Version 1 / 12min read / Updated Tue 25 Feb 2020 / 413 views
One of the simplest realities of combat is that leaders are not invincible. There will be times when a Fireteam Leader, Squad Leader, or Platoon Commander become unexpected casualties. Because of this, it is important that all players know the jobs of those above and below them, and are able to "step up" and take command of a higher level of leadership than they initially started the mission as.
Seniority in our platoon is a simple, easy to understand hierarchy, as detailed below from most senior to least. Seniority goes in order - from the Company Commander to the Company Executive Officer, then the 1st Platoon Commander, to the Platoon Sergeant, then Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie squad leaders, and within each squad, the first, second, and third fireteams. In the event that it ever gets passed that, it simply becomes the most senior remaining member of the platoon, regardless of position.
- CoyCo / CoyXO -> PltCo / PltSgt -> ASL/BSL/CSL -> A1/B1/C1 FTLs -> Next senior member
Fireteam Member to Fireteam Leader
Transitioning from a fireteam member to a Fireteam Leader can be intimidating for those who are new to leadership or otherwise have little experience as a leader. In the end, however, it is not as difficult as it seems - as a fireteam member, you typically always known what your fireteam's plan or role in the squad's mission was. When it's necessary to step up and become the new Fireteam Leader, follow these actions to conduct the transfer of leadership effectively.
Actions on Taking Command of a Fireteam
- Announce on comms that you are taking command of your fireteam due to the prior Fireteam Leader being killed. Ensure that both the Squad Leader and your own team members hear you.
You have three main options at this point:
- Continue carrying out Squad Leader's last orders if appropriate
- Ask for and wait for new orders
- Exercise disciplined initiative in accordance with the SL's intent to get your fireteam out of trouble or into a better position to accomplish the assigned mission.
Fireteam Leader to Squad Leader
Transitioning from a Fireteam Leader to a Squad Leader is a bit more difficult of a transition. If the Squad Leader was clear in giving his orders and initial briefing, you should know what the squad's plan and role in the mission was, which helps to smooth the transition. When it's necessary to make the transition from team leader to Squad Leader, follow these actions.
Actions on Taking Command of a Squad
- Announce on the squad net that you are taking command of the squad.
Issue immediate orders. Depending on the situation, you will take one of two immediate courses of action, as described:
- Continue the current squad mission, or transition into a hasty assault, defense, or disengagement if necessary. Sometimes you have to take command 'in stride', such as when in the midst of an assault. You can worry about the nitty-gritty details after you have completed the current mission, or reach a natural pause in the action.
- Seek out and go firm at the nearest suitable cover & concealment. If the situation allows for it, going firm is a great way to get a handle on the squad situation.
- Report to the Platoon Commander over comms to tell him that you have taken command of your squad due to the Squad Leader having been killed.
- Ask for CASREPs from your squad if you are unclear on the squad's status. The CASREPs will give you an idea of the fighting strength remaining in the squad.
- Based on the CASREP responses, assess the combat effectiveness of your squad.
- Give a SITREP to PltCo based on your assessment.
- Continue previous squad orders unless told otherwise by the PltCo.
Note that when taking squad command, you may or may not want to designate a new Fireteam Leader for your fireteam. It is generally a matter of personal preference whether this is done, and either way can work.
Squad Leader to Platoon Commander
Moving from a position as a Squad Leader to that of the Platoon Commander is the most difficult transition. Fortunately, it is also a fairly rare one to have to make - good Platoon Commanders don't generally put themselves in positions from which they're likely to become a casualty.
As a Squad Leader, you were present for the mission briefing, which means that you know what the plan is. You've also been on the command channel listening to all the updated orders and situation reports throughout the mission. This knowledge allows for you to be able to take command and get the squads working towards accomplishing the current mission with the minimum of fuss.
The actions for assuming Platoon Command are as follows.
- Announce on comms that you are taking command of the platoon.
Issue immediate orders. Depending on the situation, you will typically take one of two immediate courses of action, as described:
- Continue the current mission, or transition into a hasty assault, defense, or disengagement if necessary. If in the midst of a coordinated assault or other action where 'wheels are in motion' and things are otherwise seeming to go to plan, continuing with the mission is the best course of action to take.
- Have the platoon 'go firm' at the nearest suitable cover & concealment while you reassess the situation. This is only done when a temporary halt is not detrimental to the overall effort.
- Tell your squad on your squad net that you have taken PltCo.
