Tactical Formations Introduction In today’s briefing we will be discussing the squad and fire team formations and when

to use them. Of course we will also discuss when not to use them. Formations Formations are arrangements of elements and soldiers in relation to each other. Squads / fire teams use formations for control and security. Leaders choose formations based on their analysis of the different factors of the mission. Leaders are up front in formations. This allows the leader to lead by example, set the pace, and direct the action. All members of a fire team should be able to see their fire team leader at all times. Column Formation Column formations are also known as file formations because you are in a single file line behind the fire team leader. Column formations are usually used when the terrain is dense or full of vegetation. The column is the easiest to control because you simply follow the man in front of you, who is following the fire team leader. But the downside is that there is less flexibility in a column formation. It takes longer to get your men adjusted to a certain situation. The column formation is the least secure; you have fire capabilities on your left and right flanks but hardly any in the front or rear. The best time to use a column formation is when you are pretty sure the area you are in is secured (in front of enemy lines) and you need to get from point A to point B quickly.

Staggered Column Formation Staggered column is just a "sloppy" column formation. Every other man is slightly offset to the left or right and able to cover and see just a little bit more than in a column formation. If you're in a desert or open area, then the staggered column could be more useful than the strait and narrow column formation.

Line Formation A line formation is when all your men come up shoulder-to-shoulder with you. You still can keep a set interval but for explanation purposes, we will say shoulder-to-shoulder. This formation is best for heavy forward firepower, like when assaulting a forward objective. But this formation leaves your flanks completely open, and if you don’t control the battlefield you can easily be outflanked and eventually destroyed. It’s always best to have other fire teams or squads on your left and right to control the flanks, or move up to your forward target's flank while your line formation of heavy fire keeps the enemy suppressed.

Wedge Formation The wedge is the basic and most popular fire team and / or squad formation. The interval between team members is usually ten meters. The wedge expands and contracts, depending on the terrain. When rough terrain, poor visibility, or other factors make controlling the fire team difficult the normal interval is reduced. The sides of the wedge can collapse into a column / file formation for very difficult terrain, and then re-open as needed. The wedge formation is very flexible. The wedge formation should be used the most, especially in an enemy controlled zone (behind enemy lines). The wedge formation provides excellent front and flank co

verage, but no back coverage.

Vee Formation

The Vee formation is a reverse wedge formation. The fire team and / or squad form a V with the fire team leader or squad leader at the point. This formation gives a lot of firepower on a known enemy, almost surrounding the enemy. But it is very hard to control and adjust. It is not recommended unless you have an enemy pinned and want to move in to squeeze the enemy to death.

Echelon Formation (left or right) The echelon formation is used to cross open areas where you know the enemy is on one side or the other of your flank. It gives you good firepower forward and to either the left or right of your direction of movement. The downside side means that your opposite flank is totally open and in danger. Moving with an enemy on one or both of your flanks is always dangerous and should be avoided. Conclusion That covers a few of the formations and how they might be used. Realize that we didn’t discuss cover fire and bounding overwatch maneuvers, or any of the other things you have to consider and take into account. The purpose at this time is to explain the formations. More advanced lessons will come later in other tactical briefs.

Tactical Briefing 01: Meet the Squad

Introduction In this briefing we will be discussing the squad and fire team elements, and what each team member’s job and / or purpose is. The first thing we need to cover is a few definitions. Soldier A soldier is a person who has enlisted with, or has been conscripted into, the armed forces of a country. The term soldier is usually limited to people who serve in the army. Groups of soldiers are usually divided into military units, which are organized in a strictly hierarchical fashion. A soldier would be considered one individual, the lowest on the list of military unit structure. Fire Team A fire team is a military unit consisting of usually four soldiers. In the US Army for example, a fire team would consist of a fire team leader, a grenadier, a machine gunner, and a rifleman. Often the rifleman would be tasked with a missile system, giving the fire team anti-armor capabilities. The fire team is the building block of any infantry unit, and is the smallest team element that can deploy independently.


