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Platoon Leadership - Discussion

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  • Platoon Leadership - Discussion

    So what is different about leading the Platoon as compared to a Squad?

    Obviously the scale of the operation is often over 3 times the size. Over 3 times the number of people who need to communicate! Who need transportation. Who need something to do!

    A squad leader is going to micro-manage the fire teams. A squad leader should lead in keeping with the mantra "Do as I do". Positions issued to fire teams will be very specific in many cases. When a squad leader (SL) knows the team leaders well and they know what the SL expects, then they can have what appears to be a little more discretion. This discretion is really just an understanding of what is needed for the overall squad and how the fire team fits that need.

    At the platoon level, the Squad is given way points or objectives. Most often, routes and specifics are up to the SL to decide. The SL has a lot of discretion in all of these areas because he is expected to use his/her situational awareness and knowledge of strategy to inform these decisions.

    The coordination of the squads in the platoon is entirely dependent on the signals and communication that the squad leaders keep with the platoon leader (PL). Any time that an SL has his situation change he must be communicating this information to the PL. When in contact, and even when busy with that contact, the SL should at least report to the PL in a hasty manner...

    Alpha-2 - "Sunray, this is Alpha-2. In contact. Wait, out."

    This obviously is not a report for a lone single contact that the team will dispense. The SL is letting the PL know that there is a significant contact and that more information will be forthcoming one the squad's immediate danger allows the SL to prepare a radio com. This already allows the PL to prepare an analysis as to what options are available to deal with that contact. This communication also keeps the radio free for all the other elements in the platoon.

    Why is this brevity so essential and why don't I stop talking about it? LOL - Well, when we get to our larger operations where there are elements that are handling transportation, close air support, artillery support and real time recon can see why good communications being practiced and understood by everyone is step one!

    You do not want your incoming ground support jet making their final approach on an attack run to be waiting for the net to clear so they can get a "Cleared hot" signal because some SL is on the net as so....

    Alpha-2 - "Sunray, this is Bravo....wait no, we are Alpha-2. Ummm, we got some contacts that are harassing us from that ridge to our north-west. I think we should deal with that before we traverse that open ground to your way point. Ahhhh, I dunno, do you want us to try to maneuver around or engage and dispense with them from our current?"

    So this is one of the reasons we wanted to make a bunch of missions that focus on platoon level infantry with no other distractions. To share leadership around with more of you and get us all chances to be better communicators. I guarantee almost every single one of us can pull up our in-game socks a little. It takes practice and it's good to do.

    Radio procedure is not there for the role-play. So sometimes pick and choose when you need to be more formal. Within the squad there is less need to be as formal. Ok, that is enough on coms for now...

    Platoon leaders have a larger responsibility to two main elements at One is to the mission. Execute that mission using the maximum effect of teamwork and realism in tactics. The second is to ensure that good teamwork, good tactical responsibility and a good game is available to everyone on the server. It is the element of providing fun and a good game that adds a level of complexity to the mission.

    It is easy for the PL to neglect an element. We have all done it, and will likely do so again. Some poor group of players got left waiting and holding their current position, with no enemy in sight for 20 minutes. This is especially bad when everyone knows that there was never any hope that they were going to see any thing to do. That the platoon leadership was just too busy on the coms to deal with them.

    So each FTL, each SL and every other element within the Platoon must keep this in mind....
    • is this message important enough for the net at this moment considering what else is going on?
    • is this message important enough for 40 players to need to know right now?
    Platoon leaders must not get tunnel vision. It is essential. If you are getting bogged down, adjust your processes or get a Platoon Sgt to assist you with keeping other squads occupied other than your main battle that is taking up all of your attention at the moment.

    You know, this getting used to Platoon level operations involves so much more. Like the slot selection screen. You have players coming and going, making runs to the fridge, wanting to talk about their new graphic card, their favorite beverage, that crazy contact they took in the last mission...

    Is what you have to say more important than getting the next game going for 40 people?

