausoleum to take the salute.

North Korea

All military parades of the Korean People's Army (KPA) and the Worker-Peasant Red Guards (WPRG) are centered in the national capital of Pyongyang and have a long tradition that goes back to the DPRK's establishment in 1948. Between 1993 and 2011, the DPRK held over a dozen military parades, which was frequent compared to the 1960s–80s, during which only three parades were held.[42] Known for its elaborate military drill, the country holds military parades annually on different dates (especially on jubilee years[43]), which feature a combination of Chinese and Russian techniques.[44] North Korean military parades are held on the following dates:

Rehearsals for these parades usually take place 3–6 weeks prior to the actual parade at the Mirim Parade Training Facility in the capital.[45][46] The actual parades are held in the capital's Kim Il-sung Square.

In addition, non-jubilee holiday parades have been mounted on the grounds of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun on these days plus on:


The Peruvian Armed Forces and the National Police of Peru holds the yearly Great Military Parade of Peru every July 29 in Lima as the armed services' way of honoring the anniversary of national independence and the role they have played in shaping the history of the country. Local level Independence Day parades are held on pre-determined days before July 28 and 29 as set by their respective local governments.

Parades held by service personnel and veterans of the armed forces are also marked on:

  • June 7 - Flag Day and Battle of Arica Memorial Day
  • June 26 - Air Force Day
  • September 24 - Armed Forces Day
  • October 8 - Navy Day
  • December 9 - Army Day and anniversary of the Battle of Ayacucho


The Polish Armed Forces and the Police of Poland holds two yearly military parades (Polish: Defilada wojskowa) in the capital of Warsaw: The Armed Forces Day parade through Ujazdów Avenue and the National Independence Day parade near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Piłsudski Square. Both of these parades include NATO personnel stationed near or inside the country. The Armed Forces Day Parade was introduced in 2007 and 2008 as first grand military parades since the holiday was reinstated and have been held yearly since 2013. The first Polish military parade took place on 17 January 1945. Prior to 1989, parades were held in front of the Palace of Culture and Science on Parade Square on 22 July commemorate the National Day of the Rebirth of Poland celebrations, honoring the anniversary of the signing of the Stalin-sponored PKWN Manifesto. Back then, the People's Republic of Poland used many Russian traditions in regards to military parades, especially the inspection by the Minister of Defence. In 1966, during the millennium celebrations of the Christianization of Poland, a parade was held on 22 July which included cadets of military academies and personnel of Polish ceremonial units dressed in historical military uniforms dating back to the Piast dynasty.[47][48] A special parade was held on 9 May 1985 to honor the 40th anniversary of the Victory in Europe and the servicemen of the Polish Armed Forces in the West and the East. In 2019, a 3rd was added when the yearly 3 May Constitution Day parades, last held in 1939 and were held off and on since 1990, were officially reinstated.

Russia and ex-Soviet countries

The Western tradition of military parades in the Russian Empire was part of the many reforms made by Peter the Great as part of his many efforts to transform the army and the navy from traditional militias to a full-blown professional armed service that is a model for the people in discipline and obedience, courage, bravery, loyalty to the country and in bringing pride and glory to her people. During the Imperial period, national parades were alternated between Moscow and Saint Petersburg on major national civil and military holidays, anniversaries of the Romanov Dynasty and as part of the imperial coronation celebrations, celebrations and parades were also held in many major cities and provincial capitals.

So important was the value of these parades that even the Soviet Armed Forces made these parades a common tradition beginning in August 1918 when the first modern parade was held in Moscow's Red Square when Moscow area Vsevobuch detachments march past, earlier that May, a military parade, the first by the nascent Red Army, was held outside the capital. Since that year, many innovations have been seen in the practice of annual parades held not just there but in the capital cities of the former Soviet Union, as well as in major cities in the wide country, which were held on 1 May (1918-1941 and 1945-1968), 7 November (1920-1941 and 1945-1990) and 9 May (1945, 1965, 1985 and 1990). Today, the Russian Armed Forces - and by extension countries of the former Soviet Union - host a variety of military parades held on important national holidays, honoring the men and women of their armed forces and military veterans. The celebrations in each of these countries carry on years of tradition, honor, discipline and prestige by the millions of men and women who serve and have served in the ranks of the armed forces of their respective home countries. These parades have extensive government funding and aside from the iconic wide march past columns and occasional historical formations, typically include a mobile column, and occasionally a naval fleet review and/or air force fly past segment, a legacy of the Soviet era.


