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Fire Support Integration's Future, a Discussion

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  • Fire Support Integration's Future, a Discussion

    Paine. 08 March 8, 2019. V7.0
    Squad: Fire Support Integration

    Paper Objectives: Maximize combined arms events in game. Realism in effect, not detail. Simplicity. Enhance fire support, communication and teamwork. Minimal new back end build.

    Recommendations:
    1. Command Staff Squad, JTAC kit in Squad Leader (SL) direct voice comm plan
    2. Enhanced Map Markers as required Fire Support Requests
    3. Lasers, Links to UAV feed, and Area Attack clearance.
    4. Questions
    5. Words from the Squad forums

    1. Org Chart and Comm Plan

    JTACs should live in a Command Staff “Squad”. Where the Commander is “Squad Leader”, and Staff are “Squad Members”, each having SL permissions to facilitate direct to single SL voice coordination, and map marker placement. Command Staff exist to focus efforts on AAS/Demolition/INS mission goals, and buttress communication and teamwork.

    On 08March SquadTalk, Fuzzhead stated that there will be an increased emphasis on map markers as the primary means of team coordination in order to reduce voice comms congestion. He also stated that there will no longer be a “Squad Leader” channel where all SLs can discuss what they had for lunch today. Given that a similar cascade of unnecessary voice chatter would likely result from a joint fires request channel, we will not propose one.

    Still, a JTAC and Fires Assets-only voice channel should be considered, but it may not be entirely necessary for responsive fires integration. This requirement may be satisfied by existing SL to single SL direct voice, given the asset is controlled by a squad leader, and the Command Staff have squad leader voice permissions.

    More complex requests for fire support must come from squad leaders and be visible to all necessary players. Current map markers with some adjustment can broadly, and simply, fit that requirement.

    2. Enhancements to Map Markers

    Both command staff and squad leaders should be able to adjust Normal map makers to fire support requests. These requests should not be separate icons as they are now. This is to reduce clutter and provide more, and minimum necessary information via the map. Imagine a squad leader clicking on a map marker they just placed, and then selecting request fire support. This would change the icon and create a notification for command staff and assets. This fire support request should be required for any fire support to occur.

    For fire support integration and voice congestion mitigation, imagine three nested map maker information selectors. These enhancements could fit into the rose system in tiers.

    The information from the first tier is visible to everyone on the team. It includes map marker type, number of units, and movement direction as a dragged arrow. Additionally, a fire support icon identifier would be visible if so requested, so everyone knows what map marker might be blowing up soon.

    The second tier is visible to anyone who hovers over the marker, and provides the additional information of timestamp and originating unit.

    The third tier is visible to command staff, fires assets, and squad leaders. It includes mark type (laser, smoke, smurf, none), fire support request identifier (labeled consecutively automatically for clarity; fire support request 1, 2, 3 etc., useful for re-attacks of old markers that can be re-activated), and command staff pending/approval/disapproval.

    The target info required for very effective fire support integration would include all of these enhancements, and these loosely reflect real world procedures. However, complexity should be as limited as possible while still being effective. So these enhancements should be optional. At minimum, three steps should be required for fire support: a map marker, turned into a fire support request, approved by command staff. Boom. Other pertinent information, like anti-air threats and nearest friendly position are available elsewhere on map. Effective Simplicity is God.


    3. LTD/M Area Attack and UAV Feed: Integration, Practically

    The decision on what sort of boom to use for a given fire support request should be up to the commander, with delegation to the JTAC(s) on the battlefield. Fires are limited in supply, a single SL does not have the information to decide target priority. The role of the JTAC(s) in the command staff is to be forward positioned wherever the commander needs a lot of explosions.

    For example, a JTAC could position to watch important terrain, and deploy a long range Laser Target Designator, like rifleman deploy sandbags. This is the least integrated use of the role. Given aircraft and UAV sensors are available, and better suited most of the time for this mission, it shouldn'’t be encouraged by game mechanics. Think of a lone sniper with a big bullet. It's cool, but usually, fires effects from here won't help the squads moving on the battlefield directly.

    Or in consultation with the commander they could approve a round-use-limited Area Attack, where aircraft or other fire support would be cleared to attack supply routes or enemy bases. This on-map area attack clearance would be for a given amount of time, in a limited area, with pilots able to identify and attack anything in that area for that time.

