Chapter 3 - The Company

TTP3 Index
1. Intro 5. Communication 9. Ground Vehicles
2. Basic Infantry Skills 6. Leadership 10. Air Vehicles
3. The Company 7. Battle Drills 11. Combined Arms
4. Attachments & Crew-Served Weapons 8. Tactics 12. Finale

The Company

Organization

Structure

Shack Tactical operates at the Company level - meaning, multiple platoons and various attached assets, typically in the 100 to 130 player strength overall. However, the core of the group is the infantry platoon - and as such, we will talk about that unit primarily, then expound on the full Company structure later on.

Breakdown

Once based off of a standard US Marine Corps rifle platoon, the ShackTac platoon has evolved into something a bit different in the years since the release of our TTP2 guide. The short version is that each platoon still consists of 46 players when fully fleshed out, split into four main elements – the platoon headquarters element (four strong) and three rifle squads – Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. Each squad consists of two fireteams – first and second – and each fireteam is six players total including their fireteam leader. Each squad also contains a squad leader and a medic as their leadership element, giving the full platoon four total medics when you consider the platoon medic, part of the platoon headquarters element.

When using multiple platoons, 2nd Platoon contains Delta, Echo, and Foxtrot squads. In the event that we roll out with three full platoons, 3rd Platoon uses the designations Golf, Hotel, and India squad.

History

Our platoon structure traces its history back to the latter half of 2006, a time in which our group was ever so steadily becoming more cohesive and coordinated in Operation Flashpoint's Wargames League mod. With the increased competence of our players, and the tighter knit community, it was a good time to introduce a standardized structure by which the group could continue to expand and improve.

The key point of our platoon structure is that it was never intended to blindly replicate military organization simply for the sake of doing so. Instead, it ended up being introduced for many of the same reasons that such structures were created many years ago in reality. For the purposes of command and control, as well as the development of standardized team-level tactics, it is necessary to have a group structured in a fairly standardized way that all players (and particularly the leaders) can be familiar with and know how to be a part of, and our platoon structure accomplishes this goal.

Evolution past TTP2

One significant organizational change that has occurred within ShackTac since publishing the TTP2 has been our squad and fireteam structure. You may have noticied earlier, if you were familiar with the TTP2, that our prior structure of a squad having three fireteams of four people, plus a squad leader and a medic, has shifted to two fireteams of six people, with a squad leader and a medic. We made this change for a number of reasons.

For one, having fewer fireteams in a given mission reduces the leadership burden in our group. Since we tend to play lengthy sessions of eight or more missions on average, there is a great deal of leadership required throughout. With our new structure, we end up requiring about 30% fewer fireteam leaders per session, which results in less leader fatigue and burnout. When you've been playing as a community for over seven years, this sort of consideration is significant.

At the fireteam level, the addition of two extra players per fireteam not only increased the firepower of the fireteam, it also increased situational awareness, and made our fireteams more resilient to casualties. On the situational awareness side of things, consider that in Arma 3 your player has an approximately 84° field of view by default. Assuming an ideal and improbable situation where every player is looking in a completely different direction, you'll note that you can't even achieve 360° coverage. With six members, you end up with roughly 500° of cumulative field of view coverage, which means that you're much more likely to be able to keep “eyes all around” as well as overlap, for when one member doesn't see something yet another does.

From a combat effectiveness standpoint, a six man fireteam can lose a full third of its strength and only be reduced to the once-standard four man team. This is pretty significant, as losing even a single person in a four man fireteam can be a big deal, while two casualties is crippling. The two extra players bring extra firepower as well, and brought a new aspect of flexibility for our mission designers. Namely, that the two extra team members could be assigned to different or unusual roles as the scenario required. Sometimes this took the form of an extra automatic rifleman and assistant, while other missions saw additional anti-tank assets or special items like stand-alone grenade launchers.

Looking higher up, the change also had ramifications on both our fireteam leaders and the squad leader. For example, fireteam leaders took on more responsibility, being tasked with leading five other players instead of the three from previously. An element of squad leadership also slipped into the fireteam leader's domain, as they were able to use our ShackTac Fireteam HUD color assignment feature to split their teams into distinct and easily-identified elements.