While the country was a Soviet Republic from 1920 to 1991, Armenia was formerly independent from 1918 to 1920 and thus had armed forces composed of both veterans of the Imperial Army and guerillas fighting the Ottoman armed forces who had been enforcing the anti-Armenian massacres of 1914. Armenians fought bravery in the Eastern Front of the Second World War as part of the Soviet Armed Forces, retaining some of its traditions today. The last of the Soviet era parades took place in 1988.[49] Today, the Armed Forces of Armenia hosts massive parades held in Yerevan, the capital city, on the following days:

In recent years, national military parades have included drill units and military bands performing exhibition drill for the guests before the parade concludes.


The semi-annual parade on the Day of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan, 26 June, is one of the biggest in the Commonwealth of Independent States, held every 3 to 5 years at the Azadliq Square, Baku, honoring the many Azerbaijanis who served faithful under the colours as part of her armed forces. The forces on parade are assembled based on a mix of the Turkish and Russian parade formation.


The Armed Forces of Belarus holds an annual military parade on 3 July along the Victors Avenue in the national capital Minsk, marking the anniversary of the liberation of the country during the 1944 Minsk Offensive, which coincides with the country's Independence Day. On special years of the victory in Europe, commemorative extraordinary parades are held there on 9 May to honor the millions of Belarusian military dead of the Second World War. Military parades in the country are based on the Russian/Polish model and tradition. Formerly, parades in the Republic of Belarus and the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic took place on Independence Square (known in the Soviet era as Lenin Square). This changed in the early 2000s when the square was renovated and became incompatible with the parade format. Military parades in the BSSR also took place on October Square from 1946 to 1984. Since 2004, military parades in the capital have taken place on Victors Avenue. In connection with the centennial of the Belarusian Armed Forces in 2018, a military parade was held in the Western city of Grodno.


While being formerly independent from 1918 to 1940 and as an component republic of the Soviet Union from that year to 1941 and yet again from 1944 to 1991, the current Estonian Defence Forces and the Estonian Defence League, successor to both the military and reserve forces of the First Republic and republican formations under the Baltic Military District and Baltic Fleet of the Soviet Armed Forces, marches during a combination of Russian, Finnish and Western drill in parades held in the following days:

During the 2006 Victory Day Parade in Saaremaa, first Fleet Review of the Estonian Navy in Estonian history was conducted by the Estonian Defence League.


The Defense Forces of Georgia, successor to the armed services of the Democratic Republic and Soviet formations stationed in the Georgian SSR, hosts military parades on May 26, Independence Day, the anniversary of the formation of the republic in 1918, together with elements from:

Modern parades are a mix of the former Soviet and modern Western (British, US, Turkish and Israeli) traditions and drill owing to the modernization of the defense and public security forces to NATO and EU standards.


The Armed Forces of Kazakhstan holds military parades (Kazakh: Әскери парад) that resemble the parades of the Russian military in Moscow, with one of the only exceptions being the inspection of the troops by the Supreme Commander of the Kazakh Armed Forces, instead of the defense minister. It has never held yearly parades celebrating one occasion, with parades currently being held in honor of the Defender of the Fatherland Day holiday. In the past, large scale military parades in the former capital of Almaty and the current capital of Nur-Sultan were held on the following holidays:

In recent years, the Defender of the Fatherland Day parade was expanded to function as a so-called "Battle Parade" (Боевой парад). So far, only two of these kinds of parades have been held; in 2012 and 2018.[50] In contrast to usual military parades, the battle parade includes tactical exercises and military demonstrations. These parades usually are held at the 40th Otar Military Base in the Korday District and take place with the troops in full combat gear rather than a ceremonial full dress uniform. Like former Soviet republics, Kazakh military parades are led by a cadet drum corps, specifically from the Astana Zhas Ulan Republican School.


