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You and Your Platoon: The Section 2IC

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Previously on You and Your Platoon:

Dividing Your Platoon

You and Your Platoon: Attacking a Town

You and Your Platoon: Are you a smoke man?


It's that time of the month again. This time we are going to touch a subject that is very dear to me and that is the section 2IC or FTL depending on your ToE, but since the principles and tasks we are going to talk about are universal principles of war I am certain it can be applied to all combat unit 2ICs regardless. My background for this is I joined the Danish army 01AUG2011 and spend until 01SEP2013 as a mechanized infantry section 2IC including a deployment to Afghanistan. Throughout these two years I gathered a lot of experience and impressions of what it means to be a 2IC and what the essentials of the job entails. Now, I could write four pages of thoughts that a 2IC should make solely when taking up a position, but since we would become entrenched if we dive into details of a 2IC's tasks I'm going to keep it simple and give you what I believe are a the four most relevant and important tasks of a 2IC in Arma at UO.


In essence a good 2IC is someone who can effectively run a squad/team to a point where the SL can relinquish control of the individuals and have his thought process remain on the platoon level. The SL directs and manoeuvres the squad while the 2IC administrates it by carrying out the SL’s orders and intent.


1. Going into position

This is bread and butter of a team leader. Of any task this is the one that he will perform the most often. Going into position can happen in any type of terrain, it can be a slow and controlled process (SBF etc) and it can happen instantly as in case of an contact (ambush etc). Below are four points that as a minimum should be done when taking a new position.

  • 360 security

    • Coordinate with your fellow TL who is securing in what direction. Flank and rear security is of the utmost importance. Sometimes and adjacent squad or unit can negate a flank or rear security, but this must immediately be re established should the other unit move.

  • Heavy weapons

    • Prioritize the team’s heavy weapons correctly and place them where they can function. A standard US army would have an AR/LMG, GL and AT launcher available to them.
      The main weapon of a team is the AR/LMG and everybody else are put into this world to service this weapon and its gunner. In most cases it has the farthest reach, highest rate of fire and best optics available to the team. It is what wins a firefight.
      The GL is the team’s own mini mortar and can hit suppressed enemies behind solid cover. It is an area of effect weapon that kills by means of shrapnel. It can also be used for marking points of interest such as enemies and own forces. It has a wide variety of ammunition available to it in the forms of HE, HEDP, smoke and illumination rounds of various colours.
      The AT launcher is usually a disposable launcher firing an unguided grenade. It features simple sights and have a limited range. Primarily used for combating armoured vehicles it can also be used for destroying fortifications, buildings, blowing holes in walls and to create a limited shrapnel effect (depending on the grenade).

      To employ a weapon effectively means making a continuous assessment of two factors: ranges in the terrain and most dangerous direction.
      MGs are suited for ranges beyond normal 5.56 rifles (300m+) and can be used effectively at point and grouped targets. However, ranges also works in the negative in terms of arming distance (Currently only for 40mm grenades).
      Place a soldier in a spot where both their weapons can work and not just the rifle.
      Most dangerous direction is the point in the terrain where the enemy is most likely to fire or advance from, or the direction of known enemies. It makes sense to mass firepower in the direction where the enemy is most likely to come from, but it can also be an AR watching an open field with longer ranges and then the three other 5.56 rifles facing the continuing forest that one’s unit is laying in.
      For AT weapons backblast area is usually a concern the gunner should be capable of taking into account when choosing his position, but a FTL must always correct him if he doesn’t so he doesn’t kill or injure himself or others around him.

  • Reference points

    • Reference points are easily identifiable terrain features such as right and left edges of a tree line, a tower, a T-intersection etc. The principle is making a contact report much faster and shorter. The object agreed upon will be given a specific but short and memorable name such as “Tree” or “Rock”. Direction and distance of a normal contact report will be replaced by “Right of tree, infantry!”. Further description can of course be needed but it is much faster to use in general.
      The tactical application of reference points is placing them somewhere the enemy might come from, go into position at or move through. This again reduces the response time to either enemy fire or acknowledging an enemy presence.

  • Information

    • Covered in SA.

The four points can be condensed into the abbreviation SOCIRE. 

  • Security: The FTL must make sure that the squad is secured 360. The squad members must coordinate interlocking fields of fire and observation. Make reference points. The FTL should also employ the squads weapons correctly. LMGs for distance or most dangerous direction, AT for possible routes of enemy vehicles, grenade launchers etc.
  • Orientation: Where are the other squads? Are there any other friendlies nearby? Which direction is north? Enemies nearby? Terrian objects that I need to be aware of.
  • Coordination: Either have myself or the squadmembers adjacent to another squad coordinate interlocking fields of fire inbetween the squads, so I can spare one flank security. Do this by personal contact or switch over to the other squad's PRR channel and coordinate there. Does the squad already now require the platoon medic? If yes, then inform your SL or radio for the platoon medic and/or the PSG. Does the squad require anything else that needs to be coordinated?
  • Information: SITREPS to the squad. Where are we, point out other friendlies, reference points, TRPs, any specific terrain objects to take note of etc. Basically anything that helps raise the squads situational awareness.
  • REorganization: Redistribution of ammunition and equipment. Repacking of magazines etc. All that helps raise the squads combat power and effectiveness.


2. Security

360 security isn’t optional. Period.

In a stationary position you must assign your team members left and right arches for them to watch and fire in, if they do not coordinate them independently. Use the standard contact report (Direction, distance and description) to point out an arch. This could be: "My 2 o'clock, near, hill top" or more precisely "My 2 o'clock, near, hill top, to the left of it half way down, house with white facade with red roof".  When assigning or coordinating arches make sure that:

  • They are as wide as possible without becoming unmanageable.
  • They overlap with each other.
  • To coordinate coverage of mask in the terrain (Player A can't see behind this bush, but Player B can = All good). 

As a FTL it is your responsibility to control your team providing security. 360 must be maintained at all times when moving or stationary, in ordinary travel or manoeuvres in contact. If your team don’t automatically communicate their security direction in e.g. a column (front man: I’ve got front. Second man: “Right” etc etc alternating down the formation) it is your responsibility to initiate it. The last resort is directly assigning a person a security direction.
Continuous control of the security is required. Make sure people are watching their sectors and not fooling around.


3. Situational Awareness



Knowledge is power and SA is knowledge. Not only must you maintain your own but also improve the SA of your team. Feed them with SITREPs and request SITREPs from your SL if something is happening that you are not sure or aware of.
I trust the points are covered in the two posts.


4. Think ahead

Try to think a step ahead and formulate simple “Actions on X..”. This should as minimum be actions on contact and actions on casualties. How will I react to enemy fire in this position, what if it is armour or the contact is long-range? When travelling the FTL must be aware of the terrain and how it influences the situation should the squad get contacted in any given direction.

And as a final point: Revise!
Always revise your choices since you might have missed something, the situation has changed or you've simply come up with a better solution.


Note: Keep in mind that these points can interchange and happen at the same time.

Edited by J.B.

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"Knowledge is power and SA is knowledge."

This could also tie in with good communication, something that is essential throughout squads/fireteams/buddyteams. Good communication is everything. 

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