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  • [INFO] HOW TO: Assign Callsigns

    CALLSIGN ASSIGNMENT 101

    By: Lord Fuzzywiggles
    :3


    I. INTRODUCTION
    There are many different ideologies as to how to assign callsigns, who assigns them, how far down to assign callsigns, and what format they should follow -- the following document will give a generic overview of what I use and what works for me. I cannot promise this is what the military uses, nor what law enforcement agencies use, but it is what works for me and since OPSEC is a non-issue TVT notwithstanding this format should allow a degree of uniformity and, in my opinion, become an integral part of the TG ArmA SOP.

    II. TEAM COMPOSITION

    To first understand the idea behind this format, you must understand the basic composition of the standard United States Army unit(s) from, at the very least, the Company level downward.

    A COMPANY consists of THREE TO FOUR PLATOONS.
    PLATOONS consist of THREE TO FOUR SQUADS.
    SQUADS consist of TWO TO FOUR FIRETEAMS.
    FIRETEAMS consist of TWO BUDDY TEAMS.

    For ArmA's purposes, a light (non-mechanised) infantry SQUAD is two fireteams (8 soldiers) plus a Squad Leader (SL). What this means is the standard light infantry platoon is three squads of two fireteams (or 6 fireteams) which is, in total, 27 soldiers (24 FT members + 3 SL).

    Good luck keeping track of 27 people individually!

    III. FORMATTING

    The idea is to explain exactly who you are and where you are assigned through an alphanumeric callsign. The format for this is very simple to understand and is rather intuitive in practice.

    Format for your callsign goes from the "top down".
    • Company
    • Platoon
    • Squad
    • Fireteam
    • Unit


    For the purposes of ArmA 2 and TG, where missions rarely exceed the Platoon level, your "full-form" callsign will begin with what platoon you are in, numerically. For most, if not all, missions, this number is "1".

    In the platoon, we know it will divide into three squads at minimum from the overview section, right? Where you are in the platoon decides what number you have. A member of the first squad in the platoon is assigned 1. A member of the second squad is assigned 2, and so on. Assuming you are in the second squad, your callsign so far is "1-2"

    Now, as a member of the second squad, first platoon, you are assigned a fireteam. Let's say you are second squad's first fireteam's designated marksman. Since a squad has up to 4 fireteams, and we know that a fireteam is two 2-man groups, you get to add a letter to designate what FT and what position you are in (1-4 to denote your place in the fireteam). For a SDM, I'd assign you #3. So your callsign is now:
    1-2-3A Alternatively...1-2-A 3

    If a standard fireteam is "R, AR, GR, R", I always assign the numbers in the following order unless "R" is an ammo-bearer or similarly complementary unit - 1, 2, 4, 3. In that case, 2 and 4 are always buddies, and 1 and 3 are always buddies.

    Pretty simple, right?

    IV. ABBREVIATED CALLSIGNS
    Obviously every time you get on the radio, you don't want to have to say "ROUGHNECK WUN TOO THREE ALPHA to ROUGHNECK WUN WUN WUN ALPHA, MESSAGE. OVER."
    It only makes sense that you should abbreviate to the lowest necessary alphanumeric portion of your callsign so everyone you are speaking with knows who you are and who you are attached to.
    • BUDDY-TO-BUDDY: Generally local chat, no callsign necessary. It is encouraged to use players' names when speaking one-on-one locally.
    • BUDDY-TO-FT: Just use your FT position and FT, so "Bravo 1" if you are Bravo FTL and so on.
      Example traffic "Alpha 2, SET." "3A, 1A, I've got movement in my sector."
    • FTL-TO-SL: Your FT and unit number, SL's squad (if necessary) and 6, since 6 is the CO for a unit.
      "1A to Roughneck 1-6." "Bravo 1 to 6."
    • SL-to-PL: Platoon if necessary, otherwise your squad number and 6.
      "Roughneck 1-6 to Roughneck 5 (XO)." "Roughneck 2-6 to Roughneck 6."


