Page 1
The Basics
  Page 2
Organization & Communication
  Page 3
Standard Roles & Group Tactics
  Page 4
Advanced Roles & Group Tactics, Vehicle Tips
Intro to the ShackTac ArmA TTP
  • Welcome to the ShackTac ArmA TTP
  • Real Life vs Gaming
  • About Shack Tactical
  • Closing Notes


Recommend Mods
  • Advanced Combat Environment
  • Chain of Command
  • Ballistic Addon Studios
  • Finnish Defense Forces

  • ArmA Keybind Possibilities
  • Keybind Suggestions

The Environment
  • Tactical Significance of...

Intro to ShackTac as a Basic Rifleman
  • Intro
  • Basic Responsibilities of a Fireteam Member
  • Combat Buddy Teams

Situational Awareness
  • TrackIR
  • What to stay aware of and look for
  • Other Situational Awareness Tips
  • Friend or Foe Identification

Wounds & What to Do
  • Wound Effects
  • I'm hit! What do I do?
  • Man down!
  • Further Reading

  • Rifle Basics
  • Reloading
  • Types of Fire
  • Types of Fire Relative to Targets

How Not To Get Shot
  • Basic Movement Techniques
  • Cover vs Concealment
  • Tucking Into Cover & Sight Displacement
  • Leaning
  • Accuracy & Exposure by Stance
  • Firing from Apertures/Windows
  • Vehicles as Cover
  • Buddy Cover

Intro to the ShackTac Platoon

Organization & Leadership - Fireteam, Squad, and Platoon-Level
  • The Theory & Intent Behind Our Ranking System
  • Defining the Ranks
  • Common Responsibilities & Tips for Leaders
  • Fireteams
  • Squads
  • The Platoon

The Importance of Individual Initiative

Communication & Command
  • Teamspeak 2
  • ArmA VOIP
  • Radio Rules
  • General Radio Procedures
  • Common Words & Phrases You Need To Know
  • Further Comm Procedures & Info

Contact Reports
  • The Contact Report, Bit-by-Bit
  • Marking Enemy Locations on the Map
  • Contact Reports & SITREPS on the Command Channel

The Map, Compass, GPS, & Watch
  • Intro to the Map(s)
  • Map Reading 101
  • Map Variants
  • The Compass
  • The Watch
  • A few words on roles...
  • Basic
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

  • About Formations
  • The Primary Formations
  • The Lesser-Used Formations

Movement Techniques
  • Traveling
  • Traveling Overwatch
  • Bounding Overwatch
  • Crossing a Danger Area
  • Indian Sprints

Group Tactics
  • Principles of Attacking
  • Types of Attacks
  • Defending
  • The Point
  • Fire & Maneuver
  • Going Firm

Battle Drills
  • Reaction to Contact
  • Breaking Contact
  • Conducting Ambushes
  • Reaction to Ambush
  • Reaction to Sniper
  • Reaction to Air Attack
  • Reaction to Artillery/Indirect Fire
Platoon-level Special Roles
  • Scout/Sniper Team
  • Platoon Medic
  • Crew-Served Team

Close Air Support
  • The Forward Air Controller (FAC)
  • The CAS Aircraft/Pilot
  • CAS Munitions 101

Artillery Support
  • The Forward Observer
  • The Mortar Team
  • Artillery Rounds & Fuzing 101

Advanced Group Tactics
  • Airborne Assault & Extraction
  • Armor & Infantry Coordination
  • Convoy Operations
  • Medevac Procedures

Ground Vehicle Tips & Tactics
  • General Vehicles
  • The Role of Every Vehicle on the Battlefield
  • Vehicle Classes
  • Crew Coordination
  • Hull Down
  • Unbuttoning/Turning Out
  • Smokescreens
  • Damage Model
  • MOUT/Urban Ops

Aircraft Tips & Tactics
  • Crew Roles & Responsibilities
  • Aircraft Classes
  • General Helicopters
  • General Jets
  • Attack Types - Rotary Wing
  • Attack Types - Fixed Wing
  • Damage Model
  • Multiple Aircraft Attack Tactics
  • Troop Insertions

In Closing...
  • You Made It
  • Feedback

  • Thanks to...

Revision Tracker
  Index of "Roles"  
A few words on roles...
  • Rifleman
  • Assistant Automatic Rifleman
  • Assistant Anti-Tank Gunner
  • Grenadier
  • Machinegunner/Automatic Rifleman
  • Anti-Tank Gunner
  • Anti-Air Missile Gunner
  • Demolition (Engineer, Saboteur)
  • Designated Marksman
  • Medic
  • Special Forces



A few words on roles...

The biggest rule for role selection in a session is that you either know the role or you don't pick it. If you aren't absolutely confident that you can take full advantage of a role and proficiently play as it, leave it for someone else. This applies to our large weekly games - games run throughout the week are much more open in this regard, giving players an opportunity to practice all types of roles in a more relaxed environment.

This section will cover the various role types, their responsibilities, tips for playing them properly, and so on. Hopefully it helps to give newer players a better idea of what each role entails, and the difficulty inherent in each.



Every member of our platoon is a rifleman first. A rifleman is just a soldier sans any specialized equipment. They typically have iron-sighted rifles, but may also find themselves sporting a nice magnified optic like the ACOG from time to time. Riflemen are the backbone of our platoon, and they must always be ready to step up and take a more advanced role in the event that we take casualties.


Assistant Automatic Rifleman

An assistant automatic rifleman is simply a rifleman who carries extra ammo for the fireteam or squad automatic rifles. The only thing an AAR has to worry about is providing said ammo to the automatic rifleman on request.

If a fireteam splits into 'buddy pairs', the AAR always groups up with the AR.

