In the numerical study, it was mainly intended to test the capability of a control rod to reduce the drag and to suppress the fluctuating forces acting on the rod-square (total) system for various angles of incidence (alpha) and center-to-center spacing ratios (L/D). The Reynolds numbers (Re) based upon the diameter of control rod and the side length of the square prism are 50 and 200, respectively, for the control rod and the square prism. Seven distinct flow patterns were observed and it was demonstrated that the cavity flow pattern is the most effective in terms of simultaneous reduction of the time-averaged and RMS values of fluctuating force coefficients for both control rod and square prism. As the control rod located 2D or 3D upstream of the square prism at zero angle of incidence, the time-averaged drag coefficient of the total system i.e. the sum of the time-averaged drag coefficients of the control rod and the square prism is about 74% that of the square prism alone. Furthermore, the maximum reductions in RMS values of the fluctuating lift acting on the total system are 53% and 60%, respectively, for 2D and 3D. On the other hand, the effectiveness of control rod in reducing the time-averaged drag coefficient of the total system was generally diminished with increasing a. Instantaneous and time-averaged flow fields were also presented in order to identify the flow patterns around the rod-square system. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.