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A commonly overlooked detail of squad tactics

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  • A commonly overlooked detail of squad tactics

    Over the last couple days I've been taking positions as a fireteam or squad leader. I just wanted to weigh in on a problem that has been cropping up regularly: the difference between the soldier's initiative, the commander's intent, and the commands given while using dispersed small unit tactics.

    Note: My understanding of this subject is limited to my reading of Army and Marine Corps field manuals, dyslecxi's excellent ArmA primer, my personal friends who are in the military who I constantly barrage with questions like this, and my personal experience in ArmA. Real infantry personnel (current or former) please correct me.

    The basic chain of events when doing anything in a dispersed small unit that is not simply a battle drill-type manuever is the following:

    1) Platoon commander gives an order to his squad leaders.

    2) The squad leaders then interpret his orders based on his initial briefing and his overall commander's intent and their understanding of tactical doctrine. They then issue orders to their fireteams.

    3) The fireteam leaders interpret their orders from the squad leader based on his briefing to them, the platoon leaders briefing (if given to the whole platoon), the SL/PL intent and their understanding of tactical doctrine. They then order their men to maneuver, support, engage, etc. as necessary to complete the objective they were given.

    4) The fireteam members execute the order to the best of their ability using their own initiative to determine precisely when, where, and how to execute the order. This also means the use their initiative to determine when an order may have to be changed due to unforseen circumstances (i.e. they were told to assault a position believe to have only a few infantry, but instead it is a whole squad with support weapons). If this happens they advise their fireteam leader (or squad leader directly if the danger and time constraints warrant) and the situation is reassessed and new orders are given from whatever level is necessary.

    The main issue I find is between steps two and three and to a lesser extent step four entirely. To explain, it seems that many fireteam members or even fireteam leaders tend to act immediately upon the issuance of an order by the PL/SL. This is not correct. After the order by a PL/SL (Platoon Leader/Squad Leader) is given you must essentially pretend like you cannot hear the voice chat. The order was intended for your SL or FTL (Fireteam Leader) appropriately, he will now determine what is best and give you your orders. You must not get into the habit of immediately reacting to the PL or SL's orders as a FTL or fireteam member respectively. Your direct superior needs to analyze your situation before deciding how to best execute the order. It could very well be that the order given may end in disaster if executed to the letter. Perhaps it may not be able to be completed at all. That is for your leader to examine, decide, and then issue your order.

    To expound, the point of small unit tactics is that each level of the chain of command has increasing and decreasing situational awareness of the battle around him. The higher you go in the chain the more of an overall view of the battle the commanders have, but the less they have the picture of each individual's situation. The lower you go on the chain the less you have the overall picture, but the more you have awareness of the fight in your immediate vicinity. This means that while the PL gives an overall order, he has no clue of his soldier's direct lines of sight to the enemy, ability to put fire on the enemy, potential for cover or concealment, etc. Only the Squad Leader or the Fireteam Leader has that level of personal awareness of their immediate surroundings. This is why things like commander's intent and individual initiative exist. You must not think that "an order is an order". That's for the movies. In the real world, you use the OODA loop when issued an order: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. You execute the order to your best ability (which could be not at all) in order to help your platoon achieve its overall objective.

    I hope, if you did not fall asleep reading this, that your level of understanding is higher now. Every man, from the PL to the fireteam member must understand this concept or all small unit tactics simply fall apart.
    Last edited by mattag08; 03-27-2009, 01:36 AM.

  • #2
    Re: A commonly overlooked detail of squad tactics

    A good reminder for all to read.
    I do agree with the "You must not get into the habit of immediately reacting to the PL or SL's orders." No need to add or edit this further in my perspective. Points have been issued and explained well. Kudos.

    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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    • #3
      Re: A commonly overlooked detail of squad tactics

      should have command and SL's on teamspeak too....


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      • #4
        Re: A commonly overlooked detail of squad tactics

        Originally posted by LowSpeedHighDrag View Post
        A good reminder for all to read.
        I do agree with the "You must not get into the habit of immediately reacting to the PL or SL's orders." No need to add or edit this further in my perspective. Points have been issued and explained well. Kudos.
        Thanks LowSpeed, its nice to read that coming from someone as respected as you in the community.

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        • #5
          Re: A commonly overlooked detail of squad tactics

          This is why I hope they do a better job of radio comms in ARMA2..give each squad a channel and like 5 channels that you must join as needed.
          .IE

          1. PLT HQ channel (or all SLs plus the PLT leader...)

          2. Medic Channel(for all Medics plus anyone needing medical assistance..for someone around them, people who are unconcious should be barred from radio comms)

          3. Artillery/Air Support Channel (self Explanatory, any pilots plus anyone needing Air Support or Arty)

          4 & 5. Discretionary channels for use as required IE objective Alpha channel and Objective bravo channel

          I envision a simple script simimalr to the team status script that allows people to join invite and kick people from their channels

          I also hope they add in some scripting commands for the VOIP so we can make missions where you have no access to radio Comms unless you have a radio pack



          Fate whispers to the warrior "You will not survive the storm."
          The warrior whispers back, "I AM the storm."