If the Automatic Rifleman is killed, the assistant should take over.


Assistant Anti-Tank or Anti-Air Gunner

An anti-tank or anti-air gunner assistant is much the same as an automatic rifleman assistant. He carries the extra rounds for either weapon system and provides them to the gunner on request. He sticks with the gunner whenever possible and takes over if the gunner is killed in action.




The average grenadier is simply a rifleman who has an M203 grenade launcher attached to their rifle. While there will be other types of grenadiers in certain mods (ie dedicated grenadiers using the M79 'Thumper' or the new USMC M-32), the rifle + grenade launcher combination is the most likely.

These grenade launchers are capable of providing accurate short- to mid-range (out to ~350-450 meters) high-explosive fire on the enemy, and when placed in the hands of a skilled operator, they can inflict significant casualties and have a noticable impact on the course of a firefight.


Basic Grenadier Guidelines

Machinegunner / Automatic Rifleman

Automatic riflemen and machinegunners rule the realm of infantry. Their ability to place sustained accurate fire in high volume on the enemy is capable of inflicting a large number of casualties in short order when properly employed.

Basic Machinegunner/Automatic Rifleman Guidelines


Anti-Tank Gunner

Anti-Tank Gunners act as basic riflemen whenever their AT abilities are not needed. When light or heavy armor rolls onto the scene, AT gunners must utilize their weapons skillfully to disable or destroy the armor. AT Gunners are expected to be highly proficient with a wide variety of anti-tank weapons. It takes a good amount of "range time" to become skilled with the anti-tank weapons, but that practice pays off in spades when enemy armor shows up.


Basic Anti-Tank Gunner Guidelines


Anti-Air Missile Gunner

An anti-air missile gunner is typically a rifleman who also carries a Stinger man-portable AA missile system. The AA gunner must be ready to use his missile system to engage and destroy any enemy air threats that might appear over the battlefield. His proficiency can be the difference between life and death for a squad or platoon.


Basic Anti-Air Missile Gunner Guidelines


Demolitions (Engineer, Saboteur)

A demolition unit can be an engineer, saboteur, or any unit that is carrying something like a Claymore mine, satchel charge, or anti-tank mine. They are extremely valuable in the defense and are also the key to enacting brutal and deadly ambushes.

Demolition Tips



Medics are a critical part to the success of any given mission. Because of this, it is vitally important that they do not act as front-line infantry. Medics who are constantly trying to get into the thick of each firefight are likely to find themselves dead in short order, and their death will cause enormous problems for the surviving squadmembers.

Basic Medic Guidelines

There will be a slew of new things to consider for the medics when the ACE mod rolls around. Expect to see updates in the future regarding it.


Special Forces

Special Forces soldiers are defined by their above-average gear and the fact that they typically get the toughest assignments.

In the case of ArmA, you find several types of SF troops. You have the Designated Marksman (carries a semi-auto Designated Marksman Rifle), the Saboteur (carries satchel charges and a suppressed SMG), and the normal SF guys who simply carry an M4 with an Aimpoint sight or ACOG.

Special Forces troops fall under the "Advanced" section due to them requiring more finesse and skill to play compared to normal infantry, largely because of the fact that they get tough assignments and rarely work in anything larger than a squad-sized element.

Special Forces soldiers will often be the ones behind enemy lines calling in close air support or acting as forward observers for artilley. To this end, they carry a SOFLAM laser designator which can be used to guide in laser-guided bombs. SF are expected to be familiar with how to act as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) a Forward Observer (FO) - both topics are covered on the next page.

Basic Special Forces Guidelines

Designated Marksman

A Designated Marksman is a squad-level unit that is equipped with a special rifle fitted with some sort of magnified optic. Their task is to provide accurate fire and observation on the enemy from ranges beyond what the normal riflemen can achieve. They are the precision shooting asset of a squad.

The important distinction between a Designated Marksman and a true sniper is that the DM is attached to a squad and operates with it, to support the squad, whereas a sniper team operates independently and is a platoon-level asset, under the direct command of the Platoon Commander.

Basic Designated Marksman Guidelines


Back to Index
  Index of "Formations"  
The Primary Formations
  • Wedge
  • Line
  • Column/Staggered Column
The Lesser-Used Formations
  • Echelon Left/Right
  • Vee



About Formations

Fireteam in line formation

Before we jump into things, there are a few words that need to be said about formations.

Formations act as a guide for where people should be to best fit the situation. They are very flexible creatures, and should be adapted as needed to fit the situation. Everyone should be familiar with the basic formations, and leaders in particular should have an understanding of what the strengths and weaknesses of each are. Players should not get wound up in trying to maintain a 100% perfect formation position 100% of the time. Adapt to the situation as needed.

For the purposes of illustration, I have chosen to depict squad-level formations. This means that you see the dispositions of the various fireteams in relation to the squad leader, but not the actual fireteam members. The same formations, however, can be applied at any level - there are fireteam formations, squad, and platoon ones. You can even mix different formations at different levels - you could have the platoon in a line formation, the squads in column, and the fireteams in wedge. Each level of command has their own formations to set, basically. A PltCo might tell the platoon to get in line formation, and the squad leaders might tell their squads to get in column. Fireteam leaders could then be more specific to their teams if they so desired. It sounds complicated, but with the way the heirarchy breaks down, it's really not difficult to work with.

Here is an example of what a Squad formation looks like while depicting the positions of the fireteam members as well.

