For some values of the word, “elite.” It’s true that they’re carefully selected and drilled hard. Not just in the industrial West; for many nations, having a drill team that can stomp and strut with the best of ’em is a vital part of the country’s patrimony. So watch this video and grit your teeth as the soldiers of many nationalities slip and fall, a Briton can’t resist a $#!-eating grin, a US Marine drill team member launches his rifle in an unexpected direction, a gang of Afghan pallbearers make the rookie facing-movement mistake that has caused many a private to spend a day or two of basic training with a rock in his left pocket, and that’s just the dismounted guards. Put them on a horse, with polished helms and gorgets or cuirasses, and further hilarity ensues.
While we’re marveling at ceremonies gone bad, the ultimate display of formal ceremony has to be the Wagah border crossing opening and closing ceremonies. Here a comedian of Indian extraction reviews it for the Beeb. And yes, the imposing soldiers on both sides are selected, in part, for their luxuriant, 19th-Century facial hair.
Jean Lartéguy, call your office….