Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tactical Briefing 05: How to Plan and Execute a Squad Sized Assault


Welcome virtual soldier. Today we will be discussing how to plan as a squad leader, and then execute that plan, an assault on a small town.

One of the most important things to know about launching an assault is intelligence. You need to know what your squad is up against, and if they are capable of succeeding in that assault. Sending a squad of men against a fortified company of enemy infantry with armor and air support is not a winnable situation.

If you have support of your own like air support or a sniper support team. You have to take that into account. Brief the support units and have them assigned to a place to provide that support and be able to respond quickly enough when time for that support is needed.
Besides intelligence, you need to know how to read a map, make your plan based on enemy forces, enemy contact, and terrain layout of a map. Plan to protect your flanks, and be able to retreat if necessary.

I’ve decided with the last two tactical brief articles to present them in a little different fashion. I’m going to show you an assault mission, and explain what and why I did certain things.
This mission is based on an Armed Assault game mission, but it can be used with any tactical simulation that allows you the freedom to plan, move, and attack as needed. Unfortunately, some games force you down a certain path, where your leadership skills aren’t that important. But for the games that allow free movement, like the excellent Armed Assault, you can attack a defended position, and if done right the enemy won’t even know your team is there until it’s too late.
Final word before we start. Make a plan, but be flexible. Sometimes you have to change your plan on the fly. Be prepared to do that as a leader, and as a soldier be prepared to follow new orders.
Plan and Execute an Assault

Remember what I said in the introduction of this briefing — using available intel then good map reading skills are the first two and most important things to know.
In Armed Assault the mission briefing should give you the needed intel on the mission. The mission maker shouldn’t create missions that are not winnable.
As for the map, learn how to read terrain and then use that terrain to get your teams into position to engage and destroy the enemy. In Armed Assault, zoom in and out with the mouse wheel. Know where the hills are and which way the terrain lines (contour lines) move.

Don’t rush planning — spend some time with it. Double-clicking on your map allows you to insert a text message on the map. This can be used as a reminder to you during the mission in single player mode, or you can use it to instruct and brief your fire teams on the plan during multiplayer sessions. Everyone in your squad can see these text messages.

You then start your mission only after you’ve made a plan and explained the plan to your squad members.

First we order the squad to load up in their vehicles. Once mounted, order them into a column formation and return to formation. I always drive the lead vehicle due to the limits of intelligence in the AI, but if you’re doing a multiplayer mission, make sure humans do the driving.

After a check of the map and intended direction is determined by using the compass, the squad moves out in from a friendly, secured area towards waypoint 1.

We arrive at waypoint 1 which is still far enough away from the assault location to not be spotted.

The squad is ordered to dismount and return to formation.

As a squad leader, order your squad into fire teams using the “Assign” menu of Armed Assault. Also order your AI to “Hold Fire” and “Combat Mode, Danger”. This keeps them from firing too early and makes them go into the prone position whenever you stop.

We move out in wedge formation towards the town from waypoint 1 to waypoint 2. Noticed how I used the hill to approach the town for protection and not be seen.

Now as a squad leader, most of my mission time is watching, observing, ordering, and adjusting my orders to my fire teams. Don’t watch individuals. Concentrate on the entire fire or support teams as a group.

Once I have both alpha team (red) and bravo team (blue) in position, I order an “Open Fire” in the target menu. Alpha team then moves up to the hills ridge, overwatches the town, and opens fire on targets.
Bravo team moves into location and opens fire.

You’ll notice that Alpha team has been ordered into line formation to maximize firepower while bravo team is still being ordered to move from cover-to-cover on the flank.

If a man goes down, you can order a medic to move near the injured soldier. Then use the action menu of your wounded soldier and order him to “Heal at Medic”. Keep your people healthy. If they remain injured, move them back to a support / overwatch role.

Depending on the game settings difficulty, whenever a friendly unit sees an enemy it will appear on the map. You can then use the target menu to assign team members to engage a specific target.

Once all known enemies have been eliminated. Then order one team to cover from high ground, and send the other team into the town to sweep and clear.

Now don’t be afraid to adjust your plan. In this case, alpha team cannot cover bravo team properly due to obstructing buildings, so I order alpha team to move to another overwatch location.


Once the town has been swept and cleared, have your squad regroup, check for injuries, re-arm, and prepare for either defending the location you have just taken, or follow new orders. Hopefully, the new orders will be an extraction order back to the rear for some much needed R&R. 