You can see that different formations used at various levels - B1 is in a fireteam staggered column formation while acting as the leading element of a squad wedge formation. B2 and B3 are both in fireteam wedge formations, and each fireteam leader is positioned on the inside of his fireteam relative to the area of responsibility for that fireteam. Meaning, if a fireteam is oriented to the left of the direction of movement, the fireteam leader is on the right side of the fireteam. This gives him observation over his team and also makes him the least visible of the team members. Additionally, it puts him closest to the Squad Leader. One day, if VOIP is improved to the point that the "Direct VOIP" channel is used for shouted communications and such, this might become a gameplay consideration. For now, it's simply a result of the Fireteam Leader placements.

The Primary Formations

These are the three main formations that you will see used 90% of the time. The common theme is that they are easy to establish, control, and are very flexible.



The wedge formation is a very versatile one that is easy to establish and control. It allows for good all-around observation and security, and can be used in the majority of situations encountered. Fire can be placed in any direction in good quantity, and a shift in formation upon contact is easy to accomplish to suit where the contact came from.

The formation leader typically puts himself in the center, to allow for the best command and control of the formation.

The wedge formation is the one most naturally assumed during gameplay, and is also the preferred formation to use when assaulting the enemy.


The line formation is great for advancing towards a known threat, as long as there is no significant risk of taking fire from the flanks.

The line formation offers great observation and heavy fire to the front. It is easy to control, but does suffer from the problem noted above - that it is vulnerable to flanking fire. It also does not offer great flank or rear security, so it should be used with that in mind.


The column formation is best used during travel when contact is not imminently expected or speed is a high priority. It is the simplest formation to establish, as it is merely a matter of follow-the-leader. It allows for very rapid movement because of this.

A column formation has great firepower to the flanks, but is not geared towards contact from the front (which it is vulnerable to). A column can rapidly shift upon contact to a line or other formation where appropriate, giving it good flexibility.

Column formations can also be used when traveling through an area where it is not practical to spread out into a line, wedge, or other formation. For instance, travel through a restricted valley might require a column.

The Lesser-Used Formations

Echelons - Left and Right

Echelon formations can be established when traveling in an area where the threat direction is overwhelmingly likely to be either to the left or the right of the line of travel. These are basically just half-wedge formations, and they focus firepower towards the flank that has been echeloned.

While they are potentially useful, the odds of seeing them employed effectively, and having their employment be significantly better than using one of the more common formations, is a bit unlikely.



The Vee is a reverse of the Wedge formation, where two elements lead the group, a third acts as trail, and the element leader stays in the center to control the formation and movement. This formation can be good when you know that contact will mostly come from the front but you don't want to commit to a line formation and want to maintain flexibility.

  Index of "Movement Techniques "  
Traveling Overwatch
Bounding Overwatch
  • Bounding Overwatch Guidelines
  • Successive Bounding Overwatch
  • Alternating Bounding Overwatch
  • Final Words

Movement Techniques


There are a variety of movement techniques that are applicable to ArmA's environment and simulation fidelity. Utilizing the best one for a situation will do a great deal to protect a team and provide security as well as flexibility, and it's important that all players are familiar with the differences between the various types.


Traveling is simply movement from point A to point B without anything fancy. The spacing between elements is typically small to maintain good control over the unit. Traveling movement is used when enemy contact is unlikely at best. Logic tells you that 'traveling' has the least application to our gaming - enemy contact is almost always likely for us, so movement in "traveling" mode is dangerous most of the time.

Traveling Overwatch

Traveling Overwatch is where things start to become applicable to gaming. This movement method simply increases the distance between elements. The extra space allows for more room to maneuver and decreases the density of friendly forces, which in turn increases the security of the unit by making it harder for an enemy to inflict large casualties via a sudden ambush or explosive trap.

When moving via traveling overwatch, particularly as in a squad or platoon line formation, one element is designated as the lead or "guide-on" element. This element controls the rate of movement or speed of advance, with other elements "guiding" off of them. If this element halts, the whole formation halts. If they move, the formation moves. This helps to ensure that the overall group formation does not overrun itself or get far out of formation.

Bounding Overwatch

Bounding Overwatch is the de-facto "Standard Infantry Movement Technique". It is one of the most fundamental combat movement skills practiced and happens to be one of the easiest to employ as well.

The basic principle of bounding overwatch is that one element is always stationary and covering the movement of the other element(s). There are two main techniques available - alternating and successive. The choice of which one will be used depends on the threat level and the speed required.


Bounding Overwatch Guidelines

Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when employing bounding overwatch.


Moving on to the two main types of bounding overwatch...

Successive Bounding Overwatch

Successive bounding overwatch is the slower of the two. In it, one team advances, halts, and then the other team advances on-line with them, halts, and the process repeats itself. This provides a high level of security, but takes longer to employ.

Alternating Bounding Overwatch

Alternating bounding overwatch is the fastest of the two, sacrificing some security for additional speed. In this mode, the teams bound past each other before stopping and allowing the other team to pass them.

Final Words

Bounding overwatch should be used any time that contact is likely or imminent. The security of having an entire element (be it a squad or fireteam) specifically scanning for threats while another element moves is enormously beneficial to the team.

The radio command to initiate bounding overwatch should be something like "Alpha 1, Alpha 2, bounding overwatch up this street. Alpha 2 initiates" or "Bravo Fireteams, alternating bounding overwatch towards waypoint one. Bravo 1 initiates".

Note that bounding overwatch is used not only when moving to contact, but also when contact has been made. This should be common sense, but I want to mention it specifically to be clear. If multiple elements are moving in a traveling overwatch method and take fire, the natural reaction to it is to transition to bounding overwatch immediately and maneuver as necessary to eliminate the enemy position(s).


Crossing a Danger Area

Danger areas are locations at which there's a heightened level of vulnerability for anyone caught within them, and must be treated with due caution when the situation calls for it. They can be bridges, streams, large open lanes in forested terrain, or even streets in an urban environment. Danger areas are frequently observed by the enemy, and can have snipers, machinegunners, or enemy rifle fireteams ready to deliver fire into them on short notice.

