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krause

Contact reports - the lost but invaluable tool

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I haven't played on the server in awhile - probably a solid year or so. I played for a good 5 hours the other day and immediately noticed that the squad, platoon and coy leadership has seemingly forgotten a required part of leadership. UO leadership used to follow this rule, but now seems completely unaware of it:

 

It is your responsibility to keep up your CO's situational awareness

 

 

 

Why? The CO cannot make decisions without knowing the tactical picture. He can gain a partial understanding from tools, but the most valuable input comes from leaders. 

 

During the entire time I played I did not once hear an informational report to the CO. How is the CO supposed to make decisions then? Bad information, OR his personal observations only. If the CO is reliant on his own observations, he has to put himself in danger. 

 

You should routinely be telling your CO:

  • Enemy contact
  • Enemy positions, actions and how you are dealing with them
  • Changes in your readiness (be it casualties, ammo or equipment) 
  • Your position and actions, if it differs from the plan in any way

Today i'll focus on arguably the most important of these, a contact report. The contact report's purpose is to inform your CO you are in contact so that he can direct the rest of the force to support. It's also to share SA with other leadership and allow them a chance to spontaneously support you. Lastly, it updates the CO on the enemy's disposition, strength and course of action, which are VITAL for his decision making process. The CO constantly maintains a table of equipment and strength in his head of what the enemy has, and where they are. He would want to know that an enemy squad is in one position or another, because it means they cannot be in another position - it allows him to make a sound decision regarding next actions. 

 

 

 

Procedure: 

 

As soon as you get in contact (within seconds), you should IMMEDIATELY give a contact report, even if you have incomplete information. The initial report should be:

 

"Callsign, CONTACT, WAIT OUT" or "Callsign, CONTACT, FIGHTING, OUT" - something to that effect. 

 

Your next priority as leadership should be to employ your element against the contact and win the fight. As soon as a picture emerges as to the location, size,  activity and equipment of the enemy force you should send a full contact report: 

 

1. Start comms:

"6, Callsign, contact report, over" 

 

2. Send SALUTE report:

http://www.thedailysheeple.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/salutereport.png

In ARMA the "uniform" part is usually omitted, I use this construct in my head:

"Callsign, 

[enemy size], 

[enemy activity],

[enemy location],

[enemy time - omit if its immediate], 

[enemy special equipment - such as tanks, RPGs, any force multipliers etc],

[your action and any requests, this should also include a brief BDA of how many you killed] " 

 

Examples:

"This is 21, 

Enemy inf platoon attacking into BP A time now, with a BTR-80, we are fighting them, I have 1 KIA, 2 non-ambu casualties need medic, destroyed 1 squad, over" 

 

"This is 21, 

Enemy infantry squad moving west to east along ASR gold reference hill 14, 5 mikes ago, we are observing but have lost contact, over" 

 

"This is 21, 

Engaged/destroyed t-80 section vicinity of OBJ FOX, continuing on to secure OBJ, over" 

Edited by krause

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Thanks for the reminder, krause. Unfortunately, it happens in an open-type community because there's no minimum requirements in order to play on primary and courses are entirely voluntary and optional. That one mission I lead that you were was a mess mostly due to my own lack of PL experience, so I'll take that blame. Come out on Friday or weekend when lots of good leaders are on, it'll be better :)

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Thanks for the reminder, krause. Unfortunately, it happens in an open-type community because there's no minimum requirements in order to play on primary and courses are entirely voluntary and optional. That one mission I lead that you were was a mess mostly due to my own lack of PL experience, so I'll take that blame. Come out on Friday or weekend when lots of good leaders are on, it'll be better :smile:

 

It was the weekend :smile:

 

Also I was not referring to your mission, where there was a complete lack of leadership, I am talking about the next two missions, where there were leaders but almost no traffic on the command nets except for me (psg) and CO (weapon), and CO "talking at" the leaders. The way it should be is, the CO should not "pull" for information, the leaders should push it to the command net.  

