Team tactics and theory - Combat Leadership - United Task Force (UNITAF) Arma 3

P1-94 Team tactics and theory

UNITAF / Arma 3 / Combat Leadership Procedures

Version 1 / 8min read / Updated Sun 08 May 2022 / 1847 views / of verified

Table of Contents

    The following definitions cover some of the more significant aspects of the employment of team-level tactics. These are important to understand for the purposes of the remainder of this page's content.



    Suppression is the act of using fire and the threat of fire to deter enemy fire or action, as well as 'fix' the enemy in one place. As noted elsewhere, suppression is only effective if the enemy truly believes that they will be shot or killed if they don't take cover from the incoming fire.


    Base-of-Fire Element

    A 'base of fire' is a collection of troops, typically with multiple machineguns or automatic rifles, whose job it is to suppress and 'fix' an enemy while another element maneuvers to close with and destroy them. This is also commonly referred to as a 'support' element.


    Maneuver Element

    A maneuver element, also commonly known as the assault element, is a group of troops that is tasked with flanking or otherwise attacking the enemy under the cover of a base-of-fire element. They close with and destroy the enemy through fire & movement.


    Fire & Maneuver

    Fire & maneuver is the first part of closing with and ultimately destroying the enemy. To conduct it, a portion of the available force is set up as a 'base of fire' from a suitable position with good observation of likely enemy locations. This base-of-fire element suppresses or kills the enemy with their combined fire, allowing the second element - known as the maneuver element - to close with and destroy the enemy.

    Generally, fire & maneuver employs as many machineguns as possible in the base-of-fire element so that a high level of suppression and lethality can be achieved. When available, vehicles and crew-served weapons can be employed in the base-of-fire to heighten the effects of it. Note too that there can be multiple bases-of-fire, with complementary coverage, to make it even harder for the enemy to effectively respond.


    Fire & Movement

    Fire & movement sounds very similar to fire & maneuver, yet is significantly different from it. Fire & movement is the most fundamental of all team-oriented combat principles, and is where the 'rubber meets the road' so to speak.

    Fire & movement happens when a maneuver element is no longer able to advance in the cover of supporting fire from the base-of-fire element. This typically happens in the last hundred or more meters away from an enemy position.

    When an element transitions into fire & movement mode, players move up with measured aggressiveness, covering each other as they advance via buddy bounds or individual rushes. Generally, fire & movement happens naturally and is not specifically called for. Once the enemy is shooting back in an effective fashion, or you're within grenade range of them, you should assume that fire & movement has begun.


    Going Firm

    "Going Firm" is a technique that can be used to control the advances of friendly forces and get a better picture of what the situation is via reports from all friendly units.

    When the order to "go firm" is received, squad leaders halt their forward advances and have all their Fireteams take up a defensive posture in the best possible positions nearby. The Platoon Commander and Squad Leaders then have a brief discussion as to what happens next, how many casualties have been taken, what formations will be used next, and any other relevant information about the battle that needs to be passed. After this is over, the PltCo cancels the order and all squads resume their movement or change their plans according to PltCo instructions.



    Security is the act of ensuring that situational awareness is maintained in 360° around friendly forces, preventing the enemy from surprising friendlies.



    Integration of Smoke

    The proper integration of smoke into a battle is critical to both in the offensive and defensive roles. Smoke is on-demand concealment that allows a force to mask their movements, deceive the enemy, mask the enemy's observation or fire, or signal.


    Smoke Varieties

    Smoke comes in four primary varieties.

    • Smoke hand grenades.
      • These can provide a good amount of smoke for a minute or so and can be thrown several dozen meters.
      • Many infantry units carry these - medics get an extra amount, as do team leaders and squad leaders.
    • Grenade launcher smoke grenades.
      • Often referred to as 'ground markers', these are not strictly intended to be used for concealment, but can do the job nicely in a pinch.
      • Ground markers, launched from the UGL grenade launcher, can be used to mask the enemy's observation from a distance, as well as to mark targets for air support assets.
    • Vehicle smoke dischargers.
      • Many vehicles have arrays of smoke dischargers that can produce a massive, near-instantaneous smokescreen in the direction that the vehicle's turret is pointed at.
    • Artillery delivered smoke rounds.
      • Artillery smoke comes in the form of white phosphorous rounds.
      • Upon bursting, these produce dense clouds of smoke that linger for a considerable period and provide excellent concealment.

    Additionally, hand grenade and grenade launcher smoke shells come in a variety of colors. This can be useful for coordinating close air support - one color can be used to mark friendly positions, while another color can be fired at the enemy to mark their position.


    Smoke Roles

    The main roles of smoke are as follows.

    • Screening movement.
      • Smoke can be used to reduce the effectiveness of enemy fire when movement across dangerous areas is required.
      • The enemy tends to fire at any smoke that they suspect is being used to screen movement, but due to the reduced or nonexistent visibility it causes, their fire becomes significantly degraded.
      • Screening can involve a wide variety of tactical tasks - it is most typically used to support tactical in-contact movement or the recovering or protection of the wounded.
    • Masking the enemy's fire or observation.
      • By putting smoke onto the enemy's positions, particularly their bunkers, snipers, or other high-casualty-producing systems, their fire can be greatly degraded or even eliminated for a period of time.
      • Smoking bunkers in an assault is a key way to gain an advantage over a dug-in enemy and negate the effects of their best defenses.
    • Deception.
      • When employed smartly, smoke can lead an enemy to believe that hostile forces are maneuvering through a given area even when they aren't.
      • This can cause the enemy to direct fires into the smokescreen, wasting ammo and potentially giving away positions to supporting friendly forces.
      • At the very least it can cause uncertainty and force the enemy to at least consider that the smoke may be a legitimate hostile movement.
      • This can split their attention at a critical moment and maximize the shock and surprise of the true friendly movement or assault.
    • Signaling.
      • Smoke can be used to signal to air as well as ground forces.
      • For aircraft, it can be used to mark enemy targets, friendly locations, landing zones, et cetera.
      • For ground forces, it can be used in limited-communication situations (such as no radios) to convey pre-arranged signals to distant forces (such as the seizure of an objective).


    Ultimately, the proper usage of smoke is important for all players to be familiar with. Employed correctly, it can save a lot of virtual lives. Incorrect employment, on the other hand, can doom many.

    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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