The technique for crossing a danger area is another form of bounding overwatch. The idea is to maintain security and cross in small numbers that will not draw undue attention or fire.

Once you have determined that you are facing a "danger area" and must treat it as such, there are four basic steps to follow.

Note that if the group is under fire and crossing a danger area, smoke should be used extensively, and security for the crossing elements should be provided by suppression fires.

In the following example you can see how a fireteam might deal with a street 'danger area' during urban combat.

The first man moves up to the corner, scans both directions, and takes a knee, followed by the second one moving up to observe down the side of the street not covered by the first. Once the second man starts to cross, the third man takes over his sector of observation, while the fourth man tightens up the formation and continues to cover the rear. The second man then sets up on the far side, checks both ends of the street, and observes the one that seems the most threatening at the time. At this point the third man crosses, then the fourth, and finally the first man crosses.

The illustration above has the first man across deciding that the left is the most dangerous area. Thus, he spends his time covering it. When the second and third people cross, they look to the right, since the left is covered by the other two. Additionally, since fireteams do not typically work alone, this technique is likely to be used with two teams crossing the street at the same time - in such a situation, the team on the left side would cover the left, and the team on the right would cover the right.

The communication for this procedure should be something like this:

Element leader: "Street danger area, prepare to cross."
One: "Near side set."
Two: "Two, crossing."
Two: "Far side set."
Three: "Three, crossing."
Four: "Four, crossing."
Element Leader: "One, cross."
One: "One, crossing."
Element Leader: "Team is up."

Indian Sprints

The "Indian Sprint" movement technique gives an element (or multiple elements) a way to move while maintaining a very high level of all-around security. The primary downside of it is that it is a relatively slow way to move. The up side is that it keeps approximately 80% of the element scanning for targets and observing the terrain at all times.

To conduct an indian sprint, the element leader simply states that the element will be moving via "indian sprint" to a designated landmark. He may then tell the rear-most person to initiate the movement, at which point the person at the rear of the formation would run to the front, stop, and begin covering the front while the "new" last person would then run to the front, stop, etc. This process would repeat until the element reached the designated end point.

  Index of "Group Tactics "  
Principles of Attacking
  • Isolate
  • Prepare
  • Support Element
  • Security Element
  • Assault Element
Types of Attacks
  • Frontal Attack
  • Single Envelopment
  • Double Envelopment
  • Deep Envelopment
Principles of Defending
  • Tips for Defending
  • Limitations of Defending in ArmA
Types of Defenses
  • Linear Defense
  • Perimeter Defense
  • Reverse Slope Defense
  • Defense of a Strongpoint
  • Spoiling Attacks
The Point
  • Tips for the Infantryman in a MOUT Environment
  • Tips for the Infatry Leader in a MOUT Environment
Going Firm

Group Tactics


Principles of Attacking

Sitting back and firing at the enemy can only accomplish so much. To take and hold ground requires that the infantry moves to it and decisively engages and drives out or kills any enemy occupiers. To accomplish this, the assaulting infantry must be covered by friendly troops who are able to put effective fires on the enemy while they maneuver towards the objective. There is no quote that I've ever found that sums this concept up better than the following one.

Or, to put it in other words, you won't decide a battle by sitting back and firing at the enemy. You cannot win by simply rushing at him, either. The two must be combined to get the desired effects - maneuver done under the cover of effective friendly support is the key to cracking an enemy defense.



Isolating the objective can be accomplished in a number of ways. A great deal of it depends upon the forces available, enemy strength, and the terrain being fought in.

The main point is that you want to ensure that the enemy is cut off from reinforcements or escape. Isolation should be done to the best degree possible, but due to various combat considerations it may not always be completely feasible to fully isolate an objective.

Emplace heavier weapons where they can cover likely retreat paths. Plot artillery, if available, to cover likely avenues of escape or potential fall-back positions that the enemy might move to after coming under attack. Priority for artillery goes first to pounding the enemy position directly, so simply plot these as secondary targets and call them if needed.

In general, the attacking force will do the best it can to isolate the enemy position. Remember that leaving a gap that the enemy thinks they can escape from can be a very effective tactic - once pressure has been applied, they may break and run, at which point they can be cut to ribbons due to having already occupied their escape route with friendly elements without them knowing.



"Prepping" the objective is done via all manner of fires. Preparation is basically the act of blowing the hell out of the enemy to the best of your ability before ever starting the assault.

Preparation can be done via artillery fire, close air support strikes, or crew-served weapons like the Mk-19. Mortar squads, if available, can be very effective in this role due to their proximity to the infantry they're supporting.

When possible, preparatory fires should be maintained during the assault element's movement. They should shift just before the assault elements arrive at the objective, so that the enemy has little time to recover from the artillery and the shock and confusion effects of it are maximized. We have seen in the past (in OFP) that this is extremely important - one assault of note was broken due to the enemy relaxing their mortar fire for just long enough that the defenders were able to reorganize into a hasty defense and take the assault teams under fire while they were still crossing dangerous ground.


Support Element

The support element is the one that provides the "base of fire" that covers the advance of the assault element(s).

The support element should ideally be larger than the assault force. A general rule-of-thumb you'll find reference in military pubs is that the support element should be 2/3rds of the force, with the assault element comprising the last 1/3rd. Crew-served teams are always placed in the support element.

The support element should be prepared to cease or shift fires once the assault teams have closed on the objective to ensure that they do not have a friendly-fire incident.


