Lets talk: (Squad)lead

Hi there,

In the recent missions I have noticed that squad leading is seen as something quite challenging, and not everyone is as confident as others in this or feels that they are able to do it. Therefore I decided to make a small post on how I would approach it to help others to the future. Yes scenarios differ a lot for each mission, but a general approach/method in how to set up, maneuver and lead several fire teams can work.

Now be advised, everyone has their own style, and over time you will certainly figure something out what works for you, but here is a small starters guide for those clueless on where to start:

**0. Ethics

  1. Planning phase
  2. Briefing phase
  3. starting the mission
  4. During the mission**


2IC = second in command
beachhead (interchangeable with airhead, bridgehead and lodgement)= a defended position on a beach taken from the enemy by landing forces, from which an attack can be launched.

TL = Teamleader
FT = Fireteam
SL = Squadleader
PL = Phaseline
Hard-points= An objective to capture and defend, as its one of the importants objectives in the area. f.e. cities, ports, mountains are primary examples of an hard-point.

RECON= Short for reconnaissance, a small team that relays intel about f.e. enemy postions, units, movements and fortifications.
SITREP= Situation Report
LZ= Landing Zone
Coms= Communications
CAS= Close Air Support
ROE= Rules of Engagement. Are weapons free? How to deal with civilians that have unknown intentions?
Freqs= Frequencies for the radio

0. Ethics

“You don’t lead by hitting people over the head - that’s assault, not leadership” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Before you start, I am going to break down some of my ethics upon squad leading. As I said before, style differs alot between squad leaders. You might have people who are a bit more Laissez-Faire leaders ( will see what happens/ delegate roles), or on-point leaders (soldier 1 ten meters to the left, soldier 2 10 meters to the right, shoot now). Each have their own use, and their pro’s and cons, biggest difference being in the freedom the teams have to navigate and engage targets.

I would suggest the delegate method a bit more to beginners, especially if you are not too familiar with squad leading. This allows you to simply give a way-point to a certain FT(Fireteam take this hospital, once secured, radio me), and you don’t have to worry too much about their approach. Don’t tell them how to do it, just tell them where to go and what to capture.

This leads to the position your TL’s take. Do you want them to be “order monkeys” (simply pass down your orders), or give them some freedom to decide their own path? Newer TL’s will need some guidance and therefore you might want to “pre-chew” certain things a bit more for them (Red FT, you are going to go through a mine field so I suggest a single column approach, and moving around the minefield) whilst more experienced TL’s simply need to be told where to go and what they will be facing (Red FT you will have a minefield in front of the objective, its at your discretion on how to approach this). However, even if they are newer, I strongly suggest you give them a voice during the briefing/planning stage, as they will still need to execute the plan and therefore need your backing.

Then, size of teams. A larger team can take on bigger objectives and is way more self-sufficient, whilst a smaller team puts less of a strain on their TL, increases their mobility and ability to move in stealth. The Official NAK Training document states that an FT consists of 6 members including the TL, which I would second. However keeping an exact number of 6 is impossible, I strongly suggest you aim for 4-6 players per fire team. Teamnumbers can differ between teams to amplify their abilities (more members for the squad that is about to clear the city, less for recon to maneuver easier).

Lastly, your squad/platoon will be as strong as the weakest link in the chain. 10 cooperating monkeys will achieve more than 10 humans working against each other.
1. Planning

A plan is drafted to divert from.

This is where you draft the big lines of the plan. Get yourself some room to think. If needed, either ask for a radio silence (If you can accomplish this you have my respect), or go off of freq 100 whilst others work on their loadouts, and have your 2IC next to you listening to 100 (or let atleast people know you are working on the plan).

Always draft the plan after the “briefing” by Zeus.

If you for some reason cannot draft a plan before your deployment, make everyone stop, set up a perimeter and if safe, give yourself enough time to draft a plan (until the first major hard-point). If under fire, be direct and name people you want to eliminate what threat and what to secure. Once the situation is under control, you can draft a quick plan and inform your TL’s.

Think of the big picture but draw small lines. In other words, split up your plans in moments which you can meet up with your TL’s, discuss quickly big current issues (no AT rockets left, Recon has no Ammo, Red FT has 3 down, Faulty Intel) and re-adjust your plan. You don’t even have to know the plan entirely before you reach this point. If you f.e. run into masses of IED’s but no enemy vehicles you might want to avoid the roads and take a detour or directer route, whilst random minefields or no air cover might also be of direct influence.

Direct advice for your plans is impossible. Plans are truly dependant of your situation, and therefore there is no general rule of " the plan that works the best". If you are facing tons of enemy armor, you might want to either take the confrontation if you have enough resources to take the vehicles out, you might want to avoid them, or bait them into another area where your superiority of f.e. elevation or firepower works against them.
If you truly are clueless pull in your 2IC and your TL’s and ask them for either feedback upon the plan you have made so far, or tell them about your struggles you currently have whilst drafting the plan. They most likely will have an approach on how to deal with these issues.

