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Squad and Platoon Management in Virtual Environments: Best Practices

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  • Squad and Platoon Management in Virtual Environments: Best Practices

    My summer project is to compile bits and pieces on leadership that I have written over the past few years here at TG into the following document.

    Note that this document represents a personal statement. It is not meant to be binding on TG individuals.

    Squad and Platoon Management in Virtual Environments:
    Best Practices

    Table of Contents (draft)

    • The Good Squad Member
    • The Good Team Leader
    • On Cohesion: The First Essential
    • Tactical Movement
    • Communication Best Practices
    • Leading a Squad
    • Leading a Platoon
    • Using Fireteams
    • Contributing to the Tactical Gamer Community

    I plan to make a multimedia blog-based document that incorporates video examples and images with the text.

    Here is a very early draft of the Tactical Movement section:

    Tactical Movement

    The squad leader moves the men forward, cover to cover, while assessing the advantage of terrain and allied support, and weighing these factors against enemy strength. A successful tactical movement will see the squad move forward, cover to cover, followed or supported by allies, until in position to directly move into the 'flag' zone and capture a target. Under the conditions of tactical movement the squad leader should seldom, if ever, die or require resurrection.
    The objective of tactical movement is to move a squad forward to a hostile objective without putting the squad in a position of being overwhelmed by enemy forces. Tactical movement frequently requires holding the squad in position while allies accumulate in sufficient numbers. A constant forward advance to a hostile object increases risk and uncertainty. Tactical movement decreases risks and increases your awareness of what enemies and allies are doing in your immediate environment.

    Tactical movement is successful when it enables the squad to safely advance closer to the objective. Effective use of cover, the advantages afforded by terrain (such as hills), and the control of your flanks are critical aspects of tactical movement. The execution of tactical movement requires patience and firm control of the squad as some individual squad members will be inclined to rush forward into kill zones and unsecured regions and otherwise act in an independent fashion.

    Tactical movement begins with the squad leader creating a cohesive squad. Cohesion refers to the degree to which a squad is operating as a single unit (see the section On Cohesion). The first act of an effective squad leader is the call for the squad to group-up, to get together in one place, a safe place, where everyone can see everyone else. Always begin all military operations by grouping your squad members up at a reasonably safe location so you can brief them on your expectations and the immediate objective.

    Once all of the troops are grouped up on your position move out to the next marked objective. The squad leader moves the troops forward and constantly evaluates the situation.

    Break your squad’s journey into discrete stages. Occasionally call for the squad to halt and group up at secure locations, such as a building or behind a large rock. In this manner continue to move forward until the squad is at the front line. The front line is your closest possible position to the enemy target that can be held while still maintaining cohesion. If you are too close to the enemy your squad's cohesion will be lost due to lack of cover, attacks on your flanks, and unfavourable force ratios. A sure sign of "too close" is when your men are frequently getting killed and you are in immanant danger of being ‘wiped out’.

    There is an element of 'magic' to this strategy of tactical movement. By virtue of holding almost any position within effective firing range of an enemy target, over time allies will accumulate on your position. Here an AMS-Sunderer is helpful but not necessary. I have found that the AMS-Sunderer, while having obvious benefits, is often too vulnerable to incoming fire and can be a distraction in and of itself. Tactical movement can be undertaken with just the use of a squad beacon.

    The method outlined here does not guarantee success as it is never certain to what extent the enemy will rally forces to your position. You may face favourable conditions or you may face a sudden onslaught of 100s of enemies. Nonetheless, I have found the strategy to yield significant results (and darn fun gaming) time and time again.

    The critical moment in tactical movement comes when your squad has reached the closest possible cover to the enemy target. Here you must hold your men in position until allied forces warrant a final assault on the target. A lack of support will require a change of objective. It is better to be late to the party than dead at the party.

    I find the use of smoke to be a vital tool for helping the troops move forward when under fire (see the video example below).

