Commanding a tank - Cavalry - United Task Force (UNITAF) Arma 3

P5-29 Commanding a tank

UNITAF / Arma 3 / Cavalry Procedures

Version 1 / 6min read / Updated Mon 02 May 2022 / 592 views / of verified

Tank/Vehicle Commanders have a great many responsibilities and things they must stay aware of in order to effectively employ their vehicles and keep their crews alive. The following sections detail some of the more significant aspects of what they are expected to do.



  • Ensure your crew is aware of where likely enemy threats are, and is oriented as best as possible before any contact is made. Predicting where the enemy is and looking in their general direction is far better than being caught by surprise and having to react to their fire.
  • Prioritize your threat selection and engagement based on the capabilities and imminent danger posed by the enemy. Enemy armor and ATGM systems are always the highest priority, followed by unguided rocket soldiers, and finally everything else.
  • Once your hull-down tank has been spotted and has received or is likely to receive incoming fire, go turret down and jockey to a new position. Jockeying is described in further detail a bit later on - it is simply the act of changing positions in a concealed manner so that the tank can pop up in a different location each time it engages the enemy.
  • Avoid moving straight forward from an over watch position or battle position. Jockeying to a new position or backing away from the position and going around on the low ground are usually better choices.
  • Stay on low ground as much as possible. Moving on top of of ridge lines and over hilltops will skyline the vehicles.


Directing the Driver

  • You should only move as fast as your gunner can accurately observe and engage targets. Blitzing through an area will generally result in you taking fire that could have been avoided with a more deliberate movement scheme.
  • Commanders must remember that the driver has restricted field of view. When referencing landmarks, bear in mind that they must be between 11 and 1 O'clock and at roughly the same elevation for the driver to be able to see them, unless he is turned out. Some tanks, like the Slammer, do not allow a driver to turn out due to the design of the turret.
  • When moving, taking the time to explain the desired position for the tank to end up at as well as the route to use will allow the driver to carry out the movement with minimal supervision. This may not be possible at all times, but when there is time for it, it can increase situational awareness by allowing the commander to scan for threats instead of focus so much on navigating the driver.
  • While driving in formation with other vehicles, or in close support of friendly infantry, keep in mind that your driver will not be able to see them. Commanders must guide the driver in such situations.
  • There will be a short delay when ordering the driver to stop, or execute any other command, due to the time it takes for armored vehicles to come to a stop. Give commands 1-2 second in advance or give commands such as "Driver, advance 10m" or "Driver, advance to the next intersection".


Directing the Gunner

  • As a vehicle commander, you should always be communicating the gunner's area of responsibility. Using bearings, clock ray or landmark reference are some of the many methods to set your gunners left and right of arc.
  • Set your gunner's Rules Of Engagement and keep them updated as the situation evolves. "Hold Fire", "Priority Targets Only" or "Fire at Will" are the most common. "Priority Targets Only" will inform the gunner to only engage targets that pose a threat to your vehicle or other friendly forces. It is generally advised to have a gunner set to "Fire at will" to ensure the quickest reaction to threats.
  • Use your gunner's improved optics to observe distant targets. Your gunner will be able to aim at anything suspicious that you can't identify through the commander periscope and get a clearer ID on it - you simply need to orient him on such suspicious things in the first place.
  • Continually inform your crew of the positions of friendly elements to maintain their situational awareness. As the vehicle commander, the rounds that come from your vehicle are ultimately your responsibility. Ensure that they're only being sent towards the enemy.
  • Your view through the commander's periscope will be different from the gunner's view through the primary gun sight, due to the commander being elevated somewhat. Remember this when working with your gunner, as terrain features could block line of sight from one of the view ports for him without necessarily obstructing your view.
  • Keep the gunner's orientation in mind when moving in close terrain or urban areas. The cannon extends past the side of the vehicle when at the 9 or 3 o'clock and can collide with passing objects. While this will not damage the cannon in Arma 3, it will jar the vehicle and disrupt movement.


Commander Initiated Engagements

A commander initiated engagement (CIE) is similar to the Contact Report used by infantry, but tailored towards the equipment and requirements of armored vehicle crews. It is important that the commander is quick, clear and concise when giving a Commander Initiated Engagement. Passing the vital information in a timely matter will ensure the safety of yourself, your vehicle and other friendly elements. To this end, let's take a look at the different components of a CIE.

  1. Alert. Identifying the position "Gunner" is the standard alert; however, the infantry word "Contact" or "Target" is also acceptable. This will alert the gunner a CIE is about to follow.
  2. Orient. There are three common methods to orient the gunner on target. Choosing which method will be determined by the VC's preference and the difficulty for the gunner to find the target. They are the same as those detailed above in the "Orientation" section. In addition to giving the direction, the distance is also give, typically with the assistance of the vehicle's laser rangefinder.
  3. Describe. Quickly describe what exactly the target is - for example, whether it is a tank or an enemy squad in the open. This will confirm for the gunner what his precise target is, which is of particular importance when multiple threats may be present in a given area. Brevity should be exercised in this step as speed is very important in a CIE.


If the gunner observes the target, which should hopefully be the case, he will verbally state "On" to inform the VC he is observing the target. If the gunner cannot find the target the command "Not seen" will be used to inform the VC he needs to expound on the CIE to get on target. Once the gunner is on target, the commander will finish the CIE by designating the weapon system to be used (Coax, SABOT, HE, etc.) and end with the command "Fire". In the interest of saving time, which in turns saves lives in vehicle engagements, the commander can give the weapon system and "Fire when ready" command after step 3. This will inform the gunner to fire as soon as the target is in sight.

Once you have given a CIE and the gunner is engaging the target, begin to scan for other targets. Your gunner will be able to observe the target and finish it, while you should be worried about any other enemy threats that may be around. Ideally, you will spot a new threat and give your follow-on CIE commands just after the gunner has finished destroying the initial threat.

UNITAF Standard Operating procedures (SOP)
are adapted primarly from US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). Our written and audio procedures are a combination of the following primary source materials, as well as our own learnings, modifications and adaptations:
- US Army Techniques Publication, Infantry Platoon and Squad (ATP 3-21.8)
- Soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks Warrior Leader Skills Level 2, 3, and 4 (STP 21-24-SMCT)
- The Warrior Ethos and Soldier Combat Skills (FM 3-21.75 / FM 21-75)
- Leadership Development (FM 6-22)
- Dyslexi's Tactics, Techniques, & Procedures for Arma 3 (TTP3)

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