Edited by krause

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Last UOTC leadership course was almost a year ago, it could partially explain decline you've noticed.

 

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that many people you described just lack knowledge, but are willing to learn if given the chance.

Edited by BlackHawk

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Anyway, I'm pretty sure that many people you described just lack knowledge, but are willing to learn if given the chance.

 

Yep thats why I made this post. 

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Generally, a SALUTE report is not given when in contact. That's more of an observation thing. When actually in contact, a SALTA (size, activitiy, location, time, actions own IIRC) or similar report is used. If a callsign has sent a "Contact, wait, out", unless you have your own contact report to send, you need to stay off the net until the contact report is finished. No, don't ask for an ACEREP, no, don't ask for personnel status, the net is kept clear for the priority message - the contact report. Conversely, when you send a wait out, you need to get your contact report finished and sent ASAP so the net traffic can resume and your info is passed on.

 

At the end of the day though, if you, as a platoon commander, are not getting the info you need, MOVE TO SOMEWHERE TO OBSERVE THE SECTION IN CONTACT.  If you cannot do this quickly, you are very likely much too spread out with your platoon (depending on the type of op you are running) and have lost effective command and control. Unless your platoon is tasked with patrolling a very large area or some other task which requires the sections to be unsupported, you should strive to maintain yourself in a position where you can observe (or quickly move to somewhere where you can observe) what your lead element/main effort is doing. The radio is a tool, and tools can break (sect comd is a casualty for example) or be misused. Have a backup plan.

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Unfortunately, it happens in an open-type community because there's no minimum requirements in order to play on primary and courses are entirely voluntary and optional.

 

This a n excuse rather than a reason. It is not inevitable.

 

If we make it the norm to send contact reports, then new players coming into the community will learn to send contact reports.

Edited by Herbiie

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As much as I suck at SL+, I always try to apply and show some basic things everyone should know, so whenever I hear some shooting all of a sudden or just scream for contact, I'll ask for direction, distance, description. People tend to fumble with compass too much though, and I'm not sure some even understand what's going on.

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Maybe what we need is a basic communications/radio procedures course, where you are not only told how to do contact reports  (which I think is covered in famil course?), but you also have time to practice and be corrected by an instructor.

 

Also include a standard SITREP practice and you'll have much more comms going on, because people will know when to do it, how to do it and by such be more encouraged to do it at all.

 

It will then take any individual quite some time (usually depending on their English skills) of practice on the server to master the ABC of comms to not clog up the net.

 

 

On a side note, according to this a 'WAIT' is not to be interrupted in a contact report (which is already urgent) while a 'WAIT, OUT' would mean normal traffic can continue until the unit calling contact has a report (which sometimes can take time to gather from subordinates). Correct me if I'm wrong.

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As a CO is effectively a coordinator (e.g. ensuring synchronized phase transitions between planning stages, distributing special assets to sectors of need, adjusting positions to minimise friendly fire/maximise security + firepower + maneuvering) , I think such information is indeed imperative for his situational awareness to perform sound judgment to developing situation(s), especially when circumstances may differ to intelligence/reconnaissance or unfold dynamically to require fresh orders.

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The contact report/contact call should be passed up the chain as quickly as possible. Obviously when the first squad gets engaged, the squad leader will only pass up "contact", develop the situation, figure out where and how strong the enemy is. But then he should as soon as practical pass up that information, because, when the platoon leader is in the center/back of the formation vital time passes until he can get to the front, time that could be used to initiate the maneuver of other elements or organizing the breaking of contact...

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The contact report/contact call should be passed up the chain as quickly as possible. Obviously when the first squad gets engaged, the squad leader will only pass up "contact", develop the situation, figure out where and how strong the enemy is. But then he should as soon as practical pass up that information, because, when the platoon leader is in the center/back of the formation vital time passes until he can get to the front, time that could be used to initiate the maneuver of other elements or organizing the breaking of contact...

