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Close Air Support (CAS) Guide for INFANTRY Squad and Platoon Leaders (WIP)

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  • [GUIDE] Close Air Support (CAS) Guide for INFANTRY Squad and Platoon Leaders (WIP)

    Since I have been in server, it seems we have functioned mostly as an infantry outfit, with a few aircraft operating here and there. I have been making an effort to build up the air corps within TG, and I am happy to report that at this time we are running an air squad almost every night. Soon I think we will be running as a separate air platoon, in order to free up Delta squad for more infantry on the ground, as well as employing more numbers of aircraft in better delineated squads within the air platoon itself. The air platoon would then be under the command of a separate air platoon leader, who is in turn under the umbrella of the primary (infantry) platoon leader, with co-ordination to take place in our TeamSpeak PS2 command channel.

    With our increased use of air, I have noticed that sometimes we have been called upon by the infantry SL/PLs to perform feats that are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to accomplish. Aircraft can certainly add a lot to our forces on the ground, but we are not invincible and omnipotent. Some of the more experienced pilots, when they PL (BigGaayAl, Xen) innately understand the limitations and proper application of our air wing, but this guide is more for those SL/PLs who maybe have not flown as much, so that they may understand the correct applications of, and therefore employ, our Close Air Support to the greatest effect. In short, the air wing and the infantry must work together. As Cyntech from AACE was explaining to me last night (he dropped into our Delta air squad for a bit), "the air wing is the hammer that will smash our enemy upon the anvil of our infantry."

    Aircraft are Fragile and Expensive

    This is one of the first concepts that I try to impress upon all of my pilots, I say it repeatedly in our air squad, especially to new guys. But it must also be understood by the infantry based SL/PL(s).

    By fragile, I mean that a single aircraft can be shot down easily. But there is safety in numbers. This is why I always form a separate air squad (soon to be platoon) and try and keep all my aircraft together operating in the same area in order to give us the greatest chances at survivability. Please allow me to do this, and do not order me to spread my air cover too thin, by splitting them up across objectives, or calling for a CAS strike 2 territories away from where we are currently operating. That only results in more downed pilots, and then we cannot be of any assistance at all to anybody. As we get better (more skilled pilots, as well as organizationally) I think maybe we can do this, but not at the present time.

    On a related note, while we are there to support the infantry, the infantry SLs are not directly in charge of the air assets. Please put your requests for CAS through the proper channels. What are those channels? Well, with us operating two infantry platoons plus a dedicated air platoon, I am still working that out to be honest (see more below under Command & Control section).

    Enemy AA threats (towers, burster MAXes, dual AA Sundies) can take out our aircraft quickly if not dealt with. I would ask that infantry squads on the ground please do their best to prioritize and eliminate enemy AA concentrations. Once this is done, we can rule the skies and easily take out their sundies / tanks / infantry / whatever.

    By expensive, I mean not only in terms of air resources, but also cooldown timers. Therefore, I always urge my pilots to be conservative in the employment of said assets. I ask that infantry SL/PLs please also do the same. What this means is, sometimes we will not be able to reach the target you have called us in to eliminate, it may be too hot (too much enemy AA).

    But it also means, please don't ask me to hurry up and pull a Gal for a quick one time insertion. Gals cost 350 air resources, so if I pull one I am not going to be doing anything else for a while. Also, it takes time to organize fighter escorts and gunners for each Gal, etc. I love to do air transport / insertions (it is one of my favorite things in fact) but please just let me know if you are wanting to do that and I will be happy to set up a proper air transport squad within the air platoon. It will just take me a few minutes to organize though. And, after doing so I would hope that you would like us to persist and provide transportation to other squad(s), perhaps in leapfrogging fashion (see also Randy's Guide to Airborne Infantry Operations at the Platoon Level).

    Theater Selection

    When PLing, it is important to select territorial targets that will allow a contiguous blue (friendly) airspace over which we can operate (including returning to repair & rearm). When we operate too close to enemy held territories on too many sides, we cannot operate effectively due to too much AA firing on us from all of the adjoining territories. Enemy tower AA can shoot very far, sometimes 2 territories away and can be lethal to aircraft. Whenever a peninsula of enemy territory juts into our blue area, it creates a dangerous situation for our pilots who may inadvertently fly near enough while RTBing (Returning To Base) or engaging the enemy (dogfighting) to get shot down.

    In the picture below, the green waypoint at center is Delta (air) squad's base of operations (tower). We are already operating with enemies on 3 sides of us, but the infantry PL has decided to attack the Mekala Tech Plant to the north, driving even further into enemy territory. Every time we move back and forth to the objective, or are on station above it for that matter, we are potentially taking flak from all sides. It is extremely difficult for our air wing to operate under these conditions.