    Get the leader chosen, get SL chosen, fill up the squads...get to the briefing. You can take time there when the PL is making a plan. Not the slot selection screen. Don't wind down a conversation there! I don't care if you are leaving after this mission...don't set up the next game with the "night is over" vibe. It doesn't help our guys on the west coast!

    Don't slot in until the leadership asks for it. Mr. "I wanna pilot this time" can wait if the leadership wants a pilot.

    So good communication at 40 players goes all the way through the multiplayer experience. If you want the bigger games, and there is no reason we can not continue to progress and have the 30-40 player nights become the normal, why there could be enough to do that we all get some fun pilot time now and then, or a chance to even run the logistics trucks if we feel like it...then all of our current leaders need to learn better communication....TOGETHER.

    It is not good enough that Leader X knows this stuff inside and out. All our leaders and next generation leaders need to learn this TOGETHER in order for it to work. Communications are not one sided obviously.

    Anywho, I wanted to share some of the more big picture stuff that has been rattling around in my brain and bring you all into this as a discussion. I have seen a big jump in coms in the last two weeks.

    What have you seen? What do you think we could focus on to help in this regard? What have you learned to do better on coms this week or last?

    |TG-189th| Unkl
    ArmA 3 Game Officer
    Dean of Tactical Gamer University
    189th Infantry Brigade Member


  • #2
    When it comes to communications one of the biggest issues I see is too much. We think we have to communicate every little thing over the radios. We step all over each other. The rifleman in Blue fire team hears their teammates and other nearby fire teams talking in direct and local. They also hear their leads talking on radio. That's a lot of chatter but they don't hear their SL talking on comms to air or the PL. So that rifleman sees a contact and calls out over radio. Meanwhile the SL is taking to PL on long range and now has an excited rifleman in their ears. Then everyone else chimes in with, "where?", "what's the direction?" and more. Suddenly the radio is clogged. Squad lead now is trying to get his orders from above and is distracted by all the short range traffic. Remember, the higher up the chain of command you are, the more people you have to communicate with. It can lead to sensory overload for a SL or PL when they start hearing all this in comms.

    Just like we want to practice fire discipline we need to practice communications discipline. Like Unkl says, think before you speak. Does that rifleman have an urgent contact report? Is it a contact that is danger close and needs to be dealt with or is it one that can be delayed? If our fire teams are staying close then make your call in local or direct to alert your team without disturbing the SL and PL. Let your FTL determine if the contact report needs to go up the chain. If the rifleman needs to engage a danger close contact, then engage and communicate after. As FTL or PL, don't start clogging comms yourself when you hear your guys firing by demanding contact reports before shooting. If we hear gunfire close, we should know we are in contact and should continue to execute. A tuned in fire team leader will figure out what's happening and can pass the info on. A simple call out from an FTL in local of, "Whatcha got?" will get a response from his team. Keep the response short, "Close contact front" or "contact right, engaging". Don't use the radio for this, leave that to the FTL so he can alert the other team leads and SL over radio. In short, be short. Listen and if somebody is talking on comms, wait for them to finish. And never use side channel to communicate that sighting or contact report.

    Ny 2 cents if it makes sense.


    • #3
      I would like to add to BadStache, but I am working at the moment.

      Communications infrastructure can be handled in a better way at the Platoon level by getting the Leaders off of the Radioes and designating Communications to an individual per organized element. Squads can utilize an idle medic or Radioman and Platoon level should have an RTO. Stache what you are talking about can be managed, but we should talk about it more and we've seen it work in the past.

      There are certain things at Platoon level that are Not represented well at a squad level in terms of communications, meaning, the tactical and strategic managers(SLs and Platoon Leads) should not be triaging communication, there should be a backbone in place that can scale up to multiple squads. We dont need to discuss where it goes from there, I mean company level, but Platoon comms can and should be broken away from the commanding elements. In larger games in the past I had a RTO, an XO And platoon sergeant handling comms. RTO and XO would handle primary communications with Infantry and Mechanized/Motorized elements. Platoon SgT would handle convoy and AIR(Assuming no JTAC) duty and respupply, re-arm, and repair. Commander would be secondary communications for Infantry and mech.