Tactical Briefing 04: Movement to Contact


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.


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.

Once the firefight has ended, one fire team provides cover while the other moves in for the confirmed kills.


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. 

 Tactical Briefing 03: Squad and Fire Team Movements


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 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.

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.

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. Designate rally points on both sides of the danger area in case something goes wrong and the unit breaks.
  2. Secure the side you’re on, both your flanks and rear.
  3. 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 02: Formations


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 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 coverage, 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.

How to Use Formations Effectively in a Computer Sim

Say you’re the squad leader of a 9-man squad (including yourself), or even just a 4-man fire team leader (including yourself). Your objective is to leave your forward base of operations on foot, cross over enemy lines, infiltrate an enemy forward supply point and destroy it. (All other things, like crossing danger zones and proper movements aside, let’s talk about the formations you use only).
You leave your base in a column formation because you want to get from point A to point B pretty quickly, and the friendlies have a pretty good hold on this side of the enemy line. You approach the enemy lines; you then order your squad / team into a wedge formation for the best overall protection. You go through some rough woodland area, the wedge constricts in size in order to maintain visibility. At some point it gets so thick you order your men into a staggered column. Once you exit through the thick woodland, the wedge expands back to proper size. You continue on and right before you crest the hill that you already “map recon’ed”, you order your men into a line formation. This will give maximum firepower to the front where the enemy is expected. Your squad / team goes prone and you crest the hill and on your command, engage the enemy. Okay, the enemies are about gone, but you want to sweep in and clear it. You order a vee formation, so you can put the squeeze on the enemy position and close in for the final kills.


That covers a few of the formations and how they might be used. Realize that we didn’t discuss cover fire and bounding over watch 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
Series Introduction

Welcome to the first in a series of articles discussing different aspects of squad and team level virtual combat. All of this information is taken from real world sources and modified for gaming purposes.
If you have any interest in playing tactical shooters on either a next gen console and / or a personal computer then I hope this and subsequent articles will help you get the most out of your gaming. Sure, you can continue to play a shooter as a run and gun, you paid for it, but if you’re like me you prefer to play tactical shooters with an emphasis on tactics and teamwork. These articles are geared toward that type of gamer
Before you can run, you need to learn to walk. Therefore the first couple of articles will be just basic information that most of you may already know.
- Magnum

Tactical Briefing 01: Meet the Squad


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.


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 AlphaBravoCharlie, 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 3-person 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.
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.