This is good and all, but mostly when I have been in the squad that initially gets in contacts, it all starts with the SL gets shot in the face ! 

I think that this would be more easily to do, if Squad Leaders relied and trusted their FTLs more. 

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This is good and all, but mostly when I have been in the squad that initially gets in contacts, it all starts with the SL gets shot in the face ! 

I think that this would be more easily to do, if Squad Leaders relied and trusted their FTLs more. 

 

That is the moment for the TL next in line to shine, immediately pick up the pieces and assume command of the squad and resume lateral and vertical communications.

 

To say it in the words of the great Godfather, any leader of soldier for that matter, should ask himself two questions all the time: "What do I know? and Who needs to know it?"....

Edited by zumorc

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Nathan, not an actual RTO course, but something cut down to just contact reports and SITREPs with the majority of the course being actual practice. New players need not know an artillery or CAS call for fire or any other stuff that's in the RTO course.

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...

 

On a side note, according to this a 'WAIT' is not to be interrupted in a contact report (which is already urgent) while a 'WAIT, OUT' would mean normal traffic can continue until the unit calling contact has a report (which sometimes can take time to gather from subordinates). Correct me if I'm wrong.

 

From everything I have learned, you are wrong. 

 

Infantry platoon/company net comms are not as structured as in ACP-125, but there is still priority of messages.

 

The priority list I've been told is this: 1. Contact reports 2. Calls for fire 3. CASEVAC requests 4. Everything else

 

 

So while yes, they did end their message with OUT implying you can continue other conversations, this is implied to mean you can continue with other HIGH PRIORITY conversations, such as another contact report. You do not EVER interrupt a contact report (including dead air after someone sends contact wait out) with a SITREP or other random reports. The only things that should be sent up on the net are another contact report, or the commander of the callsign in contact telling them hurry up and send the contact report.

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mhmm. There is already too much traffic going on, on any net. I agree that a contact report is vital, but either only necessary when the squads are unsupported from each other ( necessarily far away ), or evidently not necessary, because the PL is involved in the process and already aware. I always try to compare it with the era in which they did not have radios and ask myself "would I send a messenger to my PL to deliver this information?". Probably not, like most of the time. If they are unsupported I risk my messenger running through unknown terrain, if they are supported from the rest of the platoon, then the PL gains this information by himself when the situation allows it ( after or before the contact ).
All the PL should order, when reacting to a squad that is in contact, is "break contact" against the SLs estimation that he can handle it. Everything else has to be mechanics.
The SL, when in contact, should be 100% busy leading, ergo with terminating the threat instead of sending a report. The radioman on the other hand should do this surely.
On a company net, because the platoons are so largely spread out a contact report should be given as soon as possible, because the company CO has almost no other ways of getting

information.

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mhmm. There is already too much traffic going on, on any net. I agree that a contact report is vital, but either only necessary when the squads are unsupported from each other ( necessarily far away ), or evidently not necessary, because the PL is involved in the process and already aware. I always try to compare it with the era in which they did not have radios and ask myself "would I send a messenger to my PL to deliver this information?". Probably not, like most of the time. If they are unsupported I risk my messenger running through unknown terrain, if they are supported from the rest of the platoon, then the PL gains this information by himself when the situation allows it ( after or before the contact ).

All the PL should order, when reacting to a squad that is in contact, is "break contact" against the SLs estimation that he can handle it. Everything else has to be mechanics.

The SL, when in contact, should be 100% busy leading, ergo with terminating the threat instead of sending a report. The radioman on the other hand should do this surely.

On a company net, because the platoons are so largely spread out a contact report should be given as soon as possible, because the company CO has almost no other ways of getting

information.

 

Why on earth are you in a squad unsupported by the rest of your platoon? Almost everything you have written is almost perfectly the opposite of what should happen.

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Beta is right.