Kyrgyz military parades are based on Russian traditions, having been held on many different occasions in the history of the Armed Forces of Kyrgyzstan. Currently, the only consistent military parade is held on Ala-Too Square in Bishkek every 5 years in honor of the country's Independence Day. Other military parades have been held celebrating different occasions. On 24 March 2006, a parade was held on the same square celebrating the 1 year anniversary since the Tulip Revolution which overthrew President Askar Akayev.[51][52][53] In May of that same year, a Day of the Armed Forces parade on the same square, later being deemed as "irresponsible" by opposition lawmaker Omurbek Tekebaev due to the fact that it coincided with opposition protests against President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, which itself was described by Defence Minister Ismail Isakov as purely "coincidental".[54] In 2015, a Victory Day Parade was held in the Kyrgyz capital, being presided by Prime Minister Temir Sariyev and Chief of General Staff Asanbek Alymkozhoev in place of President Almazbek Atambayev, who was attending the 2015 Moscow Victory Day Parade that same day.[55] The parade saw the appearance of veterans of the war in the mobile column as well as Russian troops from the local Kant Air Base taking part in the parade.


Latvia, like its neighbors to the north and south, was also formerly independent from 1918 to 1940 and as an component republic of the Soviet Union from that year to 1941 and yet again from 1944 to 1991, and its armed forces, then as in the 90s, were formed up of Latvian born personnel who served in the Russian military and thus share some of the Russian drill and parade ceremonial in combination with Western practices. Today, the Latvian National Armed Forces hosts massive parades (with occasional participation by service personnel of NATO armed forces) on the following dates:


In Russia, military parades are held in many parts of the country on the following days:

  • Defender of the Fatherland Day on 23 February
  • Victory Day on 9 May - Victory Day marks Germany's surrender to the Soviet Union in 1945 and is Russia's foremost national military holiday since 1995
  • Navy Day on the last Sunday of July
  • Air Force Day on 12 August
  • Ground Forces Day on 5 October

As well as on the following Days of Military Honour:

Military parades were first held in 1702 as a troop review, but later grew into a ceremonial event held by order of the President of the Russian Federation in his constitutional duty as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Alongside personnel and veterans of the Armed Forces, marching past in these parades are cadets of military high schools and middle schools and the Young Army Cadets National Movement, cadets of military faculties of civil universities and battalions of Cossacks, honoring their forebears who fought for their homeland in times past. Also, the following uniformed organizations take part in these parades:


Tajik military parades are held every 2 to 3 years on Dushanbe's Dousti Square. They are either held on the occasion of Independence Day or Armed Forces Day. They usually feature the entire Dushanbe Garrison and its hardware. The first parade in Dushanbe, which was at the time known as Stalinabad, took place on an area known as Red Square on 7 November 1945. Since then, Soviet military parades of the 201st Motor Rifle Division in the Tajikistan SSR have been held on 9 May and 7 November in Lenin Square annually until 1990. The first military parade in the Republic of Tajikistan was held on armed forces day in 1993.[58]


The principal parade hosted by the Armed Forces of Turkmenistan is held during the annual Independence Day Parade in Independence Square in Ashgabat every September 27, Independence Day, marking the day of the declaration of Turkmen independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. (From 1992 to 2017 the parade was held in October 27, the day of the independence plebiscite.)