The squad leader's role was improved as well with this change. Instead of having to deal with three distinct teams, the two six man fireteams allowed for a simplification of tactics, and an easier to implement version of certain common tactics like bounding overwatch. Squad formations become easier to manage, taking only a few basic forms – column, line, and echelons – and the squad leader is able to keep their squad fighting, even in the face of heavy casualties thanks to the greater resiliency of his teams. The casualties required to render both fireteams ineffective would take out the entire squad in the process, whereas our old structure made it possible to have effective numbers rendered ineffective by being fractured amongst too many teams.

In-Game Representation

In-game, our elements - fireteams, squad leader elements, and the command element - are tracked via our ShackTac Mission Framework ("STMF"). The markers we use are modified NATO markers which we custom-made for ShackTac, and look like this:

The "box with an X" is a standard infantry NATO marker. The circle with a slash through it is the fireteam marker. If there was a solid dot, it'd be a squad. Two dots, a section, three dots, a platoon. The flag-like marker is a simple command marker. Everything is color-coded by squad, with Alpha being red, Bravo being blue, and Charlie being green. Platoon Headquarters ("PltHQ") is typically orange or yellow.

Succession of Command

The succession of command in a ShackTac platoon is clearly established, allowing every member to know precisely what circumstances would result in them taking command of their element. In a squad, seniority comes from the order of the fireteams. First is senior, second is next in line, and third is last. In a fireteam, the fireteam leader is senior, followed by the automatic rifleman, the assistant automatic rifleman, and finally the rifleman.

In the overall scheme of things, seniority is as follows:

Note that in the unlikely event that the Company Commander, Company XO, Platoon Commander, Platoon Sergeant, squad leaders, and first-fireteam leaders are all dead, the senior remaining member of the platoon takes command of the remainder. At this point you probably have bigger problems than worrying about who specifically needs to be leading the handful of survivors.

The Fireteam

Fireteam Structure & Leadership

Fireteam Organization & Purpose

In ShackTac's organizational structure, the fireteam is the smallest combat element employed at the platoon level. Two fireteams and a squad leader element make up one squad, resulting in 14 people in total. Three squads and a platoon headquarters element make up the platoon. There are six fireteams per platoon, not counting the squad leader and platoon headquarters elements.

Fireteams are lead by players who are interested in the challenge of acting as a small-unit leader. The fireteam leader is the first major step in the leadership development of a player, and everyone is encouraged to try their hand at this leadership role.

Each fireteam carries a well-rounded assortment of firepower. Generally, this consists of four standard rifles, one rifle with grenade launcher, and one automatic rifle or light machinegun. This gives the fireteam an indirect-fire capability (grenade launcher), a sustained-fire capability (automatic rifle or light machinegun), and volume in point-fire (five rifles).

Fireteam with anti-tank - from left to right: Rifleman, rifleman anti-tank, automatic rifleman, fireteam leader, rifleman, automatic rifleman

The following are the fireteam members, along with their seniority and roles:

The ShackTac Fireteam Heads-Up Display ("HUD")

The ShackTac Fireteam HUD is a modification for Arma 3 designed to improve the situational awareness of everyone in a fireteam, both by giving an indication of where teammates are located, as well as providing an easy-to-reference list of player names. When dealing with a large community such as ours that plays many missions each session with no strict preset assignments, it's important to provide an easy reference for names in order to allow for better communication as well as improved group cohesion.

The rings on the ShackTac HUD represent, from innermost to outermost, 15, 30, and 50 meter intervals. Cardinal directions are indicated by small N, S, E, and W letters on the outside of the HUD - visible only if you have a compass in your inventory. Each team member icon has an arrow to indicate direction, as well as an icon to indicate special roles such as medics, automatic rifleman, fireteam leader, or anti-tank rifleman, Players can also be color-coded by their fireteam leader via the in-game interface to help organize buddy teams. The fireteam leader will always show with a gold icon to their team members, while any team member within three meters of you will temporarily turn red as a reminder to keep good interval.

