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A fundamental element of basic training programs for United States military enlisted recruits and officer candidates is intensive, immersive training in drill and ceremonies. Trainers apply standards of precision unheard of in many civilian circles, including the interval at which a trainee's arms should swing while marching.

When marching, the trainee's fists hang loosely at her sides and swing from the shoulders with the rhythm of marching. This arm and hand movement should look a great deal like the way the arms and hands look when someone is walking normally. Trainers will often give the guideline that the trainee's fists should sway six inches to the front of the seam of the pants or skirt, and three inches behind (15.2cm to the front, 7.6cm to the rear). This guideline is often reinforced with the words chanted in time to the marching cadence, "Six to the front, three to the rear; that's the way we do it here."

Most trainees don't require much in the way of reinforcement to maintain this standard, since it so resembles the same movement done while walking that it becomes natural to do so. Also, it would be problematic (though not unheard of) for a trainer to point out any gross discrepancies in arm and hand movements by walking alongside a trainee with a ruler. So, despite the difficulty of adhering to the standard exactly or precisely measuring the arm movements, the idea of "six to the front, three to the rear" helps trainees standardize their movements while learning drill and ceremonies.

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