      There is no one sized fits all either, we focus on infantry specific missions and do not typically see alot of mechanized or motorized large scale battles. There is no special sauce with nothing but squads and SLs at that point, just proper radio discipline.

      I am interested in hearing feedback to my comments. Thank you.

      More later if I can get to it.

      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


      • #4
        I'll add some more and give some feedback.

        BadStache - yes, sensory overload big time. This is one of the reasons players often shy away from leadership at first. Their first experience is rather overwhelming. I'm sure we all remember that first game where the mass confusion sets in and the hamsters in the head are running in circles! lol

        Dimitrius - Adding the elements of XO I think are most useful if we have either two situations with the current focus on infantry missions:
        • A new CO with and experienced XO as a mentor
        • An experienced CO with an XO tagging along to discuss what is being decided and why, and help out with the coms. Get that practice in without having to worry about making all the decisions.

        So in focusing on strict infantry platoons we can share the leadership more without it getting over burdened. We can learn better infantry Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP). We can practice better communication. I mean INDIVIDUALLY get better at the basics but do so TOGETHER. (I don't mean the capitols like I'm yelling hehe)

        The convoy operations, motorized or mechanized operations, the logistical support, the CAS, the air transport or the artillery can all be added back in when the basics get really solid. I forecast about a month of focus on this...but who knows? After that, perhaps getting better at bringing and utilizing a proper heavy weapons squad would be next with some vehicles? Like DMZ Scout keeps reminding me, we should be utilizing mortar support better and I agree.

        To answer my own question in the original post, I have become more aware of the genius of the procedures that LowSpeedHighDrag put so much work into making some great TGU content for. That the basic format of these communications becoming more standard will really help us be more effective communicators together.

        To that end I should also say....I don't enjoy the "Radio Simulator" game. I also think the jargon and formality alone makes new players shy away from leadership. This is unnecessary. The radio procedure should be something that can be learned with experience. The most important thing is not that you have cool call signs or the most accurate usage of prowords...but that you communicate and keep it brief.

        If you call me Unkl over the radio, or 6-Actual, or Fire Team One....if we know you mean me...I'm good with that. This talk about coms discipline should not get overwhelmed over nit picking details. I have a fear that bringing this matter up might make some players think we wanna to super hard core on this.

        That is not the case. We just need to learn to be better at this to make the larger missions the best they can that 40 players or even more if we decide to go that route, can be an easier thing to manage for all of us. And more enjoyable that nightly sensory overload!

        I've seen a lot of great stuff these last two weeks and I really appreciate that the community seems to be rallying around this endeavor. I think it is already paying off with being able to make faster and more adaptive decisions in our games.

        Back to you...
        |TG-189th| Unkl
        ArmA 3 Game Officer
        Dean of Tactical Gamer University
        189th Infantry Brigade Member



        • #5
          Originally posted by Unkl View Post
          If you call me Unkl over the radio, or 6-Actual, or Fire Team One....if we know you mean me...I'm good with that. This talk about coms discipline should not get overwhelmed over nit picking details. I have a fear that bringing this matter up might make some players think we wanna to super hard core on this.
          As always, Love these conversations, but I would add that what you mentioned is confusing considering in a recent post on radio communications, we are urging players to know what a proword is and to be more succinct in their communications over the net. Here we are saying we are not that interested in radio discipline and more towards the intention of said communications. To me that is confusing because while I would never chide or correct someone for improperly using the radio, should we not have some expectation of SOPs considering we've got a very hard push towards TGU and in TGU we specifically train users for proper radio use?

          Radio Simulator is not how I would describe it, though I understand what you meant when you typed it. I would consider it something to take seriously because realisticlly, we have three options to get out in front of radio coms.

          1. More adhereance to radio SOPs and proper proximity chat/talk use.
          2. Less adherance to radio SOPs and proper proximity chat/talk use.
          3. No radio SOPs or expectations of proper proximity chat/talk use.

