Another Comrade's take on leadership: the FTL

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Black Mamba
Posts: 335
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 12:11 pm

Another Comrade's take on leadership: the FTL

Post by Black Mamba » Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:15 pm

WARNING: This thread was created when we used the old Folk ARPS [2012] Platoon, so some aspects may be out of date. An updated version of the opening post will be created soon. For details of the current platoon, please read: What is the Folk ARPS 2015 Platoon?

Hello, everybody. Following Comrade Iceraiser's excellent post regarding the basics of Leading, and some recent request about guidelines for leaders, I've decided to spend a bit of time to explain my own views and general process of thought as a Fireteam Leader.
Please, don't consider this as an extensive guide or any kind of tutorial: this is merely an attempt to describe one of the many leadership styles you can find in the community. This is obviously not intended for experienced leaders, but I hope it can make a basis for newer players, who want to take on leading roles, to create their own style of leading.
Finally, I'm sorry, this is going to be quite the lengthy wall of text (but there are a few pictures!). You might get hungry or sleepy, or just bored, before the end. Don't worry: it's not a mandatory read, nor is it going anywhere, you can always go back to it later if need be.

Note: I always use SThud, and recommend you do as well, especially if you're gonna be an FTL, but it is absolutely not mandatory.

Intra-FireTeam considerations

First, and for the most part, we'll talk about what happens inside the fireteam. As an FTL, your main role is to maneuver your team towards the accomplishment of objectives defined by your squad leader. To do so, most of your attention is going to be focused on what your three buddies are doing, and what they should do next.

Buddy teams and responsibilities

If you're the AAR in my fireteam, you might be surprised: I will (almost) never talk directly to you. Now, I don't hate you, comrade. I strongly believe in a buddy teams organisation in my fireteam. The two teams are Red (FTL and Rifleman) and Blue (AR and AAR).

I'll consider Blue team as being my weapon. To be effective, that weapon needs to be employed properly, and it so happens that this weapon already disposes of two human intelligences. In most cases, I'll take advantage of that by letting the AR direct his team around as he sees fit.
The way I see it, this has three major advantages: first, it reduces my workload. I only need to point my AR towards what I need him to do, and trust him to make use of his team to accomplish that.
Second, and that's important to me, a battlefield is somewhat dangerous. If (when) I die, he'll have to step up and take my place. Having led half the fireteam up until there should ease him into the transition.
Finally, it makes it so that not all intra-firateam comms are centralized towards me: a team that communicates is a healthy team.

Red team will be my recon/maneuver element. Although in most of our missions, the rifleman will carry some kind of AT asset, those are very situational weapons. For the rest of the time, that player is a simple rifleman. As such, he packs the lesser firepower and will make a fantastic point man. Most of me talking will be me micromanaging him to an extent, so that he fills a lot of roles I could need at any given time during the mission: here you're going to be on point, here you're going to provide security on that exposed flank, there you're going to have to find some ammo stash for the fireteam, etc.
Now, I'm the one carrying the binocs: one could expect me to be the scout. Don't get me wrong: the binoculars are a fantastic tool, and in some cases, my most important personnal weapon. But, any element losing its leader is usually going to get bogged down for a certain amount of time. To prevent that, I believe the FTL should limit the risks he's exposed to, and for example not systematically act as the point man. This also means, as an FTL, I will probably not kill a lot of dudes myself, but I'll be more than happy if my team does.

Now, I think I should emphasize that already: remember, all three members of your fireteam are here to have fun, first and foremost. As a leader, it's important to adapt to the people you have to lead. For example, if I know my AR is not a very talkative dude, or doesn't feel up to the task of leading his team, I'll adapt and change my way of doing things to an extent, so that everybody can still enjoy the time we're gonna be playing together.

I also think that buddy teams approach is a good way to practice leading elements, to eventually jump into a Squad Leader slot.


Even though I am not the most talkative guy around, I still believe good comms inside the fireteam are what makes the difference between a dead fireteam and an efficient one. That's why, if I feel the team is not communicating enough, I'll regularly ask for Sitreps from everybody. From my experience, the more people talk, the more they are gonna talk, if you know what I mean.
Good comms doesn't mean a continuous stream of banter either: brevity and clarity should be your first thought when you communicate. Some of us *cough* are not native english speakers: briefly thinking before talking is, I think, a good way to circumvent that issue.
I'll personnaly prefer bearings when issuing a movement order or a contact report (contact, 270 degrees, 400 meters, enemy fireteam. Hold fire. Blue team, orient west!), as I find they lead to less confusion, but if you need a fast response (e.g close contact), a relative direction might be better (Contact, very close, front-right! Engage!).

Spacing and arc coverage

Another thing you'll hear a lot if you are in my fireteam is "Spread out, guys". It's my opinion that most of our catastrophic fireteam annihilation incidents stem from bunched up people, on the move or not. As a rule of thumb, I usually consider that if your makers on my SThud are overlapping, you're too close to each other, and you'll hear the dreaded sentence again.
Let's see, search in your memories and try and count the number of time you've seen something like it. No? Well, let's see how it translates in game.
Reminds you of something? And what happens next?
Yeah. Bad.

