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1st Boot Camp AAR

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  • 1st Boot Camp AAR

    Thanks again to everyone who came out for this first session. I want to follow it up with my thoughts on what happened in order to start a discussion to help our understanding of the concepts we covered and to refine plans for the next session.

    Last night we covered some of the principles that guide selecting good firing positions. Good firing positions provide cover and concealment (C&C). Cover helps stop bullets and frags. Concealment helps prevent others from seeing you. Cover generally also provides concealment. Both are important. Before getting into some of the details of last night's exercise, I'd like to discuss these principles in more detail.

    Badger's excellent SOP Observation and Scanning Terrain discusses some of the principles that determine concealment, or lack thereof: Shape, Shadow, Silhouette, Surface, and Movement. By far the most important is movement: in this game, unnecessary movement kills. In my opinion, the second most important is shadow: whenever possible, use darkness for concealment. See the linked SOP for more detail, and for information on techniques to use to spot your opponent.

    The other element is cover. Cover usually provides concealment, since if something will stop bullets it will also usually stop photons. It's relatively easy to find cover, but understanding how to use cover to your best advantage is a bit more subtle. There are a few long and interesting reads that get into some of the subtleties of selecting good cover in particular and good firing positions in general. If you have the interest and the time, I encourage everyone to read The Defense of Duffer's Drift and The Rise and Fall of the Emma Gees. These are tactical primers, and as such cover much more ground than the mere selection of firing positions, but each discusses firing positions from a tactical perspective, and I think that understanding how the firing position I select contributes to the team's success is helpful and informative.

    Irregardless, here's the deal: the way you use cover depends on the weapon you have and the field of fire you wish to create for yourself. For example, the classic rule of thumb for sniper rifles and machine guns is basically the same: you want a long, narrow field of fire. This means you want to use cover and concealment to create a "keyhole", a long, narrow field of fire with cover on both sides. See for some illustrations of this principle. The Rise and Fall of the Emma Gees, part II also covers this in detail.

    For the rest of us, it's generally best to have cover to the front, and create fields of fire that a) interlock with your buddies' and b) are oblique. Fire Team Fighting Positions provides some discussion and some illustrations of this principle.

    For session one, I wanted to get everyone up to speed on these principles with a simple exercise in which I would be on 1 team and everyone else on the other. I selected a sniper rifle, and asked the group to communicate with each other to select firing positions that addressed the ideas mentioned above, were appropriate for each person's weapon, and which provided interlocking fields of fire. The idea is that I would then join them on their TS channel and start to hunt. Once contact was made, either by my spotting someone, or by their spotting me, we would discuss the pros and cons of the selected firing position.

    In practice, we discovered that a) GRAW is buggy as hell, STILL. I got kicked repeatedly until I rebooted. We wasted 30 minutes with that. And b) there is a rendering issue with the game that prevents characters being drawn at ALL at a distance. I believe that Trey and I observed a player (Strag?) disappearing at approx 150m. I mean one second he was there, walking backwards, and the next he disappeared. The rock wall behind him was drawn the whole time, the game simply decides not to bother with detail at a certain distance which, IMO, is way too short. I'm sure this is a weapon balancing issue, but there are mods available that correct this (IMO) design problem that TG may wish to consider implementing on our servers.

    After much creeping and circling the objective 270 degrees, I finally walked into the middle of the objective and then we started spotting each other. It appeared to me that everyone had selected an excellent firing position that both provided good C&C and interlocking fields of fire with the rest of the team. But who knows?

    We'll return to this subject in future sessions and with new drills. It's critical.

    For our second exercise, we covered some simple 2-man fire and movement (f&m). Frankly, I rushed through this exercise because of all the time spent, and wasted, on the "technical difficulties" I mentioned above. I also assumed that everyone had a good understanding of this idea, for some reason. In fact, a relative few have covered this idea in detail, so here it is.

    The idea behind 2-man F&M is covered in the SOP "Fire and Movement". I don't have much to add to that SOP except a couple of observations:

    1) Keep the bounds short! In practice I've seen bounds that are WAY too long. One idea I have that may help folks envision the correct bound length, usually illustrated by the mnemonic "I'm up, he sees me, I'm down", is to consider that you aren't simply bounding, you are moving to a new position that accomplishes your tasks of protecting your buddy and minimizing the distance he has to travel in order to do the same thing for you. Keep the bounds short!

    2) Don't bunch up! I know that these seem mutually exclusive, but that's just how it is. You want to avoid having some dude chuck a 'nade around a corner and killing the two of you. There are many situations in which you can't avoid bunching up to some extent, especially in urban areas. When it happens, recognize that it has happened, and make a decision about how best to mitigate your team's risk. Are you massing firepower before clearing a blind corner? Are you merely bunching up at an obvious position? In any case, you should work with your teammates quickly to solve whatever problem the enemy and terrain present. If you must bunch up, get bunched up for a reason, and get unbunched as quickly as is safe, is the basic idea.