    A better approach would have been to first take the two or three red territories to the west and northwest of the green marker, as well as the two purple territories to the east and northeast, before finally moving on the Tech Plant itself. This not only allows enough friendly (blue) territiory to operate over, it will also help with the capturing of the Tech Plant itself as it will then have more adjacency.

    Command & Control

    This I have not exactly worked out yet, particularly at the level of coordinating between two infantry platoons (which we will be operating here soon enough) and the air platoon. Obviously, TeamSpeak will be needed. And we should be in a separate command channel from those idling in the regular PS2 channel. But should their be a third, separate air support channel? If we do all our calls for air support in the command channel, it may get to be too much chatter for the 2 infantry PLs, who each have their own SLs to listen to within their respective platoons. But is it too much trouble to change channels in TS in order to coordinate air strikes? I know hotkeys can be set in TS that will change channel.

    Also, how to issue the call for CAS itself? Remember, we will be in separate platoons, and therefore unable to see colored numbers of infantry members. All of our infantry will just look like blueberries to the air platoon. Perhaps the infantry SLs calling for air strike can place smoke? Everyone in our faction could see that on the map, I am not sure how far it renders though as far as the aircraft are concerned.

    One thing that I may start doing is traveling along with the infantry on the ground, at or near (slightly behind) the front lines as the air PL. This would allow me to not only remain more situationally aware of the current battle, but also to mark targets with our air platoon marker, which would be a lot easier for my pilots to see. Perhaps I will look for the smoke that the infantry SLs put down in my area, and then update the air platoon mark to the target and call in the strike? I would like to do some experimenting with figuring out what is the best way in game. Please let me know if you are interested in helping me out with this.

    In Closing

    Well, that is all I have come up with for now. I don't claim to be an authority on air ops, I am learning as I go. I would also like to give credit to those who have come before me in trying to organize air ops here within TG, as well as some of the AACE guys that I have just met but I am hopeful of learning more from in regards to air ops. As we learn more in game and elsewhere, I will continue to update this guide.
    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw

  • #2
    Re: Close Air Support (CAS) Guide for INFANTRY Squad and Platoon Leaders (WIP)

    While I was writing this, some discussion about coordination on the multi platoon level already broke out in this week's Friday night fights disscussion thread. So I have taken the liberty of quoting those posts below so that we can continue that discussion in this thread, where I feel it is more appropriate.

    Originally posted by eD_ru$h View Post
    One thing to keep in mind when putting air in a second platoon is that the air guys have no way of telling exactly where the friendly outfit squads are. Since the battle field updates so fast, by the time air would get to where the groundpounders are they would be gone. This is the experience we had when we tried this on Esamir about a month ago. Having an air squad in an infantry platoon is better in my opinion for this reason. Maybe have an air squad attached to each platoon if we get that many people who want to fly. I think it would be a burden on the Company Commander to have to constantly update an airsquad on outfit squad locations, enemy targets, and hostile counters.

    If there is just one airsquad for each platoon then the Company commander can direct the platoon leaders, and air needs can be allocated along that chain. I know when I took over communicating with the air platoon on that night it was hard to keep them updated, and they were pretty much neglected by the PL the whole night.
    Originally posted by Toddshooter View Post
    Ah yes I remember I was in the Air platoon that night. Your right it was hard to keep all on the same targets. hhhhmmmm putting my thinking cap back on.
    Originally posted by eD_ru$h View Post
    Another option might be to have an Air commander in the infantry platoon so that he knows where the friendly squads are operating. He would get real time updates and then relay them to the air platoon leader. He would also fly with the air platoon. The air platoon leader can then set markers based on the air commanders input.
    Originally posted by Toddshooter View Post
    Another way to do it is not have CAS per se but a general Air element over the Infanties objective. Have the Air in a seperate Platoon and just give them the infantries next objective then the Air can attack as they see fit. If I'm platoon leading I think I could manage this, So others should have no problems at all :-)
    My thoughts are to keep the air platoon separate so they can all stay together for survivability reasons (strength in numbers, as outlined in my Guide, above). Although I do see your point. I guess I will need to think on this some more as well. As I said, it's a work in progress.
    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw


    • #3
      Re: Close Air Support (CAS) Guide for INFANTRY Squad and Platoon Leaders (WIP)

      There are going to be times when an infantry platoon leader will be engaged and unable to coordinate air. This is where the value of knowing where all those green, orange, purple, and white dots are on the map comes into play. An air commander can use these breaks in communication efficiently by designating his own objectives within the infantry platoon's area of operations until COMS are established again. Keep in mind that my level of experience with this is only from that night when I helped coordinate an air platoon with an infantry platoon. I am by no means an expert or a pilot for that matter. This should obviously be trialed by interested parties until a correct SOP is established.