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.
How to get the most out of your computer games by using real world tactics.
Most of my fellow gamers, I would wager, like as much realism in computer games as possible within the limits of the medium, without it being a boot camp style of learning. I had been into flight sims for awhile before deciding to play them a little bit more seriously. I read two books, one from Dan “Crash” Crenshaw called “How to live and die in the virtual sky”, and another by Robert L. Shaw titled, “Fighter Combat: Tactics and Maneuvering”. Both are very good books with a lot of images and drawings to explain the basics and more of fighter combat; I have used that information to make my flight sims even more enjoyable. While reading both books, one thought kept popping into my head “someone should write a book about squad tactics in war games and police games”.
Well, I’m no writer, and definitely don’t have the time or know how to publish a book, however, with almost 30 years total service in the U.S. Army and in civilian law enforcement, I figure I have enough know how to write a half way intelligent article on the subject. So for others like me who play today’s computer games, here are some basics of real world tactics that might help improve your game or at least make it more fun.
Part One is about police SWAT tactics, while Part Two is about squad and platoon level war time tactics. You may already know some, most, or even all of this information. This article is for those who don’t know and want to learn to get the most out of their favorite land based games with the added realism of real world tactics .
Part 1: Police SWAT Tactics
Part 1 applies the most to SWAT 4 which is about the only police squad shooter I am familiar with unless you count SWAT 3 which uses the same tactics. And if you do, the improvements in SWAT 4 are well worth the upgrade. Still hopping for a SWAT 5 game one day, if they don't dumb it down, which seems to be the trend in tactical shooters now-a-days.
The in game command and reply structure works pretty damn well, but if you can connect with a co-op group on a team speak type server it will make it a lot easier and a lot more fun to multiplay.
While you’re looking at the briefing screens, equipment options, and entry locations, decide first who will be the element leader for that one mission. He is the one and only person to give commands; it’s his show, let him run it the way he wants and then on the next mission someone else can be in charge.
Decide who will team up as red and blue teams, and those two members in a team should NEVER, EVER leave each other’s side.
The element leader is in back, giving the orders to red team and blue team. (i.e.: “Red cover left door, Blue stack up on forward door.”)
Decide on who is taking what weapons; each team (2 teams in an element) should have a less then lethal option, an opti-wand, and flash bangs. Each of the two teams should be able to operate fully on their own, with their own equipment. No team should have to ask the other team to use their equipment.
The optiwand is your third best friend; the first is your partner/team and the second is your primary weapon. Every single door, every single corner, every single room should be mirrored. If the element leader says “Red mirror the door”, Red One (w/o the optiwand) covers in case the bad guy opens the door while being mirrored. Red Two (with the optiwand) checks the door and should respond to the team, something like this, “Large room, long wall on left side, 2 more doors on right, 1 armed subject next to hostage.” Then the element leader orders how the team will enter.
Stacking up
Every door is a new entry, a new situation. After getting the optiwand report, the element leader decides on entry, “Stealth entry, pick lock” or “Dynamic entry, breach with C4, bang and clear.”
Entering a room
You should already know if someone’s in the room, (but don’t assume there isn’t a bad guy hiding there) and already have a general idea of the room layout, walls and doors from the optiwand users report. You already know your element leader’s orders for entry. So when it’s time to enter, the element leader should say “Element (or just red/blue team) prepare for entry, Blue team breach, bang and clear… go when ready” The blue team will be up against both sides of the door, with the two red officers behind each of them. Blue One would prep the door for blasting or breaching; Blue two would prep the flash bang. As the door blows open, Blue One switches to his weapon immediately, Blue Two tosses in flash bang then immediately switches to his primary weapon. BANG… Blue One enters. Blue Two enters, moving down the left and right sides, while Red One enters to the left. Red Two enters and moves to the right. In order of entry, you report “all clear”, or “subject down”, or “subject surrenders”. (ie: Blue One: “Clear!”, Blue Two: “Subject down!”, Red One: “Clear!”, Red Two: “Clea!”.) Then the element leader walks in like the king and orders the officers to restrain, report, or cover the next threat/area.
Different methods
All gamers should be familiar with the four main types of room entries: Old school – Button Hook, Old school – Criss Cross, New school – Wall Flood, and New school – Penetration.
a) Old school, Button Hook: When two officers each stack up (setting up) on both sides of a closed door, once the door is opened or breached, officer 1 enters and clears from 12 o’clock to the position he was in outside of the door. Meaning if you stack on the left, you go in and turn left to be on the left side of the room and vice versa on the right side.
b) Old school, Criss Cross: When two officers stack on each side of a door, then once the door is opened or breached, officer one goes from the left side of the door crossing over to the right, then the stacked right officer follows crossing over to the left side of the room.
c) New school, Wall Flood: When either 2 or 4 officers stack up even on each side of the door, then once opened or breached they all enter in order: 1, 2, 3, and 4… 1 moving to the left, sliding down the wall, 2 moving to the right, sliding down the wall, then 3 moves to the left half way downl, then 4 moves to the right half way down… All officers then move in line formation to clear the rest of the room.
d) New school, Penetration: When a team of 4 officers enter a room simultaneously and move to the middle of the room facing outwards to cover and control a quadranl.
You should be working in pairs (NEVER leave your wingman) when moving down a hallway or an open danger area. One 2 man team stays back to provide cover across the danger area or one side of a hallway. The other two man team moves across the danger zone quickly to their destination. When going down a hallway, one officer should be duck walking (kneeling) while the other is standing behind him, two weapons downrange. You should also stay on one side of the hallway so your back up team has a field of fire.
Always reload before entering a room or before stacking (setting up) on a door. ALWAYS go in a new room with a full mag.
If your moving through a danger area, or hallway while engaging and you need to reload, yell “Reloading!”. Kneel down and reload, while your number 2 officer, your best buddy, is covering or firing over your head down range. When done, yell “Ready”. Do not move while you reload, stop, kneel and reload, while your buddy covers you and vice versa.
Practice, Practice, and Practice. Train so that when you do these missions you and your team work flawlessly and smoothly. Never leave your best bud ever, and never go running after someone on your own, or without clearing areas first.
Part 2: Squad / Team Level Military Tactics
Whether you’re playing the most realistic military shooters, like ArmA3 and the classic Ghost Recon, or the latest Run and Gun like the Call of Duty series or Battlefield series, the team with the best tactics, along with the best skills will usually win. Here are just some basic tactics to know and use. Working as a team, even in a run and gun, will reward your team with more wins and less failures. More guns downrange working together will almost always beat a single gun – no matter how good that gamer is.
The key to good teamwork is communications. You can use the in game comms if you wish, but the best way I have found to communicate with my comrades in arms is via a team speak server or similar program. You need some discipline when using the communications server. If everyone is talking at once, then no one can hear orders. The squad leader (or team leader) is the one who should do most of the talking. The soldier should be listening and carrying out orders. You should only be reporting mission critical information back to the leader, or calling out enemies you spot or are engaging. (While alive only, once dead it’s called ghosting, and not proper.)

