Chapter 5 - Communication

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


Introduction to Communication Concepts

Explanation of Terms

There are several different communication options available to any Arma player. The game comes with a Voice-Over-Net (VON) system which is quite flexible, while community-created mods such as the Advanced Combat Radio Environment (ACRE) mod allow for even more robust communication possibilities. For the sake of making this chapter applicable to everyone, we'll be using more generalized terminology that can be applied to VON, ACRE, and also just normal VOIP programs like Teamspeak. An explanation of terms follows.

Communication, ShackTac-Style

Shack Tactical uses the Advanced Combat Radio Environment (ACRE) mod for Arma 3, which utilizes Teamspeak 3 to provide a robust voice and radio simulation within the game. Thanks to the usage of a standardized company structure, we are able to have a standard set of procedures for our communication. This allows us to reach a level of coordination and teamwork that would be difficult to approach without something as configurable and powerful as ACRE supporting us.

There are a few things that we believe are undeniable truisms regarding communication in ShackTac.

  1. Our company must communicate effectively in order to act as a cohesive whole.
  2. Having a standard structure reduces confusion and allows for our membership to always understand how communication flows, regardless of mission.
  3. It is critical that all members understand when, how, and why they should talk at the various levels available to them, as well as how the different pieces of radio equipment work and are best used.

Basic Expectations Regarding Comms

In light of that, there are some expectations that we have of every player when it comes to our in-game communications. We expect that each player is familiar with:

Being familiar with this section should allow any player to live up to those expectations.

Core Principles of Combat Voice Communications

The core principles of voice communication in a game like Arma 3 are as follows.

Built-In VON Details and Usage

Arma 3's VON allows for an automatic, logical grouping of units to occur. There are five main channels in VON, each of which can be independently bound to a push-to-talk key. If using VON as your method of choice for in-game communication, all players should at least have "Direct Speaking" bound to a key. Binding "Vehicle Chat" and "Group Chat" is also helpful. There are also two other channels, which will be described after the main ones.

Channel Functionality

Command Chat
Command chat transmits only to people who are group leaders - such as fireteam leaders, squad leaders, etc. Keep in mind that this transmits to all leaders - which can be quite a number of people in large missions.

Side Chat
This acts as a broadcast to all players on the same side. Only platoon-critical messages should be said over Side Chat, since literally every player on that side hears everything spoken on that channel. The Platoon Commander may use this to say important things to all players at once. Think of this as a Platoon Radio Net that everyone can hear.

Vehicle Chat
When using this mode, every player within the vehicle will be able to hear you, regardless of what group they're in. Think of this as the internal vehicle comm system.

Group Chat
This mode allows every player within your group to hear you. Think of this as fireteam-level personal radios.

Direct Speaking 
This mode is just like talking without any sort of radio. Your voice comes from your character's location, is directional, and the character even lip-syncs what you're saying. Your voice will be affected by everything that influences in-game sound, so if you run behind a building and try to talk to someone, your voice will be muffled and indistinct. Direct Speaking is excellent for communicating with people around you regardless of what group they may be in. Shouting "Grenade!" over Direct Speaking is one example of how it can be used effectively.

Spoken communication (non-radio)

Usage Examples

Whether done through the built-in VON or something like ACRE, direct speaking is an incredibly useful tool with a wide variety of potential uses. In no particular order, some of the uses are as follows

Direct speaking is also a good way to keep random chatter off of the radio nets, leaving them clear for important things.

Procedures & Rules


Regardless of what communication program you use, it is important to maintain certain radio procedures to keep things running smooth and organized.

Hearing someone say over the command net that there are "Enemy infantry, bearing 210!" is fairly worthless in a high-playercount player game with the platoon spread out over hundreds of meters if not more. Because of this, and other considerations, we use a simple set of radio procedures to keep things running smooth.

If you are communicating across the radio, you initiate each transmission with who you're talking to, followed by your own callsign, wait for an acknowledgment, and then send your message. For example, if Bravo Lead is contacting Command to tell him that they took a casualty in a firefight (post-fight, most likely), the transmission would be as follows:

Bravo SL: "Command, this is Bravo."

Command: "Bravo, send it."

Bravo SL: "Be advised, Bravo took one KIA."

Command: "Command copies."

