Hello there! Apologies for the double post.
I am writing this guide because I
am bored, and have nothing better to do think that there are a lot of simple ideas and actions that could help those wanting to lead a platoon. There are some basic principles to command that I hope to lay down, as well as some basic drills and how to deal with your own HQ element.
Wether you agree with this guide or not is really immaterial, this is simply my way of doing things that has worked for me, it is not the only way and may not be the best way.
I have a fair amount of experience leading platoons both in game and in real life exercises. I am far from an expert, but I do honestly believe myself to be a decent platoon commander here at UO, despite not being able to play much any more. So, as I have already accidetally hit "post", I shall begin.
Principles Of Command.
If you follow these basic principles you will be more effective as a Platoon Commander.
If possible, try and do several things at the same time. If you have pilots that need some time to organise themselves before you head in to the battle, get your squad leaders to thoroughly brief their squads and sort out their kit. Try to make sure that nobody is sat around doing nothing. Just because one part of the platoon is doing one thing, this doesn't mean the rest can't do stuff as well. Getting them active can speed up the mission and maintain momentum, whether it's at the beginning of the mission or halfway through a firefight.
The Mission Commnd principle essentially boils down to not micromanaging. Rather than telling a squad leader to leave one fireteam here while taking the other round the right flank to assault a building, simply tell him to go right flanking and assault the building. Not only does this make your life easier and stop you from getting tunnelled into what one squad is doing, it also allows the Squad Leader the freedom to react to the situation. If you had told him to leave a fire team behind he might not have wanted to move it, even if it becme clear to him that he needed both teams to clear the building.
If you tell people to do something in a way that is confident (but not rude) then they are much more likely to get on and do it, and to trust you to make the right call. It doesn't matter if you think your plan is rubbish, that you can't come up with anything else and are worried everything will go wrong, you tell people your plan as if there is no doubt in your mind that it is the right thing to do. This doesn't mean you ignore suggestions, simply that you seem confident.
Make sure people know what you want them to do. After you have briefed someone, make them explain back to you what they are going to do. Clarity can prevent incidents such a this. If your squad leaders do not understand what you have asked them to do - or more likely understand something other than the what ou intend, things can and will go badly wrong.
Maintence Of Momentum
When assaulting the enemy, keeping the momentum going is crucial. However, rushing things will lead to disorganisation, which will slow everything down. Maintaining the momentum can be achieved by properly briefing everyone, by allowing time prior to the attack for organisation and by setting "Mini H-Hours" - i.e. telling a squad to be ready to assault the building in 5 minutes. As well as this, remember that "A Good plan now is better than a Perfect plan later." You could sit around for hours discussing what to do - so once you have a good enough plan, go and do it.
Now the basic principles are out of the way, I'm going to describe going through a mission as a Platoon Commander.
Slotting is an importantpart of the mission. Unsure that youhave 2 rifle squads, because with less you will have a poor and inflexible unit. 3 rifle squads is the preferred number. Make sure you have space for them, and write down all your squad leaders. A Platoon Sergeant is needed, especially if you have a medic, and an RTO can be very useful.
Briefing is highly important. A poor briefing will usually lead to a poorly executed mission. It is perhaps the most important part of leading the platoon. A well done briefing can gain the trust of your players and let you hit the mission running, while a poor briefing can make people lose confidence in you and cause chaos during the mission tht will lead to delays followed by delays. Don't cut corners on your briefing for fear of making people bored - they'll be more bored with the extra half hour of faffing around to get everything organised.
Following a template is the easiest way of keeping your briefing together.
Here is the one I follow (missing out parts not applicable to ArmA such as security of O Group and what to do with rations and water). It has lots of little sections which let you easily give the situation.
Here is a more commonly used briefing template, and indeed a good guide on briefings from Krause.
There are a few things that I feel are certainly required for a good briefing:
A briefing should be fairly brief. Obviously a more complicated mission will have a more complicated briefing, but if you start to waffle then people will switch off. Keep your briefing to the point, and reasonably snappy. That said, it shouldn't take as littleas 5 minutes to go through a briefing, and if it does then you are probbly missing out important information.
Impenetrable Military Jargon
Using lots of cool sounding words and abbreviations might make you feel ally as fuck, however, to everyone else you sound like something else. Some terms are obviously useful - fire support, base of fire, CCP, LOA, Report line etc. However some stuff just break up the flow of the briefing and make people switch off. Not everyone here has served/reads Field Manuals all day. If you can explain it just as quickly in plain english, then do so, and unless it's something with ore thn 5-6 syllable, saying abbreviations in full (support by fire rather tha SBF) will help people to understand. There is no point to a briefing that no one understands.