One powerful feature of the ShackTac Fireteam HUD is the ability to color-code fireteam members, which leaders use to assign buddy teams. Most commonly, the AR and AAR are paired as one team, while the remaining three fireteam members are assigned to another. The fireteam leader typically stays in their own group in order to better control the team.

Color assignments are carried out through the in-game interface – simply select the team members you want to set a color for via the F-keys, located at the top of your keyboard, then use the squad menu to assign a color. Once members are selected, they can be assigned to teams via Ctrl plus F1 to F5, with F1 being red, F2 green, F3 blue, F4 yellow, and F5 white.

We use standardized colors for our fireteams in order to ensure that communication on the squad radio can be done concisely simply by stating colors, instead of also requiring the usage of fireteam numbers. The first fireteam always consists of a red and green pair of buddy teams, while the second fireteam always has a blue and yellow team.

For more information on the ShackTac Fireteam HUD, check out my site, here.

The Fireteam Leader

The Fireteam Leader's mantra is "Follow me and do as I do". They are the most combat-oriented leader position on the battlefield, and leads their fireteam from the front while acting as the example that his team members will follow.

Fireteam leader with an underbarrel grenade launcher attached to his rifle

Fireteam leaders...

Fireteam Leader UGL Employment

The fireteam leader must be able to use their UGL to carry out a number of tasks, such as firing high-explosive shells at significant enemy positions, screening friendly movement, marking or masking the enemy with smoke shells, or using illumination shells in low light conditions. More esoteric grenade types, such as buckshot or teargas, can also be found from time to time. A team leader is expected to spend time familiarizing themselves with and becoming skilled at the usage of the grenade launcher.

Some general guidelines for UGL employment follow, and these can be used by any grenade launcher-equipped infantryman.

The 6.5mm MX with a 40mm 3GL attached

Basic Grenadier Guidelines

Fireteam Member Roles

In addition to the responsibilities of a fireteam member outlined in the initial "Basic Rifleman" section, each fireteam member will have additional responsibilities based upon their role in the team.

Automatic Rifleman (AR)

The automatic rifleman is the fireteam's heavy firepower. They carry an MX SW by default, giving them the ability to throw hundreds of rounds downrange in short order.

The 6.5mm MX SW

The AR is second in command of the fireteam. In the event that the team leader becomes a casualty, the AR immediately takes charge of the fireteam and communicates their new role to the squad leader.

The AR is responsible for employing their weapon in a manner that maximizes the killing and suppressive power of it, allowing their teammates to maneuver with the support of their fire.

Automatic Rifleman with an MX SW

Automatic Riflemen...

Assistant Automatic Rifleman

The assistant automatic rifleman, or "AAR", is the right-hand man of the automatic rifleman. They help spread-load the ammunition duties with the AR by carrying additional ammunition for that weapon.

The AAR's role is to stick with the AR and provide support - the two always form a buddy team. The AAR supports the AR in the form of providing security, helping to spot, engage, and adjust fire on targets.

If the automatic rifleman is killed, the assistant will take control of the weapon and become the fireteam's new automatic rifleman. In the event that both the AR and FTL become casualties, the AAR will take control of the team's riflemen and assess the situation. If possible, the AAR will maintain the remaining four members as a distinct fireteam - if unable, such as due to high casualties or confusion, the crippled fireteam may merge with another.

A typical assistant automatic rifleman, kitted out to carry high-capacity MX-SW magazines in addition to his rifle mags

Assistant Automatic Riflemen...

Rifleman

Every member of the platoon is a rifleman first and foremost. In a fireteam, the rifleman is the lowest ranking or newest member of the team. This role is a great way to get new players into the action, without burdening them with additional responsibilities such as those carried by the AR and AAR.

A rifleman listens to a briefing pre-mission

Riflemen...

Alternate Fireteam Roles

Fireteam compositions can change to reflect the mission of the platoon in any given scenario. The most common alternate fireteam member role is that of the light anti-tank rifleman, which is described below.

Anti-Tank Rifleman, Light ("LAT")

Fireteams will typically carry light anti-tank weaponry if enemy armor is expected to be present in an area. Generally, this will result in the team's rifleman being given a single-shot light anti-tank weapon like the AT-4 or M72 LAW. The anti-tank rifleman will carry out their normal rifleman duties, and in the event that enemy armor is encountered, they will immediately transition into anti-tank mode and attempt to take it out based upon their team and squad leader's directives.