Security Element

A security element provides local security for forces during the assault. This typically means that they are focused on preventing exterior enemy forces from disrupting the conduct of the assault on an enemy position. The security element is the first line of observation for and defense against any spoiling attacks the enemy may attempt.

Security elements can also be merged in with the support element as part of the base of fire.


Assault Element

The assault element is composed of the forces that will be closing with, and destroying, the enemy by fire and movement. They advance under the covering fire of the support element as far as they can as quickly as possible, then when within effective range of the enemy fire they begin to move via bounds and individual rushes towards and ultimately into the enemy position.

The assault element should try to move through covered and concealed routes as long as possible to maximize the surprise and shock of their attack and minimize the time they're exposed to enemy observation and fire. This is particularly important during single- or double-envelopments.

The assault element attacks with speed and intensity and avoids getting bogged down at all costs. The assault element cannot afford to get stuck out in the open and must be prepared to leave their wounded and dead where they fall and let follow-on forces tend to them.


Types of Attacks

Frontal Attack (aka "CHAAAAARGE!")

Frontal attacks are the most basic of attacks. A frontal attack is done against the weakest position that can be located on an enemy's front, taking advantage of all of the terrain, cover, and concealment that can be found, and creating artificial concealment via artillery fires, smoke, etc when possible.

The success of a frontal attack depends entirely upon how effectively the enemy can be suppressed. A combination of well-placed smoke and heavy machinegun fire can turn a suicidal assault into something that actually has a chance of being successful, whereas the lack of such support will leave the assault teams torn to shreds and bleeding their lives out before they've even reached the enemy.

Frontal attacks are usually done because there is neither the time, ability, or practicality of pulling off a more elaborate attack. Frontal attacks can be extremely costly in virtual lives and are best avoided unless the situation can be made to greatly favor the attacking force.

When possible, a frontal attack should be pulled off with as much surprise and/or fire support as can be mustered. Every potential force multiplier must be brought into play to increase the odds of success.

Single Envelopment (aka flank attack)

Simple enough. The single envelopment is where the base-of-fire element suppresses the enemy while the assault element moves around to a vulnerable flank and attacks.

As with any multi-element coordinated attack, the support element (aka base-of-fire) should be prepared to shift or cease fire to avoid inflicting friendly casualties once the assault element is on the objective.

It is important that the assault element attempts to maneuver in a way that masks it from observation for as long as possible. Shock and surprise are large force multipliers and will greatly enhance the effectiveness of any attack.

Double Envelopment (aka pincer)

A double envelopment attacks both flanks of the enemy at once while hammering the enemy with the support element's fires. This can be a very effective form of attack, as long as the assault elements are aware of the risk of friendly fire and refrain from using indiscriminate ordnance on the objective (for instance, throwing frags in the direction of the opposite assault element is a bad idea).

Bear in mind that the timing of the two elements striking the enemy can have a large influence on their reaction. If both flanks are attacked simultaneously, the enemy will be thrown into confusion. If one flank is attacked first, the enemy may shift to defend it, leaving the other flank more vulnerable but increasing the risk to that initial assault element.

Deep Envelopment

A deep envelopment is done when the situation and enemy disposition makes it possible for an element to pass by the enemy's flank security and strike them from behind. This sort of attack effectively splits the enemy's attention between two completely opposite directions.

The main consideration when utilizing this tactic is that careful coordination is maintained between the two primary elements. If this coordination is not established and kept, friendly fire incidents will inevitably occur as the two elements begin to work their ways through opposite sides of the enemy position.

If the numbers are present to support it, the deep envelopment can be one of the most effective attack types. However, if the numbers are not available, it is better to stick to a more shallow envelopment, since the support element can cover the maneuver element more effectively that way, and the two elements are not cut off from each other entirely.

Note also that a deep envelopment is best done by flanking the enemy on only one side. Trying to split the assault element into two elements to send them around opposite sides to link up behind the enemy is asking for trouble.

Principles of Defending

Tips for Defending


Limitations of Defending in ArmA

There are a few limitations that come into play when discussing defenses in ArmA. The following real-world considerations are not applicable to ArmA at the moment:

Dug-in fighting positions (ie foxholes, trenches, sunken bunkers) do not play much of a factor. ArmA does not allow for these kinds of below-ground structures. Berm-based trenches can exist, but they are less than ideal as defensive positions due to their rather prominent nature. Above-ground bunkers are slightly better, but they are not a common sight to see. The most common type of defensive position found in ArmA involves the use of sandbag bunkers. Note that these are also less effective than they should be due to the inability to stabilize a weapon on them.

Sandbags, wire obstacles, and other types of obstacles are not present in much quantity. There is also no capacity to have an overall "side leader" deploy these types of obstacles in the pre-mission briefing, for instance. There is no functionality present to allow for a "side leader" to reinforce a house via sandbags and such in the pre-mission briefing, either, and it's questionable if the building damage model would even account for such things.

With that being said, there is still a wide range of possibility present in how one can conduct a defense in ArmA.


Types of Defenses

Linear Defense

Linear defenses are exactly what they sound like - friendly forces are arrayed in a line, perpendicular to the expected route the enemy will attack via. Linear defenses are used when the terrain favors such a defense - for instance, if terrain makes it impossible for the enemy to bypass a given piece of terrain. A linear defense allows for friendly forces to mass firepower in one direction, with interlocking fields of fire and exceptional coverage. Linear defenses require that there are security elements posted on each flank, so that any attempts by the enemy to flank friendly positions will be seen and will be able to be reacted to. Linear defenses are also best against infantry, and weakest against any kind of mechanized enemy force which can potentially flank the position more easily than a footmobile force.


Perimeter Defense

A perimeter defense can be established in any terrain. It is utilized when the enemy can be expected to attack from a number of directions at once, or when the enemy's attack direction is not known with reasonable certainty in advance.