In today’s US Army, a squad is a military unit consisting of approximately nine soldiers. The squad usually consists of two fire teams and a squad leader. Not too long ago the US Army had a twelve man squad consisting of three fire teams of four soldiers each. The nine-man squad has become standard due to the proliferation of armed infantry fighting vehicles, apparently all of which have a capacity of nine personal. This is true for even light infantry units.

How This Pertains To Computer Gaming What you basically need to know is that everything usually evolves around the fire team. Each fire team is comprised of the right mix of weapon systems, making the fire team one mean lean fighting machine. The best set up to have in-game is two fire teams, and a squad leader running the show. If you’re lucky enough to have players for three or more fire teams, all the better. It just starts getting a little more hectic for the squad leader with more fire teams. Each squad is usually run by an experienced non-commissioned officer. In the US Army this rank is usually a Staff Sergeant (SSG). Each fire team is usually run by a newbie sergeant, simply called Sergeant, but also known as a buck sergeant. If you have 9 people playing a tactical shooter then you have a squad. One person should be elected squad leader before the mission starts, and the other players divided into two or more fire teams. Each fire team is assigned a letter for easy use especially under virtual combat. These designations are usually Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta. (If you have a sniper team or two, they are usually designated as Sierra 1 and Sierra 2, and so on.) The squad leader gives the fire team orders, while a fire team leader controls his team to accomplish the mission.

So if the squad leader orders Alpha fire team to move up 50 yards, take fighting positions and engage the enemy at 12 o’clock, while Bravo fire team will move left, turn north, then come into the enemies left flank, everyone knows what needs to be done, and the squad leader can be prepared to change the orders or issue a withdraw if necessary. If you have a third, Charlie, fire team the squad leader can use them to reinforce a team, or to rescue an overwhelmed team if necessary. In future tactical briefs most of the information will be based on a squad with a leader and two or three fire teams. This is important to understand especially later when we move into assault and defensive small unit tactics.

Each Squad Member and Their Purpose Explained Squad Leader US Army soldiers work as a member of a squad. Squads are led by the Squad Leader, who has the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSG). Armed with the same weapons as a rifleman, he is fast and maneuverable. Additionally all SSGs are equipped with binoculars. SSGs also can use the squad radio to issue commands. His primary responsibility is leadership in combat, requiring competence, character and skill. Squad Leaders take charge by synchronizing the efforts of their fire teams. Armed with the M16A2 rifle or M4 / M4A1 carbine, the Squad / Team Leader accepts overall responsibility for the success or failure of accomplishing the mission. Fire Team Leader Each squad is divided into 1 - 4 fire teams each having their own purpose. The leaders of these fire teams are Sergeants. Their purpose is to lead their teams to execute a command given by the squad leader in order to complete a mission. Since they are also armed with a rifle, their capabilities are the same as the SSG and rifleman. SGTs also are issued binoculars. This soldier is a fighting leader, assisting the squad leader by taking charge of a 3person fire team. Armed with the M16A2 rifle or M4 / M4A1 carbine, the team leader controls the actions, movement and placement of fire of his fire team. Rifleman The Rifleman makes up the bulk of the infantry squad. To make the rifleman more versatile in all types of combat environments, he is equipped with a variety of rifles and grenades. The purpose of the Rifleman is to complete his mission, give covering fire and act as a maneuver element (when organized into fire teams) to execute the squad leader's plan. Automatic Rifleman Armed with the M249 SAW, the automatic rifleman combines awesome firepower with quick maneuverability. He is essential in providing overwhelming volumes of suppressive fire from medium to long range. No fire team is complete without the Automatic Rifleman.

He provides a fire team with a belt-fed machine gun; the M249's high rate of fire and large ammunition capacity gives a squad / fire team a weapon that maintains a consistent rate of fire to provide cover for the unit. However, this weapon has its drawbacks, particularly weight. Due to this, the Automatic Rifleman is the slowest among the classes available. Grenadier The Grenadier is a key member of the U.S. Army fire team. Armed with an M16 and M203 grenade launcher, the Grenadier can deliver explosive fire at point and area targets from medium to long distances. The Grenadier is capable of sending 40mm high explosive grenades a great distance away, providing support fire for the fire team / squad. Additionally grenadiers have a fully functional M16A2. Each fire team has one Grenadier. Since their role is support, Grenadiers also carry a larger inventory of smoke and stun grenades. However, their fragmentation grenade inventory is greatly reduced, since they already carry 40mm grenades.

