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The Command Voice

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.


Diagram of a command

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.

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