Ukrainian parades involve the active and reserve men and women and veterans of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. It holds parades on the following:

Something that distinguishes Ukrainian military parades from its other post-Soviet counterparts is, during the Kiev parade, the marchpast of the tri-service Kyiv Presidential Honor Guard Battalion with the Flag of Ukraine to raise at the flagpole while honors are rendered, which includes the playing of Shche ne vmerla Ukraina. Since 2014, military bands have also played an integral part in these parades by marching with their units as part of the parade. Unlike their other counterparts, who use Hello Comrades as the official greeting during parades, Ukraine uses Glory to Ukraine as the official holiday greeting, with the troops responding by saying Glory to the Heroes.[59]

The voice of military parades in Ukraine is Dmitry Khorkin, he was an announcer in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019.[60][61][62] Khorkin's voice became remarkable for official events with the participation of the country's top officials and for supporting the Ukrainian army, that's why he had received threats from pro-Russian separatists before the 2016 military parade.[63]

Serbia/Former Yugoslavia

Military parades in Serbia and the former Yugoslavia follow a close tradition that is significantly unique to the Balkan states. Their usage of the high step instead of the more European goose step is a notable display of heritage and tradition in their parades. The Yugoslav People's Army held its first military parade on Bulevar revolucije just days before the conclusion of the Second World War on International Workers Day. Another parade on 20 October of that same year was held in honor of the one year anniversary of the end of the Belgrade Offensive.[64]

Since then military parades in the SFRY were held on the following dates and occasions:

  • 1 May 1946
  • 19 October 1946
  • 1 May 1947
  • 1 May 1948
  • 1 May 1949
  • 1 May 1950
  • 1 May 1951
  • 1 May 1952
  • 1 May 1953
  • 1 May 1954
  • 1 May 1955
  • 1 May 1956
  • 1 May 1957
  • 1 May 1960
  • 1 May 1961
  • 1 May 1962
  • 1 May 1963
  • 1 May 1964
  • 9 May 1965
  • 9 May 1970
  • 9 May 1975 It was the first parade to feature the high-stepping march style, which was instituted by Marshal Josip Broz Tito to assert his independence from Soviet influence.
  • 9 May 1985 The parade (branded as Parade 85) was the last victory parade before the brake up of Yugoslavia in the early 90s. It was also significant as it was the first parade that was not presided by Marshal Tito as leader of Yugoslavia.

The first parade in the Republic of Serbia took place on Liberation Day on 16 October 2014. Known commonly as the March of the Victor, the parade took place on Nikola Tesla Boulevard and included 4,500 Serbian Army troops, the Russian Swifts aerobatic team and even an appearance by Russian President Vladimir Putin as the guest of honour.[65] On 10 May 2019, the first Victory Day Parade in close to 35 years was held in the city of Niš. Branded as the "The Defence of Freedom" show, the parade also included personnel of the Police of Serbia, which also marked the 20th anniversary of the Yugoslav resistance to the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.[66][67][68][69] Outside of the Serbian Armed Forces, the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia, the Armed Forces of Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina use the Serbian/Yugoslav parade format.


The Turkish tradition of military parades was introduced in the 19th century as part of the Westernization and modernization of the army and navy of the then Ottoman Empire to modern standards of warfare and military ceremonial, a tradition carried on by the modern Turkish Armed Forces, whose parade drill includes high stepping, a tradition introduced in the 1900s.

Today parades held by the Turkish Armed Forces and its veterans are held in the following days:

  • April 23 - National Sovereignty and Children's Day
  • May 23 - Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day
  • August 30 - Victory Day, also principal holiday of the Armed Forces
  • October 29 - Republic Day

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, a guard of honour traditionally performs the march past for whoever received the salute. In the capital of London, traditional ceremonial units that perform public duties (the Queens Guard for example) take part in military parades such as the more common Trooping the Colour on Horse Guards Parade and special parades during the jubilee years of the monarch in his or her capacity as commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces. The Household Cavalry (Blues and Royals and Life Guards) traditionally perform trot pasts in mounted formation, together with the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery. These units have been known to parade in slow and quick time. Personnel of the armed forces, cadet organizations, The Royal British Legion and veterans' organizations also parade during national holidays such as Remembrance Day or Armed Forces Day. During a regimental military parade, the regimental march of the unit is played.