As their name implies, light anti-tank launchers are an effective weapon for usage against light armor such as armored personnel carriers, while heavier armor such as that found on main battle tanks will require multiple impacts from LAT weaponry to defeat.

An anti-tank rifleman prepares to fire their AT-4 at enemy light armor in the All in Arma mod

Note that if the standard rifleman role is replaced by an anti-tank gunner in the fireteam, the AAR becomes the junior role, followed by the anti-tank gunner, the AR, and finally the FTL. This is to ensure that the junior team member does not have anti-tank responsibilities, as they can be rather significant roles in the missions that need them.

Anti-Tank Riflemen (Light)...

Where to Aim

As a general rule, armored vehicles have their strongest armor in the front and on the turret, with weaker armor on the sides, and the weakest armor on the top, bottom, and rear of the vehicle. For this reason, it's important to avoid taking shots - particularly with light anti-tank assets like the AT-4 - on the heavy armored parts of vehicles. Taking flank or rear shots is the best course of action, and occasionally you will even find yourself in a position where top or bottom shots become possible.

Good Anti-Tank Shots
Rear (L), Flank (R)
Bad Anti-Tank Shots
Frontal (L), Frontal Oblique (C), Rear Oblique (R)

Clearing Backblast

To prevent their anti-tank weapon from injuring or even killing friendly troops, an anti-tank rifleman must "clear backblast" before firing their weapon.

  1. When preparing to make an anti-tank shot, the gunner quickly scans to their left and right while loudly declaring other players to "Clear backblast!". The gunner's scan is intended to give them visibility on who or what may be behind them, and help them visually verify that the backblast area is clear of friendly personnel.
  2. Any team members nearby, upon hearing "Clear backblast!" spoken immediately shift position out of the danger area.
  3. Anyone who has cleared the danger area, upon visually scanning it, is expected to declare "Backblast all clear!" to let the gunner know that they are able to safely fire.
  4. Upon hearing "Backblast all clear!", or having visually confirmed that the area is clear, the anti-tank gunner confirms their sight picture before loudly declaring "Rocket!" and firing the weapon.

Firing from Enclosures

In some mods, firing anti-tank weapons indoors can be very hazardous to your health. Avoid doing so when possible, as the backblast can kill or seriously injure you due to the restrictions of the structure.

Soft-launch weapons like the Javelin or PCML can be safely fired out of an enclosed space, but RPGs, AT-4s, SMAWs, and other common hard-launch anti-tank weapons cannot.

The Squad

Squad Structure & Leadership

Squad Organization

A rifle squad is formidable force on the battlefield. Consisting of two fireteams of six players, and a squad leader element of two players, this fourteen player unit is able to have a significant impact on the flow of a battle.

Standard rifle squad, with Squad Leader and Medic in foreground

Squads consist of an impressive array of firepower, and are just as well-rounded as the fireteams they are composed of. In addition to their ability to inflict significant harm, they also are accompanied by a medic who can tend to any wounds that may be received through the course of a fight. The medic acts as the second man in the two-man squad lead element, providing security for the squad leader when they're not tasked out with tending to wounded squad members.

The order of leadership succession in a squad goes from the squad leader to the first then second team leaders.

Squad Leader ("SL") Responsibilities

The squad leader has similar responsibilities to the fireteam leader, except instead of controlling individual players, they control entire fireteams. They are tasked with leading their squad in accordance with the platoon commander's intent and direction, as well as coordinating laterally with their fellow squads. The squad leader's motto is to "Lead from the front", since they know that they cannot direct their fireteams most efficiently if they cannot observe their movements and combat.

Squad Leader (left) and Squad Medic (right)

Squad leaders...

Squad Roles

Squad Medic

When so many rounds are flying around, someone's bound to get hit sooner or later. Unfortunately, this someone is occasionally a fellow squad member. When it happens, the squad medic is the man to turn to. The squad medic is critically important - they are the key to maintaining the combat effectiveness of the squad when heavy contact has been made.