    /end of draft.
    Last edited by E-Male; 06-10-2013, 08:35 AM.

  • #2
    Re: Squad and Platoon Management in Virtual Environments: Best Practices

    New material:

    This guide addresses beginner to intermediate level issues. Its primary audience is the members of the Planetside 2 (PS2) community. All other players of PS2 may also benefit from the advice offered herein.

    Management of team members in a virtual environment is not completely synonymous with management and leadership in real world situations. The standard operating procedures and best practices outlined herein do not attempt to replicate real world military operations, nor do they aspire to a rigorous standard of military simulation.

    The general tactics of attack and defence are discussed in the following pages but this guide does not present specific advice on how to attack or defend a particular target. Advice regarding specific roles, kits, vehicles, or weapons are not included herein. The focus here is on how to lead troops in a virtual military gaming environment and manage squad members, squad leaders, and platoon operations.

    All military operations are based upon certain standard operating procedures (SOPs) that assist leaders as they strive to organize their team, communicate and execute their plans, and achieve their objectives. It is these issues of SOPs, organization, communication, and execution that provide the focus for Squad and Platoon Management in Virtual Environments. The success or failure of leadership is directly tied to the personal mastery of SOPs, organization, communication, and execution.


    • #3
      Re: Squad and Platoon Management in Virtual Environments: Best Practices

      I have created a web site, for archiving the best of my example and training videos and housing the downloadable document Squad and Platoon Management in Virtual Environments.

      I will continue to post draft sections and major updates to the guide in this thread.

      Comments welcome!


      • #4
        Re: Squad and Platoon Management in Virtual Environments: Best Practices

        Added the following text:

        Management of team members in a virtual environment is not completely synonymous with management and leadership in real world situations. The standard operating procedures and best practices outlined herein are inspired by real-world military operations yet this guide does not slavishly replicate a rigorous standard of military simulation.

        Many aspects of warfare are simply not found in virtual warfare. Thus virtual warfare cannot be conducted as if it was a complete replication of an authentic battlefield. In the virtual environment your avatar never dies and neither does your enemy. This lack of death makes the psychology of virtual warfare different than real-world evaluations of gain, loss, rick, and threat.


        • #5
          Re: Squad and Platoon Management in Virtual Environments: Best Practices

          Updated version (0.21) now available.

          Added small section on "Leading a Platoon," reproduced below:


          Leading a Platoon:
          Asserting Control

          Assigning the movement, position, tasks, and objectives of a squad is the prerogative of the platoon leader. Within this prerogative the platoon leader relegates a great deal of authority and autonomy to the squad leader, which the squad leader will exercise over his squad members.

          The platoon leader must assert a sense of order and control. Squad leaders and troops will take their cues from the general tone set by leadership. This control must be gently exercised, as people’s feelings must always be taken into account. There is no need to call attention to every error that you may witness. You yourself will be making your own share of command errors. When confronted with a squad that is incorrect in its actions the platoon leader should call a squad back into position. A polite repetition of your last order is helpful at this point as it will provide the squad leader any missed information. In some instances it is also fine to simply confirm the already-taken action.

          Squad leaders should not move off an assigned position. Such actions undermine command and can create copycat behaviour. The correct procedure sees the squad leader open communication with the platoon leader and recommend the desired action.

          The platoon leader must ensure that squad leaders understand that they are required to ask for permission before acting. A mass of independent action cannot be managed. It is the platoon leader’s assertion of control over action that makes a group of squads function as a single entity. This assertion of control is enacted through the coordination of all units within the platoon. This assertion of control is in turn delegated to squad leaders who enforce their need for order upon squad members.

          Control, when exercised inappropriately, creates a structure that is too rigid and slow to adapt to change. An insufficient amount of control leads to a loss of mutually-supported collective action. Platoon leaders negotiate between the needs of the group and will of individuals. Collective action requires that the individual be secondary to the group. The platoon leader brings the platoon into being by asserting command over the individual and creating the conditions for group action. This creates a context of interdependence: squads depend on a commander to create a platoon and the platoon leader depends upon squad leaders to achieve objectives.

