Battle Drills

The idea behind a "Battle Drill" is that it is a standardized way to react to a common battlefield event. Battle Drills ensure that everyone is on the same page of music, so to speak, and allows for a rapid reaction to an event with the minimum of orders needing to be issued. The following battle drills cover the most common combat events to be encountered in ArmA2, and are the foundations on which additional tactics are built.


Reaction to Contact/Enemy Fire

The most fundamental battle drill is reacting to enemy fire. It forms the basis for many of the other tactics covered in this guide, and these guidelines should be kept in mind when reading about them and applied as necessary. I've broken them down based on leadership level.

If your element comes under fire, follow these basic guidelines, depending on what level of leadership you're at.

Fireteam Member

Fireteam Leader

Squad Leader

Breaking Contact/Withdrawing

Breaking contact is the means by which an element disengages from a confrontation with an enemy force in an orderly fashion. Fire & maneuver tactics are used to ensure that a steady volume of fire is put on the enemy location(s) during the withdrawal. This helps to keep the enemy's head down and prevents them from keeping friendly forces decisively engaged.

Breaking contact is basically an assault done in reverse.

Break Contact via Bounding Overwatch

The primary method of breaking contact is via bounding overwatch.

To execute a "Break Contact via Bounding Overwatch" drill, the following steps are taken.

Conducting an Ambush

An ambush is defined in the Army's "Infantry Platoon and Rifle Squad" publication as "...a surprise attack by fire from concealed positions on a moving or temporarily halted enemy unit. It combines the advantages and characteristics of the offense with those of the defense."

Ambushes are an extremely favorable way to engage the enemy. The combination of surprise and fierce, accurate fire can rip an enemy element to pieces before they have time to react.

Types of Ambushes

There are three main types of ambushes for our purposes - the deliberate one, in which we know that an enemy force is going to be moving through a given area, the hasty one, in which we unexpectedly have an opportunity to ambush an enemy force that has not detected us, and the delaying or guerilla one, in which we are attempting to strike the enemy, cause casualties and confusion, and they withdraw before they can retaliate.

Deliberate Ambush

These are typically convoy ambushes. We may be tasked in a mission to stake out a slice of terrain and cover roads that an enemy convoy is expected to pass. In such a situation, demolition plays a large part. Mines can be set, as can satchel charges and other explosive devices. A relatively large amount of prep time is given for this, and the results tend to reflect this. Deliberate ambushes are devastating and highly effective. The one big unknown is whether the expected enemy force will be the same composition and size as our mission briefing or intelligence reported. The difference between a troop convoy and a tank convoy, for instance, is huge, and both must be engaged with different tactical considerations.

Hasty Ambush

Hasty ambushes are usually against enemy infantry but can also be against other enemy forces. The decision to conduct a hasty ambush needs to be communicated rapidly, since there usually isn't much time to get positioned and ready to open fire. Fireteam leaders and squad leaders are the most common leaders to give orders for a hasty ambush. Satchel charges and other explosives play a very limited role in these types of ambushes due to the lack of time and ability to position them.

Delaying/Guerilla Ambush

Delaying or guerilla ambushes work best against enemy infantry. The purpose of them is to either delay the enemy's pursuit of friendly forces during a withdrawal or sow confusion and death amid their ranks unexpectedly before vanishing. The size of an ambush team of this nature is usually a squad or less.

The goal of a delaying ambush is to engage the enemy by fire and cause enough casualties to temporarily halt them. At that point, the team withdraws to another defensive position from which they repeat the ambush if possible.

The goal of a guerilla ambush, on the other hand, is to engage the enemy by fire, cause casualties, and withdraw before the enemy can decisively respond to the ambush team and fix them. The guerilla ambush team breaks contact, maneuvers to lose any pursuit from the enemy, and then evaluates its next moves.

Both of these ambush teams must be able to engage the enemy, produce the desired effect, and relocate or disengage before enemy support assets such as artillery or close air support can be brought to bear.

Ambushing a Kamaz truck full of Russian troops

Key Elements of an Ambush

The key elements of any ambush are friendly positioning, location of the kill zone, and proper initiation of fires.

Players must also consider the use of explosives devices like satchel charges and claymore mines. These are usually not practical for a hasty ambush, but a vehicle ambush or deliberate ambush can benefit greatly from their usage. Triggering explosives to start an ambush is very effective, as it adds an extra layer of shock and confusion to the situation for the enemy.