Planning Either before your team joins the game or while your picking servers, sides or teams, or waiting for a game to load or start, discuss a plan. Once again the guy who has either been picked as the leader or the guy randomly assigned as the leader should get to select the plan. If it’s an objective, assign teams or members to move out as a unit. If you want to keep it as real as possible, then the best way to organize teamwork is by assigning members to teams.

The leader would be the squad leader, and then you can have 2 to 4 separate teams, usually referred to as Alpha team, Bravo team, Charlie team, and Delta team. You could also have a sniper team which I like to call Sierra team. A sniper team consists of a sniper and a spotter. Your teams should ALWAYS stay together, never separate; they need to operate as a unit. You might say something like, “Alpha team approach objective from the south, Bravo team move out to the right and flank objective.” Whatever the plan, have one, share it, and keep it simple stupid, KISS. No need to have a detailed plan because most of the time things don’t work out as planned and there’s a need to be flexible. That’s where your leadership skills come in. When a plan starts to fall apart, change it even if you have to retreat, go defensive, and then form a new plan for the objective.

A little side note: even if you’re not playing with a group that you know, or have contact with, no one should ever be alone. If you see another player running off on his own then team up with him. No solider should ever die alone. Also, if you’re planning a game with a mission goal, never forget the goal. To play the game the way it was designed, you and your teammates should strive to reach the assigned goals. So many times I’ve heard and seen gamers tell everyone to stay away from the mission so they could get more kills If that’s want you want, then I would suggest another game or maybe a single player game for you.


Know your equipment and how to properly deploy it. If it’s your assigned primary weapon like the M16, M14, G36, or AK47, know how the weapon fires, how it recoils, what modes of fire it has, and what type of sites you have, (iron sights, red dot, or other.) You don’t want to waste ammo so you should strive to control your burst. If you’re a sniper, or laying in ambush over a nice big area target, then maybe a single shot will work best for you. Remember one shot, one kill, (usually only in the head in computer games, otherwise it may take a couple of shots). If you’re on a suppression team then automatic should be your mode of fire. You want to keep rounds going downrange, to keep the bad guys ducking for cover. If you’re on regular patrol, or walking through the streets, mountains, or jungles then a three round burst should be the rate of fire choice. You get more control on automatic, and get more rounds at the target then with just the single round of a sniper.

A little gaming note: if you have a slow connection to the Internet then automatic or at minimum, three round burst should be used. Because of the nature of pings and lag, if you shoot one round at a target, that target may not be there by the time the other player or host server gets the round projection. Also know how to use your alternative weapons. In some games you may have a pistol as a sidearm; most that I play give you access to grenades.