Tactical Briefing 03: Squad and Fire Team Movements Introduction In today’s brief we will be discussing the squad and fire team movements and when to use which type. We will also discuss danger areas and crossing techniques. Movement Techniques A movement technique is the way you as an individual, or as a fire team, or a squad move through terrain. There are three common military style movement techniques most used for a fire team or squad. These three movements we will discuss are traveling, traveling overwatch, and bounding overwatch. The selection of movement is determined by either the fire team leader or the squad leader, and based on likelihood of enemy contact and the need for speed. In real life these movements and formations are given with hand and arm signals, but in our virtual computer world most of the time it’s over a voice communications program. Any of the movement techniques listed below can be used with any of the formations we discussed in Tactical Briefing 02: Formations. Traveling Traveling is used when enemy contact is not likely and speed is needed. With traveling you have good, but not great control over your element. Your element is less dispersed. Your speed is fast, but security is weak. With traveling you simply form up in the ordered formation and move out from point A to point B. You are trying to get somewhere quick, but not too worried about security at the moment. Most of the time you’re behind friendly controlled lines.

To see a video of a squad, broken down into two fire teams, using the "Traveling Movement" technique click here. The 1.44MB .wmv file is zipped.

Traveling Overwatch Traveling overwatch is used when contact with the enemy is possible. You have less control of your element because you’re more spaced out, Which means your element is more dispersed. Your speed is slower then regular traveling, because you’re on a higher alert level, therefore security is a little better. With traveling overwatch, your fire team or squad forms up in the ordered formation, usually a wedge, but with more space and more alertness. If You are moving as a squad the squad leader may break the formation down into two fire teams, alpha fire team taking the lead, with the squad leader in the middle, then followed by bravo fire team. To see a video of a squad, broken down into two fire teams, using the "Traveling Overwatch Movement" technique click here. The 2.44MB .wmv file is zipped.

Bounding Overwatch Bounding overwatch is used when contact is expected, when the fire team leader or squad leader believes that the enemy is near, or when a large area or danger area needs to be crossed. Bounding overwatch in real life is only done at the squad level or higher because fire teams are never to be broken up, and it takes two different elements (in a squads case, an alpha fire team and a bravo fire team). But for virtual computer games if it’s only 4 on 4 or something similar, then it would be OK to break down to smaller fire teams. But for this brief we will work as a proper squad.

The lead fire team overwatches first. Soldiers scan for enemies and enemies positions. The squad leader usually stays with the overwatch team. The trail fire team bounds and signals the squad leader when his team completes his bound and is in a over watch position. The fire team leader should know where the objective is and how best to get there using the available terrain. The overwatching fire team needs to know where the other fire team is and their direction so they can properly support them especially if they come under fire. Bounding overwatch works like this: The squad leader, using intelligence, binoculars, and map recon techniques, calls out the beginning bounding overwatch location, the direction of movement, and the end point. The alpha fire team moves out depending on terrain, (close terrain only 20 yards or less, while a nice open area could be 50 yards or more if necessary, but never over extended past the cover teams sight and fire power.) Once the alpha fire team moves out and finds a good cover location overlooking the direction of movement, the fire team leader signals the second fire team, fire team bravo, to move out. Bravo fire team moves past the alpha fire team and takes up a good cover position overlooking the direction of movement. After scanning the area for enemies, bravo fire team leader signals alpha team to move forward and this continues till out of the area or enemy contact occurs. The squad leader can stay with one fire team or can move back and forth from fire team to fire team as needed, because one fire team will always be passing another one stopped and scanning. (Basically bunny hopping team by team.)

Danger Areas A danger area is any area on the movement route that might expose the unit to enemy observation, fire, or both.You should always try to avoid danger areas, but if it’s a needed area to cross it should be done as safely and quickly as possible. Technically to cross a danger area you should do three things: 1. 2. 3. Designate rally points on both sides of the danger area in case something goes wrong and the unit breaks. Secure the side you're on, both your flanks and rear. Recon and secure the far side of the danger area before sending over the full unit.

