• TACTICS: Squad Leading

    • How to lead a squad...

      ...TTP style.


      The latest article in the TACTICS series takes a look at what it takes to be an effective squad leader for your team. The first section gives you some tips to make your squad a tight-knit unit that's ready to roll. The second section reviews how to give orders that will confer the greatest advantage to your team. The third section gives some ideas for basic squad tactics for use on the battlefield, since versatility is the key to success on a varied and often unpredictable battlefield.


      Part One: An Introduction to Squad Leading
      As a squad leader, you have one of the most important roles to fill on the battlefield. At its most fundamental level, squad leading is having a purpose behind every step, and then having your squad members trust you enough to follow. After that, a good squad leader will know how to give orders which will help his team win the game, and how to lead his squad to complete those objectives in a timely fashion. To be a truly outstanding squad leader, you'll have to know a variety of strategies and then continue to adapt them to deal with every situation.

      Filling your Squad:
      One of the first steps to having an effective squad is to have a full squad. Once you have more than the core medic/support combo, you can begin to assign kits to adjust to individual situations. If you're lacking squad members, try to invite unsquadded players first. If that doesn't fill your squad up, then invite the players in one or two man squads. If a player in your squad proves time and time again that they aren't capable of being a team player, then you may want to consider kicking him out and inviting another player who may perform better.
      • To check to see which players on your team are unassigned, hit Tab to bring up the player list, right-click, and then click on the squads tab. All of the players on your team who aren't in a squad will be under "unassigned". You may have to scroll down to the bottom to find them.

      • To invite players to your squad, hit Caps Lock to bring up the squad screen, then the manage squad button near the bottom. After that, just check the box next to the player's name who you want to invite into your squad and hit "apply".
      • Kicking a player is similar to inviting. Once you're into the squad management section, check the box next to the player's name who you wish to kick from the squad, and then hit "apply".

      Clear Expectations and Concise Communications:
      Once you have your squad put together, you need to make sure that your squad members know what you expect of them. It doesn't matter if you have a group of veteran players or rookies; if you make your intentions clear, then you ensure that everybody in the squad is working towards the same goal. Encourage limiting radio chatter to information pertinent to the battle. This prevents important information being overlooked when you're in the middle of a firefight, like the tank headed in your direction, and highlights information you need your squad to pay attention to, like a change in objectives.

      When your squad is assaulting a flag, your job, besides for being a spawn point, is to coordinate the battle. Tell your squad members what kits are needed, enemy positions and approaching threats, and remind them to get on the flag area. The squad chat doesn't need much other than that while in the midst of a battle.

      Keeping the Squad Together:
      Having a cohesive unit is vital because it allows the squad to hit an objective with all of its potential force. If you want your squad to head to the next flag and there's only one jeep, either wait until everybody can be transported at once or set out on foot; it makes no sense to have half of a squad assaulting a flag and the other half of the squad somewhere else on the map. Similarly, if you're already in a jeep and driving to a flag, insist on having dead squad members hold off on spawning until you're in position. If somebody has been separated from the group, it may even be worth it to have them suicide and take the -2 points in order for them to be ready to spawn when you need them. Setting objective markers and spawning on green both play into the larger goal of getting your squad to play as a single, cohesive unit.

      Communicating Orders:
      The most vital thing you'll have to communicate as a squad leader is what your squad's current objective is. If you keep your squad close to your position, giving an order can be as easy as saying something over the mic and heading off in the proper direction. However, if your squad has somehow been scattered or if it just needs a concrete visual, then you'll probably want to set an objective marker.
      There are a couple of ways to set an objective marker for your squad. One way is to go to the squad screen, right-click on your map, and select the appropriate order. If you can see your next objective, then you can aim at the objective, hold "T" to bring up the commo rose, and then select the command from there. Then there's the option of having your commander set the mark for your squad, which means you only have to press Page Up to accept the mark.

      Spawn Point:
      One of the most tangible roles of the squad leader is acting as a forward spawn point. It's always worth your time to remind people to "spawn green," especially if you have some non-regular players in your squad. Of course, this also means that one of your highest priorities at an objective is to stay alive, not to get points. Always keep a medic within sprinting distance, and try to position yourself so that your squad members will have easy access to the flag without spawning in the line of fire. Again, you should always have your squad members spawn on your position unless there's a compelling reason for them to spawn somewhere else, such as having a tank available at a nearby flag or a lone enemy attempting to neutralize a flag. If that's the case, then it's simple enough to order them to spawn in at the appropriate flag.