Perimeter defenses take advantage of any natural concealment or cover in the area. They are typically established in a triangular fashion, though it will differ based upon the size of the force and the terrain. Platoon-sized perimeter defenses are best, as they allow for a larger area to be defended, with one squad per side. Squad-level perimeter defenses are vulnerable to attack and typically end up being more of a rough circular shape than triangular, due to there being a lower number of troops to place in the defense combined with the desire to utilize all cover and concealment to the maximum extent possible.

Perimeter defenses tend to occur when friendly forces are isolated and must defend a specific piece of terrain or are just isolated in general and must defend themselves.


Reverse Slope Defense

A reverse slope defense can be a very effective form of defense if done properly. The basic principle of a reverse slope defense is that terrain is used to isolate the friendly forces from enemy fires and observation, forcing them to close with friendly forces and commit to a close-range fight where they lose many of the advantages they may have otherwise had in normal terrain.

Some benefits of the reverse slope defense are as follows.

There are also a few notable drawbacks that can come into play and must be considered in advance.

It is important that a reverse slope defense utilizes observation posts on the far side of the hill or high ground so that they can see the approach of the enemy. These observation posts can simply be a few soldiers with binoculars or scoped weapons, spread out to comprehensively cover all possible approach routes. Such observation posts should be pulled in before the attack hits, or they're apt to be cut to pieces by the enemy.

If a security element is available, and the terrain permits, it can be of great help to have the security element posted on a slope behind the main defense (known as a "counterslope"). This allows for them to cover the flanks and rear of the main defense and engage any enemy forces that attempt to maneuver to attack in such a fashion.


Defense of a Strongpoint (Urban Environment, Village, etc)

The defense of a strongpoint can carry aspects of the perimeter or linear defense, depending on what the tactical situation is at the point being defended. Considerations for both of those defense types apply, as well as the following points.


The Spoiling Attack

A spoiling attack is an attack that is typically done by the defending force against an attacking force before it has begun the attack. Spoiling attacks are best done with armor - it can drive out of the defense, strike the enemy hard in the flanks, and then withdraw back to a defensive posture. Small infantry elements can also be used for this - the harassing fires they establish, via guerilla ambushes, can sow confusion and disarray and lessen the cohesion of the enemy attack. Spoiling attacks are only feasible if the friendly forces have the assets to spare - in many situations it will be too risky to attempt one and potentially lose those forces.


The Point

Contrary to popular belief, the point man of any formation should not be a completely expendable and inexperienced 'newbie' player. Rather, the point man should be someone who is proficient, alert, and will have a good chance of spotting the enemy (or a potential ambush) before it is too late. A good point man can be the difference between life or death for the parent element.

A point man should try to position himself fifty or more meters ahead of the formation. This buffer allows for the rest of the element to have freedom to maneuver if the point is engaged.

Bear in mind that a point element can be more than just one man. For instance, a platoon moving as an organized body may have an entire fireteam acting as point, with another fireteam on each flank, and the two other squads in the center of the formation.


MOUT & CQB for Infantry

MOUT/CQB combat is easily the most dangerous environment for infantry to operate. Threats can come from above, or appear and disappear in an instant in the urban clutter. The fighting is fast, violent, and confusing. Good communication is needed at all levels to provide timely information as well as avoid friendly fire incidents. MOUT combat at the platoon level must be done at a deliberate, methodical pace, and all elements need to be able to move in a cohesive manner that prevents anyone from getting cut off or lost, and maintains a very high level of situational awareness and defensive cohesion.

There are several tips for the infantrymen operating in these environments.

Tips for the Infantryman in a MOUT Environment

Tips for the Infantry Leader in a MOUT Environment


Going Firm

"Going Firm" is a technique that can be used to control the advances of friendly forces and get a better picture of what the situation is via reports from all friendly units.

When the order to "go firm" is received, squad leaders halt their forward advances and have all their fireteams take up defensive positions in the best possible positions nearby. The Platoon Commander and Squad Leaders then have a brief discussion as to what happens next, how many casualties have been taken, what formations will be used next, and any other relevant information about the battle that needs to be passed. After this is over, the PltCo cancels the order and all squads resume their movement or change their plans according to PltCo instructions.


Relevant Military Pubs

Download Military Operations in Urbanized Terrain
US Marine Corps, MCWP 3-35.3
If you think urban combat is tough in games now, just imagine what it would be like if 1/5th of the things covered in this pub had to be taken into consideration.

  Index of "Battle Drills "  
Reaction to Contact
  • Fireteam Member
  • Fireteam Leader
  • Squad Leader
Conducting Ambushes
  • Linear Ambush
  • L-Shaped Ambush
  • Vehicle/Convoy Ambush
Reaction to Ambush
  • Near Ambush
  • Far Ambush
Reaction to Sniper
Reaction to Air Attack
  • General
  • Rotary-Wing (Helos)
  • Fixed-Wing (Jets)
Reaction to Artillery/Indirect Fire

Battle Drills


The idea behind a "Battle Drill" is that it is a standardized way to react to a common battlefield event. Battle Drills ensure that everyone is on the same page of music, so to speak, and allows for a rapid reaction to an event with the minimum of orders needing to be issued. The following battle drills cover the most common combat events to be encountered in ArmA.


Reaction to Contact/Enemy Fire

One of the most basic battle drills is reacting to enemy fire. This forms the basis for many of the other tactics covered in this guide, and these guidelines should be kept in mind when reading about them and applied as necessary. I've broken them down based on leadership level.

If your element comes under fire, follow these basic guidelines, depending on what level of leadership you're at.


