Characteristics of battle drills

Drills are a series of actions you’ve been taught to repeat whenever you encounter something specific. The most common one most people know is dropping to the ground when the enemy engages you. They help you to react quickly to sudden events and are crucial tool for leaders in combat to keep their orders short, concise and consistent. The main characteristics are:

  • Speed: You should be doing most of the battle drills by default in combat. If everyone knows what to do upon contact they can react and move without hesitation or unnecessary orders from their leader.
  • Minimal commands: Battle drills are a consistent sequence of actions. Leaders with troops that know their drills will only have to order the drill, instead of ordering every piece of it. This way, even is a squad gets spread out, everyone will know what part of the sequence comes next.
  • Reflexive responses: The standard drills should come as an automatic response from most players: they are not something special, but rather crucial building blocks to developing the fight. By making acquiring these drills as an automatic response your chance to survive the fight becomes larger, and your leaders ability to assess and develop the situation increases.
  • Survivability in the absence of leadership: In the event you become separated from your element or your leadership is a casualty in the immediate stages of the engagement, having a standard set of actions increases the survivability of the squad until the appropriate person takes over command.
  • Consistency: Having a standard set of battle drills helps immensely when you’re not playing with the same squad of people every mission. By familiarizing yourself with these drills you will save time and confusion during critical moments.

Basic drill

The basic drill are the steps every player should be performing during a firefight, and starts when they either come under effective direct fire or start engaging the enemy at their own initiative.

  1. Move to the nearest position of cover;
  2. Move / Crawl a few feet under cover or concealment;
  3. Observe;
  4. Shoot;
  5. Move;
  6. Observe;
  7. Shoot;
  8. Move;
  9. Repeat as necessary.

The basic drill is meant to get you into cover, move you from the position the enemy has last observed you, and engage targets in range. You don’t need to move a whole lot each time, a useful mantra is “I’m up, I’m seen, I’m down.”. You should start and finish your movement within the time-frame needed to speak the mantra. This is about how much time a person needs to get an accurate shot at you.

Key types of battle drills

These are the most important battle drills you should familiarize yourself with. While there are many different battle drills to learn these ones are a foundation for most of the others, and a resourceful player can apply these drills other situations.

Some of these drills are broken down into subsections: Either in leadership level or different variations of the drill.

The React to Contact / Fire drill is the foundation to virtually all battle drills. Once you know and can practice this one by heart you will understand the infantry platoons’ basic response to combat. There are two types of contact: visual contact and contact by (direct) fire. We will ignore visual contact for now, as this often leads into either a (hasty) ambush or (immediate) assault.

Fireteam Member

  1. Call out contact immediately.
  2. Find and obtain the nearest fighting position.
    • This should ideally be a position in cover. A position in concealment is better than nothing, but but makes finding cover the next priority.
    • When caught out in the open, go prone immediately.
  3. Return fire immediately.
    • Even if enemy individuals cannot be distinguished, fire in the general direction contact came from. Keep an eye out for positions that are likely to have enemies.
    • Gaining fire superiority at the start of contact is a crucial advantage.
    • These first 3 steps are crucial and should be repeated throughout contact. See Basic Drill.
  4. Listen for orders.
    • The FTL will rapidly start issuing orders in order to develop the situation.
    • Those next in command should be prepared to take command in case of casualty.
  5. Maintain contact with battle buddies.
    • Check if they are still alive and have immediate needs (smoke cover, medical attention, etc).
  6. Observe the firefight as it develops.
    • Both friendly and enemy elements will be manoeuvring during contact.
    • Just because there is contact in a direction does not mean yet-undiscovered enemies are coming from a different direction.
    • Keep the FTL up to date on known enemy positions.
  7. Take initiative.
    • This becomes easier with experience in Arma.
    • Fireteams have the front seat in a fight and have the best awareness of the fight.
    • Try to react to sudden opportunities or dangers.
    • This includes spotting better cover, high value enemy targets, flanking avenues, etc.

Fire Team Leader

  1. Make sure the team is well positioned.
    • Employ smoke to conceal those without cover.
    • Pull the team out of a disadvantageous firefight.
  2. Locate the enemy position and number as best as is possible and report to the squad leader.
  3. Start engaging the enemy as accurately as is possible.
    • FTLs generally have access to UGLs, these can be devastating at the start of contact when elements are relatively bunched up.
    • Dangerous enemies that can’t be taken out rapidly can be covered with UGL smoke rounds.
  4. Get the troops into the fight.
    • Give the AR gunner priority, he has the largest volume of fire.
  5. Maintain contact with the squad leader the keep him up -to-date.
  6. Be prepared to react to orders.
    • Look at the surrounding area, and see where the best path of movements are to gain an advantage over the enemy.
  7. Be prepared to evacuate casualties.
    • Have a safe way out or make sure the medic can get to to the fireteam safely.