2. Briefing

The briefing is one of the most important parts of the mission. This is where you make sure that every one knows what, who, where and how.

Regardless of your briefings being you only, or everyone by the zeus, I suggest you always clarify the following points to everyone:

What are they doing? Do they have a specific role? Where is their position compared to others?

Who will they be facing, and more importantly, who is in their team?

Where will they be fighting from, what kind of terrain will it be, and what route to follow (with hardpoints, objectives etc)?

How do you want a TL and soldiers to proceed to their objective, also known as the ROE (Rules of engagement).

If you are playing with multiple TL’s, I suggest you do a seperate TL and your 2IC/SIC briefing (Aka Command briefing), in which you not only lay out the plan, but also go deeper in what role each team has, and what you expect from them (Team 1, you guys are recon. Due to the terrain I was planning on sending you guys to take these hilltops from which you can provide overwatch and intel) whereas in your general briefing you want to keep this a bit shorter, where they can keep specific questions for their TL. Basically in your " command briefing" you want to actually discus and alter the plan, whilst in your general briefing you keep it more directed towards informative, just getting the troops up to speed so you can roll out.

During the general briefing put an emphasis on the who and the how. People mainly need to know in what team they are, and the rules of engagement. The where and what fall a little bit more behind, due to the TL’s knowing this. they can either do a seperate briefing of their team to specify these topics more, or simply inform them during the ride there.

Lastly, don’t brief the entire plan. build in breaks after taking a certain hardpoints or objectives (major cities, radio towers, or after having established a beach head/LZ) and do a quick command meeting in the field, where the teams can get a quick breather, reorganize, heal up and rearm/repair whilst you breakdown and discuss the new plan to your TL’s.

3. starting the mission

“shut up and lets play, I want to shoot something”

Coms checks save many lives, and you don’t have to run up and down. Aside from that, this is your chance to get everyone’s radio off of 100 (100 should be alternative!!) and their team’s frequency as main (this will cut the chatter by 3/4ths at the least).

Get into the habit of preforming sitreps. Yeah you can see red FT just leaving the base, still do a sitrep. All they have to say is green (everyone good). Remember, you are not questioning their motives, tactics or the TL’s capability to lead, you simply want information so you can adjust accordingly to if needed assist them, or give them the go ahead to advance. Direct your questions and keep them short: Red team sitrep. Blue team sitrep. Green team sitrep. Recon sitrep. Dont ask for a sitrep, unless you have established an order of feedback.

Lastly your position. As a commander you want to be the baby/fanatic supporter of the platoon/army, not the Rambo. Its impossible to give orders when you are dead. Practice this “positioning” and any others whilst moving out of the base/insertion point. Set a speed at which you want to travel, to prevent a run to danger.

4. During the mission

Draw alot on the map, but try to keep it informative. Visual information works way better than just typing or talking. If you want to make it even easier, use colours for each team. Only you, team leads and recon should mark and draw on the map, to limit a clutter.

Prepare for failure. Shit happens. First off, cut out the negativity immediately. Even if your CAS lights up an entire friendly FT, yeah that pilot is a blind moron, but that wont help the team thats down by having a rant at the CAS pilot for 5 minutes.

step 1: Prevent further damage. Let team 1 know team 2 is down, and needs aid, and tell CAS to wave off of target as its blue on blue or friendly fire.
2. Secure the area to prevent random enemies to cause even more havoc. If this is not possible (incoming enemy armor, enemy arty barrage) set up a safe spot to fall back to and revive those that need it.
3. Redesign. get everyone back up (if needed wait for the dead to respawn), and redraft the approach (wether its improving the lazing of the target, communication with Air command, or simply the formation).

5. Tools to use

Pausing the mission. Alot of Squad leaders seem to forget that this is a possibility. Quite an extreme option, and it really bogs down the speed at which missions go, but this is needed when stuff is going wrong and the player experience is suffering. Communicate this with a zeus. Prime examples are when stress starts showing between players that can be seen as toxic or unwanted behaviour (verbal abuse, intentionally teamkilling, and griefing are extreme signs where you should immediately stop and contact an admin) or when one man armies start to form and the chain of command disappears. Ask zeus to pause the mission, and either pull the enemies away or teleport the players all to one location to discuss the issues at hand.

Your map. Not only can you draw on it and put waypoints and markers on it, you can also put down radio freqs, teams with their members, a quick rundown of the mission and its objectives, and expected types of enemies in markers alongside the terrain (in the ocean, any unused part of the map will do). That way you wont have to completely brief every late joiner.

Your TL’s. Your Teamleaders are not stupid and will have some experience with arma, otherwise they wouldn’t be in NAKTAC or in the position of a TL. Keep in mind as a rule of thumb; Dont tell them how to do something, but tell them what they have to do. Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.

