Tactical decision making - Combat Leadership - United Task Force (UNITAF) Arma 3

P1-86 Tactical decision making

UNITAF / Arma 3 / Combat Leadership Procedures

Version 1 / 11min read / Updated Sat 07 May 2022 / 1755 views / of verified

The job of a leader becomes one of execution, supervision, adaptation, and flexibility once the mission begins.

With the operations order as a guideline, each leader ensures that his element's part of the plan is carried out to the best possible degree. Whether a Fireteam Leader, Squad Leader, Platoon Commander, or Company Commander, every leader shares a set of common responsibilities that scale with their level of leadership.


General & Pre-combat

The first of these responsibilities is simply those things that any leader must be on the watch for throughout the mission. In the pre-combat phases of a mission, leadership is concerned with a variety of things that are intended to maximize the chance for friendly success while at the same time minimizing the possible influence or impact of the enemy.


  • Where is the enemy? 
    • Finding the enemy is always extremely important.
    • If you were in his position, where would you be?
  • Are elements moving according to orders? 
    • If they are not, find out why from the senior member in charge of the given element(s).
      • If their reason is a valid tactical consideration, shift their orders to account for it.
      • If they have no reason and have simply 'goofed', redirect them towards the proper course of action.?
  • Are the formation and intervals being employed appropriate to the terrain and enemy threat? 
    • If not, remind the element leaders of the desired formation and interval, and ensure that it is understood and executed.
    • Ensure that you continually evaluate the terrain and take full advantage of what it provides.
  • Are the elements within supporting distance of each other? 
    • Particularly at the higher levels, it is important to ensure that Fireteams and squads maintain mutual support when moving, in accordance with the operations order.
    • A squad or fireteam that is off on its own can be cut off, surrounded, and destroyed before the other squads or Fireteams can react and move into supporting distance.
    • Maintaining overwatch and mutual support is a key factor of preventing any given element from being 'fixed' and destroyed by the enemy.
    • The terrain will determine how much distance equates to 'supporting distance' - in close terrain it will be much shorter than in more open terrain, and the weapon systems being used will likewise have an impact due to their effective ranges.
  • Are there any gaps or weaknesses that the enemy could exploit?
    • Is security being maintained, especially when moving? 
    • When doing large coordinated movements, it's important to ensure that no gaps form in the movement formation.
    • Leaders should pay attention to the spacing of the elements, the drift that can naturally occur from movement in rough terrain, and adjust accordingly to ensure a solid collective formation.



In this example, a gap has developed between Bravo and Alpha squads. Noticing this before it becomes a problem is an important part of being a leader.
  • Are key elements (ie: anti-tank) moving in a position from which they can do their job with short notice?
    • If important assets are lagging behind the formation or are otherwise out of place, the whole formation will need to slow down to accommodate them.
    • Stumbling onto enemy armor when your AT assets are slogging hundreds of meters behind the main formation is not a situation you want to ever get into.
  • Is a point element being used? 
    • If not, should one be designated?
    • Is recon being properly utilized?
  • Does everyone know what to do when contact is made? 
    • While this will often be a "SOP" reaction-to-contact drill, there will also be times where specific guidance will need to be given about what to do if contact is made in a specific fashion, or in a particular area.
    • For instance, it may be necessary to 'fight through' any contacts due to a variety of METT-TC considerations, versus getting bogged down in a firefight with them. Knowing this, players will be able to conduct a running firefight as their first reaction, instead of having to be specifically ordered to.
  • Are the Rules Of Engagement clear? 
    • If in doubt, restate them to your junior players. While the concepts of 'Universal ROE' will protect you from common mistakes, it never hurts to ensure that everyone is crystal clear on the ROE - better to be safe than sorry.
  • Is the situation as described in the OPORD? 
    • If not, do changes need to be made? Despite best efforts, the operations order may sometimes be incorrect due to faulty intel, a mis-read map, or similar.
    • It is important that leaders are able to identify discrepancies between "what we're supposed to see" and "what we actually see" and react accordingly.



