Lesson 1 - Squad Formation

Operation Blacksheep is a squad based event. A squad is an eleven person team - just like football or soccer. This is the traditional Infantry squad and it has a long military history. Adaptations have been made over the years based on force structure requirements. The most recent was the fielding of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle that couldn't hold an eleven person squad so the team was trimmed to fit in a Bradley - square peg in a round hole. I like to keep teams together, so in planning your squad think 11 +/-2 or 9 to 13 players.

 I've seen lots of things used to represent a squad in sand table exercises - rocks, pine cones, green plastic Army soldiers, bottle caps, etc. The most effective sand table tool is a set of poker chips - BLUE = Squad Leader, RED = Team Leaders and WHITE = Riflemen, SAWS and Grenadiers. The graphics depicted will use those poker chip representations. Get yourself a set. I've been teaching this poker chip method for years - there are actually soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq with a set of poker chips in their pouch.

 I teach fire team wedges as the basic formation for a squad. It's easiest with the leader in front. When you are good at this then you can get fancy! Here's a good training tool to help explain why. Get a piece of string. Grab one end and drag it across the floor - the string follows wherever you pull it. Now, lay the string out and try to push it where you want it to go. Should be obvious - same with a fire team.

 The most significant difference between "real world" tactics and MILSIM tactics is the range of the weapons. An M16 has a range of +/-500 meters and an airsoft rifle has a range of about 150 feet. This forces the MILSIM Tactics to be compressed. Therefore the distance between members of the squad is compressed. Depending on terrain, members of the squad must remain within visual contact of each other and within the range of their weapons - but not the maximum range of the weapon. You always want to keep 2/3 of your range beyond your buddy so you can suppress the enemy with supporting fires.

 Your SAW (or equivalent) should be on the side that enemy contact is likely. Your medic should be on the other side - protect your medic!

 Always make contact with the smallest element possible. When moving as a squad, you can push the lead fire team ahead a little so you can react with the rear fire team. A gaggle gives your enemy one BIG target - spread out!

 Practice using hand and arm signals to communicate and move the squad to maintain noise and light discipline. Once contact is made, YELL out commands - it has a psychological effect on your opponent.

 Practice squad movements and reaction drills until it becomes muscle memory. Start in an open field so everyone gets a feel for movement and distances.

In reference to some comments - here is the picture of a Light Infantry Rifle Squad from the original FM 7-8. The current FM 7-8 was updated in 1992 to reflect force reduction changes. A little bit of history always helps, especially when you lived through it.

 squad fm 7-8

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