Medic tending to an incapacitated teammate

Squad medics...

The Platoon

Platoon Structure & Leadership

Platoon Organization & Purpose

Composed of three squads - Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie for First Platoon, and Delta, Echo, Foxtrot for Second Platoon - as well as a four-man Command Element, platoons are one of the largest exclusively player-controlled units that can be fielded in Arma 3.

ShackTac Platoon, with command element on the right side

The platoon headquarters element ("PltHQ") consists of:

Platoon Commander Responsibilities

A platoon commander's role can vary significantly depending on whether they're operating as the senior member of a mission, or as one of multiple platoon commanders under the direction of a company commander. In the event that they are the senior member, their role expands to encompass the considerations detailed in the "Company Commander" section - if not, his task is made somewhat easier by the company commander assuming the higher-level aspects of the mission. Regardless, the platoon commander has many responsibilities. They are the final say in all things related to their platoon and are responsible for the conduct of their assigned mission from start to finish. They direct the three main squads of the platoon, as well as any attachments, and use a multitude of skills to accomplish the platoon's mission with the minimal friendly and the maximum enemy casualties.

The platoon commander's motto is "Life or death, from my commands"'. This is intended to remind them of the fact that the virtual lives and, more importantly, the gaming enjoyment of every member of their platoon is ultimately their responsibility, and that their orders, good or bad, will at some point result in someone (and in bad cases, many!) having to sit out due to virtual death. It is important that the PltCo is able to function as a leader even when things aren't going according to plan and virtual bodies are stacking up. Their cool-headed orders, given in the midst of raging fights, are often the deciding factor between victory and defeat for their platoon, and by association, the company.

The Platoon Commander...

Platoon HQ Roles

Platoon Medic ("PltMed")

The platoon medic is the medic grouped with the platoon headquarters at the start of a mission. The platoon medic has several responsibilities above and beyond what a normal medic has, and is considered to be the platoon's senior medic.

The Platoon Medic...

Tending to a severely wounded teammate

Platoon Sergeant ("PltSgt")

The Platoon Sergeant is an interesting leadership role that can be used for a variety of purposes. Primarily, they are as follows.

The Platoon Sergeant...

The Company

Company Structure & Leadership

Company Organization & Purpose

A ShackTac company typically consists of two platoons plus various attachments such as a weapons squad or weapons platoon. It may operate as a mechanized, motorized, airmobile, or armored unit - each having their own specific organizational structures and associated considerations. For the sake of simplicity, we'll talk about a traditional infantry company with attachments.

The company's two platoons are labeled numerically - first and second platoon - and each clocks in at about 40-50 players.

The company headquarters element ("CoyHQ") consists of:

Additional CoyHQ elements may exist on a special basis, such as a logistics or engineer unit, though these will typically operate as an independent element that is attached to the CoyHQ for the purpose of the mission.

Two infantry platoons and a weapons platoon form this infantry company

Company Commander Responsibilities

The company commander's role is similar to that of the platoon commander, except that instead of dealing with squads, they're dealing with platoons. This significantly changes the pace of their leadership – a CoyCo is able to look further ahead in the mission, spend more time on the details, and isn't as front-line as the platoon commanders. The company headquarters element is focused around spreading the workload – if logistics units are available, a representative will be traveling with the company headquarters. If air support is available, a member of the company HQ will act as a forward air controller – or a forward observer if artillery is present. The company executive officer is akin to the platoon sergeant – they may position themselves with one of the platoons while the company commander travels with or near another, or they may spend most of their time coordinating supporting assets.

The company commander is responsible not only for planning the entire operation, but also must work to adapt the plan to situations as they develop as well as efficiently utilize supporting assets to carry out said plan. They look ahead and determines when resupply, reinforcements, and other considerations will factor into things, as well as when and how to conduct larger-scale movements or shifts in objectives.

When operating at platoon strength or lower, the platoon commander takes on the responsibilities detailed for the company commander, while the platoon sergeant takes on the roles of the company executive officer.

The company commander's motto is 'Where next from here?' - this helps to remind them that they're the most forward-planning element and must continually be evaluating the situation and thinking several steps ahead.