    The exercise last night was basic to the max, and we'll cover it more in the next session when we get into more advanced concepts of clearing blind corners and crossing defilades. Generally, I thought everyone was doing a fine job. The key is to practice F&M until you develop speed and rhythm. If for no other reason, this is why organized squads tend to excel over ad-hoc teams, I think: after a while you develop this rhythm with your teammates and don't have to communicate, you just act.

    For the final exercise of the night, I selected assaulting a fortified position. Frankly, this is a pretty advanced exercise, but I wanted to be sure that we had something that involved shooting and fragging, movement under know, fun stuff.

    The idea behind this exercise is simple in concept and extraordinarily complex in practice. One element suppresses the objective (fortified position) while an assault element closes with and kills the enemy. We divided the team into these two elements, with the suppressing team equipped with a SAW and with a GL-equipped rifle, and the assaulting team equipped with short-barrelled rifles and frags.

    I don't believe it was successful once, other than the time the SAW killed me right off the bat, but that wasn't the concept's fault!

    Here's how it went down:

    We were working on the map with a railroad depot (help!?) We determined that a watch tower on the northern side of the KOTH objective zone seemed like an appropriate "fortified position". We set the exercise up such that 1 or 2 people would be defending and the rest of us would be assaulting.

    1st time - I was alone in the tower. The suppressing team opened up, I stuck my head up and got it shot off.

    The main point of suppressing fire is not to kill, but often it does. In my mind, suppressing fire should either a) suppress or b) cause the enemy to behave in a predicable manner. In other words, you may not be able to create the dirty-drawers oh Jesus lord in heaven if you get me out of this I'll do anything you want mind-numbing fear that actual incoming machine gun fire creates (I'm told), but it does tend to discourage people from poking their heads directly into the stream of bullets those weapons are capable of creating. You may not be able to pin someone down in game the way you can in rl, but can be assured that they won't walk directly up the street you're shooting down. Make sense? So if they're not coming up that street, what are they likely to do? Flank that gun! This is predicable behavior and teams can use that to their advantage.

    Unfortunately I didn't live long enough to behave in any manner, predicable or otherwise, so we reset and tried again.

    2nd time: I was a solo opfor again in the tower. This time, we engaged each other when I saw Mirfee in a hopelessly exposed position and killed him. Immediately after that, the incoming suppressing fire began, and I didn't stick around this time. Instead I moved to a lower level in the tower and waited for the assault team to arrive. This was a three man team who I killed because a) they moved through the doorway I was using as my kill zone one at a time, and b) they didn't use frags at all.

    We discussed this last night and I don't want to beat a dead horse, but just for the folks who couldn't make it, consider your ROE: if there are civilians or hostages to worry about on a map, be careful. Otherwise, Close Quarters Combat (CQB) teams should seek to use the maximum firepower from the maximum distance, and this generally means lead with frags.

    Play the game a few times and keep track of how many times you die in a CQB situation before you've used all your frags. In "rl" there are strong controls around soldiers' deploying frags or GLs. In game, people are, IMO, WAY to stingy with their frags and GLs. Use the biggest fist you have. Get in the habit of running out of them for a while and then work on being slightly more conservative. Just my opinion.

    3rd time: I was on the assault team this time and almost immediately got killed. Watching through my teammates' eyes, I saw the suppressing team once again do an excellent job while the assault team was picked off 1 at a time once the CQB started.

    Closing thoughts:

    The position we selected for this exercise was highly defensible.
    We need to improve our CQB teamwork and skills.
    Suppressing fire probably doesn't, but it does make people move.

    I think that's more than plenty to chew on for 1 session. Again, I think that everyone involved did a terrific job for a first session. I was impressed with everyone's individual skills. As I see it, my main job is to establish some baseline individual skills and work with everyone to improve our team skills, and that simply takes some time. I'm looking forward to the next session!

    Thanks again to those who came out to play. I hope you had as much fun as I did, and that we'll continue to build on what we learn each session. Please chime in with your observations and ideas, and I'll work to incorporate them into future sessions.

  • #2
    Re: 1st Boot Camp AAR

    Great writeup Leejo. Thanks again for the outstanding excercise. Rough though this first session may have been, it's a solid reminder what proper training can be. Looking forward to next time.

    Oh, and I'll be sure not to treat a livefire excercise as 'just an excercise' next time. Being lax on that was what led me out into the open to get shot like a noob. ;)


    • #3
      Re: 1st Boot Camp AAR

      Wow, extremely thorough and interesting AAR! How many were there for this exercise?

      3) Support game play in a near-simulation environment. Where the focus of play would not be solely on doing what it takes to win, but doing so utilizing real-world combat strategy and tactics rather than leveraging exploits provided to players by the design of the game engine.


      • #4
        Re: 1st Boot Camp AAR

        Originally posted by Tempus View Post
        Wow, extremely thorough and interesting AAR! How many were there for this exercise?
        I believe we had eight or nine until Magnum got called out for work.

        Excellent AAR, leejo. I'm going to need some time to respond to this one. :) In short, though, a great evening of fun and learning!