Fireteam Member


Fireteam Leader


Squad Leader


Breaking Contact/Withdrawing

Breaking contact is the means by which an element disengages from a confrontation with an enemy force in an orderly fashion. Fire & maneuver tactics are used to ensure that a steady volume of fire is put on the enemy location(s) during the withdrawal. This helps to keep the enemy's head down and prevents them from keeping friendly forces decisively engaged.

Breaking contact is basically an assault done in reverse. There are two primary ways to accomplish a "Break Contact" drill, depending on how many casualties have been taken and how organized things are.


Break Contact via Bounding Overwatch

The first method is breaking contact via bounding overwatch.

To execute a "Break Contact via Bounding Overwatch" drill, the following steps are taken.


Break Contact via Thinning the Lines

The other method is known as "thinning the lines". This can be used in any situation and is easier to execute than breaking contact via bounding overwatch. However, it is not as secure and may not be as effective. Leaders should utilize this method with careful consideration as to whether its use is appropriate.

When executing a break contact drill via "thinning the lines", the following steps are taken.


Conducting an Ambush

An ambush is defined in the Army's "Infantry Platoon and Rifle Squad" publication as "...a surprise attack by fire from concealed positions on a moving or temporarily halted enemy unit. It combines the advantages and characteristics of the offense with those of the defense."

Ambushes are an extremely favorable way to engage the enemy. The combination of surprise and fierce, accurate fire can rip an enemy element to pieces before they have time to react.

There are three main types of ambushes for our purposes - the deliberate one, in which we know that an enemy force is going to be moving through a given area, the hasty one, in which we unexpectedly have an opportunity to ambush an enemy force that has not detected us, and the delaying or guerilla one, in which we are attempting to strike the enemy, cause casualties and confusion, and they withdraw before they can retaliate.

Deliberate ambushes are typically convoy ambushes. We may be tasked in a mission to stake out a slice of terrain and cover roads that an enemy convoy is expected to pass. In such a situation, demolition plays a large part. Mines can be set, as can satchel charges and other explosive devices. A relatively large amount of prep time is given for this, and the results tend to reflect this. Deliberate ambushes are devastating and highly effective. The one big unknown is whether the expected enemy force will be the same composition and size as our mission briefing or intelligence reported. The difference between a troop convoy and a tank convoy, for instance, is huge, and both must be engaged with different tactical considerations.

Hasty ambushes are usually against enemy infantry but can also be against other enemy forces. The decision to conduct a hasty ambush needs to be communicated rapidly, since there usually isn't much time to get positioned and ready to open fire. Fireteam leaders and squad leaders are the most common leaders to give orders for a hasty ambush. Satchel charges and other explosives play a very limited role in these types of ambushes due to the lack of time and ability to position them.

Delaying or guerilla ambushes work best against enemy infantry. The purpose of them is to either delay the enemy's pursuit of friendly forces during a withdrawal or sow confusion and death amid their ranks unexpectedly before vanishing. The size of an ambush team of this nature is usually a squad or less. The goal of a delaying ambush is to engage the enemy by fire and cause enough casualties to temporarily halt them. At that point, the team withdraws to another defensive position from which they repeat the ambush if possible. The goal of a guerilla ambush, on the other hand, is to engage the enemy by fire, cause casualties, and withdraw before the enemy can decisively respond to the ambush team and fix them. The guerilla ambush team breaks contact, maneuvers to lose any pursuit from the enemy, and then evaluates its next moves. Both of these ambush teams must be able to engage the enemy, produce the desired effect, and relocate or disengage before enemy support assets such as artillery or close air support can be brought to bear.

The key elements are friendly positioning, location of the kill zone/ambush site, and proper initiation of fires.

Players must also consider the use of explosives devices like satchel charges and claymore mines. These are usually not practical for a hasty ambush, but a vehicle ambush or deliberate ambush can benefit greatly from their usage. Triggering explosives to start an ambush is very effective, as it adds an extra layer of shock and confusion to the situation for the enemy.


Linear Ambush

A linear ambush is the most basic type. In it, all ambushing forces are arrayed in a single line. This type of ambush is easy to set up in a hurry and works well in most situations. Many hasty ambushes end up as linear ambushes due to lack of time and mobility to get an L-shaped ambush enacted. Note that the longer the line is, the harder it is for the enemy to find cover or concealment - features that may conceal him from one end of the line may not have an effect due to a member on the other end being able to still see him. Note also that the ambushing team should not be spread so thin that the ambushees are able to assault into the ambush and drive a wedge through the line.

L-Shaped Ambush

An L-shaped ambush is a bit more complex to pull off, but the extra effort is rewarded by markedly increased effectiveness. An l-shaped ambush requires that one element be positioned at a right-angle to the rest of the ambush. When the ambush is initiated, one of the two elements will find itself firing into the flanks of the enemy, while the other element will be firing into its front. Being hit from two sides like this will rapidly attrit the enemy and make it almost impossible for them to survive. A well-conducted L-shaped ambush is near certain death for those trapped in the kill zone.

L-Shaped ambushes can be done with any composition of forces. Even a single infantryman who is off to the side of the enemy when they come under fire from the front can have a dramatic effect. Initiating fires from the front while a sniper or designated marksman lurks quietly off to the enemy's flank can be highly effective - the enemy will find cover or concealment that protects them from the front, leaving their flanks open to the sniper or designated marksman who can then pick them off at will.


Convoy/Vehicle Ambush

Vehicle/convoy ambushes are similar to infantry ambushes, with the main difference being that the vehicles are able to exit the kill zone rapidly if nothing is done to stop them, and armored vehicles can quickly turn the tides by attacking into the ambush if they are not rapidly dealt with.

