Repeat to Confirm

Joel: [Naval Officer] Move three quarters of an inch to the left, sailor.
Crow: [Sailor] Moving three quarters of an inch to the left, sir. Sir, coming on three quarters of an inch to the left, sir.
Joel: [Naval Officer] Hold still at three quarters of an inch to the left.
Crow: [Sailor] Aye, sir. Holding steady at three quarters of an inch to the left.
Joel: [Naval Officer] Very well.
Tom: Navy: It's not just a job; it's a Type-A personality development course.
MSTing of Tom Swift and His War Tank

Troper, describe the trope Repeat to Confirm!

Describe Repeat to Confirm, Aye, Sir! By repeating an order back to the one that gives it, one confirms that the order has been correctly received and understood, so any mistakes in communication can be fixed before the order is executed. It also impresses bystanders with the speakers' professionalism and steadiness, under stressful conditions.

This practice can also be used to signal that the order has been executed. This is usually the case for orders that are easily performed and reversible, but makes it amply clear to the one giving the order that it has been executed. In some cases the order is repeated both as confirmation of receipt and then as to its execution.

Care should be taken to perform this in a steady and confident way, otherwise it risks being interpreted as Parrot Exposition.

As Truth in Television, this is a subtrope of Standard Military Procedures, officially called "Read Back For Check" when used over radio. It is especially prevalent in the Navy and Air Force, both of which operate complex vehicles.


Examples

Fanfic
  • In Conquest (after a starship is partially infected with the Borg):
    "Eviscerator Three, this is Jaina. You are to open fire on our starboard side. Twenty four heavy turbolaser shots, on the following co-ordinates." She began punching in co-ordinates.
    A confused voice cracked through the communications system. "Please confirm, Lady Jaina. We are to fire upon your ship?"
    "Yes, you are to fire on us. Now."

Film
  • WarGames. This happens repeatedly at the beginning of the movie when two SAC missile crewmen receive an order to launch their missiles. Watch it here.
  • In most naval films, including Tora! Tora! Tora!, Crimson Tide, U-571, and The Hunt for Red October, the captain will give an order, and the first officer or gunnery officer will repeat it. For example, almost every WWII submarine and PT boat movie features the lines, "Fire one!" "Fire one." "Fire two!" "Fire two..."
  • Used for the Oh, Crap! moment in The Bedford Incident. A gung-ho destroyer commander harasses a Soviet sub with the intention of forcing it to the surface. Unfortunately he also rides his crew equally hard, so a keyed-up officer launches an anti-sub missile when he hears the words "Fire One" twice in a row (the captain was actually saying "If he (the sub) fires one, then I'll fire one"). The by-now equally keyed-up Soviet submariners respond with an atomic torpedo before they're destroyed.
  • Almost every movie set aboard a plane with two or more crew in the cockpit. For example, Howard Hawks' Air Force: "Flaps down." "Flaps coming down."
  • Parodied in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where the King of Swamp Castle gives commands to a guard, and the guard repeats them back wrong. The two of them spend the next two minutes or so going back-and-forth with the king trying to get the guard to get the orders right.
  • In Spaceballs Lone Starr and Barf do this several times. Spoofed when they infiltrate Spaceball One:
    Lone Starr: Dim the lights.
    Barf: Dimming the lights.
    Lone: Go to infrared.
    Barf: Going to infrared.
    Lone: Pray to God.
    Barf: Praying to God. (Lone Starr gives Barf a look. Barf grins.)
  • In The Fifth Element, there is a bridge officer whose job is to relay orders from the captain to the helmsman, who is only a few feet away but behind an apparently pointless sheath of transparent material. The computer repeats the order too, so the exchange goes like this:
    Captain: Helm to 108.
    Computer: Helm to 108.
    Officer: (into sheath) HELM, 108!
    Helmsman: (Turning wheel) Helm to 108.
  • In Galaxy Quest, and the Show Within a Show at its core, Gwen's character's role was to liaise between the captain and the computer, even though the computer can hear anything said on the ship and vice versa. When on the ship in real life, she is frustrated at the pointlessness of the job but insists on doing it anyway, since it's the only one she has.
    • It's worth noting that on the real life ship the computer tends to ignore anyone else attempting to speak to it, making Gwen's job slightly less useless.
  • Common in American Civil War and Western films such as Gettysburg, as the standard manual of arms required, first, a "preparatory" command which was repeated by the privates, then a firm command of "execution." As in "Fix—" "Fix—" "BAYONETS!"
  • In S.W.A.T., after Hondo hears Street frantically yelling "Officer down!" into the radio:
    Hondo: Flip a bitch!
    Deeks: Flipping a bitch! (pulls a U-turn)
  • Inverted(?) in Cool Hand Luke where men Working on the Chain Gang tell the "boss" (the screw in charge of the gang) what they're doing and he repeats it back to confirm that he understands, in order that the guards don't shoot the prisoners for some random sudden movement.
    Dragline: Taking it off here, Boss.
    Boss: Yah, Dragline, take it off there.
  • In Peter Pan, Smee repeats Captain Hook's orders as he calls out the coordinates for shooting down Peter and the Darlings. Smee even begins to repeat Hook's command to fire, but stops himself and plugs his ears in anticipation of the cannon firing.
  • Occurs several times in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians aboard the Martian spaceship. "Fire retrorockets five and six." "Retrorockets five and six: fire."

