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On Cohesion

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  • On Cohesion

    I was reviewing video footage of last nights defense at INDAR of Valley Storage Yard. Wyattmann was doing an excellent job as platoon leader. My Alpha squad held the position closest to the enemy on the south east of the road into the TR Warpgate. I could see Delta squad nicely grouped up across from us on the south west side of the road, also holding the front line. We held that position for a long time and maintained a solid, if not stunning, defense. My squad was mostly pubbies but they followed orders and stayed were I told them to stay. I assigned kits, roles, and positions, and mostly got what I wanted.

    Except for poor XXXX [name withheld -- not an Outfit or TG member] . I have had to kick XXXX from the squad no less than 3 times last evening as he was simply unwilling to stay with the squad. After I kicked XXXX another squad member asking why I removed him. I said, speaking plainly, that if he is not following orders he is of no use to me and no help to the squad. Next time I see XXXX in my squad I'll give him "the lecture" and the final warning.

    To do what we did last night, defend a position against a much larger force, cohesion is essential. It is not enough to have a bunch of troops, you need a unit that is aware of each others position, close enough to one another to assist with various tasks and targets. It is easy to tell if a squad is cohesive. With some obvious exceptions, if a squad is a visible blob of colour on the map, it is functionally cohesive. Experienced platoon leaders look for this colour density as an indicator of functional squads under the effective control of a squad leader. A squad colour spread all over the map is an indication of a serious lapse of command and control.

    I know I am preaching to converted here. You know the value of cohesion, you know the meaning of the phrase "group up", you know to follow orders.

    You know that you are TG.

  • #2
    Re: On Cohesion

    It's pretty much the single most valuable aspect of a squad. There's not just the element of focused fire, but one of the best predictors of teamwork is proximity. Valve found that out in Team Fortress 2, and in an effort to encourage team play made sure that everybody spawned in waves to increase the chance that they'd be nearby and help each other out. I've found in PS2 it also corresponds to how quickly the squad reacts... a scattered squad will react to a new order in a piecemeal way and take a while to reorient, but a squad that's holding the same hilltop together will move out almost simultaneously and will stick together.

    Does anyone have advice for improving cohesion with public squads? I've had the good fortune of having (usually) public squads filled with people who quickly figure out where I'm going with directing the squad to specific terrain features instead of just setting a target and telling them to go for it, but it can take a frustratingly long time for people to "get it". I'm getting a better handle on what will encourage random players, but I still feel like there are important nuances in how to deliver and frame the orders and set the general tone of the squad that I haven't quite grasped yet.

    So far, I've found that setting a low-pressure firing position up does a good job of getting people to where they need to be and highlighting the people who need to be kicked, which then should be followed by moving to the next objective hill by hill to really drill it into them. Once enough people in the squad "get it" you hit a sort of critical mass where the less teamwork minded players start gravitating to the squad blob and it all comes together. It doesn't feel complete yet, though.

    That actually reminds me: if you're a member of someone else's squad, the absolute best thing you can do to help the leader out is to stay close to them, follow their orders precisely, and do so VISIBLY. Confirm that the orders are received, maybe even repeat the order back as you confirm (as in "Squad, secure point A" "Roger, squad lead, moving to secure point A"). That "first follower" is so incredibly crucial, and confirming the orders reinforces to other members of the squad that the orders are A) being followed and are worth following, B) being followed in a particular fashion that should be emulated and C) when repeated back, gives people an extra opportunity to hear what the orders were. Most people just go with the flow, so if you're a squad member everything you can do to establish a flow, path of least resistance, or culture of teamwork and coordination for the SL's orders will make his life a hell of a lot easier, especially with pub squads.



    • #3
      Re: On Cohesion

      Thanks for the commentary.

      We have a SOP (standard operating procedure) that requires SLs to give a confirmation of a PLs order (see the video example below).

      Cohesion can be achived with a squad of all pubbies. It just takes longer to institute. I find that it takes about 30 minutes to 'drill' a group of untrained troops into a reasonably cohesive group.

      The basic steps:

      1) Tell them what you want. Take a moment to explain the concept -- cohesion -- staying together in close proximity so as to support each other and react to targets as a single weapon.

      2) Give them a simple, and secure, group up point, marked with the squad mark. This is the first drill (they do not need to know it is a drill). You must warn, give an opportunity for compliance, then immediately kick anyone not at the group-up point within a reasonable amount of time. This makes it clear to everyone that your orders are consequential. Command without consequences is empty of meaning and efficacy.

      3) You will need to repeat steps 1 and 2 a few times as squad members come and go. Usually you will see results and have 90% compliance within ten minutes. Expect and demand 100% compliance. It is the lone wolf in your squad that undermines your authority. Get rid of him and the rest will and do fall in line.

      4) (Not really a step) Always be polite and patient. Never angry, never shouting -- these are signs of command failure.

      5) Feel free to assign zones (this area), specific spots (that rock), and specific kits and roles (A1 hold the tank HERE, A2 keep repairs on the tank). The more specific your order, the easier it will be for the squad member to give compliance and for you to measure compliance.

      A few will hate this and leave. The vast majority will like or love it. Keep in mind that most players have never really experienced high level team work (50% play as lone wolves, not in team at all) and thus have not seen just how effective teamwork and cohesion can be.

      In summary:

      Explain the concept
      Provide clear instructions
      Drill the men (test their understanding and compliance)*
      Demonstrate consequences (kick the chumps)

      * note that a drill does not have to be a fake goal or an inconsequential action/objective. It is best, at an early state, to give a reasonably secure location for the initial group-ups. You need to create conditions for easy compliance, then move on to more difficult tasks. The better the cohesion, the more challenging the task.



      • #4
        Re: On Cohesion

        I agree the way to an effective Public squad is through the "Kick" command. It's just like with kids. If they see you are serious and you do as you say they will listen or leave, or get kicked. You end up with players that love to play as a team. These are almost always the players we encourage to join TG, Or will ask for an invite.


        • #5
          Re: On Cohesion

          @ EMale:

          Thanks for the breakdown there. It's good to know that I'm mostly on track there, only thing missing for me was step 1... which, on reflection, is actually pretty critical! Whoops.

          I understand the SOP for squad leaders confirming the PL's orders, I was actually thinking more about squad members. I don't think it'd make a good SOP for squad members to acknowledge every SL order (11 people checking in each time? Oof!) However, I think it IS a good trick, if you find yourself in someone else's squad, to attempt to be more visible in following the SL's orders than is strictly required. This is especially true if squad cohesion is low and people aren't being responsive to orders. In the same way that one disruptive squad member can negatively impact the whole squad, a visibly cooperative squad member can serve as a great example for everyone else. More teamwork can happen if people see teamwork being done.


          • #6
            Re: On Cohesion

            Yes, having squad members ACK every order is cumbersome and does not work. I try to acknowledge any direct order given to me by a SL, which I think should be a SOP. If someone directly asks you to do something always acknowledge it. If it is a general order "squad go here" it is sufficient to do what is asked without an ACK.

            It is good practice to have a XO that ACKs all general orders on behalf of the squad or fireteam.




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