Special Guidelines for a Vehicle/Convoy Ambush

Reaction to Ambush

An ambush typically is a more coordinated enemy effort than your average "meeting encounter" firefight. The 'kill zone' (where the enemy focuses their fires) is under heavy, concentrated fire, and those within it have to rapidly react to the situation if they hope to survive.

The reaction to an ambush depends on whether it is a 'near' or 'far' ambush. Both will be described below. The guidelines above for a general "Reaction to Contact" should be kept in mind as well.

Near Ambush

A 'near ambush' is defined as an ambush occuring with the enemy within grenade-throwing distance.

When an element is subjected to a 'near ambush', the action required varies depending on whether any given player is in the "kill zone" or outside of it. The voice call for a near ambush is simply "Near ambush, (direction), and should be said by the first person to identify it. Due to the confusion caused by a near ambush, the element will likely require a moment to identify the type of ambush. This means that you'll likely hear a "Contact (direction)!" call, followed by "Near ambush!" after a brief pause.

If you are in the kill zone (meaning, the enemy is focusing the bulk of their fire in your area), you must immediately return fire and take up covered or concealed positions. Immediately throw frag grenades or smoke at the enemy and assault their position. The speed and violence of your element's reaction to the ambush will be the deciding factor as to how many of you walk away from it.

If you are not in the kill zone, your job becomes one of support. Identify and engage the enemy with as much firepower as you can bring to bear, as quickly as possible. When the "kill zone" element assaults into the ambush, shift or cease fire to avoid friendly fire.

Far Ambush

A 'far ambush', on the other hand, is any ambush in which the enemy is further than 50 meters away. These can take a multitude of forms, and the only positive aspect of them is that the increased distance of the enemy means that friendly forces can potentially maneuver better and the enemy may not be as deadly with their fire from an extended range.

Again, the action of each individual varies depending on their location within or outside of the "kill zone". The voice call for this is "Far ambush, (direction)". Simple enough.

If you are in the kill zone, immediately return fire and move to a covered or concealed position. Focus fires on enemy crew-served or high-volume weapons (machineguns) and try to knock them out as quickly as possible. Smoke grenades (both M203 and hand-thrown) can be used in two primary fashions - the first is to place them around the "kill zone" ambushed squad to conceal them from enemy fire. The other use, for the M203 smoke grenades, is to fire them at the enemy location and try to obscure their view of friendly forces.

In a far ambush, the ambushed element does not attempt to assault through the ambush. Instead, they form a base of fire while the elements not in the kill zone maneuver against the ambushing enemy force. Once the maneuvering team begins to assault the enemy ambush team, the base of fire team should shift or cease fire to avoid friendly casualties.

If you are not in the kill zone, your job is to flank and knock out the enemy ambush element. You should move with your element via covered/concealed routes when possible and try to work your way onto a vulnerable enemy flank. Ensure that you notify the base-of-fire element when you begin the close assault on the enemy to avoid friendly-fire.

Reaction to Sniper

If an element receives sniper fire during a mission, the reaction to it will depend upon the assets available, the terrain, and the overall mission.

The effectiveness of a sniper is inversely proportional to how knowledgeable players are in counter-sniper and reaction-to-sniper drills. A 'green' group can find themselves pinned down by one, whereas an experienced group will be able to utilize proper movement techniques, smoke, and organic and non-organic assets to find, fix & suppress, and ultimately kill or bypass the sniper.

The basic things to keep in mind when dealing with snipers are as follows:


Reaction to Air Attack


Coming under air attack as an infantry force is a serious issue, compounded moreso if your unit does not have any organic air defense assets. You must know how to avoid being spotted by an enemy air asset, and if spotted, how to react.


Rotary-Wing (Helos)

Helicopters are the most dangerous CAS aircraft in most situations. Their ability to loiter over the battlefield and deliver precision anti-tank, cannon, and rocket fire makes them a threat that should never be understimated.

If helicopters are a known threat, all efforts should be made to avoid detection by them. This is done primarily via intelligent movement routes and techniques which prevent the enemy helo from being able to visually acquire friendly elements. Stay low, stay concealed, and move via concealed routes whenever possible.

If anti-air defense is organic to friendly forces, a sharp eye and ear must be kept for the approach of enemy helicopters. With proper warning, a helo can be brought down by MANPAD missiles before it knows what is happening.

If anti-air defense is not available to friendly forces, the best method is to avoid detection entirely. The only other defenses infantry have is via the massing of fires from machineguns, rifles, and anti-tank rockets or missiles. Helicopters that are oblivious to infantry presence and believe themselves to be safe will occasionally go low and slow enough to be accurately engaged by anti-tank rockets. If the opportunity presents itself, it should be taken, but ONLY if the anti-tank gunner is >90% positive he will successfully make the shot.

Fixed-Wing (Jets)

The main thing to remember when being attacked by jets is that movement perpendicular to the line of attack works best. This is especially true if they are strafing you with cannon fire or attacking with rockets. Another good thing to do is get on the reverse slope of a hill, and whenever the aircraft makes a pass, adjust your position so that you're once again on the far side of the hill relative to it.

The primary weakness of jet attack aircraft is the difficulty they have in picking out infantry at the speeds they fly. Thus, cover and concealment have a pronounced effect against them compared to rotary-wing aircraft.


Reaction to Artillery Attack/Indirect Fire

There are a few basic tips for how to act when coming under artillery attack or other indirect fire.

Enemy artillery can be taken out by counter-battery fire or close air support, if available, while mortar positions (which are usually much closer) can be assaulted and captured by ground attack.

Triangulation can be used to figure out the enemy positons - if two squads are separated by a good distance and can hear the firing artillery, compass bearings can be taken by each unit and then compared to get a fix on the likely location of the artillery.


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