If people switch off and stop listening - maybe even walk off to have a sandwich - then your briefing is as pointless as a French tank's forward gears. Good ways to keep people paying attention to you is by not digressing, keeping your voice from being monotone (i.e. stress certain bits) and asking questionscan help. When asking question, use the "Ask, pause, nominate" method. Stopping after saying a part of your execution and saying, "So... what will you be doing after the airstrike goes in... 1 section?" will keep people on their toes.
Although not included in the US style of briefings, giving a summary after the "Execution" paragraph can save a bad briefing from nonsensical destruction. A Summary is where you simply say what the plan is. You try to sell the plan and get people enthusiastic - or at least interested. You instill confidence in the plan - and make sure people know what is going to happen in sequence. You can ask questions during it to keep people's attention, but keep it short (but forceful), it's still a summary!
Questions and Interruptions
At the beginning of your briefing tell everyone to keep questions until the end. Questions can ruin a briefing if they interrupt you. If you are interrupted, don't be rude to them, just tell them to hold all questions until the end. If you brief well, however, there shouldn't be many questions, although a lack of questions could be a sign that people weren't paying attention - so ask some of your own!
The Mission Itself
You've all slotted in, you've briefed the platoon and everybody is, hopefully, happy and ready to go. When the mission first starts, give your squads 5 minutes before conducting radio checks. Even though radios can't break (yet?) in ArmA, you'd be surprised how many radio issues can occur (my favourite being an old playthrough in ArmA 2, when my PRC-119 radio was on a different frequency, yet same channel, as the PRC 148s). This also gives people an indication that they need to be ready, andcan tell you which of your squad leaders may need a careful eye (platoon sergeants are useful for this) - tking while to respond to a radio check is a bad sign for your squad leaders.
Once you head off, don't be afraid to change the plan on the go. It will never go exactly as planned in the briefing.
Here are a few pointers to keep yourself from losing control:
Use of an RTO
Some of you reading this may have been confused when I said that slotting an RTO is useful. When you only have a platoon, and no company HQ to have to listen to, why would an RTO help? Except for the fact that sometimes a more powerful radio can be useful, it is correct to assume that an RTO being used purely as a walking radio is as useful as a ginger in the Sahara. However, if we stop thinking of him as an RTO, and think of him as a runner, he can be very useful. If you want one of your sections on your position, it would be easier to tell your RTO to go fetch them than radio them and rely upon navigation. With your RTO guiding them, they won't get lost. That extra body can be used for the small, annoying tasks that can distract you from your job.
Use of the Platoon Sergeant
THe Platoon Sergeant should be used primarily to do 2 things: Keep everyone supplied and deal with casualties. Leaving all of setting up CCPs and controlling the medic to the platoon sergeant again frees up a lot of your time, and prevents you from being distracted. As well as this, placing him at the rear during the march in can ensure that no one gets left behind, and as aforementioned he can be used to "unfuck" disorgansied squads.
Use of your radio.
The radio should only be used for the relaying of information. Your squad leaders should be reporting contacts, casualties and their position on it, and you should be using it to get your squad leaders on your position or issue very quick orders. When issuing orders, it is far better to do it face to face thn oever the radio. Your squads should be close enough so that you can dash between them. When on the radio, they cannot talk while you are talking, and you will clog up the net. By issuing orders face to face, you can reference positions much easier, and you can both see the same things, which makes clairty a lot easier.
Calm and Patience
Staying calm is vital. Don't panic, don't get angry, don't get frustrated. Stay calm and find a way to fix the problem, whether it be that your A-10 pilot crashed, your squad leaders can't read maps or a tank just blew up your CCP. Being calm when everyone around you is panicking is the mark of a leader.
Where should you be?
Actually positioning yourself is a rather tricky skill for a platoon commander. Too close to the action and you will go down, too far back and you'll lose touch with your asssaulting section. So where should ou be? First and foremost, in cover! The Platoon Commander going down can really impede a platoon. Try to be one tactical bound behind your leading section, but infront of your second section. That way you won't be getting killed, but you are nice and close to ever element.
That is about all I can think of, and I'm running low on time. I've avoiding talking about actual drills here, for fear of the Danish Mafia descending upon me, although clearly Assault-Fire Support-Reserve is vastly superior to any door related nonsense
Again, this is only the principles of my way of Platoon Leading, not a comprehensive guide.