The Linear Ambush

A linear ambush is the most basic type. In it, all ambushing forces are arrayed in a single line. This type of ambush is easy to set up in a hurry and works well in most situations. Many hasty ambushes end up as linear ambushes due to lack of time and mobility to get an L-shaped ambush enacted. Note that the longer the line is, the harder it is for the enemy to find cover or concealment - features that may conceal him from one end of the line may not have an effect due to a member on the other end being able to still see him. Note also that the ambushing team should not be spread so thin that the ambushees are able to assault into the ambush and drive a wedge through the line.

The L-Shaped Ambush

An L-shaped ambush is a bit more complex to pull off, but the extra effort is rewarded by markedly increased effectiveness. An L-shaped ambush requires that one element be positioned at a right-angle to the rest of the ambush. When the ambush is initiated, one of the two elements will find itself firing into the flanks of the enemy, while the other element will be firing into its front. Being hit from two sides like this will rapidly attrit the enemy and make it almost impossible for them to survive. A well-conducted L-shaped ambush is near certain death for those trapped in the kill zone.

L-Shaped ambushes can be done with any composition of forces. Even a single infantryman who is off to the side of the enemy when they come under fire from the front can have a dramatic effect. Initiating fires from the front while a sniper or designated marksman lurks quietly off to the enemy's flank can be highly effective - the enemy will find cover or concealment that protects them from the front, leaving their flanks open to the sniper or designated marksman who can then pick them off at will.

The Convoy/Vehicle Ambush

Vehicle/convoy ambushes are similar to infantry ambushes, with the main difference being that the vehicles are able to exit the kill zone rapidly if nothing is done to stop them, and armored vehicles can quickly turn the tides by attacking into the ambush if they are not rapidly dealt with.

Special Guidelines for a Vehicle/Convoy Ambush

Reaction to Ambush

An ambush typically is a more coordinated enemy effort than your average "meeting engagement" firefight. The 'kill zone' (where the enemy focuses their fires) is under heavy, concentrated fire, and those within it have to rapidly react to the situation if they hope to survive.

The reaction to an ambush depends on whether it is a 'near' or 'far' ambush. Both will be described below. The guidelines above for a general "Reaction to Contact" should be kept in mind as well.

Near Ambush

A 'near ambush' is defined as an ambush occurring with the enemy within grenade-throwing distance.

When an element is subjected to a 'near ambush', the action required varies depending on whether any given player is in the "kill zone" or outside of it. The voice call for a near ambush is simply "Near ambush, (direction), and should be said by the first person to identify it. Due to the confusion caused by a near ambush, the element will likely require a moment to identify the type of ambush. This means that you'll likely hear a "Contact (direction)!" call, followed by "Near ambush!" after a brief pause.

If you are in the kill zone (meaning, the enemy is focusing the bulk of their fire in your area), you must immediately return fire and take up covered or concealed positions. Immediately throw frag grenades or smoke at the enemy and assault their position. The speed and violence of your element's reaction to the ambush will be the deciding factor as to how many of you walk away from it.

If you are not in the kill zone, your job becomes one of support. Identify and engage the enemy with as much firepower as you can bring to bear, as quickly as possible. When the "kill zone" element assaults into the ambush, shift or cease fire to avoid friendly fire.

Far Ambush

A 'far ambush', on the other hand, is any ambush in which the enemy is further than 50 meters away. These can take a multitude of forms, and the only positive aspect of them is that the increased distance of the enemy means that friendly forces can potentially maneuver better and the enemy may not be as deadly with their fire from an extended range.

Again, the action of each individual varies depending on their location within or outside of the "kill zone". The voice call for this is "Far ambush, (direction)". Simple enough.

If you are in the kill zone, immediately return fire and move to a covered or concealed position. Focus fires on enemy crew-served or high-volume weapons (machineguns) and try to knock them out as quickly as possible. Smoke grenades (both M203 and hand-thrown) can be used in two primary fashions - the first is to place them around the "kill zone" ambushed squad to conceal them from enemy fire. The other use, for the M203 smoke grenades, is to fire them at the enemy location and try to obscure their view of friendly forces.

In a far ambush, the ambushed element does not attempt to assault through the ambush. Instead, they form a base of fire while the elements not in the kill zone maneuver against the ambushing enemy force. Once the maneuvering team begins to assault the enemy ambush team, the base of fire team should shift or cease fire to avoid friendly casualties.

If you are not in the kill zone, your job is to flank and knock out the enemy ambush element. You should move with your element via covered/concealed routes when possible and try to work your way onto a vulnerable enemy flank. Ensure that you notify the base-of-fire element when you begin the close assault on the enemy to avoid friendly-fire.

Reaction to Sniper

If an element receives sniper fire during a mission, the reaction to it will depend upon the assets available, the terrain, and the overall mission.