Next point: there are three hundred and sixty degrees around you. Yeah, that's a lot of them. I'll get back to this later, but as an FTL, I believe it is my role to make sure every angle that needs to be covered effectively is. If I can't do that, my fireteam is dead already. That means I'll regularly give "orient" orders, and hammer them until my buddies watch the sector I need them to watch, even though those sectors might not be the ones with a load of Michael Bay action.

I feel it's important to use individual names or team colors to do that. A simple "keep eyes from west to east" won't do, as it'll most likely result in two people covering the same zone: Boys, go firm here, spread out. Blue team, cover from south-east to North East. Awaitz, you have the western arc.

Basic formations and movement

My understanding is that the more you keep things simple, the more fun it is, and it's also usually the more efficient. I'll then only ever use three formations.
By default, I'll use my fireteam as a standard wedge, Blue team being on the side that either is more likely to have enemies popping up, or the side the provides the best potential Base of Fire locations. My rifleman will cover the other side, and I'll be leading the wedge.
The keyword here being, again, spacing. If we ever come under fire, and somebody's wounded, I'd prefer if it was just one of us, not the entire fireteam pinned down.

The second formation I'll use is very situational: the line.
I'll almost only ever use that one when clearing woods. Ten meters between each team member, and a steady walking pace make for a great wood-clearing machine. The main drawback of this is if you ever get flanked, you're doomed. If my fireteam is on the flank of the platoon, I'll slightly change it to an echelon to reduce the risks of presenting a nice enfilade target for an enemy on our flank.

The last one, I'm not sure I can even call it a formation. In an urban environment or a hot zone, I'll separate my two buddy teams and use bounding overwatch. Rifleman on point, then myself, will move to the next bit of cover and secure it. Blue team will then join us and take position, and we'll repeat.
This is the situation where it is the hardest to keep a proper spacing. Using two different paths for both the buddy teams can solve that to an extent, but it might not be practical. The terrain will mostly dictate our movement in those cases. That's why I'll concentrate a bit less on possible enemies, leaving that to my buddies, and more on the different terrain features to be able to promptly move my team as efficiently as possible.

Squad Considerations

Now that we've talked about what happens inside the fireteam, let's not forget said fireteam is a part of a squad, which itself is a part of our platoon. As the FTL, it's also your job to integrate your fireteam into your squad, following the SL's orders.

The general plan and the SL's intent

First, as an FTL, I think it's important to have a general idea of the plan. The general strategic considerations at a platoon level are not important to me, but I need to know what the squad is supposed to do at any given time, so I can act accordingly. This mostly depends on the SL, although I'll never hesitate to ask him for clarifications if I don't understand his intent. This is a crucial part to me: if you don't understand what's expected from you, you can't do it. This, on the other hand, doesn't mean spam the SL with questions: he's a (very) busy man.

Squad net comms

This leads us to Squad comms. As always, brevity and clarity. Don't hog the net.
As an FTL, my responsibilities here are to:
- Report contacts over to the SL and/or other fireteams.
- Acknowledge every single order that's given to me.
- Be ready to give a sitrep at a moment's notice: bodycount, ammo status, are we engaged or not.
- I'm usually somehow closer to the terrain than the SL. If the comms allow it, reporting interesting terrain features might be considered.
- Although most of the comms are FTL<->SL, you can use the squad net to communicate with another FTL. Unless it's of the utmost importance, though, those comms are subordinate to those involving the SL.

Basic formations and spacing

Last thing. After that, comrade, you're free. Although squad formations are not the FTL to decide, I believe it's important to regularly check the map (and your environment) to move according to the other elements' situation.
The sectors I need my fireteam to cover are dictated by the other elements' positions. No need to have my rifleman watch our rear if we are on point.
And, guess what. Spacing. The first thing I want to avoid is putting my fireteam on top of another one. Have you ever seen this in an FA session?
And guess what happens after that? Well, you get the point by now.
If that very nice bit of cover already houses another fireteam, I'll try to find another position: it might not be as good, but we won't be bunched up, at least. If another fireteam comes and starts taking position on top of mine, I'll give a shout to the other FTL and the SL so that they move elsewhere.

There we go. Hope you survived all that text, comrade. Remember: this is not how you should do things! This is how I do things, and hopefully it will make you think about how you would like to do things. Have fun!
Last edited by Black Mamba on Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Ferrard Carson
Posts: 565
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2012 6:08 am

Re: Another Comrade's take on leadership: the FTL

Post by Ferrard Carson » Fri Jul 19, 2013 9:06 pm

Another stupendous entry into our record of FAVKA directives, and certainly recommended reading for any budding leader in The Party! To ze wall with you! No, not that wall of blank, bullet-pocked concrete; that wall, with the nice shiny camera in front of it! Say cheese!

~ Not-Ferrard <.<
"Take a boat in the air you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turnin' of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurtin' before she keels... makes her home."

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