A fragmentation grenade is a killer, when it explodes friends and foes within a certain radius will be killed or seriously wounded. Know the range of the grenade blast and warn your teammates that a frag is going out, so they don’t decide at the same time to run into the blast radius. A flash bang is used to stun people in a room or closed in area and once thrown your team can enter to clear a room or to engage bad guys. A smoke grenade is used to provide concealment for your team to move to a new location. It is especially useful when you and your team need to cross a danger area like an open area. Toss a couple of smokes, wait about 20 to 30 seconds, and then move from point A to point B. Just remember to keep close to your team mates for proper support and engagements, but not too close that one fragmentation grenade is going to wipe out the whole team.
Know your Role
Previously I said that the most important part of teamwork is communications. Probably the second most important part is playing the role you are assigned. Too many times I have joined a open multiplayer game and as soon as the game starts, people start running off on their own to do their own Rambo action flick. If you’re going to do that, then I recommend Doom or Half Life. If you’re going to play a great team game like America’s Army or Battlefield 2, then follow your assigned role as part of a squad or team. If you’re the Sergeant in Charge, (usually called the platoon sergeant or squad leader, depending on the size of the team) then take charge and start issuing orders. If you’re the private in the group, shut up and listen to your orders. Then follow your orders out to the best of your ability. Even if you don’t agree, let the player who is assigned the task of leader lead , you’ll get your turn soon enough. I’ll break down the most common roles and try to explain which task is assigned to each.
In a squad, there is a squad leader and usually 2 to 4 teams.
In a team there is usually a team leader, a rifleman, a grenadier, and a machine gunner. Each team should operate as one, supporting each other.
Squad Leaders
A squad leader is usually a Sergeant with a number of years in service. He is in charge of a squad which normally consists of 10 to 12 members. He receives the mission from above and then determines how best to utilize his squad members to accomplish the task. He is the one that forms the overall plan for the mission at hand. In computer games, it’s always nice to rotate who will be the squad leader either each mission, or each round of missions. That way every gamer gets a chance to show his leadership skills. If you receive an order from your squad leader, you should do everything in your power to follow those orders to accomplish the mission, even if you think you have a better way. Wait your turn to lead.
The quotations below were taken from the America’s Army description pages, all released in fan kits to the general public. I found these while researching after I wrote my similar paragraphs.
“US Army soldiers work as a member of a squad. Squads are lead 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.
Your 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.”
Team Leaders
There are usually 2 to 4 teams within a squad. Each team has a team leader who answers to his squad leader and gets his soldiers to follow the squad leader’s orders. If the squad leader should go down, then the Alpha team leader would take over as squad leader and so on.
“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 3-person 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.”
Machine Gunners
The machine gunners carry the heavy weapons. One should be assigned to each team, but if you only have one then assign it to the main team that will suppress any enemies encountered. The machine guns like the SAW or M60 are used to throw as much lead as possible downrange. If you have the machine gun then use it. If your team is moving to an objective and you get ambushed or start taking fire, the machine gunner along with his team should dive to nearest cover and get that weapon rocking. Even if you don’t know exactly where the fire is coming from, just a general direction, and then lay down some fire. The other team should then be flanking left or right, to pin point and destroy the enemy while there hiding from the awesome hail of bullets coming from the machine gun. “Armed with the M249 SAW, the automatic rifleman combines awesome firepower with quick maneuverability. The automatic rifleman is essential in providing overwhelming volumes of suppressive fire from medium to long range. No fire team is complete without the Automatic Rifleman. The Automatic Rifleman 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.”
The grenadier usually has a M203 grenade launcher attached to his M16. He uses his weapon just like any rifleman, but when a little more power is needed he switches to his secondary fire mode and lobes a couple of 40 mm rounds into certain areas. You need to be a good shot and practice with the 203. If you miss your target, you could end up killing or wounding your own fellow soldiers. Most of the time you would use the M203 to clear out a window where there is enemy fire, or a place where the enemy has bunkered into and your regular riflemen can’t reach. “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 also 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.”
The rifleman is the backbone of the team or squad. While the sniper team is usually off on their own, and the machine gunner and grenadier have their own roles, the riflemen provide the detailed fire on targets and cover their fellow soldiers while they employ their tools of war. There will be more riflemen in a squad then anything else. If a grenadier or a machine gunner goes down, then a rifleman should pick up that weapon and take over the role. “The rifleman makes up the bulk of the infantry squad. To make the rifleman more versatile in all types of combat environments, they are 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.”
 Like I said, sniper teams consist of two members. One is the primary sniper, while the other is the spotter. The Sniper is the one who decides where to go and set up, based on the mission and the overall plan. The spotter sticks with the sniper for protection, and to take his place if he is injured or killed. While the sniper sets up and takes out the assigned targets, the spotter should be watching the rear and flanks so the team doesn’t get surprised and shot execution style. “The advanced marksman is a unique soldier who is an expert marksman. To be an advanced marksman you must have scored 36 or higher at the rifle range and have attended advanced marksmanship school. From there, you will be able to use special long range precision weapons like the M24 and M82. Advanced marksmen can be identified by their hats. They usually wear “boonie hats,” but on arctic maps they wear kevlar helmets like the rest of their squad. Relying on stealth and patience, the advanced marksman is specially trained to employ either the hard-hitting M82 Barrett or the pinpoint accurate M24 SWS. The advanced marksman can be used in the offense, striking individual targets from great distances or as a reconnaissance element. You must complete Advanced Marksmanship training to become a US Army advanced marksman.”
Moving as a Team
When you move as a team there are a number of formations to use in land combat. The decision is dependent on the likelihood of enemy contact, and the type of terrain the team or squad will be moving over or through. You can move in file formation when enemy contact is less likely and the terrain is difficult. When you follow in this single file line formation, maintain some distance in case of booby traps or a surprise grenade attack.
A line formation is when the team or squad moves up in a single line – say a ridge line to engage an enemy on the other side. It is effective when you’re moving up to engage an enemy or to concentrate maximum firepower on a target. You’re arm and arm next to each other; it’s like a wall of soldiers advancing.
The wedge formation is the best formation when moving from point A to point B as a team or squad. If you’re a squad then there will be at least two teams, (two wedges). A wedge will have a point man positioned ahead at the tip of the wedge; the team moves at his pace. If he stops then the team stops. If he approaches a danger zone or an enemy that hasn’t seen the team, he would report back and the team leader (usually in the middle of the wedge to direct his soldiers) would issue the orders to either engage or go around the danger area.
You can easily start in a wedge formation, come up to an enemy patrol or post, and then move up to line formation to begin the engagement.

