Version 1 / 7min read / Updated Tue 25 Feb 2020 / 391 views
Components of a Contact Report
The 4 components of a contact report are: ALERT - ORIENT - DESCRIBE - EXPOUND
Contact reports are intended to be a way for any member of the unit to concisely communicate important information about the enemy in a standard way. Being able to concisely report enemy locations is a critical communication skill to have. The sooner we know about enemy positions, and the faster it is passed to the entire squad, the better our survivability will be and the more effective we will be at reacting to threats.
A contact report consists of several key elements that must be presented in a specific order for it to be effective. They are as follows.
Typically the word 'Contact!'.
- This should be the first thing out of your mouth when you spot the enemy.
- Saying this gives everyone a heads-up that something important is about to be passed over the radio, and that they need to start scanning the area for more enemy as well as think about where they can move for cover and concealment.
This immediately follows your alert. "Orient" is simply a few words to get people looking in the general direction of the enemy.
There are several types of orientation methods available:
If a direction of movement has been established, relative directions such as "Front", "Left", "Right", "Rear" are great. In a stationary defense, particularly when defending in multiple directions, this is not a usable format.
General compass bearing
Useful at all times, easy to understand. General compass bearings are things like "North", "North-West", et cetera. The ShackTac HUD, if used, can give you an easily indication of your cardinal directions.
Specific compass bearing
Used for high-precision reporting when units are fairly close to each other. This involves reading the exact compass bearing, in degrees. Note that in Arma 3, the compass takes a few moments to stabilize, making this slightly slower than in previous games.
Clock bearings are never used aside from by single vehicle crews, since a vehicle has a common 12 o'clock that all crew members are familiar with. A vehicle crew can use clock bearings for internal communication if they so desire, though relative bearings tend to be faster overall.
If the target is in range to be a threat, give a rough range immediately - "Contact front, close!" or "Contact west, 100 meters!". This can wait if the target is not a threat, but it must be given one way or the other by the end of the contact report.
What did you see? Was it an enemy patrol, tank, or a little old lady out for a stroll? Say it in as few words as possible while being very clear. e.g.
- Enemy patrol
- Machinegun nest
If the target range was not given in the 'Orient' step, it must be given here.
- Target range is essential and allows players to react appropriately to the threat's proximity.
- The range can be given at whatever level of detail time allows for, from "Close!" to "523 meters" and everything in between.
Range is the most important thing to expound on, and must always be given.
If time and the situation allow for it, give more information. This can include things like:
Specific degree bearing to the target
If you only passed a relative bearing at the start for speed's sake, you can refine it into a specific degree bearing at the end of the contact report.
Info about what the target is doing
Such as "They're flanking us" or "They don't see us".
Specific positioning of the target
Such as "two soldiers on the roof, one in the building, the rest are patrolling around it".
Note that with contact reports, getting the key information out for everyone to react to is more important than the ordering of the information. As long as people know where to look, what they're looking for, and how far away the contact is, you will have given a successful report.
Contact Report Examples
When making a contact report over the radio, one must remember that the level of detail used should be proportionate to the amount of time you have to give it and the urgency of the threat.
Bad Contact Reports
"Uh, guys... I see enemy infantry. Uhh... they're over there, by that tree. No, uhh... the other tree."
(Note that the squad is in a forest at the time of this transmission)
Proper Contact Reports
"Contact front! Enemy infantry in the open, bearing 210, three hundred meters!"
Once the element leader (squad or fireteam leader) hears the contact report, he will give an engagement command if necessary.
Here are some examples of engagement commands in response to a contact report:
"Copy, get to cover and stand by to take them out."
"Bravo, hold fire. If you have a suppressed weapon, stand by to engage."
"Squad, engage, they see us!"
Further Good Examples
ALERT - ORIENT - DESCRIBE - EXPOUND
"Contact left, very close!"
"Contact front, 100 meters, infantry!" In this instance, the proximity of the enemy is more significant and is said first, as part of the orientation, instead of later as part of expounding.
"Contact, 320, enemy squad in the open, 400 meters"
"Contact, 175, BTR-K, 600 meters. From the tallest tree at that bearing, follow the bush line left about 30 meters. It's partially masked by those bushes."
"Contact, 225, dug-in infantry, 300 meters. There's a white-walled building with a red roof - on the right side of that is a brown building. Enemy infantry are in the upper floor of the brown building, I've seen them in several windows."
If the element leader is giving the contact report, he will give the engagement command at the end of the report if necessary. Otherwise, the element will wait for the element leader's commands before engaging.
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)