          I do not mean to be dramatic in my list, just realistic. Communications can break or destroy a mission as we all have witnessed and experienced.

          There are times like these where we talk about proper SOPs from radio handling all the way up to Leadership and Command responsibilities. We are in a booming player phase and as hard as we try, we're not getting players into the "knowledge culture" of TG and that is obvious by the very low forum activities among our players. What we talk about here versus what we actually see on the field is very different in terms of actions vs philosophy. The idea of having an XO as only a teaching position kind of makes me scratch my head, assuming you meant it for all situations. The XO should be another capable commander or confidant who can handle the responsibilities when we have a platoon. If we have a squad and a CO and another player wants to learn the ropes then XO would be perfect, but where is the gauge to determine which mission is a good teaching mission versus which mission requires the needs of an experienced command team, not just CO, but team.

          We should have these discussions early in the day. When we can all brain properly. Like right after morning coffee cup number 2.

          Speaking of which. I'm going to pour myself a cup of coffee and there's always at least one more cup for you Unkl =)

          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


          • #6
            We talked about this the other day, Unkl, how some of the most enjoyable missions I've had are the ones were everyone is on the same page. Your team is meshing and the comms just naturally become more "quiet". There is no need for constant comms traffic because we know what each of us is doing, where we are, where we're going, and how we are going to react. Actual call outs become quieter. Everyone is communicating without thinking about it. When things are going that way you hear more, "Unkl, I've got contacts left" "I've got eyes, Stache". Call signs are out the window and it becomes almost conversational. Everyone is moving together because they are working together. Those are the in-game experiences I look for and enjoy most.

            Hell, for the majority of the players in those rifleman, genadier, and AR roles call signs aren't needed. Leave those for the leads.


            • #7
              Yes Dimitrius you are catching me correctly here. On one hand more use of actual prowords for those who are ready and now see the use of them.

              Less nit picking for those new leaders to be able to step up and give it a try without the fear of saying something wrong.

              So the way I mean it, your 1, 2 & 3 point breakdown from above is from a different context that what I'm getting at. I know it can be confusing..but those who have been leading and are ready to up their game...time for prowords, sitrep, contact reports, locstat, ace reports, correct usage of an RTO if it is truly needed for the mission at hand.

              New leaders, get in there and learn to deal with the long range, short range and direct com soup. Stir it up and turn up the temperature. You will be fine and don't have to worry about the finer details right off the bat. The message is the message...the medium is the medium. :D In this case, the message is far more important.

              So for these latest infantry platoon missions, there should be ample time for an experienced and less experienced pair to step in the CO/XO positions and be able to discuss the tactics and strategy used because there is much less for them to need the XO. I think that is the context I didn't explain well.

              When is it a good time and when not for new leaders? Well that is a hard question to answer. If we jhave just done one mission and it went off half sideways...then a good squared away mission with a known good leader is probably best for everyone next. It is all a question of timing and the mood of the server in that regard.

              My coffee was great thanks! Tastes like another.
              |TG-189th| Unkl
              ArmA 3 Game Officer
              Dean of Tactical Gamer University
              189th Infantry Brigade Member



              • #8
                On the subject of radio discipline...

                For me communication is all about clarity and brevity. Established prowords that have clearly established shared meaning facility both clarity and brevity. If, for example, Everyone on the channel knows the difference between a "sighting" and a "contact" then the SL can easily process what is a threat and what's not and act accordingly.

                There is, in my opinion, no advantage to saying "alpha-1-1" or "scorpion-1-actual" as opposed to "Unkl" or "Dimitrius". There is a disadvantage and in each mission the call signs change and that's one more thing to forget and mess up distracting from the message.