Crossing a Danger Zone
When you come across a danger area like a open field or courtyard to cross, your team or squad would stop. You should set your two outside soldiers to watch the flanks, after popping smoke if needed, (remember smoke may give your position away) your soldiers will run across the danger zone and set up on the other side. Once all have crossed then you can continue on in the normal fashion.
3 to 5 Second Rushes
When you’re moving up on an objective or getting closer to an enemy for engagement and not out in the open, you should always follow the 3 to 5 second rule. Run from cover to cover for only 3 to 5 seconds. If you stay exposed any longer than, an enemy can sight and shoot you easier.
The first land maneuver that I want to explain has been around since the beginning of warfare. It was one of the first team movements learned in mass warfare. In the flanking maneuver a unit or part of a unit swings around to the left or right side of an enemy to engage.
I’ll try to explain it in story form: Your squad is moving through a lightly wooded area in a duel wedge formation. Suddenly you come under enemy fire from the front. The front wedge, Alpha team immediately drops to cover, and positions themselves in a line formation facing the enemy. Alpha team then opens up to engage and lays suppressive fire. While the enemy is suppressed the rear wedge, Bravo team, splits left or right on the direction of either the squad leader or the team leadert. Bravo team tactically runs left or right a good safe distance, then moves up parallel to the enemy line of fire and come in on the flank in a line formation. If it goes as planned, the suppression team is keeping the enemy pinned, creating a nice flank by the second team. Communication is key for timing and signaling the suppression team to shift fire away from the flanking side. The flanking team comes in and kills the enemy.
Bounding over Watch
This maneuver breaks down into two parts. The first part bounding means to go back and forth. Over watch means to watch over the other team. The bounding over watch maneuver starts with one team over watching the other team as they move over terrain. That team then gets into place to cover the other team’s movements. If you’re talking armor, then it could be a 5 mile over watch movement, but if you’re talking infantry tactics then bounding over watch could be from tree to tree or building to building.
For example: two teams are part of a squad. The squad needs to move from point A to point B. Team Alpha gets into a nice safe position to cover team Bravo’s movement. Team bravo moves to a safe covering place, gets into position and team Alpha moves out to bound over the other team. This goes back and forth till the objective is reached.
Cover vs. Concealment
Cover is something you can hide behind that a round can’t penetrate like a wall. You are better protected behind cover than hidden (concealed) in the tall grass or behind a bush from observation by the enemy. If you’re spotted while concealed, you are still susceptible to enemy gunfire.
Conclusion Debrief
The objective of this article is not to get you ready for war. It’s not meant to be an in depth or detailed manual. My aim is to teach or explain basic police and military tactics to fellow gamers so we can get the most out of our PC games. especially in cooperative multiplayer mode. There is tons more to cover, and if you’re interested, then I would suggest picking up a book on the subject. One that I’m reading now is the combat leader’s field guide. A very good read on the topics covered in this article, written by retired Sgt. Maj. Brett Stoneberger. About my Experience I spent 10 years in the US Army as a Military Police Officer. We had a dual mission: we performed police patrol work in our surrounding military post and also had a rear area command and control combat mission. We operated in platoon size and squad sizes doing basic rear security and light infantry missions. I personally was on the SRT (Special Reaction Team) and was a dog handler then and a dog trainer while in the Army. Afterwards I became a civilian police officer and have been one for 17 years so far. I started as a patrolman, became a member of SWAT, then the K9 section. I am the tactics instructor for my department, and now just under 3 years till retirement.