Too often do people treat the platoon sergeant like a glorified rifleman. The platoon sergeant is more than the platoon leader's errand boy and has specific tasks and roles to perform at all times. At no point should the platoon sergeant be waiting for the platoon leader to give him instructions. The platoon sergeant always has something to do. The platoon sergeant should do all of these things without instruction from the platoon leader so that the platoon leader can focus on the larger picture.
1. Battle Preparation
a. Ensure the platoon is in proper formation and order. Move around quickly locate all elements relative to each other. Instruct the point element where to position. Instruct trailing elements where the element in front of them is located. Ensure there is proper spacing between elements and leave larger room for the platoon headquarters to form up in if necessary.
b. Ensure ammunition and equipment are properly distributed. If ammunition for special weapons, e.g. machine guns, are crossloaded throughout the platoon, get an accurate count and be prepared to coordinate resupply.
c. Ensure communication between elements has been established. If a leader is not answering their radio, it is your job to find them and assist them with establishing comms.
d. If the platoon is not moving, ensure all around security has been established. Assign sectors to elements if the platoon leader has not already done this. Look for possible OPs/LPs and instruct elements to detail sentries as necessary.
e. If there are attachments or detachments to the platoon, such as a medic or forward observer, they fall under your watch. Discuss where they will position themselves at each phase of the operation and ensure they understand their duties and the role they play within the commander's intent.
f. Get an accurate headcount. The platoon leader needs to be kept aware of the status of his platoon. After an engagement, you will be able to get a casualty report more easily if the element leaders were unable to do this themselves.
g. Advise the platoon leader during the planning phase. You can facilitate this by using group chat or dropping down a Teamspeak channel with the platoon leader. If the operation order does not have this information already, prepare a brief OAKOC/OCOKA and other reports (SALUTE, DRAW-DG, MLCOA, METT-TC, etc.) as necessary. Analyze COAs with the platoon leader. The platoon leader is focused on the bigger picture, so you can make recommendations on the smaller level as he plans, e.g. positioning of the elements at a rally point.
h. The platoon leader may delegate the platoon sergeant to prepare and issue paragraph 4 of the OPORD. Be prepared for this and recommend it to the platoon sergeant if appropriate.
2. Advancing to Battle
a. Control the spacing and movement of the platoon. Ensure dispersion between elements is kept. Ensure the platoon is moving in the right direction and acting appropriately at every control point. You are the navigator and the pace setter.
b. Analyze the terrain around you. Advise the platoon leader on key terrain and positions of advantage if the platoon is ambushed or needs to move into a better position.
3. Reaction to Contact
a. Identify the direction of contact and begin to assist in moving elements up and to cover. This is why analyzing the terrain during movement is important. If you saw a hilltop nearby earlier, let an element know that it would provide a better position to engage enemies. Ensure elements are watching to prevent flanking attack. Assist the platoon leader by making sure battle orders are followed by element leaders.
b. Listen to your radio and mark your map. Write down important radio traffic and keep a log of the platoon's activities. This includes noting ammunition and casualty statuses.
c. If an element has a casualty, ensure he gets treatment. Analyze the situation and decide whether or not the situation calls for the medic to be brought to the casualty or the casualty to be brought to the medic. If the latter, personally collect the casualty or detail a rifleman from the casualty's element or another element to bring them to a CCP. If a rifleman from another section is required, use whatever element is in a support role.
a. Ensure elements are spread out and have adopted the proper formation. Ensure that spacing, speed, and formations are kept throughout the assault.
b. Anticipate flanks and counterattacks.
c. Keep track of the location and activity of all friendly and enemy elements.
d. Resupply elements as necessary. Keep ammunition and equipment evenly distributed. This may require taking one element's ammunition to give to an element with less.
e. Use an element to search and clear enemy positions that have been passed.
5. Consolidation and Reorganization
a. Ensure security is being kept.
b. Get ammunition and casualty statuses (ACE reports) from each element and be prepared to appropriately react.
c. Brief the platoon leader for his sitrep. Ensure the platoon leader knows everything you know and make recommendations or give opinions as necessary.
d. Arrange for casualty evacuation if necessary.
e. Ensure the platoon is ready to move and advice the platoon leader when they are. If the platoon is not moving, begin to establish better security. Work out a security plan with or without the platoon leader and begin to position elements, post sentries, arrange patrols, and prepare defenses as necessary.
a. Be prepared to assume the duties of the platoon leader. Understand his general intent and the execution plan. If the platoon leader becomes a casualty, it is not time to start planning from scratch. Continue with the current plan and make any decisions based on the existing intent. Do not give orders that conflict with existing plans.
b. Ensure you keep the platoon leader aware of what you are doing. You have the authority to give orders to elements, but you must ensure these orders do not conflict with those of the platoon leader.
c. If there is a mounted and dismounted element, the platoon leader will lead the dismounted element and the platoon sergeant will lead the mounted element. The platoon sergeant should be prepared to lead a vehicle section and understand the plan enough to position vehicles in order to support maneuver forces.
1. US Army: "The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide"
2. US Army: "Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad"
2. British Army: "The Platoon Sergeant in the Advance and Attack"
Edited by Albatross, 2013-06-13 @ 17:06.