Platoon Management VS Micromanagement of Squads
REposted here as a reminder to myself to add this to Squad and Platoon Management in Virtual Environments.
This thread addresses a critical, and potential contentious, issue brought to my attention via a PM from Starstriker1. Starstriker graciously gave me permission to repost his PM here as I believe that my answer, and a discussion of my answer, would benefit the TG PS2 community.
First, the PM itself:
And my reply:Originally Posted by starstriker1Hey E-male,
Excellent platoon leading last night, as always. I did feel, however, like my squad's positioning was being micromanaged a little bit. A lot of the time, I'd be moving my squad from hill to hill only to have the platoon marker plopped down right where my squad marker already was! Personally speaking, I'd prefer to manage my squad's actual movement myself, and have my objectives be more of a "do X at position Y for reasons Z" so that I can examine the terrain, the opposition, and my squad and figure out the best approach. My personal SL preference is to have a degree of autonomy.
Not intended as a criticism or a demand to alter your leadership style; as a squad leader I always have a bit of tunnel vision with regards to the bigger picture, so I don't have a good sense of whether the situation actually required the orders to be as fine grained as they were. I just wanted to let you know my perspective on it from an ant's eye view! If you are managing my squad's point-to-point movement, though, I think it would be helpful to know what purpose that movement is serving in the grand scheme of things so I can make sure that our kits and precise positioning are doing the job we need to be doing.
First the matter of last night. Yes, I did find that in a few instances squad leaders were moving off their assigned positions (or the platoon staging area) before I had given any order to do so. In fact I directly called out one SL for doing so, I do not recall if it was you.
As to "moving my squad from hill to hill only to have the platoon marker plopped down right where my squad marker already was!" this is a management strategy that you witnessed. In some cases I will call a squad back into position, in others I will simply confirm the already-taken action. It is easier to lead men to where they are already going in some cases, and the platoon leader needs to assert a sense of order and control as other SLs and squad members take their cues from the general tone set by leadership. Thus the confirmation of an improper movement, on occasion.
Nonetheless, the fact that a SL's judgment may be correct in such instances NEVER justifies moving off an assigned position. Such actions undermine command and can create copycat behaviour. The correct procedure sees the SL open comms with the PL and recommend the desired action. I cannot emphasis the critical importance of following this 'unwritten' standard operating procedure.
Assigning the movement, placement, and tasks/objectives of a squad are for the most part the prerogative of the platoon leader. Within this prerogative the PL relegates a great deal of authority and autonomy to the squad leader, which the SL will exercise over his squad members.
You raise the issue of explaining/justifying orders. Sometimes this is essential, and we often see Randy, BigGaayAl and other expert-level platoon leaders doing so. But mostly this is unnecessary. The PL needs to keep OFF the platoon channel as much as possible. I often see inexperienced leaders providing excessive explanations and justifications -- this creates considerable noise in the channel and interferes with comms across the platoon.
Nonetheless, you raise a good point when you note that "it would be helpful to know what purpose that movement is serving in the grand scheme of things so I can make sure that our kits and precise positioning are doing the job we need to be doing."
The point is well taken and I will make a note to keep this in mind. This is an issue that I hope to see further discussion on here in this thread.
You also note that "I don't have a good sense of whether the situation actually required the orders to be as fine grained as they were." Often it is the case that your PL does not have the complete picture either. That is why sound platoon management requires a delicate balance between generalities and specifics.
The important thing for squad leaders to keep in mind is that they are a small part of a larger structure. The PL positions elements within the structure so that they are mutually supportive and, usually, focused on the same targets and objects. A squad that wanders off its position, or worse, lacks cohesion, represents a threat to the integrity of the overall structure.
Point-to-point movement is the foundation of my operational procedures as a platoon leader. The precise positioning and movement of elements within the platoon is, in my opinion, the foremost priority and responsibility of the PL. This does not rule out innovation and initiative from the SLs. This does not reduce SLs to mindless pawns. As noted in another post, I expect all command elements, all TG SLs, to be in teamspeak, in the TS command channel with me, for advisory purposes. I will make an effort to emphasis this from now on, as it remains an often overlooked element in the TG PS2 command methodology.
I hope others will voice their thoughts on these very important issues.
Thank you StarStriker1 for bringing them to our attention!