    In the most objective fulfilling case, a squad leader given an assault objective would gain by having a JTAC to integrate fire support into their movement. The spotter could use a short range, handheld laser marker/designator or colored smoke to mark targets. Enemy in cover can be suppressed and moved on, enemy fixed and engaged with friendlies can be designated/marked and neutralized. In all these scenarios, the JTAC would have direct voice to fire support assets and access to the UAV feed.

    This would simplify squad leader’ tasks and create the kind if niche, combined arms gameplay Squad was born for (see 5). By using map markers primarily, and distributing their use and approval, the process is streamlined for gameplay realism in effect, rather than realism in detail, with ample depth should players want to be damn heroes. This with the coincidence of actually being kinda realistic.

    The outcome of the JTAC role paired with enhanced markers as fire support requests will be awesome. Assets like attack helicopters will integrate with ground maneuver and ultimately have more satisfying targets to engage. No other game will be able to provide this experience in such short order.

    4. Ok, but why these limits on fire support?

    If there is any match at all to real life probability of incapacitation numbers, fire support will be an extremely effective tool in Squad. Combined with the ease with which player models are spotted in the game generally, and the introduction of UAVs and aircraft, the use of fire support will have to be limited in some way. Adjustments to incapacitation radius and/or supply cost are useful here, but these numbers are independent of foundational mechanics that drive gameplay where we want it to be. The procedural limitations suggested here that encourage communication and teamwork are a better choice to accomplish fire support limitations.

    Why not just give these capabilities to SLs? Why not directly connect Fire Support?

    If you are a squad leader, you are more worried about helping that noob medic put an epi in your AR than you are integrating fire support. Priorities lists get crowded fast. This explains why fire support integration is rare generally; the complexity is just too much for most people in most cases. The realism complaint re: a SL doesn’t carry all that equipment IRL is small potatoes to the effect on gameplay compounding leadership tasks have.

    A second reason fire support integration is rare is the meta around assets. Assets tend to play their own mini-games, because integration is not generally necessary for a player to be an asset whore and get mad kills, or whatever. We could here fix that by making integration necessary fundamentally, through the map marker request system and the commander/jtac team. If use of these fire support assets requires integration, then integration there will be. Want to use those 24 AGMs pilot? Get a fire support request.

    Practically speaking, if the commander, one or two JTACs, and squad leaders can all request fire support relatively easily using the map, it will happen, and often. With the added benefits of teamwork, communication, careful use of a limited high value asset, and less voice comms.

    What about games where there are no commanders or JTACs? What about non-NATO factions?

    Without a command staff, high level fire support will not be available. Aircraft may be limited to direct fire weapons, or use, mortars may be limited in range, or use. Area attacks may be entirely unavailable. Off-map fire support may be entirely unavailable. Call the kit the spotter kit.

    5. Words from the Forums

    “"Lasing a target and the watching a friendly aircraft coming down from sky, deploying flares and firing a missile or dropping a JDAM or strafing a target was super cool to watch. It was fun to organize as a squad leader, and the feeling you had as a pilot, after destroying a tank, costing enemy 22 tickets, being praised by your teammates and relieving your ground troops from some kind of threat was extraordinary"”. (Kruder, https://tinyurl.com/y4jlgpdf)

    "“I just love the need for teamwork and coordination necessary to make things work. I remember the first time I lased a tank as sl, communicated with the CAS squad, they were air and had no air oposition, they came and BOOM!. I remember the propper "congratulations, good job, well done" after the succesful bombing. That was an experience hard to get anywhere else"”. (Nightingale87, https://tinyurl.com/yyr3q68a)

    “"The biggest problem I encountered was fellow squad leaders not providing accurate or timely adjustments, even when repeatedly pressed for adjustment from point of impact. I got it... SLs are busy fighting their squads and the request from some guy a couple grid squares away is probably low on his priority list at that particular moment. But fire support is a force multipier... it needs used”". (Celt, https://tinyurl.com/y3nedkeq)

    Celt's thread is in total conversation with this one, and is worth a big look. Hope to play with you guys in a couple three months, with more explosions.

    Paine
    Communicate. Stay together. Don’t give up.
    Last edited by Paine; 03-27-2019, 02:38 PM.
    Stay together, communicate, don't give up.

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  • #2
    Epic post, great stuff Paine totally agree. As you point out a proper JTAC role will drive teamwork but that power should come at a 'cost' i.e. the loss of one role for another, this is how it should be, tactical choices and consequences.


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