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          • #6
            Re: A commonly overlooked detail of squad tactics

            Good post.

            What this needs in order to work, in addition to the FT members not acting immediately, is the FT leaders relaying orders and some basic information down the chain. If my role is a fireteam-level grunt I often mute the CO and the SLs(basically every leader outside my own "group" channel) to hear my FT leader better, and god knows how many times that has left me wondering "Wtf is going on here" because the orders are like "Ok you heard it, let's move and cover the direction he told us to. Move move move!".

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            • #7
              Re: A commonly overlooked detail of squad tactics

              Originally posted by Fincuan View Post
              Good post.

              What this needs in order to work, in addition to the FT members not acting immediately, is the FT leaders relaying orders and some basic information down the chain. If my role is a fireteam-level grunt I often mute the CO and the SLs(basically every leader outside my own "group" channel) to hear my FT leader better, and god knows how many times that has left me wondering "Wtf is going on here" because the orders are like "Ok you heard it, let's move and cover the direction he told us to. Move move move!".
              Wait, you can mute people in game? I was unaware....how?

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              • #8
                Re: A commonly overlooked detail of squad tactics

                Hit P to bring up the playerlist, then click on the player's name you want to mute and click the MUTE button(iirc it's in the lower right corner). Unmuting works the same way, but this time the button just reads UNMUTE.

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                • #9
                  Re: A commonly overlooked detail of squad tactics

                  Good post, this as well as many other things with squad level tactics are overlooked on a regular bases. Hopefully Blackdog will have some of the Arma training classes ready soon because many people don't really know what is expected from an individual soldier, let alone from a fireteam or squad. Once we get a good amount of people through individual, then fireteam, then squad training, then plt training, most missions will run pretty smooth. I know if we all go through some of these training sessions this will definately help us all out. I for one am in favor of using direct coms for an entire squad and maybe having just the squad leaders on ts. Would be ideal to use the channel template that (can't remember his name) someone setup for TS. This would solve most communication problems so long as all the regular players had TS. Then no one else would here the higher ups and the squad and fireteam leaders could be the one giving their orders.
                  |TG-Irr|LCpl. Soto
                  TGULT-Roel Yento

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                  • #10
                    Re: A commonly overlooked detail of squad tactics

                    Originally posted by Fincuan View Post
                    Hit P to bring up the playerlist, then click on the player's name you want to mute and click the MUTE button(iirc it's in the lower right corner). Unmuting works the same way, but this time the button just reads UNMUTE.
                    Awesome. I think I may have my squads mute the PL and other SLs from now on.

                    The only comment I have about Direct Comms is that they can be far too quiet to be of any use in a firefight or near a vehicle or aircraft. In real life you can just shout over the noise, but I don't think most people can just be yelling into their mic(people sleeping, neighbors, etc). Plus I've tried yelling and I don't think my squad can hear me any better. I literally have to stand 1 ft from someone to hear them with any reasonable clarity to decipher their message through ArmA's terrible audio codec. This means quite a bit of danger by bunching up people so they can all hear and having to move out from cover to another location in order to give your team orders.

                    My personal preference would be to have everyone on TS sorted appropriately. TS has much higher quality audio codecs which allow for louder, clearer transmissions (which can mean the difference in life or death). Saying something more than once can be the difference in life or death.

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                    • #11
                      Re: A commonly overlooked detail of squad tactics

                      I understand what you are saying about not everyone can talk loud due to others in their family sleeping. As for the sound being too quiet, this is a user side issue. Once you get your input and output and in-game sound settings set right, you can hear direct chat just fine from a distance. Of course gun fire and vehicles can drown out sound but this is an issue that can be dealt with by everyone relaying orders or commands. For instance if someone yells, "contact right!" everyone else that hears this should be saying the same thing over. This helps to insure that everyone hears info and it also confirms that others heard it by them saying it back. This would be one of the things addressed in training i'm sure. Too often do I notice people not acknowledging orders, warnings, or info. This can lead to problems...
                      |TG-Irr|LCpl. Soto
                      TGULT-Roel Yento

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                      • #12
                        Re: A commonly overlooked detail of squad tactics

                        As a reasonably new person to ArmA, and TG, this is the kind of information that I love to hear from the more experienced players. I am eagerly looking forward to Blackdog's announced ArmA courses, for this exact reason.

                        Thanks mattag!
                        Seeken

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                        • #13
                          Re: A commonly overlooked detail of squad tactics

                          Good read, especially for a newbie like me... ;)

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                          • #14
                            Re: A commonly overlooked detail of squad tactics

                            very good point matt! As for the direct comms, try to augment your effect volume to 10. You'll be able to hear direct a lot better!


                            IN GAME ARMA: |TG-Irr| Lq.Snake

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