The Company Commander...

Company HQ Roles

Company Medic

The company medic is the medic who is grouped with the company headquarters at the start of a mission. The company medic has several responsibilities above and beyond what squad or platoon medics have, and is considered to be the senior medic in any given mission.

The Company Medic...

Company Executive Officer

The executive officer is similar to the platoon sergeant - in short, they're a role that is designed to help spread the workload of the Company Commander. More specifically, they are often tasked with coordinating the employment of higher-level assets such as air support or transportation, artillery, and supporting elements like armor or mechanized forces.

The Company Executive Officer...

Forward Air Controller

The Forward Air Controller ("FAC") is a player who is tasked with coordinating air elements in the support of ground forces and frequently is assigned to the company headquarters element. The FAC is expected to be knowledgeable in the employment of any CAS elements, be they fixed-wing (jets) or rotary-wing (helicopters). The more familiar the FAC is with the aircraft, the better they will be able to direct its employment. The best FACs have extensive experience as a CAS aircraft pilot.

The primary job of the FAC is to locate enemy targets and call in air strikes on them. They act as the "eyes on the ground" for the CAS aircraft and increases the effectiveness of the air support with the information they are able to relay to the aircraft, acting as the liaison between the CoyHQ and any supporting aircraft.

It is of great importance that a FAC is used when player-controlled aircraft are operating in a close air support role. Without their support, the CAS aircraft cannot reach the same level of responsiveness and effectiveness.

The forward air controller role is described in greater detail in the Combined Arms: Close Air Support section, later.

A JTAC laser designates a target for an F-35

Forward Observer

The Forward Observer or "FO" is a player who is tasked with coordinating artillery support for the platoon. They are expected to be knowledgeable in all things artillery, from the types of rounds to use, how to call for fire, how to adjust fire, and everything in between.

The forward observer role is described in greater detail in the Combined Arms: Artillery Support section, later.

 

Resupply

Conducting Resupply Operations

Extended battles tend to result in quite a lot of ammo expenditure as well as the potential for casualties. In order to give a unit the endurance to complete a lengthy action, tactical pauses may need to be conducted in order to carry out a resupply and reinforcement operation. Resupplying is either planned in advance to occur at a given point during a mission, or if unplanned, happens because of the collective reports of all subordinate units. A platoon or company commander stays on top of the ammunition status for his overall unit – once it gets low enough, but before it reaches a critical level, he will make a plan for conducting resupply.

Resupply can be carried out in several different ways, depending on the force composition and supporting assets available. The most typical form is that of a logistics train – a collection of vehicles that bring with them ammunition, as well as repairs and additional fuel for any vehicle assets. Logistics are often under the control of an engineer section, operating closely with the platoon or company headquarters to determine when and where they'll set up their resupply points.

Common rearm, refuel, and resupply vehicles

Resupply begins with the appropriate units adopting a defensive posture – often in the form of a "go firm" command. Headquarters will determine a resupply site, picking something that is sheltered and defensible, then establish friendly elements in a defensive posture around it. After that, the resupply vehicles will arrive and position themselves centrally. Each squad will resupply in sequence, sending half of their strength at a time to gather ammo, anti-tank weapons, and other supplies from the resupply point. Any vehicles will refuel and rearm in sequence. The goal is to ensure that regardless of who is resupplying at any given time, the bulk of friendly forces are spread out and ready to repel any surprise enemy attacks.
If reinforcements are being delivered, these reinforcements will arrive in the same manner as the resupply vehicles. If arriving as a cohesive squad element, they'll report to the higher headquarters and be given instructions as to where they should position themselves in the overall formation. When arriving piecemeal, reinforcements will report to the PltSgt or company executive officer for assignment to replacement squads.

Resupply via Unmanned Ground Vehicle

The Stomper UGV allows an infantry unit to have resupply brought to them directly, even in rough terrain. These UGVs - directed either by a member of the company headquarters or an attached UGV section - are capable of resupplying a platoon with ammo, medical aid, grenades, and also anti-tank weaponry. Logistics units can even deploy themselves to a fixed site behind the action, then send out Stomper UGVs to ferry necessary supplies up to the front line. This can be very helpful when the tactical or terrain situation prohibits the larger logistics vehicles from getting too close to front-line forces.