        • #5
          Re: 1st Boot Camp AAR

          Great AAR Leejo ! Your post opens the door for an excellent discussion and just like Strag, I am out of time now. But at some point, I hope to discuss the squad command topic with you guys. Our recent experience points to the efficiency of bilateral command system (Sergeant as fireteam 1 leader and SL as fireteam 2 leader).

          Such structural organization is very compatible with the dual nature of various tactical concepts (flank/suppress, cover/capture, bounding, etc). As the weight on SL is shifted towards sergeant, efficiency (esp. the execution speed of maneuvers) significantly increases. I will discuss the practical aspects (application in-game) in another post.


          • #6
            Re: 1st Boot Camp AAR

            Excellent write up. Look forward to the next session.

            18th SF Operational Detachment Delta


            • #7
              Re: 1st Boot Camp AAR

              A very interesting read, even if I don't have this game.
              Thank you tempus for pointing the thread out.

              I'd like to add a link with information on how to enter a building / move in hallways. Most of TG will know all this, but some may not

              It's a chapter copied from some us army field manual. The whole thing is an interesting read imo and pretty long, but the part I specifically wanted to point out is about halfway down the page. These tactics are pretty useful to most games. They give you an idea of where to go when you enter a room, and even If you follow the guidelines individually, you will improve your team's performance.

              An example: if you enter a room through a door as a squad, and you are point, go in and keep moving (while firing if needed) to the most easily accessible corner. This will make room for the second man, and give enemies two target instead of one double kill.

              A pic from the guide:

              Keep up the good work.


              • #8
                Re: 1st Boot Camp AAR

                A bunch of us SWAT4 players got quite good (I think) at room clearing, in no small part due to Magnum's instruction. We had excellent SOP's and trained certain formations/maneuvers based on room configurations. We ended up with a lot of entries that began to run themselves... just some leadership to point us the right way, and we each knew what to do and where to go.

                The difference between SWAT4 and GRAW, of course, is that one is a police scenario, often with the expecation to reserve lethal force for last resort (especially where hostages might be present). In GRAW, and most especially in TvT situations, anything but a friendly is tagged to die, and with as much firepower as needed. This loosens the reigns quite a bit on how to conduct room clearing, as you can just go in shooting. SWAT4 depended on scouting room layouts first, or moving with some caution when that wasn't possible (again, due to need for restrained RoE's). This meant more precision and patience.

                Point is, those same kind of room clearing drills are easily trainable in GRAW. I anticipate that we'll be covering that, and hopefully practicing often, to make it natural and instinctive. As Leejo has said before, speed and aggression are key to success. The less time you have to think step-by-step on a given maneuver/situation, the more quickly you can execute and win.

                Boot camp is off to a great start. Glad to see people getting fired up for more.


                • #9
                  Re: 1st Boot Camp AAR

                  Indeed. Our SWAT 4 training should make a very handy basis for CQB and room clearings in GRAW. Good references include the material found here, here, and here.
                  Last edited by Strag; 10-18-2006, 02:00 PM. Reason: Link updated to active page (thanks Magnum).


                  • #10
                    Re: 1st Boot Camp AAR

                    Regarding the first Boot Camp, I think the material covered was a perfect start, especially for a group of folks who haven't necessarily played together in such close proximity. We all started from a blank slate, so to speak, and were able to advance through the Camp as one unit. Coming out of the Camp, we knew we were all on the same page in terms of the concepts covered.

                    I learned the most from the last exercise, where we had an assault team and a suppression team working together to take down a fortified position. Not only was it great fun, but it also exposed areas in which we could use more group training and practice. These are skills that transfer well to any tactical shooter, and it doesn't seem like many folks get the chance to learn and practice them in a controlled environment like that of this Boot Camp.

                    leejo, I know the 42nd used to do a "warm up lap" before each of its practices. Basic concepts were covered in the warm up lap, and it gave everyone a chance to get into the proper mindset. Perhaps the foundation concepts covered in the first Boot Camp could be carried forward in a warm up lap in future Boot Camps, so that everyone could get on the same page quickly before moving forward as a group with the more advanced topics.

                    So yeah. I really enjoyed this first Camp, and I'm looking forward to the second one. Thanks again, leejo, for these learning opportunities!


                    • #11
                      Re: 1st Boot Camp AAR

                      Seconded! Thanks again Leejo, looking forward to the next session


                      • #12
                        Re: 1st Boot Camp AAR

                        WOW Leejo...great AAR and thanks for the links... I admit I never went and read all the primers, too little time when online I want to game... but some of those links you posted are just what I was talking about us doing... no sense re-inventing the wheel, they cover it all pretty dang good. Now to find time to read them all. ;)
                        Magnum |TG-18th|

                        We stand between chaos and order, evil and good, despair and hope - we are the Thin Blue Line, and we will never be broken.


                        • #13
                          Re: 1st Boot Camp AAR

                          Thanks gang. I'm looking forward to more sessions and to improving our teamwork. This game (GR) is amazing when you really start clicking as a team.




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