    The reverse applies downward. Only give as much information as necessary to appropriately identify yourself to higher-ranking units. As a SL or PL, it's impossible for me to remember who is assigned where, so having your callsign properly called on the radio is invaluable.

    Furthermore, when you need a status report, all units can report in numerical order like they are supposed to, instead of stepping all over each other on the radio. Cha-ching! Double whammy.


    V. CALLSIGNS THAT STAY THE SAME

    For the purposes of the format that I use, there are a number of callsign numbers that do not change under any circumstances. They are as follows:
    Platoon Lead -- (c/s) 7
    Commanding Officer (CO) - (c/s) 6
    Executive Officer (XO) - (c/s) 5

    Now, if we were operating at a multi-platoon level, the Platoon lead's actual callsign would become "(c/s) 1-6 or 2-6" to denote they are the leader (6) of the first platoon (1). Their superior officer would be "(c/s) 6" which means Squads would then have to be referred to as "Roughneck 1-1-6" or "1-3-6" but since we don't deal with that many players, everything above here works just fine.

    VI. BUT WHAT IF MY 6 GOES DOWN?

    Don't panic. It's a pretty simple process. If you can do maths, you can figure out what happens.

    The squad is as follows:
    1-2-6
    1-2-A 1 (w/ FT)
    1-2-B 1 (w/ FT)
    1-2-C 1 (w/ FT)

    Let's say you're 1-2-A 1, FT1's lead, and your SL takes a nasty 7.62 to the face and you retrieve his radio. Your traffic will be simple. Give your full-form c/s to Platoon Lead, and say you are your squad's new 6.

    FTL->SL
    "Roughneck 1-6, THIS IS Roughneck 1-2-A 1. Roughneck 1-2-6 is down. I am Roughneck 1-2's new 6. BREAK. ACE report to follow. Over."
    FTM->FTL
    "Roughneck 2-6, THIS IS Roughneck 1-2-B2. Roughneck 1-2-B1 is down. I am taking command of Bravo Element."

    QUESTIONS?

    If there's something you don't understand, or something I can explain in more detail, please do not hesitate to post here and I will attempt to clarify it for you!

    Thanks for reading!

  • #2
    Re: HOW TO: Assign Callsigns

    Thats a lotta stuff on one cheeseburger...

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: HOW TO: Assign Callsigns

      I can't stress enough how important it is to use a structured system, that uses the K.I.S.S. method, to organize a team. The call sign system that fuzzy has laid out I have experience first hand and I've fallen in love with it. It keeps a squad organized without the need of remembering each and every persons' name off the top of your head.

      [EDIT]

      Fuzzy, would you mind if I incorporated this into my Comm's & Sig's guide I am currently writing, and if possible, could I get the BB Code formatting you used for later use in possible incorporating into a forum based instance of the guide?
      Last edited by ZephyrDark; 03-27-2012, 11:29 PM.
      Blackpython / ZephyrDark
      Former 31st RECCE Member

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: HOW TO: Assign Callsigns

        As efficient as a system it is Fuzzy, I personally find it to be too much, atleast on 343s. When we were playing patrol ops the other day and you had the squad set up using this system, I think maybe one or two people actually used it.

        I even wrote my callsign down because there was no way in hell i was going to remember it. And when you were trying to contact me I didnt even realize it because I forgot that i was assigned a specific call sign. It wasnt until you called me by name over the 343 that I knew you were talking to me. I really dont think its necessary to have a structured radio set up for 343s especially if its just for one squads use. I could see it maybe being needed if you had more than one fire team/squad on the same frequency.

        That being said, on a large scale basis I could definitely see a structured set up as a necessity. While there is nothing wrong with using the call signs assigned to a squad by command (raptor for example), being a bit more realistic with call signs couldn't hurt. Primarily though, only use by command elements, CAS/Armor, Squad leads and FTLs because they all use long range radios (for the most part anyways) and proper identification over long rage channels is very important.
        sigpic


        Do you really want invincible bears running around raping your churches and burning your women?