      Never Beat Ninja Gaiden


      • #4
        Re: Close Air Support (CAS) Guide for INFANTRY Squad and Platoon Leaders (WIP)

        Galaxy transports:

        Agreed. If needed quickly, and/or is a one-time deal, this is better performed by members of the infantry squad. They have the resources to spare, they understand the situation best, gunners are apparently not required and the pilot is disposable or free to bail. A dedicated Air squad should only be called on for dedicated roles.

        Theatre selection:

        If I may say, first and foremost this thread is to help give an understanding from a perspective most of our regular leaders are not accustomed to, so the PL should not feel singled out for the example.

        Also, Randy, the base at the squad way point doesn't have an air pad. I remember you pointing out that we could use Granite Valley(?), West of Xelas Bio Lab for rearming, but it may be too close to the front line and unsafe.

        This is utterly critical in understanding things from a pilot's perspective, without which your Air support can become entirely neutered and useless. Randy makes the point well in one paragraph.

        I would add that not only can the enemy Anti-Air, and Air Forces, easily see and shoot you from surrounding territories but, given the inherent speed involved in flying, during the start of a battle both sides end up in surrounding territory as often (if not more so) than the actual objective. This makes sense, as enemy forces will be concentrated where the main fight is, thus aircraft should only attempt hit and run tactics until they enjoy both Air superiority and enemy AA has been eliminated. At which point, with near impunity for the aircraft circling above, the battle will likely be yours.*

        To what extent surrounding territory affects Air combat also depends on the type of base (how many AA turrets it has, whether it can spawn Air vehicles) and the geography. Making sure you own adjacent territory with significant cover for Air Forces (I.E. mountainous areas) will make escaping Line-Of-Sight much easier and safer. Conversely, if in enemy hands, their aircraft and AA will use the height and protection to get closer before they're seen and, for aircraft, to fall back to.

        Pushing deep into enemy territory with Air support is sometimes doable, but it's heavily dependent on further considerations. You should really only attempt it when the odds are stacked in your favor - your aircraft significantly outnumbering theirs, the same for pilot skill, and the same for (mobile) anti-Air cover. You''ll need at least 2 of these, and even then it'd make for an interesting fight given the defenders have the advantage. All 3 and you're good to go. For this reason, I think it best to always ask the Air squad/platoon leader whether Air support is feasible while planning such attacks.

        *Indeed, from our talk with Cyntech, he explained how the AACE outfit as a whole is geared toward the goal of Air supremacy. Those that do operate on the ground tend to focus on tasks that help their Air assets; apart from a dedicated AA team, the infantry prioritise and knock out enemy AA targets, followed by Sunderers, before working on objectives. Of course, they specialise due to low numbers, relying on the rest of the NC force whom naturally go for objectives. In TG's case, we should have enough squads to work on both simultaneously, and redirect efforts as needed.

        Anecdote From The Attack On Mekala Tech:

        On the way to Mekala, myself and a squad mate (SnipeyMcSnipes, non-TG, friended as he did an awesome job of responding to my targets) took out a lone lightning at the Western edge of Splitpeak Pass. Originally I wanted to make sure it wasn't a Skyguard. Subsequently, we ended up in multiple dogfights in a row before we could move on. These planes were not to be ignored, as they were entirely within viewing distance of the Mekala SE tower and would be attacking from our rear. I did note, however, that there seemed to be no ground forces.

        Later on, with a Scythe chasing me away from Mekala, I aimed for the closest rocks. I knew this would take me over Splitpeak, but it seemed I would die otherwise so I risked it. Unfortunately, once on the other side, I was taken down by an AA Max somewhere in the vicinity. This is the opposite of an ideal situation. Friendly territory, and hopefully AA, should be at our rear.

        Alternate Strategy:

        Discussing what could have been done instead can very quickly become theory crafting. I'd rather focus on what situations are reasonable, and optimal for Air assets to operate. In that context, that seems like a lot of hexes to take, Randy. I think very simply taking Splitpeak Pass before moving onto Mekala would've avoided putting the aircraft in undue risk. It switches enemy territory at our back to friendly, as well as providing a buffer for Xelas Bio Lab and Granite Valley which should make them safe for closer rearm stations.

        Even if we had Splitpeak though, flying conditions could vary between workable and not. Getting caught between significant TR on the left and VS on the right would not go well, particularly given the rocks to the West allowing planes to get closer before spotted, and escape more safely. I don't think we had much of an issue to either side at the time, but if we had I would simply suggest focusing on one enemy at a time.

        [In my experience, Raven's landing (west of squad way point), can generally be ignored as it doesn't provide much of a staging area for a significant force and is usually taken as an afterthought.]

        |TG-Irr| MrJengles - You know you want to say it out loud.