Once combat has begun, leaders work to get an understanding of the tactical situation so that they can employ their troops most effectively. The higher the leadership level, the less they are concerned with actually fighting, and the more they are looking to find weaknesses in the enemy and exploit them, as well as cover any deficiencies that have developed in their own forces. In combat, leaders pay attention to the following aspects. All of these help them to size up the situation, make tactical decisions, and issue orders appropriate to the situation at hand.


  • Where is the enemy? 
    • How many of them are there?
    • What weapons and special assets do they have?
  • Have your troops deployed properly? 
    • Are they taking up good positions?
    • If not, are there better positions nearby that they could fight to?
    • If so, conduct a tactical maneuver towards the new position and continue to fight from there.
  • Has fire superiority been achieved? 
    • Is the enemy being suppressed?
    • Are they fixed by your fires?
  • Are special assets, such as attached teams or vehicles, "in the fight"?
  • Can any supporting assets be brought to bear? 
    • Artillery and CAS, if available, should be utilized whenever feasible.
  • Considering the initial enemy and friendly situation, can you win the fight from where you are, with the tactics you're currently employing or plan to employ?
    • Is there a better way, and if so, what would be required to execute it?
  • Are friendly flanks protected and has 360° security been established?
    • Are troops watching for the enemy's flanking attempts?
  • Are there any vulnerabilities with how the enemy has positioned himself? 
    • Anything that you can exploit to gain a tactical advantage over them?
    • What about the enemy's flanks or rear?
  • What friendly elements can be maneuvered?
    • What elements can support? 
    • Where can a SBF or BOF be positioned, and what options does the terrain give you?
    • Should you flank the enemy?
    • Pincer them?
    • Assault?
  • What is the enemy currently doing, and can you prevent him from being effective?
    • Are you preventing him already?
  • What is the enemy likely to do?
    • How can you best prevent the enemy from being effective if he does what you think he will do?
  • How is the fight progressing? 
    • Are casualties being dealt with appropriately?
    • Can you still win the fight?
    • If not, break contact and disengage




After the fight has been won, leaders work towards consolidating, establishing security, finding out the status of all units, and then getting their troops into shape to fight again if need be. They ask themselves the following questions as soon as the post-combat phase begins, and take whatever action is necessary to correct any issues that may exist.

  • Has security been established?
    • Nothing should happen until it has been.
    • Security includes checking the enemy to ensure that they're dead or captured, moving to the best positions possible, going firm, and establishing a 360° perimeter security screen around friendly forces.


What is the status of friendly forces?

Get situation reports (SITREPs) as well as more detailed ACE Reports from all elements as time and the situation allow.


How much ammo remains? Is it enough to be effective in the current mission?



  • Wounded.
  • Killed.



  • Vehicles & status.
  • Anti-tank capability remaining.
  • Special equipment (ie satchels) remaining.
  • Hostile weapons acquired, what exactly they are, and what teams have them. Ensure that all friendly forces are aware if enemy weapons are being employed by friendlies, as this lessons the chance for friendly fire.
  • Anything lost of significance.


  • Is medical aid needed? 
    • Are medics tending to casualties already, and are they able to tend to the wounded effectively with the gear they have?
    • Has an aid station been established?
    • Is 'medical clustering' being avoided?


  • Does the friendly force need any reorganization?
    • If leadership casualties were taken, have replacements stepped up and taken charge of their respective elements? If so, what are the names of the new leaders?
    • If KIA's have been sustained, do any elements need to be merged with other ones to bring them back to an effective state?
    • An attrited fireteam of two people is better merged with a healthy fireteam than left by itself, for example.


  • Do key weapons and ammo need to be redistributed? 
    • This will be based largely on the ACE Reports received.
    • Have key weapon systems been recovered from any KIAs?
    • Has ammo been collected from any KIAs?
    • If one squad or element has more ammo than another, redistribution of the ammo can be done if the tactical situation allows.


  • What is the next step in the mission, and what needs to be done to prepare for it? Since missions usually involve more than one combat engagement, it is important to remember that everything you do post-combat is meant to get you back into shape to fight another engagement.


This SOP has been contributed to by 1 editors:
Major James

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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