        Intel i7 3930k @ 4.4ghz, 8gb RAM, 2x GTX 570 1gb, OCZ Vertex 3 120 gig SSD

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: HOW TO: Assign Callsigns

          Joe, I believe why some people are not used to it yet is, well, it isn't used too much. In my personal opinion, I find the system of truncating it down to just 1A, 2A, etc. in the fire team level especially useful. While actual names do not necessarily help when people start going down, numbers like this can help reduce the amount of traffic. Example: the FTL (1A) goes down as well as the second in line for succession (2A), the third in line (3A) gets on the radio and reports as 3A instead of his/her name and states two men are down in his fire team. SL gets the info, understands that since it is 3A reporting, that chances are 1A and 2A are out of action. What tends to happen right now is that we get "John Doe and Jane Smith are down, what do we do?" and the SL tends to be left out of the dark of who it was who went down, who is still up, who is currently in control of the team in question.

          To state simply:
          Raptor 212B is not a necessary call sign when transmitting over a PRR to communicate from fire team to squad leader. It can be simplified to just 2B.
          Also, everyone is entitled to their own system. Players need to remember that they need to be open to adaptation and new ideas for use to cooperate as a team. If you don't understand the exact reasoning for said system, it is suggested you just follow along and ask at a better time than in a middle of a mission.
          Blackpython / ZephyrDark
          Former 31st RECCE Member

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: HOW TO: Assign Callsigns

            I see where you are coming from on this but your example could easily be applied to not using specific call-signs on the FT level. If you got 4 people in a FT, including lead there really is no difference between using alpha numeric call signs over names because as a FTL, you should know who your fire team consists of. Fire teams rarely go over 4-6 people in most missions and if you are someone who needs strict radio structure to be efficient to keep control of their 4-6 man fire team, you may have obsessive compulsive disorder. However, the only way the current way and Fuzzys way differs is when the FTL goes down. I have to admit that the way the situation is to be handled with Fuzzys protocol is quite good. Although, if you just substitute the players name instead of their call-sign its the exact same thing.

            "Squad Lead, THIS IS Gijoe. BlackPython is down. I am FT1s new lead. BREAK. ACE report to follow. Over."

            Its essentially the same thing. It just doesnt look as pretty or organized. However it does the same job and the same information is passed along. If you are a squad leader, it would be good to know who it is behind the call-signs (for me anyways). So the way I see it is, if as a squad lead I have to write down which person is behind a certain call-sign, the call-sign itself is just one more step in the way of passing along information smoothly.

            Im not in the military (yet), and I dont know all the protocols or how they work. But I do know that on squad/personal radios, hardly every is strict radio structure brought into play. Ive got quiet a few friends in both the reserves and reg force that can testify that their personal inter squad radios are anything but structured.

            Dont get me wrong though. Im not hating on stuctured coms, Im just speaking from a fun and smooth gameplay point of view. I seem to be developing a notorious fame for being the indicator of how well a mission is going based on rage quits. Not really a title im proud of but I think it proves a point to a degree. You wont always get people who are totally 100% willing to learn a new thing, and you cant force them to learn it. As a leader, you have to do what you can with what you have. Some people just dont have the drive that others do to go to the same level of tacticool. It doesnt make them any less TG than the hardcore ones and they shouldn't be alienated by those that are.

            I suppose that is where the community divides. Those who play arma to get more tactical play than say PR:BF2 and those that play arma because they want to be true military simulators. TG has to cater to its players, and that doesnt always mean that everyone gets their way or gets what they want. Im willing to give these coms a go simply because if I dont and someones who is lead decides they want to use it, ill be prepared and wont be slowing things down. That being said though, I can guarantee there will be people who wont be as willing to give it a try as I am and will probably get confused or frustrated and have a negative outlook on the whole thing.

