Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego — Military cadence is a traditional call that is used as a song during running and marching formations. Cadences are used to instill teamwork, build camaraderie and to boost the morale of a unit.
Cadence commands such as “left foot, right foot” keep the platoon synchronized while in a running formation. However, there is more to cadence than to just stay instep. Military cadence is also used to motivate and inspire military personnel to push through fatigue.
“When you’re out training and running with your unit to cadences it gives you a sense of pride, keeps you and your fellow Marines motivated and builds up camaraderie with the people you train with everyday,” said Staff Sgt. Glen E. Allen, drill instructor, Platoon 2129, Company F, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion. “Morale is always important to keep high within a unit. Cadence is one of those things used to keep it high.”
A cadence requires a caller to give out the commands of the cadence, which lets an individual lead a platoon displaying their unit leadership. Some cadences have a call and response structure in which the unit leader initiates a line and the remaining members of the formation complete it, instilling teamwork and camaraderie.
During recruit training, cadence is also used to teach close order drill. Calls such as “left shoulder arms” indicate a drill recruits must perform on command. Drill instructors march their platoons to every event including classes, physical training events and chow. Using cadence with recruits during recruit training helps instill discipline and instantaneous obedience to orders.
A popular saying in the Marine Corps is no Marine left behind. While marching, performing close order drill or running, cadence teaches Marines to stay in step with each other and leave no one behind, explained 30-year-old Allen, a Riverside, Calif. native.
Military cadences have been around since the Revolutionary War. Close order drill used a particular cadence count during the sequence of loading and firing a musket. Units also have used cadences to maneuver into different tactical formations.
Cadences are part of the military foundation and what it represents, explained Recruit Aaron R. Rains, an Indianapolis, Ind. native.
Cadence can be based on songs, sayings or even tell a story.
“Cadence tells history, stories of battles and traditions as we run together, collecting all as a unit boosting high morale with the Marines to your right and left,” said 21-year-old Rains. “Cadences link everyone together”