Kopei, you forget that a contact report isn't exclusively sent to the PL, it's sent for all to hear. Rarely does every SL and the PL have the exact same line of sight on a given terrain or object. The SL finds himself coordinating and fighting at the platoon level, but issuing orders to his subordinate squad. The radio is the SL's primary weapon; it is with this he coordinates the fire from other squads to facilitate manoeuvres within the platoon. Now, if for example we are talking Vietnam era US infantry squad with the SL having his own RTO within the squad, then it still this RTO's premier task to send reports as fast and precise as possible. Now a days the radio has shifted to the SL since it isn't a backpack onto itself, but the importance of reports still remain.
Saying that a contact report is only urgent when the squads aren't within mutual support range is a logic fallacy, because you assume a scenario where the argument for is founded in the error of the squads not being able to mutually support each other. If I as a SL see an enemy it is my absolute duty to make sure - as fast as possible - that all others in my unit are informed of it. Knowledge on the battlefield is power and the contact report is how you convey this power. 

Edited by J.B.

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@Thawk
I am not in squad unsupported by the rest of the platoon. At UO and in real life a squad can happen to be unsupported by the rest of the platoon.

@J.P.
I do not assume a scenario, I know that it can happen. That it shouldnt happen is a different subject and I do not disagree with you on that.

I do not really disagree on any what you said, but in your post, you do not point out the importance of priority. Let me clarify it what I was trying to say.
Priorities of responsibility of the leader:

 

1. Leading the squad
2. coordinating with the rest of the platoon
3. being a radioman to call in contact reports

Do I understand you correctly that he should be do the contact report before he leads his squad?
 

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Leads is a generic word in this case. What you're really asking me is when does the contact report fall in the reaction to enemy fire/sighting.

At an enemy sighting where the squad hasn't come under fire the contact report is sent as soon as possible.

If the squad is engaged or engages a suddenly appearing enemy the contact report is sent as soon as possible. 

In the latter scenario the reaction to contact for the SL should be as follows:
 

  • Fall down facing your security direction.
  • Orient yourself of the direction of contact.
  • As soon as possible send a short contact report consisting as a minimum of "This is 1. Contact, contact. wait, out." and ideally direction (front, left, right, cardinal direction etc), range (close, middle, far, meters etc) and type.
    Example: This is 1. Contact left, far, fireteam.
  • Depending on the distance either go into position or assault the target (only if very close).
  • Send full contact report and preferably include a suggestion for the next manoeuvre.

Common for all points are that the full contact report is to be sent as soon as possible. If you can send it while you throw yourself at the ground, you do it.

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@Thawk

I am not in squad unsupported by the rest of the platoon. At UO and in real life a squad can happen to be unsupported by the rest of the platoon.

 

@J.P.

I do not assume a scenario, I know that it can happen. That it shouldnt happen is a different subject and I do not disagree with you on that.

 

I do not really disagree on any what you said, but in your post, you do not point out the importance of priority. Let me clarify it what I was trying to say.

Priorities of responsibility of the leader:

 

1. Leading the squad

2. coordinating with the rest of the platoon

3. being a radioman to call in contact reports

 

Do I understand you correctly that he should be do the contact report before he leads his squad?

 

 

I just get the feeling that you aren't fully aware of the actual responsibilities and duties of a squad leader.

 

In real life if a squad has ended up unsupported, a lot of shit has gone wrong and people are probably dead. It is a rare thing, if it happens. In UO it is the result of bad a bad platoon leader who has no idea how to effectively employ a platoon.

 

A squad leader's most important job in contact is to, as JB says, report the situation immediately to the platoon leader whilst attempting winning the fire fight. This is of course after the initial reaction to contact and short contact report. The squad leader will inform the PL of his estimation of the situation, either A. He can assault and take the enemy position or B. He does not have the numbers to take the enemy. The PL will then make the decision, as he is aware of the bigger picture. No squad is an independent unit which can run around making it's own decisions.

Edited by Thawk

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It seems in UO we have often have people leading squads with a running monologue over the SR radio.  They think that their role is to manage all of the squad's movement... continuously.
 