Live-Action TV
  • Justified in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "For the Uniform". The Defiant's computer memory was wiped by a virus Michael Eddington planted, so every subsystem is under local control. Sisko has Nog relaying his orders to Engineering and a dozen or so people confirming orders he and Jadzia give on the bridge.
  • Happens frequently in UFO aboard the Skydiver submarine in situations such as altering the ship's course, preparing to launch the Skydiver jet and surfacing.
  • The Teaser of the Intelligence episode "Athens" has a bit where a bureaucrat touring Cyber Command asks about security procedures, for instance what if somebody loses their ID or has it stolen. Their IDs are biometric scans of their hands, leading to the following exchange:
    Lillian: Agent Jameson. Let's do a hand count today. Make sure everyone has two.
    Jameson: Hand count. Two per. Yes, ma'am.
  • November 22, 1963: NBC's Robert MacNeil reports to Frank McGee via phone that President Kennedy died at 1 PM CST after being shot in Dallas, Texas. In the NBC News studio, McGee relays it.

Videogames
  • While not required, the mobile app game Spaceteam tends to lead players to do this, as repeated confirmations not only acknowledge that your request has been actioned ("Newtonian Photomist to 3" "Photomist at 3."), but also signifies who has that control on their panel for future commands. Also, it makes you feel like you're in command of a real Spaceteam.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • In medicine, the doctor orders an injection. A nurse or orderly uses a syringe and a special pulling needle to draw the medicine from the bottle. The syringe and bottle are then, still connected, shown to a doctor or nurse, so they can confirm the medicine and the dosage. The syringe is then attached to a needle intended for injections, and the medicine is injected.
    • Commonly depicted during operations, as "Scalpel!" "Scalpel." "Sponge!" "Sponge."
  • Very common on public safety radio channels. It serves two purposes. It confirms that the original transmission was understood correctly, and it also gives other units a second chance to hear what is going on when they may be in a position to assist or get on scene faster.
  • An essential part of Artillery. Artillery strikes are performed by a soldier on the field giving coordinates and payload orders to an artillery team miles away. Confirming coordinates and payload is the difference between leveling a city block of enemy troops and leveling a city block of innocent civilians.
  • In aviation, radio messages between air traffic control and pilots use a formalized series of phrases to minimize the possibility of misunderstandings (with good reason). For example, all instructions from air traffic control must start with the aircraft identification it's intended for, while the pilot's readback must end with his own identification. Thus, the ATC instruction "Flight 123, turn left to heading 180" would be answered by "Turn left to heading 180, flight 123" by the pilot. If it's the result of a pilot's request, this means the instruction would be spoken three times note :
    Flight 123: This is flight 123 requesting descent to 5000.
    ATC: Flight 123, descend and maintain 5000.
    Flight 123: Descend and maintain 5000, flight 123.
  • Some languages lack an equivalent of "yes" or "no", meaning that repeating part of a question or order is the only way to unambiguously answer it (e.g. The answer to the Latin question "troposne legis?" or the command "lege tropos!"trans  would be "tropos lego" or "tropos non lego"trans ). One of these languages is Irish, which has impacted Irish English; this is why, if (for instance), you ask an Irish person (for instance) "Have you read the paper this morning?" they will like as not reply "I have" or "I haven't" rather than "yes" or "no."
  • Within many theater groups, when a stage manager calls the time until the show starts, it is obligatory for all cast members to state "Thank you" and the time verbatim to ensure they're actually listening.
    "Places in five minutes."
    "Thank you five."

Trope described, Sir!
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RepeatToConfirm