            Dont forget there is a thin line between fun and not fun. Where that line is for some is going to be different for others. Basically what Im really trying to say is that if you are going to use Fuzzy's radio protocols, just be aware of the fact that not everyone is a pro and you have to keep things fun for all.
            sigpic


            Do you really want invincible bears running around raping your churches and burning your women?

            Intel i7 3930k @ 4.4ghz, 8gb RAM, 2x GTX 570 1gb, OCZ Vertex 3 120 gig SSD

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: HOW TO: Assign Callsigns

              Say, Chief...did you order bacon with that burger?

              TGU Instructor TG Pathfinder

              Former TGU Dean Former ARMA Admin Former Irregulars Officer

              "Do not seek death. Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment." - Dag Hammarskjold

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: HOW TO: Assign Callsigns

                I have to agree with joe on this one. My needs in gaming are not those I needed for my duties on active service. I am here to relax and have fun gaming with some friends without feeling the need to reenlist. I understand some peoples need for realism and also for good comms but don't get carried away with all this. It is after all a game, recreation, an outlet. If all out mil sim is what you want on Bravo than so be it, just don't expect me to stand at attention and salute when the armchair generals come into the room. (We already get Patton like speeches) Arma did not come with an enlistment contract and I already did my time. You can do tactics and teamwork and have fun without running this by the number and to the letter.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: HOW TO: Assign Callsigns

                  @ low, I am still trying to get it down.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: HOW TO: Assign Callsigns

                    Btw. a documentary I was watching on Afghanistan where there was a casualty being reported on the radio, he said the guys name.... not 1-2-B-1 or whatever, they are people not numbers. Just like we are in the game.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: HOW TO: Assign Callsigns

                      Chief, I know what and where yu are coming from and honestly you are right, when the fubar meets you at anytime everything goes out the window anyway. The points and pointers listed above are all good and could one day bring the comms to the point of BREVITY that is needed. When transmitting on the radio just make it clear, concise, and to the point. Remember, talking on the radio for some or many is new and it will take time to learn how to talk again. The more you practice the easier it will flow.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: HOW TO: Assign Callsigns

                        Excellent write up Fuzzy. Your system is structured top down and easy to understand. I can tell you've thought about it alot and I have seen you use it ingame.

                        My approach is more geared around fire team colors and verbal commands, I would hesitate to complicate things by creating a secondary numbering system at the FT level. Command levels and the platoon net require proper radio discipline for the sake of clear and decipherable communication across distance.

                        Thanks again for the write up.

                        Current ARMA Development Project: No Current Project

                        "An infantryman needs a leader to be the standard against which he can judge all soldiers."

                        Friend of |TG| Chief

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: HOW TO: Assign Callsigns

                          Originally posted by ChiefBoatsRet View Post
                          (We already get Patton like speeches)
                          I love giving those speeches ;)

                          Current ARMA Development Project: No Current Project

                          "An infantryman needs a leader to be the standard against which he can judge all soldiers."

                          Friend of |TG| Chief

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: HOW TO: Assign Callsigns

                            First, I am glad this has started a discussion. That's healthy for the progress of a community.
                            Originally posted by ZephyrDark View Post
                            I can't stress enough how important it is to use a structured system, that uses the K.I.S.S. method, to organize a team. The call sign system that fuzzy has laid out I have experience first hand and I've fallen in love with it. It keeps a squad organized without the need of remembering each and every persons' name off the top of your head.
                            THAT is the benefit. At a Squad level, how many of you can HONESTLY say you remember all 8 of your squad members' names? I'm great with remembering things, and even I can't remember names in a squad without the STHud as a cheat sheet. STHud is for FIRETEAM movement, not squad-level organisation, and that is an important distinction to make.

                            Originally posted by ZephyrDark
                            Fuzzy, would you mind if I incorporated this into my Comm's & Sig's guide I am currently writing, and if possible, could I get the BB Code formatting you used for later use in possible incorporating into a forum based instance of the guide?
                            Not at all. Please just contact me to make sure you understand it all properly.

