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The Platoon Leader as Platoon Trainer

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  • The Platoon Leader as Platoon Trainer

    Some thoughts on the rôle of the platoon leader:

    The Platoon Leader as Platoon Trainer
    Platoon leading in virtual warfare environments involves organizing and managing a team that is constituted by an extremely wide range of players, from the “newbie” recruit to the seasoned veteran of real-world militaries. The constituent members of the platoon will also vary from day-to-day, moment-to-moment, and battlefield to battlefield, thus the platoon leader must be engaged in constant “on-the-spot” training of squad leaders and troops so as to get the structure and actions desired. Effective platoon leaders communicate expectations and train troops in basic standard operating procedures.

    Effective platoons are the result of continual training that takes place in both standardized and improvisational forms. In effect, the platoon leader plays the role of a “drill sergeant” and functions as the platoon trainer. Leadership and training become inextricably combined on the virtual battlefield.
    Training is manifested by example, explanation, and gentle reminders. Communicating your expectations and teaching squad leaders basic operating procedures must not be done in manner that overwhelms communication networks (channels), takes an excessive amount of time, or assumes too much of your troops. Many common problems within a platoon tend to arise from a lack of attention to this informal training process.
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  • #2
    Re: The Platoon Leader as Platoon Trainer

    My thinking is that the training aspect of being a PL should, in an ideal scenario, actually be substantially smaller than that of the SLs. The SL is responsible for a smaller number of individual squad members and will be in direct contact with the pubbie members most likely to need instruction, and so are better situated for training them than the PL who, in all likelyhood, won't even be in direct contact with any of them. In a platoon in which all squad leaders are experienced TG regulars, then the PL's training role shouldn't be more extensive than providing friendly reminders to the SLs and setting a good example on comms. It gets a bit muddier when some of the SLs are greener and might require more hand holding.

    Thinking about training more generally... my observation is that the best training occurs by example. For instance, let's take a TG air squad: there communication burden in an air squad is pretty hefty, since there's a lot going on, the situation is fluid, and it's easy to overwhelm the comms. As such, we've developed some basic conventions for communication to cut down on chatter. For example:

    "Charlie 3 RTB" - Charlie 3 returning to base for ammo and repair.
    "Scythe spotted to the northeast, low" - Target callout with direction from marker
    "Delta 4 being chased, south of marker over tech plant" - Call for assistance with direction and landmark information

    Basic stuff, and perhaps not as formalized or concise as we could make it, but super helpful nonetheless.

    When the more experienced air squad members make good, consistent use of these conventions, the new people in the squad tend to pick them up pretty quick. Same deal with some of the teamwork elements. If I call out for assistance with a Mossie on my six and someone else explicitly calls out that they're coming to assist, it reinforces how to properly support one another. Even more importantly, it lets people know that teamwork is happening! It's not enough to work as a team, but to be SEEN working as a team. Newbies will play ball with you if they have an example to follow.

    This also implies that there's a significant training burden on experienced members as well as the SL. Experienced squad members should lead by example and try to be visible in doing so (IE, don't just be a good team player, let everyone know you're being a good team player). I'd be willing to bet that sort of subtle teaching tool will be substantially more effective than any top-down education the squad or platoon leads will be capable of doing.

    Hmm. I think I rambled a bit. Whoops.



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    • #3
      Re: The Platoon Leader as Platoon Trainer

      Originally posted by starstriker1 View Post
      My thinking is that the training aspect of being a PL should, in an ideal scenario, actually be substantially smaller than that of the SLs.
      I could not agree more! The PL MUST keep the command comm channel as clear as possible for SLs to manage their troops and execute their orders.

      The PL trains the SL, the SL trains the squad members. Similar functions but different domains of responsibility and concerns.


      Originally posted by starstriker1 View Post
      It's not enough to work as a team, but to be SEEN working as a team. Newbies will play ball with you if they have an example to follow.
      This is exactly what BigGaayAl was suggesting when he was arguing for differentiation -- it has a visible manifestation. It sends signals to the rest of the platoon.

      Good ramble!

      Ramble on . . .
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