          Squad are small parts of a larger structure. The platoon leader 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. While squads to have their domain of autonomous action this autonomy is constrained by the needs of the platoon to act collectively. Squads must not move independently without first consulting with the platoon leader.

          The precise control of squads in not micromanagement. It is an essential strategy that assures cohesion between squads and coordinated action within the platoon. One squad moving off their position without clearance may be placing other units in dire danger and undermining the force-ratio of the platoon.

          The positioning and movement of elements within the platoon is the prerogative of the platoon leader. Sometimes a squad may be designated an area of operation (“inside these walls”), sometimes the order may be very specific (“the north side of this ridge”). Precise positioning and control does not rule out innovation and initiative from the squad leaders. Effective control of a platoon does not reduce squad leaders to mindless pawns but integrates their knowledge and actions into a larger structure – the coordinated group .

          One must distinguish between layers of defense and attack and provide supporting logistics accordingly. One layer is your most resilient with highest fire power --tanks. Supporting the front line is also infantry, which may be forward, along side, or behind the tank squad. Behind or on a safe flank of the tank squad is the final support line of an AMS/AMMO/REPAIR Sunderer station. A defense or assault that is not adequately layered presents the enemy with a target that can be easily overwhelmed. A layered structure is more resilient.

          Precision control of a platoon is not enacted out of distrust, nor can it be replaced by simply trusting that the units of the platoon will somehow all work in a cohesive manner. Priorities have to be established and continually adjusted. Objectives have to be continually defined and redefined. The will of the platoon leader must be asserted. Trust does not fulfill the role of making these decisions, communicating the decisions, coordinating various actions, and maintaining cohesion.

          Specialization and Differentiation

          Cohesion within a squad and differentiation between squads is vitally important to maintain. One way to achieve this is through squad specialization.

          Infantry and armour squads should specialize in their specific forms and roles. This specialization of a fighting unit creates greater cohesion and simplifies the squad leader’s tasks. Having created specialized units, the platoon leader must (with few exceptions) keep these units focused on the same objective. Each specialized squad benefits from the other squad's specialization. Removing a specialized squad from a common theatre or objective shared by the other squads undermines the strategic advantage gained via specialization.

          Other issues:
          • Encourage squad leaders to act in an advisory capacity.
          • Provide squad leaders with briefings on objectives.
          • Leadership is easier to exert within an environment defined by a common set of values and conventions.
          • A launching area should be used to group up all squads prior to moving into contact with the enemy. The launching area must be secure and out of enemy range.
          • The lead element for approaching a hostile objective should be the armour squad as tanks are limited in terms of terrain. They cannot go everywhere. The platoon leader should confer with the armour squad leader as to the appropriate target.
          • Use armour for protecting the Sunderers when moving from point to point.
          • Use Infantry for close quarter combat and assaults on buildings.
          • Regarding the Sunderer and proximity: A Sunderer is seen as a very high value target and it gives away the position of troops. Keep Sunderers back and away from the front line. Exceptions to this exist such as when the front line is distant from the target. In this type of situation the Sunderer may remain very close to tanks and troops.
          • Platoon and squad leaders need to consider the issue of competency when considering tactical choices.
          • A platoon leader needs to combine the demands of the virtual battlefield with the real-life consideration of troop moral.
          • A platoon is at its strongest when it is acting as a cohesive unit against a shared objective.
          Last edited by E-Male; 07-01-2013, 04:42 AM.


          • #6
            Re: Squad and Platoon Management in Virtual Environments: Best Practices

            I am closing this thread as the title "Best Practices" presumes too much. The revisions to the document "Squad and Platoon Management in Virtual Environments" will be announced in a new thread.

            I do not wish to imply that my way is the best way!




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