Agreed, but it got into early COBOL as the ALTER ... TO PROCEED TO ... statement. IMO its the worst misfeature that ever got into a high level language. I've seen it used in the past about once, in the worst-written system I've ever had the misfortune to see. Apart from ALTER statements it had:
- meaningless data names (all records and fields over 4 tape files called MTnn where nn incremented in each successive line) and so on for CFnn (cards), LPnn (line printer) and WSnn (working storage).
- no sections in PROCEDURE DIVISION, only paragraphs which all had 5 digit numeric names, but not in any detectable sequence or meaningful order.
The outfit I worked for had unfortunately bought it. It was immediately scrapped when we saw the code and we wrote an equivalent but much better system from scratch, but I digress....
ALTER was declared obsolete in COBOL 1985 and removed from the specification in 2002 but apparently is still supported by some compilers.