      Once your squad has completed an objective, make sure that you give out some well-deserved praise. Make no mistake, a squad with high morale will perform better and enjoy the game more than a squad that's just going through the motions. You should also give some feedback to your squad members if you noticed errors in the last skirmish. However, you should make sure that you're helping to improve their game, not just tearing them apart because they make an honest mistake.

      Requesting Support from your Commander:
      As a squad leader, you have a direct channel to your commander through the "v" key. Use it! Even the best of squads will need help at some point or another. Your commander can provide that help if only you ask him for it. He can put up a UAV or spot enemies so that you know what sort of resistance you'll have at an objective. Vehicle drops can help keep your squad mobile. Supplies can help your squad hold a position if you're stuck in a prolonged assault or just pinned down. Not least of all, there's always artillery to soften up any positions that the enemy has well-fortified.

      To actually make the request, you can either make a verbal request or put a request at a position on the map. The process is very similar to placing attack markers. You can hit Caps Lock to get to the squad screen, then right click on the map and select the appropriate request. Holding "T" and selecting the proper option will also send a request at wherever you're aiming. A verbal request will probably take you less time to make, but can cause some complications if you don't make it clear enough. Be sure to specify a location for the support and include your squad number for identification purposes.


      Part Two: Deciding Orders
      Once you have an effective squad put together and functioning, your next step is to put your squad to work for your team. A skilled squad leader will always know where his squad will make the most difference in the battle, whether that be assaulting or defending a flag. There are three steps to giving orders: first, you need to evaluate which flags are vital to control the map, second, you need to determine which flags your team is already covering, and third, you need to decide how you'll want to complete your objective.

      Identifying Key Flags:
      The most obvious way to identify which flags are most important is to know what sorts of assets are positioned there. Armor is more valuable than jeeps. Attack helicopters and jets are more valuable than armor. Commander equipment is most valuable of all. Another thing to consider is the tactical value of a flag. You may want to capture a flag just because it is a good stepping off point to a high-value flag, Construction Site on Kubra for example. The final factor to consider is ticket bleed. On some maps it's important to just capture flags and stop ticket bleed before moving on to assaulting valuable flags.

      Determine your objective:
      After determining which flags on the map are of high value for your team to hold, you need to determine which flag your squad should cover. The easiest way to do this is to check your map. If half of your team is assaulting a flag while another important flag doesn't have anybody near it, then go for the abandoned flag. Or, if your team controls all of the key flags on the map, then check to see which flags your team isn't defending. You should always avoid letting your team cluster up at one point; it lets the enemy escape around to the side and it also opens you up to the possibility of a devastating artillery strike. You should also inform your commander about your plans to see if he has any input on the matter. If you receive orders to head somewhere else, then your decision has been made.

      Decide how to complete the objective:
      Once you know what you want to do, there's always the matter of deciding how to do it. If your goal is to capture a flag, there are always several different ways of carrying out an assault; you can run a purely infantry squad, make use of any available armor, or even try a rush past the other team's forces with a fast-attack tactic. If you know a wide variety of tactics which you can employ while squad leading, then your squad can respond more effectively to a wider variety of situations.

      After you've completed your objective, then you get to begin the cycle again. Is the flag you're at valuable enough so that you should put your squad on defense and wait for the enemy to counter-attack, or does your team have higher priorities? You're the squad leader, make a call.


      Part Three: Examples of Tactics
      As you gain more experience as a squad leader, you'll develop your own style and set of tactics. Tactical versatility is extremely important for squad leaders; if you can direct your squad members in any situation and have them come out on top, then your team has a much better chance of winning than if you can only function in a limited set of circumstances. However, if you're just starting off, then the following tactics make for some good starting points for running a squad.

      Ground Pounding:
      The mainstay of any team will be the basic infantry squad. As an infantry squad, you can advance steadily on your objective and deal with each threat as it comes up. At its core, the squad should include two medics and a support gunner. After that, you can call for kits depending on the situation; on a map with lots of armor, perhaps three AT players are necessary. If your squad will be going into close quarters combat, then assault kits may be called for. As the squad leader, it's up to your discretion.