A command unit: In games with 3 or more FTs making a command unit is a good possibility to consider. A command unit is basically another team that consists of you, your 2IC and supportive units (F.e. Medicals, repair specialists or Artillery/Mortar teams ). This team is positioned behind the three FTs and assists where needed, mainly if a team is suffering from multiple damaged vehicles/wounded, but is not completely destroyed. Keep in mind that you should not lead this unit (your 2IC can be TL), and that whilst assisting another team you should still be able to keep the oversight to direct and conduct the plan.

2IC: Short for second in command. Ideally your 2IC is in your direct presence (within 50 metres) to be able to take command quickly when you go down. Your 2IC should be a more experienced player (Especially if you are new to Squadleading) but also someone you get along with, as you will be talking with them for most of the game. They will give you advice if you dont know how to proceed, and therefore need your trust to be able to lead effectively. If you have more than 4 teams, I strongly suggest giving them lead over a max of 4 teams.

If you have more than 8 different units/teams, you need atleast 2 2ICs. At this moment you no longer give direct orders to your Teams, but to these 2nd in Commands who then put out the orders to the teams. Your Command unit then basically turn into the " boys with the radio’s" working different frequencies (First 2IC uses frequency 100 for teams 1-4, second 2IC uses 200 for teams 5-8).

PL: Phaselines. Oftenly used in combat scenario’s with different groups fighting along a trail. These so called phaselines are lines that indicate a certain phase of a military operation. They allow you to create pauses in a mission, by simply letting team 1 wait at that line for team 2. A good example of these would be the legionaries of the Roman empire waiting for another cohort to pull alongside them into a formation desired. Modern day use would be prominent in mountainous regions where both slopesof the valley have an overwatch travelling alongside each other, watching the others slope above them.

I advise to use this with units that are dependant of each other, or to simply create a pause moment for yourself, when you want units to remain in formation.

After the post became way bigger than expected, I decided to add a shortlist which you may use for future reference below!

Have fun!

The Shortlist:

1. 2IC. Choose your 2IC (2nd in command). He can listen in on the zeus briefing. If not allowed, plan together with him after giving him a quick rundown of the briefing.

2. Zeus briefing: Ask questions about stuff you want to know.

3. Plan: Plan your general approach, count heads and equipment and plan accordingly, if needed together with your 2IC.

4. TL’s: Choose your TL’s. Assign them each a colour.

5. Command briefing: Lay out your plan for the TL’s. Dont do the entire plan, just until the first major hard point.

6. Teams assembly: Divide teams and give them all their colour and teamlead. If needed, write it on the map.

7.General briefing: Who, what, where & how.

8. Coms check: Check coms with each team before you leave the base.

When in the field:

1. Do sitreps every 2-5 minutes dependant of last radio contact.

2. Rearm and take your time to think both at phaselines and under fire.

3. A plan is made to divert from, and a chain is as strong as your weakest link. If you have no clue, let your teamlead decide what the fireteam under fire should do.

Postscript (reserved for aditional information, helpful links and/or images).

1. Here is a nice example of a platoon commander, who grasps alot of the points as mentioned above:


Commanding three main squads, where the approach fails with Alpha and Charlie Squad, he has to re-design/re-scramble the assault into one thrust pushing from the south and no longer via the open fields.

Good signs of the command structure are:

  1. the command structure and part of it the command unit, which consists of multiple members coordinating air strikes and squad movements. Of course this is an extreme example as its more than 40 players, but the structure is solid and a good briefing has happened as there is no chatter on the command channel.
  2. the ability to self-lead. Command unit has to reposition, and yet the assault is able to continue and have a rendezvous whilst charlie still continues.
  3. Remaining calm whilst alpha get shot down.

Good tip for Team and Squad Leads.

For communication, we always have the road bump of which channels for who, and having 3 channels or more on a short range gets very hectic. One added benefit is the long range radios is setting channels and easily identifying which to which thanks to short range and long range queue tones being different.

So I talk to my fireteam leaders 1 and 2 by long range radio (example: channel 60) and they communicate directly through there as well.

As squad lead you can also have individual squad channels set up as well to over hear comms incase of error or bad judgement.

For command communication (referring to ARMA 3 Game play) when talking for minor things as a teleport and respawned character needing permission or teleportation to the AO again, channel chat is a good recommendation instead of Pinging, disrupting comms of those in action or other distractive things that take away from others in game.
Otherwise, communication to command should be up to the squad lead or fire team leader 1 in absence of squad lead, by way of long range radio channel preset by command.

Remember, the only way you can actually lead, is by communication. 70% is listening, 20% is talking. Your decisions are the other 10%.

1+ very informative

Thanks for that Wave it’s really helpful, not only for leading but general knowledge aswell. I really hope people read this one!

Just saw this Gem. Awesome job Wave