The effectiveness of a sniper is inversely proportional to how knowledgeable players are in counter-sniper and reaction-to-sniper drills. A 'green' group can find themselves pinned down by one, whereas an experienced group will be able to utilize proper movement techniques, smoke, and organic and non-organic assets to find, fix & suppress, and ultimately kill or bypass the sniper.

The basic things to keep in mind when dealing with snipers are as follows:

Individual Reaction to a Sniper

  1. If a friendly soldier is shot beside you, the first thing you should be thinking about (while moving to make yourself a hard target) is "Where did that shot come from?". If you know, immediately move to put some sort of hard cover (preferably) or put some good concealment between you and the enemy sniper. If you don't know, make an educated guess and find cover or concealment, then assess the situation.
  2. If you recognize the distinctive 'crack!' of a sniper rifle or suspect that it is a sniper engaging you, shout "Sniper!" over direct VON as you move to cover or concealment.
  3. If you're out in the open, keep moving, and move unpredictably. Depending on how far away the sniper is, and the type of weapon he is using (ie bolt-action compared to semi-auto), he will probably wait for 'high-probability' shots. This means he wants to catch someone who is stationary or moving directly towards or away from him who is presenting a large profile. Low-probability shots (ie high deflection, limited exposure, or erratic target movement) will typically only be taken when the situation is desperate, the sniper is at close range, or when the sniper has a semi-automatic rifle like the SVD Dragunov.
  4. Once you're in cover, relay the position of enemy snipers or sharpshooters to other friendly forces to help to minimize casualties. Marking their position on the map is a good way to give friendly units an idea of where they should expect to find the shooter.
  5. Use the heaviest asset available to kill the sniper. If you have artillery, call it on the suspected sniper position. If you have mortars, set them up somewhere safe and pound the sniper position. If you have any kind of protected armor (ie LAV, AAV, tank, etc), use it to flush out and kill the sniper. Ditto with aircraft. The last resort is infantry working as a cohesive team. Infantry will typically take casualties when hunting down a sniper, so if it can be done any other way, it should be.


Tips for Dealing with Snipers


Reaction to Air Attack

Russian KA-52 making an FFAR attack run


Coming under air attack as an infantry force is a serious issue, compounded moreso if your unit does not have any organic air defense assets. You must know how to avoid being spotted by an enemy air asset, and if spotted, how to react.

Rotary-Wing (Helos)

Helicopters are the most dangerous CAS aircraft in most situations. Their ability to loiter over the battlefield and deliver precision anti-tank, cannon, and rocket fire makes them a threat that should never be underestimated.

If helicopters are a known threat, all efforts should be made to avoid detection by them. This is done primarily via intelligent movement routes and techniques which prevent the enemy helo from being able to visually acquire friendly elements. Stay low, stay concealed, and move via concealed routes whenever possible.

If anti-air defense is organic to friendly forces, a sharp eye and ear must be kept for the approach of enemy helicopters. With proper warning, a helo can be brought down by MANPAD missiles before it knows what is happening.

A Hind takes a Stinger missile to the tail rotor

If anti-air defense is not available to friendly forces, the best method is to avoid detection entirely. The only other defenses infantry have is via the massing of fires from machineguns, rifles, and anti-tank rockets or missiles. Helicopters that are oblivious to infantry presence and believe themselves to be safe will occasionally go low and slow enough to be accurately engaged by anti-tank rockets. If the opportunity presents itself, it should be taken, but ONLY if the anti-tank gunner is >90% positive he will successfully make the shot.

The ugly end of a Ka-52

Fixed-Wing (Jets)

The main thing to remember when being attacked by jets is that movement perpendicular to the line of attack works best. This is especially true if they are strafing you with cannon fire or attacking with rockets. Another good thing to do is get on the reverse slope of a hill, and whenever the aircraft makes a pass, adjust your position so that you're once again on the far side of the hill relative to it.

The primary weakness of jet attack aircraft is the difficulty they have in picking out infantry at the speeds they fly. Thus, cover and concealment have a pronounced effect against them compared to rotary-wing aircraft.

Russian Su-25s on patrol

Reaction to Artillery Attack/Indirect Fire

There are a few basic tips for how to act when coming under artillery attack or other indirect fire.

Enemy artillery can be taken out by counter-battery fire or close air support, if available, while mortar positions (which are usually much closer) can sometimes be assaulted and captured by ground attack.

Triangulation can be used to figure out the enemy positions - if two squads are separated by a good distance and can hear the firing artillery, compass bearings can be taken by each unit and then compared to get a fix on the likely location of the artillery.