      Incorporating Armor in your Squad:
      Armor can be a valuable asset when used to back-up an infantry squad. However, it's a liability when there are jets on the map. When you decide to play with a tank or APC in your squad, it's best to have at least one other person playing engineer to keep the armor in good repair and to remove enemy mines. When you're on offense, use the tank's bulk to help cover the rest of the squad's advance. Armor will also help to repel infantry while the rest of the squad is capturing a flag. On defense, armor can usually provide enough firepower to keep a flag clear just by itself. That being said, the rest of the squad should focus on keeping its armor intact and eliminating enemy squad leaders that are under cover.
      For a more detailed look at the function of armor in a squad, click HERE.

      Incorporating Air Assets in your Squad:
      Usually it's best to have jets and attack choppers in their own squad so that they'll have direct communications with the commander. However, on rare occasions your squad might have an opportunity too good to pass up, such as taking the other team's bomber. If that's the case, here are a couple of suggestions to get the most use out of your squad's newfound air power:
      • Keep a watch on the mini-map for armor. If you see something spotted, feel free to set an attack mark on it for your attack chopper/jet to line up on.
      • Attack choppers can be very effective at suppressing infantry. If you're assaulting a flag, just call for some cover fire and your attack chopper should be able to give you some outstanding results.
      • Jets should be used as more of an auxiliary artillery strike than as sustained support. Have your pilots bomb an area just before you move onto a flag to clear out the opposition, then neutralize it before they can respawn.

      Flag Hopping:
      Using a fast attack method is best suited to open maps where it's easy to move from flag to flag without meeting opposition. On both offense and defense, flag hopping's goal is to open up several new fronts so that the enemy will have to divide its attention rather than focusing on a few flags. In situations where your team can loose because of ticket bleed, properly executed flag hopping can also stop ticket loss. To flag-hop effectively, you'll either need a couple of jeeps or a transport helicopter so that your entire squad can keep up with you. After that, it's just a matter of picking a flag, capturing it, clearing the area, and moving on as soon as possible. Try to be unpredictable when you're choosing which flag to head to next so that the opposition can't organize a defense; you'll also avoid meeting people who just spawned in to cover the front that your squad just opened up.

      Smoke Screens:
      Usually carried out at an enemy's main base, a smoke screen operation serves to distract the other team's commander and deprive them of various valuable assets, such as jets and UAV coverage. While your squad may not get many points for this, running an effective smoke screen can give your team a huge advantage. The key to success with this operation is to survive as long as possible, since the longer you keep the other team's assets out of action, the longer your team has the advantage. Hopefully, the other team will also deploy a squad or two in a vain attempt to eradicate you. During your stay, you'll want to keep your squad full of AT and spec-ops to destroy the vehicles and commander's equipment. Make sure your own commander keeps the other squads on your team on the offense while conducting this operation.

      Coverage Zones:
      Resting somewhere between pure defense and pure offense is the concept of a "coverage zone", an area usually consisting of two or three flags that are easily accessible with respect to one another, West Oilfields and Power Station on Daqing Oilfields for example. Your squad's goal with a coverage zone is simple: capture and hold all of the flags within the zone. If the commander can set up several squads with well-coordinated zones, then a team can easily control the map. As a squad leader, you'll usually want to maintain a position somewhere between the flags that you're covering so that your squad members can quickly move onto a flag with opposing forces.

      Defense is an essential but often overlooked aspect of the game. The key to defense is forcing the enemy to come at you on your own terms, and giving yourself the greatest advantage possible during the process. A well crafted defense will consistently repel an attacking force while simultaneously minimizing ticket loss for the defenders. Other things to keep in mind while on defense:
      • While your squad is on defense, make sure that they're focused on defending the flag. If you're defending Airfield on Wake Island, let the enemy blow the artillery up as many times as they want to; it doesn't make any difference, since they'll still have to get past your squad to get to the flag and capture it.
      • Have plenty of medics to revive everybody. Make sure that no ticket is wasted.
      • Keep an active defense, not a passive one. Mines will destroy a vehicle once; a good AT player can destroy many vehicles. A claymore will defend a stairwell once; a support gunner will defend a stairwell many times.


      So, to re-cap the key points that you want to keep in mind while squad-leading:
      • Strive for unit cohesion.
      • Identify high-value points.
      • Have tactical versatility.
      • WIN!
    This article was originally published in forum thread: TACTICS: Squad Leading started by capnemo314 View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Amador +JP2+'s Avatar
      Amador +JP2+ -
      I'd love to see this reprinted in our forums and then retooled for BF4.