        • #5
          Re: Close Air Support (CAS) Guide for INFANTRY Squad and Platoon Leaders (WIP)


          I am starting to see the wisdom in what you wrote (i.e. Delta air squad in each platoon). My only concern would be, is that enough pilots to support one another? I think yes, 10 or so pilots could give you 2-3 Liberators plus 4 Reavers to cover them, more if the squad was full at 12 men (that is assuming 2 operators per Liberator, with gunners alternating between #2 and #3 positions). Of course the composition would vary based on available pilots, what they like to fly, and what upgraded aircraft are available.

          Al started 2d Platoon the other night with an Air squad, and it was a little harder to let him know where we were. As opposed to the other night when you started 2d Platoon with an infantry squad (which later became 2 infantry squads). The way we did it was just to coordinate our activities so that we did not bring both platoons to the same place (or did, in the case of multiple enemy platoons).

          Therefore I think I may be starting to lean in the direction of a Delta air squad in each platoon, as long as there are enough pilots available (i.e., 2d platoon may not have the luxury of a dedicated Air squad). That way each platoon can move around as a complete unit. In fact, I have started to think about maybe rolling with a dedicated Armor squad even (Charlie?), but that may be a topic for another thread.


          Yes in no way was I trying to single out a particular PL. Not by a longshot. I was simply trying to illustrate a general point in regards to trying to keep contiguous areas of blue on the map, in order that the aircraft can operate more effectively. Which is only one consideration amongst many that a PL has to deal with.
          "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw


          • #6
            Re: Close Air Support (CAS) Guide for INFANTRY Squad and Platoon Leaders (WIP)

            I wanted to follow up with you thanks for getting on my case for not being on the forums recently randy.

            When we wrote the deployment thread and CAS guide I sat down with cagedminds a military vet and me a ex-military student of military history and played through Literally hundreds of scenarios trying to decide what the best deployment was and the mechanisms for how that worked. I'm not trying to say we know better or thought of everything but I do feel confident that there is a best practice that is adaptable enough for most situations.

            Part of that is being able to adapt by changing weapons and technology as the situation requires. On the ground that means having a resupply point nearby. In the air that means keeping your planes alive when the situation isn't favorable and paying attention to resources. I noticed someone above mentioned the problem of ending up in surrounding territory. I mentioned in the guide the T-Tactic. This has become my go-to maneuver and operating procedure for every air situation and should be engrained in our heads as to how we do things. Randy you got the wave and shake down really well last night and we got to practice how you can avoid enemy fire keep your guns on target and not end up flying around at 180 into enemy territory. We do need to once and for all determine which air-frame most suits a safe air squads tactics.

            Alternatives to the figure 8's described in the guide are the High G air-frame and simply jumping up and down with minimal right to left. This is simple and decently effective but it's hard to keep your guns on target.

            The Wave where you basically nose up and face your belly at the target then juke left and right.

            Both maneuvers are fairly easy to teach.

            I'm burying the lead but the MOST IMPORTANT SINGLE FACTOR in air survival has nothing to do with the air squad. It seems that by now you have all figured out that separate air platoons are not that effective what we are forgetting is the importance of the king of the battlefield. Artillery.
            Air cannot shoot anything that doesn't render. Their bullets just end at about 800 meters. Tanks and emplacements can shoot much farther. In addition, armor can provide a solid base of friendly AA.
            The functionality goes like this.

            CAS set's a comfortable line away from the objective and resolve not to cross it to avoid losses from AA.

            The armor squad set's up at a similar distance protected by CAS and takes out offending towers and AA emplacements. In general they get the flak down to a tolerable level say 1 or two sources of AA fire which are fairly quickly cut off by fire (think turrets being repaired and then destroyed or burster maxes being pushed back into buildings quickly.

            Then the CAS can move in to a closer more comfortable point and mop up enemy units outside. The infantry platoons then have a much, much easier time of clearing out the enemy. If done right and as the PL your don't invest too much in micro managing it makes for one scary, scary, effective fighting unit.

            Any time a CAS member get's chased down by some enemy air they just fly over the armor and call for help.

            We simply do not use armor correctly. It should be a base of fire on a ridge somewhere not an assault vehicle someone randomly picks up.

            As for what to do with the second platoon. The second company should in my opinion always be a flying company. meaning that they move quickly strike fast and don't stay long. Though having GALs do most of the transport does make them very fast. The flying company should basically have loose standing orders to take smaller surrounding points and kill enemies they find floating around and return to support the primary company when necessary. When assaulting big targets they are the ones keeping the various outlying points capped and cleared. They are the ones harrying the enemy as they approach to push you off the point your trying to capture. They are the ones running to each little hamlet around an amp station and capping it while the big one's timer ticks away. That is the way to use them and they should have their own independent air and armor squad. If for some reason there is a ton of enemy air just bring both platoons together and attack.

            P.S. I still can't edit my original CAS guide is there any way to get permissions for that ?

            Everything is a system, Break it down.




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