                Flogging around LowSpeeds list of ProWords is great because the more people are in on the shared meaning the more powerful a force multiplier it becomes!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dimitrius View Post
                  Platoon comms can and should be broken away from the commanding elements. In larger games in the past I had a RTO, an XO And platoon sergeant handling comms. RTO and XO would handle primary communications with Infantry and Mechanized/Motorized elements. Platoon SgT would handle convoy and AIR(Assuming no JTAC) duty and respupply, re-arm, and repair. Commander would be secondary communications for Infantry and mech.
                  Since we don't play a lot of missions with more than 2 squads, platoon leaders are usually able to absorb both radio operator and command roles (to a point). What I've found really helps in that "in between" command structure is to put all the squads and teams on their own local nets so that they don't overlap and especially so that they don't interfere with command.

                  That is probably why I was able to handle PL of the mission last weekend, as I've oftentimes ran into the saturated net effect in the past. Confusion leads to chaos and chaos leads to... suffering. And then we're all respawning at base!

                  Also, I had Wilco as a backup/XO position and he was able to help me out when needed.
                  "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."


                  • #10
                    To help with communication we can make better use of the briefing screen time if we utilize some of these Advanced Leadership Course - TTP - Fire Control Measures - Graphic Measures

                    Assigning sectors of responsibility is often time pretty straightforward in a rural environment. But when you get into the cities it is very essential. I would even argue that setting up phase lines within an urban area is also a big help.

                    If you know that you are moving through the blocks that progress straight north and are clear to fire only within your assigned sector then friendlies can parallel you through their adjoining sector and you don't need to worry about friendly fire. You can just knock down anything that is ahead of you.

                    Battle Points, Tactical Reference Points - all very useful tools to have set up ahead of time.

                    If you are going to move through and urban area....take the time to number either the compounds or buildings. This will make communication far easier for everyone.
                    |TG-189th| Unkl
                    ArmA 3 Game Officer
                    Dean of Tactical Gamer University
                    189th Infantry Brigade Member



                    • #11
                      Originally posted by zilfondel View Post
                      ...put all the squads and teams on their own local nets so that they don't overlap and especially so that they don't interfere with command.
                      This helps out immensely if SIGNALS is handled before deployment. Agreed.

                      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


                      • #12
                        This was covered extensively, in this forum thread or other appropriate forum threads. I think they were made quite clear of the "how and why".
                        All that needs to be highlighted is that everyone should make the information easily distributed. Which is very easily implemented in practice. Whether it's written on the map screen, or within the mission briefing tab. Not, during the game; someone asking "What's the frequency for this radio?". I have done this many times, since there was no information anywhere.
                        Some missions have a pre-set radio frequencies and callsigns pre-set. No need to alter those. It's a good practice for everyone to read the mission essentials anyway. Develop a habit for it.

                        On the subject of using just the players names. Personally, I can accept "Unkl, this is Noyava" within an individual Squad/Section/fireteam level. Not outside of it. Use this rule, if it falls into the realm of 'direct chat/voice' you can ditch the fancy callsigns.

                        However, if you're passing on information. Whether it be what the weather is, or where the enemy is flanking from. Use appropriate the callsign, and the format (Receiver, Sender, Message - RSM). It confuses people if you say; "Bacon to Beans, where is toast?"

                        Speaking of why we use callsigns, or tactical callsigns. It's to deny the enemy of identifying both the sender and the receiver, and/or the message. Since, the AI's can't and don't have means to catch onto our net. There is no need for complicated callsigns.

                        We primarily use it to simplify. To make things easier, clearer, and basically practical.

                        Use of RTO

                        How many times are you too busy to respond to a radio call as a Squad leader? FireTeam Leader? If the answer is always, you're wrong period.
                        Are you in contact? Are your squad members not suppressing the enemy? Are your FireTeam Leaders not calling/adjusting fires? If they are, what are you doing? You have the time, as well as sending up a short report (contact) it takes literally 3 seconds. "Alpha, Bravo, Contact wait out".

                        Now, RTO's. Why do we need them? They are needed only logistically if it is necessary, period full stop.
                        Squad leaders are there to lead, part of that role is to use the radio as well. You don't need a extra guy lugging the radio for you. You have at least 1 or 2 FireTeam Leaders under your command. Delegate, give them their appropriate responsibilities so that you can do your job.
                        But don't forget, you are leading from the front. Not in rear being towed by your guys. It doesn't look good.