It works far better when the SL provides an objective to the squad with an explanation of why, and then allows the FTLs to work together (micromanaging their respective fire teams) to get the job done.  The SL accompanies them and is relaying information up to the other squads and back down to the FTLs.  If his/her squad starts to make a big mistake the SL may step in and correct them but for the most part just lets them roll.  Also if the situation changes for the platoon the SL may issue new orders to the squad, and then let the FTLs take over again.  Most of the time the SL is feeding the squad information from the LR about changes to enemy and friendly situ.  The FTLs can be coordinating the actions.
 
The problem at UO is often that the SL is so busy managing the movement of the squad and there is so much chatter on the SR that the SL is not spending enough attention to the other squads in the platoon.  It is the way it has been done for so long with so many SLs on the primary that most players think it is normal for the SL to be working the whole squad and providing detailed instructions over the SR.

 

Do I understand you correctly that he should be do the contact report before he leads his squad?

A SL needs to manage the greatest priority at the time.  If the squad is reacting well to the contact then the contact report should be sent out ASAP.  If the SL needs to issue urgent orders a quick "1'1 CONTACT, WAIT OUT" should suffice . Often the SL will need time to assess the contact and determine a response before transmitting the info out to the other squads.  While he/she is assessing the situation the FTLs are working the reaction.

 

Good FTLs are invaluable.

Edited by Jimbo

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@ Jimbo

 

It always struck me how in UO SLs are so in charge of their squads, differently as i used to play in my old clan (and even before TBH).

 

To be clrearer (i hope) I was used to play in fireteam driven forces, whilst in UO it seems that the minimum working unit is the squad. To make a perhaps bad example, in my previous experiences it was not hard to see FTs moving away from each other looking for different targets, by hundreds of meters, while here often a single grenade can take out 12 people at once (bad example, it's not about spacing, but about the organization of things). 

 

This is one of the reasons i never dared to step up as a leader, because the play style is completely different. The workload of SLs in UO (i dont know IRL tho) is so great that i wonder how they manage to lead all 10 of their men AND keep up with SA and platoon coordination. It is also true that i never ever played with more than 30 people on the server on any given time before joining in here, so there's also this to factor in.

 

Is this something planned out as working as intended? 

Edited by Maffa

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@ Jimbo

Is this something planned out as working as intended? 

 

I think it just kind of evolved that way.  Started a long time ago with the SL monologue used to sort of keep the squad united and aware of what was happening with the squad movement.  It was an adapted method that seemed to help coordinate a bunch of casual gamers that never have the same team composition twice.  It works okay in a mission with very small numbers but becomes ineffective when mutual inter-platoon coordination is needed.   In other mil sim communities it works a little better because some of them have dedicated positions where players get to know the players in their team.

 

But it is very possible at UO to break the habit.  It's fun to be a FTL in a section or a squad if your SL will allow it.  

The marine squad is ideal with one FTL sorta showing a little more decision and the second FTL working in harmony.  The squad should really stay together.  Within sight of each other and able to provide supporting fire.   Direct comms work best with the radios utilized only a little.  The SL usually sticks with the team that has the main effort but can also hang with the support team if he wants to stay alive.   

The Section is a little trickier as there is a lot more to do without a 2IC leading the first fire team.  But by leaning on the FTL of the second fireteam it is possible for a  Section SL to pay alot more attention to feeding information up and down the line.

 

I won't presume to comment on RL.  I'll leave that to the soldiers here.  All my ideas come from reading and playing ARMA.

 

Edit: Staying together doesn't mean bunching up.  The FTL should be working hard to keep the team spaced out.  I think we may bunch up too much partly because it's hard to see the nametags when we spread out.  especially when crouched or prone.  We also bunch up when a contact is sighted ... players get tunnel vision and want a chance to get a kill.  The FTL can help by reminding us to watch sectors (and designating them if needed)

Edited by Jimbo

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