United States

Military parades in the American capital are held quadrennially by servicemen of the United States Armed Forces during the Presidential inaugural parade. These are not considered to be regular military parades however, as the parading formations are actually not entirely composed of armed servicemen. The first known organized military procession in the United States was the Grand Review of the Armies, on May 23 and May 24, 1865, following the end of the American Civil War (1861-1865). The New York City Victory Parade of 1946 was held in mid-January in 1946 to commemorate the conclusion of World War II and the Allied victory over the Axis Powers in all theaters of the war, helped by the service of millions of Americans who served under the armed forces and the National Guard, in addition to the state defense forces. In the late 40s and the early 50s, massive parades in honor of Army Day and later Armed Forces Day were held in the capital.[70] The most recently held military parade was the National Victory Celebration on June 8, 1991, to celebrate the conclusion of Gulf War in Iraq. In 2018, a national debate was sparked when President Donald Trump proposed to hold a military parade on 10 November 2018 in honor of the Veterans Day holiday the next day, commonly known as "Trump's military parade". This was seen as expensive and authoritarian-like and by August of that year, the Department of Defense announced that the military parade would be postponed until 2019.[71] The 2019 Fourth of July parade was the first attended by the President of the United States in his capacity as the constitutional commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces and the National Guard Bureau, with the parade route was changed to include the Lincoln Memorial complex within the greater area around the National Mall.[72][73][74] It was also the first time since the 1950s where units aside from the guards of honor, also included cadets from the military academies, units of the Armed Forces and the National Guard and the nationally produced military equipment of the services marching past in the national capital city in front of the members of government, Congress, veterans and the people of the capital.

Annual military parades, as well as armed forces and veterans' participation in civil parades are held in the following days in major cities in the country, in areas with military installations and in state capitals:

  • March 29: Vietnam Veterans Day
  • 3rd Saturday of May: Armed Forces Day
  • Last Monday of May: Memorial Day
  • 14 June: Flag Day and Army Birthday
  • 4 July - United States Independence Day
  • 11 November - Veterans Day
  • 4th Thursday of November - Thanksgiving Day

Parades are also held within the military academies, high schools, bases and installations of the Armed Forces, as well as by JROTC and ROTC units and youth uniformed cadet organizations on the following days aside from the aforementioned Army Birthday:

  • 4 August: Coast Guard Day (United States Coast Guard)
  • 17 September: Air Force Day (United States Air Force)
  • 13 October: US Navy Birthday (United States Navy)
  • 27 October: Navy Day (United States Navy)
  • 10 November: Marine Corps Day (United States Marine Corps)
  • 13 December: National Guard Day (National Guard of the United States)
  • During a change of command, retirement and recruit and cadet graduation parades within the service branches of the armed forces and all military academies and high schools
  • During unitwide anniversaries and remembrance days of important battles of the Armed Forces
  • During holidays marked by each of the states and federal territories and major cities as well as in Puerto Rico as can be permitted by the commander of the unit taking part

The typical presidential inaugural or holiday parade hosted in Washington, D.C., is hosted by the National Capital Region of the Department of Defense, while local and state level parades are hosted by the local military installations and local area governments.


Full blown military parades by the National Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela are held on the following days:

  • 13 April, National Militia Day
  • 19 April, 19 April National Day
  • 24 June, Army Day
  • 5 July, Independence Day
  • 24 July, Navy Day (including the occasional fleet review)
  • 7 August, National Guard Day
  • 27 November, Air Force Day
  • During change of command, retirement and recruit and cadet graduation parades within the service branches of the armed forces and all military academies and high schools
  • Following the presidential inauguration ceremony every 6 years in Caracas

Taking part on these parades are active duty and reserve personnel of the NBAF and its service branches, and these are a mix of the German, British and later on Chinese and Russian traditions.

In August 2018, during a military parade and ceremony on the Venezuelan National Guard's 81st anniversary, President Nicolas Maduro was targeted in a drone attack, which left him unharmed, and left 8–9 people injured.

See also


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