Squad Leader

  1. Gain fire superiority.
    • Fire superiority is crucial in the initial stages of a firefight.
    • It allows friendly forces to move whilst keeping enemy elements pinned.
  2. Position the fireteams.
    • Use the fireteam not in contact to provide support to the fireteam that is in contact.
    • If the engaged fireteam is in a bad position, they can be pulled out with support of the other fireteam.
    • If the engaged fireteam is in a good position, the other fireteam can be used to gain fire superiority, or flank and assault the enemy position.
  3. Relay the situation to command.
    • The initial report can be brief - priority is keeping the squad alive.
  4. Asses the situation.
    • Where is the enemy? How many are they?
    • Are we in an advantageous position to fight from?
    • If the squad needs to be relocated to better fighting positions do so - but keep up fire on the enemy at all times.
  5. Determine the next course of action.

Sometimes the need arises to tactically advance in the opposite direction. In order to not turn this into an organized rout, it is vital to maintain cohesion, and maintain volume of fire on the enemy. There are two good ways to break contact:

Breaking contact via bounding

  1. The leader announces his intent to fall back to a position using bounding.
    • One of more elements are designated as base of fire.
  2. The base of fire element goes firm and starts suppressing the enemy.
    • Smoke can also be used to force certain enemies out of the fight.
  3. The bounding element moves to the rear of the element.
    • Use cover, concealment, terrain, or smoke.
  4. They occupy a spot where they will be able to act as base of fire support for the other element.
  5. They let the base of fire element know they have gone firm.
    • Upon hearing this, the base of fire element and bounding element switch roles.
  6. Repeat step 2-5 as necessary.

Note on bounds

  • There are two types of bounding, successive and alternating. Successive bounding is when one element takes the lead with the other element bounding up to them. Alternating bounding is where the elements bound past each other.
  • It’s up to the bounding element lead to decide where to stop.
  • He should keep in mind the nature of mutual support.

Peeling

  1. The leader announces his intent to fall back towards a position by peeling.
  2. While all other element members keep up to fight with the enemy, the point man moves to the rear of the element, in the peeling direction.
    • Always move behind the firing line, never in front of it.
    • Move safely: Use cover, concealment or terrain.
    • Avoid using smoke since it will not allow other element members to keep firing effectively.
  3. Some time after the point man has passed the second man in the element, he too moves to the rear of the element, in the peeling direction.
    • This is repeated for every element member.
  4. The last element member to move before the original point man is on point again will announce he is ‘last man’.
    • It’s his task to ensure no element members are still forward of the element.
  5. Repeat step 2-4 as necessary.

There are multiple types of ambush: The deliberate ambush, in which you plan an ambush on a known enemy force in advance, the hasty ambush, where you suddenly gain the chance to ambush a discovered enemy, and the delaying ambush, which is also known as the rolling defense. We will only treat the hasty ambush here, since there should be an opportunity for briefing with the other types.

Hasty ambush

  1. An element member spots an enemy (visual contact).
    • Give standard contact report.
  2. Elements freeze.
    • Flank elements should ensure they cover their sectors in case other enemies are nearby.
  3. Element leader decides on conducting a hasty ambush.
    • Element leader radios in intent on hasty ambush to leadership.
  4. Element leader designates the kill zone.
  5. Element leader designates type of ambush
    • (Linear, L-shaped, convoy).
  6. Element leader directs element members towards their positions by visual guidance or map markers.
    • Element leaders needs to ensure at least some element members are watching the flanks. These can also serve as cut-off groups.
    • This can also be accomplished by other nearby friendly elements.
  7. Elements members move to their assigned position.
    • Try to find positions with a view on the kill zone.
    • Cover is preferable, but concealment is less dangerous than in other circumstances.
    • Keeping from being spotted by the enemy has the highest priority.
  8. Element leader initiatives ambush.
    • This can be done via signal (Fire, demolitions, radio message, hand signals), time (“Engage in fifteen seconds.”) or location (“Open fire when the BTR-80 is crossing the bridge.”).
    • The ambush also starts as soon as someone shoots or the element is spotted by the enemy. May transition into a different drill in this case.
  9. Element members maximize volume of fire.
    • It can be advantageous to coordinate rate of fire and reloads. Bursts can be done in sequence by different machine gunners in order to keep up a continuous fire on the enemy. Element members should try to reload in a staggered way so not everyone is reloading at the same time.
  10. The element leader calls watch and shoot.
    • Depending on ROE, keeping up fire on active enemies or sudden enemies is allowed, but element members shouldn’t be moving to find new enemies.
  11. The kill zone is sweeped for any remaining enemies.