This simple procedure keeps command chat organized and allows for the various leadership elements to know when they're specifically being talked to. Not waiting for an acknowledgment often results in a repeated message being required, since the receiving unit may have been too busy at the time to listen to the message intended for it. This radio procedure is generally employed during combat situations, where any given element may be engaged or busy. When the action is less intense, it may be abridged as needed - it's up to the leaders to be able to make these decisions themselves.

Element Marker Say it as...
Alpha Squad, 1st Fireteam 'Alpha One'
Alpha Squad, 2nd Fireteam 'Alpha Two'
Alpha Squad, Squad Leader 'Alpha Lead'
Platoon Headquarters 'Command'


These are some of the most common words & phrases you'll hear used in our gaming. Many of these terms will see further explanation and definition throughout the guide in various places, but these should get you started and familiar with the core concepts. Note that there are additional terms mentioned elsewhere in the guide for more specific situations, but these are the most common ones that everyone must be familiar with.


Team Movement & Control

Personal Status

Fire Control





Contact Reports

Components of a Contact Report

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.

1. Alert

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.

2. Orient

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 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.

3. Describe

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.

Examples: "Infantry", "Enemy patrol", "APC", "machinegun nest".

4. Expound

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:

For instance, if you spot a patrol that is walking through a patch of woods, step #3 would be "enemy patrol", whereas step #4 would clarify that with "in the treeline, bearing 325".

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. If there is an enemy squad far away that does not see you or pose a threat to you, take the time to clearly describe where it is. If on the other hand there is an enemy squad on the other side of a small rise 50 meters away, and it's heading in the direction of your element, you'll want to be as brief and fast as possible so that everyone has time to react and get prepared for contact.

Bad Contact Reports

Here's an example of a very poor radio transmission of a contact report:

"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)

It's pretty clear that this is not the way to do things - too much time is spent waffling around, no significant detail is given, and generally nothing productive has been said aside from the fact that there are enemies "somewhere". No kidding!

Proper Contact Reports

A more proper contact report would be as follows. Note that this is an intra-squad report - reports across squads will be covered later.

Note also that if the squad fireteams are dispersed, it may be necessary to identify yourself prior to sending the contact report. Simply preface it with your callsign (this is Charlie One) prior to starting the report, or close with that information (...from Charlie One's position).

"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. Universal Rules of Engagement rules apply here - if it's a dire threat, you can engage without being specifically told to. If it's not a dire threat, or you're operating in explicit stealth mode, wait for orders before engaging.

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 Examples


"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."

Notes & Tips on Reporting Contacts



The situation report, or SITREP, is a quick way for a leader to get information on his troops. It is intended to be a very concise and quick way for an entire element to report their status to their leader.

SITREPs can be asked for at the fireteam, squad, platoon, and company level. Calling for a SITREP as a leader is as simple as saying "(element you are asking for), send a sitrep" or "(element you are asking for), report in".

Examples of how this call can be made are as follows.

Sitreps are generally asked for during lulls in the action, at the close of an engagement, or when a higher-level leader asks for them. If a leader wants the status of a specific member or element, he will ask them directly.

When a sitrep is asked for, the elements involved respond in numerical or alphabetical order - for example, squads report in alphabetical order - Alpha, Bravo, Charlie - while fireteams report in in numerical order.

It is important that leaders do not constantly ride their junior leaders regarding sitreps. Waiting for a lull in the action helps to ensure that the need to report in does not compromise the leadership of the junior leader, or distract him from the combat task he's directing.

When being asked for a situation report, a junior leader can reply with "Stand by", "Busy" or a variation thereof to let the senior leader know that he must deal with the situation at hand before he can report in detail.

SITREPs are not intended to be incredibly in-depth, unless necessary. When a leader wants a more detailed report, they typically ask for an ACE report, as described next.

The Ammo, Casualties, & Equipment (ACE) Report

An ACE report is a quick report given to the next-higher element leader regarding your element's status. When giving an ACE report, players only include the important parts.

Elements of an ACE Report

When giving an ACE report as an individual, ammo is your personal ammo, casualties is your personal medical state, and equipment refers to any special equipment you were given for the mission.

As a squad leader, ACE reports from your fireteam leaders are compiled to form the sitrep that you give to the platoon commander.


The casualty report, or CASREP, is a quick and focused report that is designed so that a leader can quickly find out how many casualties have been taken. Junior leaders report this information as wounded or killed, in the same format as in the ACE report.

CASREPs are used when a leader only needs to know casualties, and is not concerned with ammo or equipment as described in the ACE report above.

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