                            Originally posted by gijoe View Post
                            As efficient as a system it is Fuzzy, I personally find it to be too much, atleast on 343s. When we were playing patrol ops the other day and you had the squad set up using this system, I think maybe one or two people actually used it.
                            You're right, only about 4 used it off the top of my head. SnipingCoward, BL1P, BP, and myself.

                            Originally posted by gijoe
                            I even wrote my callsign down because there was no way in hell i was going to remember it. And when you were trying to contact me I didnt even realize it because I forgot that i was assigned a specific call sign. It wasnt until you called me by name over the 343 that I knew you were talking to me.
                            Do you think that is primarily because you didn't understand the structure? That seems to be the biggest complaint, that people don't understand how I got to each of those callsigns.

                            Also, is it really so hard to replace your name with a designated letter/number (e.g. A1, C3, etc.)? You refer to yourself as GIJOE, which is not your real name. You use it all the time online, you identify yourself with it, you even respond to it when it is called. The only difference is that you chose that alias (callsign/handle) for yourself, as opposed to having one assigned to you, right? It probably took you a while, when you first adopted that name, to immediately respond to it as YOUR name. I know when I first was called "Fuzzywig" I had to stop and register it, like, "Oh. Wait. That was to me."

                            Originally posted by gijoe
                            I really dont think its necessary to have a structured radio set up for 343s especially if its just for one squads use. I could see it maybe being needed if you had more than one fire team/squad on the same frequency.
                            And we do, though, constantly. Squads are generally assigned a net (say 2402MHz), which almost always has two fireteams on it at any given time. Given that 9 people are on the same 2402MHz net, and if I tell you, "I have a civilian planting an IED 500m from my position," what is the next logical question? Who is "I"? After a while, you get used to my voice, sure, but then you factor in signal loss and distortion and suddenly no one sounds like they do normally. The next question after that, for the fireteam I am NOT in is, "Where is that person/fireteam?"

                            It is a common misconception that fireteams always travel together in these tight formations. It's not uncommon for a fireteam to split some hundred or two-hundred metres apart. Further, the structure within a fireteam doesn't get any more complicated than "(A1 A2 A3 A4) (B1 B2 B3 B4) (C1 C2 C3 C4)", which I feel is very simplistic, if not less complicated than remembering 8 names and their positions. With the system above, you know that in a fireteam, 1 is always the FTL who is always buddies with 3. As a FTL that has used this in games many times, I have found it is SO much easier to say, "2 and 4 move out. 1 and 3 are covering." I no longer have to remember a name at all, which makes my time to giving orders that much faster.

                            Originally posted by ChiefBoatsRet View Post
                            I have to agree with joe on this one. My needs in gaming are not those I needed for my duties on active service. I am here to relax and have fun gaming with some friends without feeling the need to reenlist. I understand some peoples need for realism and also for good comms but don't get carried away with all this. It is after all a game, recreation, an outlet. If all out mil sim is what you want on Bravo than so be it, just don't expect me to stand at attention and salute when the armchair generals come into the room. (We already get Patton like speeches) Arma did not come with an enlistment contract and I already did my time. You can do tactics and teamwork and have fun without running this by the number and to the letter.
                            I appreciate your insight. I think people are letting this become a slippery slope, and making it out to be more complicated than it really is. I don't feel referring to a fellow fireteam member -- ON RADIO ONLY -- as a callsign that identifies their position is any more or less fun or any less conducive to a teamwork environment. If anything, I believe it enhances your cohesion.

                            After all, wildly throwing frag grenades to saturate an area is both teamwork and a valid tactic, but that's frowned upon, isn't it?

                            I believe in "realism without the BS", and if you're around me enough, you will hear me talk down "tactical realism" frequently. "Tactical realism" reduces cohesion, and complicates things to an absurd degree. After playing in ArmA1 with a "realism squad" on a public server and watching an individual get scolded for not referring to his superior officer by rank, I vowed to never let that kind of bollocks get into my playstyle philosophy and it hasn't and won't.