- Assign a new Squad Leader if necessary to replace you and free you up to solely act as PltCo.
- Ask for CASREPs/SITREPs from squad leaders, if necessary to get a better handle of the situation. Using the CASREPs/SITREPs from your squad leaders, conduct an assessment of the situation.
- Based on that assessment, issue new orders, continuing the mission in the Commander's Intent as stated in the original briefing.
Identifying & Dealing with Combat Ineffectiveness
What is "Combat Ineffective" in Arma terms?
In Arma, an element becomes "combat ineffective" if it is no longer able to carry out the specific mission it has been assigned, or the types of tasks typically given to an element of its size. If an element is left in a combat ineffective condition, yet still tasked out with doing things that a 'healthy' element would be more appropriate for, the risk of losing the element entirely becomes a significant danger.
Being able to recognize a "combat ineffective" element and take appropriate steps to salvage it is a critical leader skill to have. The more fierce the fighting, the more important this becomes.
Causes of Combat Ineffectiveness
There are several things that can cause combat ineffectiveness. The main ones are as follows.
- Loss of leadership
- Heavy casualties (KIA, or WIA needing tending)
- Insufficient ammunition or weapons to deal with current threat
Identifying A Combat Ineffective State
As a leader, you can identify combat ineffectiveness by paying attention to some key indicators. The primary ones are as follows. While there are multiple things that can cause each of these issues to occur individually, the combination of several of them typically points to a state of general combat ineffectiveness.
Indications of Combat Ineffectiveness
- Extremely sluggish or non-existent coordinated movement. If the element is unable to move in a coordinated fashion, or move in general.
- Lack of response after giving orders. If the sub-element leaders are no longer speaking in response to your orders, you have potentially incurred leadership casualties, or the situation has become so demanding that your sub-element leaders do not have time to talk. Neither is good.
- Lack of response when asking for replacement leaders to step up. If the sub-element leaders have become casualties, and there is no response when prompting for their subordinates to assume their roles, you are very likely looking at a critical casualty level in the overall element, and the associated lack of combat effectiveness.
- Lack of firing from units. High casualties may become obvious by the lack of friendly units firing from a given location. For instance, if you have a squad on a hill that is being attacked, and over time you hear less and less firing coming from that hill even though the enemy is still in prolific numbers, it is reasonable to assume a state of combat ineffectiveness for that squad due to casualty levels.
- Lack of communication. If nobody in the element is talking, giving contact reports, orders, etc.
- Many casualties, including KIA as well as WIA that require aid. KIAs are always bad, but bear in mind that WIAs can actually do more harm to the short-term effectiveness of a unit, as they require personnel to stop fighting so that they can provide the wounded with medical aid and attention.
- Unit reduced to fractional strength. Any time an element becomes attrited to a small fraction of its original strength, a reasonable lack of combat effectiveness can be assumed. While this is not always true, it is a good rule-of-thumb to go by.
How to Deal with Combat Ineffectiveness
Once a combat ineffective state has been determined, it is up to the senior element leader to take actions to preserve the remaining strength of the element as well as place it into a position from which it can have a more significant influence on the course of the battle. This is generally done by merging the remainder of an element into a parent or sister element, and thus augmenting or replacing casualties in said parent or sister element. The senior element leader should follow these steps in dealing with combat ineffectiveness via merging with another element.
How to Merge With Another Element
- Determine which other friendly elements would be suitable to merge into. This question is typically posed to the next-senior level of leadership - for example, a Squad Leader would ask the Platoon Commander for direction, while a Fireteam Leader would ask his Squad Leader.
- Upon being told or deciding on which element to merge with, direct the players under your command to join the appropriate communication channel. Merging into the right comm channel is critical to reestablishing leadership and smooth communications.
- Report in to the new element leader and give them a quick status report on the forces that you have just joined to their element.
- Unless directed otherwise, attempt to move and link up with the new element at whatever position it currently holds. METT-TC factors are used to judge the suitability of such movements.
- Once a link-up has occurred, or when time allows, instruct players to use the ShackTac Interact system to merge from their combat-ineffective elements into their new elements. Depending on the situation, the leader of the group(s) being merged into may decide to make these arrangements himself, in accordance with his plans for each team and the forces that you have brought him.
Those should be the most typical difficult leadership situations one will find themselves in while playing Arma. Being able to react to them appropriately and without hesitation always helps to minimize their negative effects on the platoon, and familiarity with the steps and situations involved becomes key for all leaders to know and be capable of executing on demand.
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)