There are many danger areas, but the most common are roads, streams, and/or open areas. To cross an open area, stay concealed and observe carefully from your near side. Post security units on the left and right, and also the rear for an early warning in case of enemy contact. Then send a small recon team across the area to clear and secure the far side. Once the all clear is received send the rest of the units over, the next to last being the flank security units, then finally the rear security unit. To cross a road or trail, do it at a bend or as near to a bend as possible to minimize your exposure.

To cross a stream or river, use the same techniques as crossing a road, just make sure the stream/river is shallow enough to get your men across.

Tactical Briefing 04: Movement to Contact Introduction OK virtual soldiers, we got the basics down, right? We know the role of each member in a squad and fire team, right? We know the basic combat formations and when to use them, right? We know how to move from point A to point B using one of the three common military movements, right? Now it’s time to get into the meat and potatoes of virtual combat. Today we are going to talk about our first actual combat scenario. We’re going to discuss and demonstrate movement to contact. What I mean by that is, what you as a virtual squad or fire team do when you run into the enemy. I could go into great detail about all the steps and procedures of an ambush or an assault like forms of movement, sequence of operations, assembly areas, line of departure, movement, deployment, and then eventually the assault. But I want to concentrate on the basics so you can act and react with at least a minimal amount of tactics and teamwork. I know there is a lot more to this stuff than the simple steps presented here, but that’s not the purpose of these “tactical briefs”. There are two types of enemy contact that we will discuss. The first is mutual contact, where you see the enemy and the enemy sees you. The second is non-mutual, where you spot the enemy but they don’t spot you. You then set up a hasty ambush (or a retreat, if it’s not winnable). By the way, if the enemy sees you first and you don’t see them, that’s an ambush on you and that’s not good. Mutual Let's discuss mutual contact. Say for example you have a squad out on patrol, you’re looking for the enemy; the enemy is looking for you. You have your squad broken down into two fire teams, Alpha and Bravo. You’re moving either in an overwatch or bounding overwatch.

As the lead fire team turns a bend or crests a hill, and there in front of you at 50, 100, or 200 meters is an enemy patrol. That patrol sees you and they begin to maneuver for engagement.

The first thing the lead fire team does is go prone. If cover is nearby, and I’m talking within 10 to 15 meters, then feel free to dive for cover. But no matter what — get down. Make yourself harder to hit because bullets will be flying within seconds from this point, if they aren’t already.

The lead fire team then begins to immediately engage the enemy. The fire team leader reports the contact to the squad leader, who should be between the two fire teams. The squad leader then makes an immediate decision on where to send the second fire team for support. If you can’t see, feel free to take a quick peek at your map. Locate where the woods and terrain features are, but don’t waste much time. You have no more than 10 seconds. 5 would be better to order your second fire team to flank left or right. You, as the squad leader can then either move up to support the first fire team, or go with the second fire team on the flank. You would order the fire team to flank from the best position of cover, or at least concealment. If there is a small decline in the terrain to the left along with some woodland, and on the right side is an open area, then the left side would be best.

While the first fire team is laying suppressive fire by keeping the enemy pinned or at least their heads down, the other fire team would move as fast as possible to the direct flank, staying out of sight and hopefully the

minds of the enemy. Once that fire team has gone enough flank distance, they then move up into the side of the enemy who are hopefully still pinned down. The second flanking fire team then moves in and destroys the enemy patrol while the first fire team continues suppression.

Non-Mutual Non-mutual is when the front team is moving forward and they spot the enemy patrol but the enemy patrol has not spotted them. They immediately go prone to not be seen. One member can stay in the sight of the enemy for Intel, while the rest of the team slowly move back out of view. The fire team leader then contacts the squad leader. The squad leader then makes a decision on whether to set up an ambush on the enemy patrol, call in for support, or just disengage. If the squad leader decides to conduct a hasty ambush then the fire teams are pulled back. A plan is made based on known information like enemy movement, strength, and of course the all important terrain. He will determine the best place for the ambush that would maximize surprise and firepower.

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