                            Originally posted by ChiefBoatsRet View Post
                            Btw. a documentary I was watching on Afghanistan where there was a casualty being reported on the radio, he said the guys name.... not 1-2-B-1 or whatever, they are people not numbers. Just like we are in the game.
                            CASEVAC and MEDEVAC 9-liners actually DO use an individual's name.

                            These people also spend years with their squadmates and have years to know exactly what position a person has, what their roles are, etc. If you and I trained even every Friday on the same roles over and over and over, the need to use "1, 2, 3, and 4" to designate your position suddenly becomes null because I can call you by your name and know you already know what your task is.

                            Originally posted by SARGE View Post
                            Chief, I know what and where yu are coming from and honestly you are right, when the fubar meets you at anytime everything goes out the window anyway. The points and pointers listed above are all good and could one day bring the comms to the point of BREVITY that is needed.
                            Exactly. This all spawned out of my own journey into squad leadership on Bravo server. I found that remembering so many names was impossible for me, and I found that people spent too much time trying to organise themselves.

                            When giving status reports, radio checks, or anything, these are things that are supposed to be given IN ORDER and for a reason.
                            How many times have you asked if everyone was okay and you get, "I'm up," "Yeah I'm fine," "No I'm hit!" "Who was that?" "Fuzzywig."

                            How much easier is it to say, "Roughneck 1, STATUS REPORT." "A1 up." "A2 up." "A3 up." "A4 wounded." "B1 out of ammo." "B2 injured." "B3 up." "B4 up." That is a legitimate SQUAD-LEVEL status report from 8 different people. How long would it take you to get the same information from 8 people that don't follow any format at all?

                            There is no need to go, "Oh holy crap, what PERSON is 4?" Their exact identity doesn't matter when solving a problem like ammo or wounds, because from a management perspective, all that matters is that SOMEONE -- anyone -- is out of ammo or is wounded. The only that matters beyond that is reporting it quickly and efficiently so everyone gets the best info possible instead of fumbling around going, "Shoot, Joe is hit. What was he carrying again and where was he at?" That kind of thing is left to a FTL who would need to designate someone (normally his buddy) to get a FT asset back online, be it getting those boots back on the ground and moving, or getting an MG pointed back at the enemy. A SL has too much on his plate to dillydally around trying to figure all that out himself.

                            Originally posted by SARGE
                            The more you practice the easier it will flow.
                            This is the one thing I want to stress most. Just like cover/concealment is second nature to most players now, and so is suppressive fire, or formations, or whatever, this -- with practice -- becomes so simple that it's almost stupid how simple it is to use. It was designed to be simple to use.


                            Originally posted by Dimitrius View Post
                            Thanks again for the write up.
                            Thanks for reading, whether or not you agree with using what it teaches.

                            As I said during my Rifle Tactics course, and as I said at the top of the OP, this is what works for me. There are a hundred million different ways to do it, and this is mine. You don't have to like it, but I ask that you at least try it for yourself to get an idea of where I'm coming from.

                            Nothing I do is without a reason. There is nothing you can ask me that I will reply, "Just because" or "That's just how it's done." Everything will have a reason and this callsign assignment protocol is no different. Thanks again for reading.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: HOW TO: Assign Callsigns

                              Thanks for your effort towards this goal, Fuzzy, and your openness and insight into the comments that have been posted so far. This can only end in a positive way. I don't think a class on this would work, as some of us don't have the time or schedule to attend. Maybe if you were to grab a few of the people that grab the CO position or SL positions and work with them and as they grab hold of this method of Brevity of Comms, they could include it in their briefings and would be prepared to pass it on to their team members as the mission is ongoing. I am only sugguesting this as a way of implementation that might be easier for all. It only takes a spark to get a fire started, so, once you get a few sparks up to speed, the fire will follow.

                              Comment

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