                        Whilst on the subject, One thing that really annoys me. As a Sender, the Receiver doesn't reply. Within a reasonable time (in military terms that means 'yesterday') and after many unnecessary attempts the Receiver comes into the net. If you are consistently doing this, I'd rather you be the rifleman.
                        Also, I do not like to play radio simulator 2000. However, I prefer to adhere to the basics. Why? because it works.

                        Pl Leader tips

                        You've heard of the phrase "bunny hop", "leap frogging", "one foot in front of another"? Same principle applies when moving your squads in all situations.
                        Just like a Fireteam Leader would buddy up his fireteam down to 2 x 2. During their own manoeuvres.
                        This also applies to Squad level. Alpha, Bravo Fireteams of 1st Squad as well as 1st Squad, 2nd Squad, and 3rd Squad in a platoon.

                        This is why the basics of formation (line, wedge, file), sector of coverage/responsibility, bounding overwatch, usage of buddy teams, fireteams, Squads/Sections are necessary to understand. If one knows these at least in theory, you can work out how it could be done in a platoon level, in theory.

                        Usage of Weapon Squad
                        They are the guys who can suppress targets further away than most in the platoon, in general. They also have means to engage lightly armoured targets. I see too many leaders having them follow up on the rear, too far away to give any help when needed. With the intel provided, detach or assign a squad to check it out on site. Then send up the Weapons Team/Squad to take up their positions. Now, you have a solid base of fire, and ideally a great place to keep the enemy 'in place'. Use your rifle squads to assault/flank into objectives under the cover of the Weapons team/squad.

                        Movement to objective area
                        Set up preliminary positions of the route.
                        Have a squad pushed out ahead from the platoon as a scouting squad (but not too far where once you link up with them they are dead).
                        Have Squad leaders check in when they are at the positions.
                        Set up a fallback position.
                        Most importantly, get your platoon set up without being detected. You want to dictate the tempo, and terms in your favour always.

                        Transition from Movement to Manoeuvre.
                        Quite simply. Movement is when you are not in contact, not expecting contact, well away from objective areas.
                        Manoeuvre is when you are in contact, expecting contact, within the objective area.

                        Expect to bound, peel, break contact, etc, when in Manoeuvre. This is a heightened state of awareness, and moving with intention & purpose. (Battle drills anyone?)

                        Due to the nature of this beast. A Pl operation will take that much longer to achieve, as opposed to a Squad level operation.
                        More people to control, more ground to cover, more enemies, and/or objectives. However, when the first shot is made and heard. The duration of the operation will heavily depend on the each and every rifleman within that platoon. Not just the Pl leader.

                        Logistics of Sustained missions
                        Ideally and optimally. A mission should be 1 mission per 1 Pl. Not an ongoing one. If it is, then it is up to you to decide how to break down the missions into bite sized chunks. Always, always, do one task at a time if able. Do not bite off more than you can chew. I've seen this from ARMA vets and on down. Unless you have some how managed Chaos itself, and become Zeus. I'm not interested.
                        By doing more than one task at a time. You will inevitably divided your forces into smaller ones. Thereby giving the enemy the gap they can exploit. You should exploit your strength of the Pl onto the enemy.

                        Don't be " Foxhole Norman" (Band of Brothers)
                        What I mean is that you shouldn't ideally be the guy that just says "Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie Squad. You know what to do, I trust you guys". Whilst it may boost morale albeit temporarily. You are copping out of your role, majorly. Tell your Squad leaders, what must be done, how you want it done by minimum. There are two "C's" in Command & Control (C2).
                        You should be active at all times. Relying on your tools at hand to C2 effectively. Use the map, using a scripted blufor tracker (markers with names on them in the map), radio communications, a commanding position of overwatch, etc.
                        Don't be lazy and use this role to play General. There are far better titles out there for this, and more fun doing it.

                        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




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