Resupply Drops

Note that ground is not the only angle for resupply or reinforcement. In terrain that does not permit easy ground resupply, or when operating over large distances, aerial resupply may be the preferred method. This is similar to ground resupply – the main difference is that ground forces must secure an appropriate landing zone for helicopters to bring troops and gear in via. Aerial resupply can also be conducted via supply drops – either through cargo planes dropping palletized supply crates under parachute, or via helicopters doing the same. The trick with this sort of aerial resupply is for the aircraft to have judged the wind and drop zone correctly – watching a pallet of much-needed ammo drift in the wind and end up landing on another ridgeline across a deep valley is less than desirable.

Aircraft Rearm & Refuel

For aircraft needing additional ammunition or fuel, two options tend to be available. The first is to return to the airbase they initially launched from – often a bit of a trek, but an aircraft can typically find full faculties for rearm, repair, and refuel at major airbases. At other times the ground forces may have established Forward Area Refueling/Rearming Points, known as FARPs. These are intended to be used by helicopters and are generally placed close to the front lines. A resupply train operating in trail of a friendly unit can act as a FARP in a pinch as well. Whatever method is used, aircrew ensure that the ground forces understand how much loiter time they have, giving advance warning before going off-station to rearm or refuel. In particularly heavy fighting, ground units will tend to go firm while their air cover is absent. When multiple air units are available, efforts will be made to ensure that one unit is on-station while the other rearms – never leaving the ground forces without some sort of aerial support.

Individual Initiative

Now that we've covered the roles and responsibilities of everyone in the basic ShackTac Platoon, let's take a moment to talk about individual initiative and how critical it is to foster within players. It is extremely important that all players of the platoon understand that they need to have individual initiative in the game. Micromanagement is to be avoided whenever possible, and this means that there is a good possibility that you'll have to take initiative at your level to do something that may not have been specifically spelled out to you but is clearly in the "commander's intent", whether that commander is a FTL, SL, PltCo, or CoyCo.

Here are a few examples of individual initiative at various levels.

Fireteam Member Individual Initiative

While in infiltrating through enemy territory you suddenly see an enemy infantryman taking aim at another fireteam nearby. You immediately take aim and fire upon the enemy while simultaneously giving a hasty contact report to those around you. Your action neutralizes the enemy and quite possibly saves the life of one or more players in the other fireteam that was about to be hit.

In this example, it is clear that the stealth consideration is secondary to preserving the lives of friendly players. Since the enemy appeared ready to shoot, it was imperative that you took him under fire as soon as possible, without worrying about getting authorization. This is the core of what the Universal Rules of Engagement guidelines are intended to help address.

Fireteam Leader Individual Initiative

As a Fireteam Leader, the Squad Leader tells you to hold up while he waits for another squad to catch up to the platoon. You see that the location that you're presently at is about 20 meters short of having a good perspective on the terrain in front of you, due to a brush line that is obstructing your view. You take initiative and move your fireteam 20 meters forward so that they can observe the terrain past the brush line.

In this example, the commander's intent is clearly to stop and take good defensive positions while waiting for friendly units to get in position. Although he did not specifically tell you where to position your fireteam, it is logical that you should be in the best possible position to cover your assigned sector. Since you only need to move 20 meters to accomplish this, it's an easy decision to make.

Squad Leader Individual Initiative

During heavy fighting, communication is lost with the Platoon HQ section. It is unclear whether they were ambushed. Without hesitation, you announce over the radio that you are taking control of the platoon temporarily. Once assuming command, you order the squads to continue fighting in accordance with what the PltCo's plan was, and change things/react to events as necessary. Once the fighting is over, you try to find out what happened to the PLTHQ section.

In this example, you realize that it is imperative that a clear commander is established as soon as possible due to the heavy fighting. Whether or not the PltCo had his mic crap out, lost his voice connection temporarily, or anything else is secondary to this - the important part is to gain control of the platoon and command it until the fate of the PltCo can be determined.

Other Examples of Individual Initiative

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