Guide: How to be an efficient platoonleader (or: How to be the first lemming to jump off the cliff)
Disclaimer: Everything covered in this guide is solely based on my own experiences in Arma as PltHQ or under PltHQ. Everything mentioned is a solid outline on how to behave and handle situations as platoonlead, but are not regulated or in any way perfect. I believe that these will help to get a foothold in becoming a good PltHQ and finding one’s own little perks.
This will not be a beginners guide and you are required to have shown good results in leading a squad.
Pre-brief you are tasked to choose the camo used on this mission. For this you have to know the different available camos and the topographical targets they blend in with.
i.e Desert, Tropical, Forest, Tundra, Snow & Ice, Urban,Night-Ops
Obviously the camo can be changed to suit your taste or the side (i.e. playing as Opfor), but should always match the environment to increase immersion!
This is one of the most important parts of PltHQ as it will dictate the flow movement for every squad and asset involved in the mission. It is a difficult task to balance the briefing to be fast, but also as efficient as possible to allow the squad to fulfill their given tasks without getting fucked up.
The planning will begin as soon as Zeus will tell you your AO and mission. You will receive valuable information about the enemy assets and your targets. Make sure that you have ALL your bases covered. – Will there be any civs in the AO? Does the enemy have AA capabilities? These are questions you should ask if Zeus hasn’t told you, it can alter your plan and how you can use your assets. Depending on them you might want to specialize your squads with different equipment.
Once you’ve got all the information covered, you’ve got a MAXIMUM of 5 minutes, to come up with a plan which involves 6 squads, as well as your ground and air assets. For this you will have to know what your assets CAN and CAN’T do! A good PltHQ knows his assets.
You should also be able to read the map by heart [see section “Map Reading”] to be able to use the terrain for your advantage.
It’s ok to tell everyone to be quiet for a minute or two while you get your head around what’s going on and what you want to do with the plan (rephrase)
Different plans explained:
These tasks are usually given to the HWS (heavy weapons squad). You want to give them an elevated position with roughly 400-600m distance to their target area to assist assaulting squads.
Be aware of obstacles and possible flanks which the enemy can use, this squad has less mobility than the rest.
Squads for town clearing have usually high mobility and are equipped with ARs for CQC. Be aware of the amount of squad you send into a town to prevent accidental friendly fire
Hostage rescues are delicate missions, in which the target area has to be treated with special care, prohibiting CAS and bombardment. Squads should be equipped with cable ties.
The nightmare of all players. Convoys. – Squads have to be sorted in engaging and protective, engagement only if it is required.
Try to avoid choke points and roads which can be stitched with IEDs. In general, as long as the enemy presence is not overwhelming, have
the first squad in the convoy stop and deal with the enemy. Continue with the rest of the convoy with one squad behind Knight/Asset/protected vehicle pushing in front of it.
Once the squad has dealt with the enemy they re-attach to the convoy from the end. This ensures a rotation and nullifies any reason to hold the entire convoy
Blowing up stuff:
As this task involves swiftly dealing with enemies, planting the charges and hauling ass out of the area ASAP,
you want to send only one squad to deal with this. It really depends on the enemy presence in the area tho.
Again, different enemy strength need different amounts of squads. But in general you will need one squad OW the area and at least one squad pushing in.
Once the squads briefed their squads they will need clarification on the insertion. The easiest case is a TP pole, set up and ready. If the insertion is handled with MRAPs you will have to give a moving order (OoM) with your armored assets in mind. If the insertion is airborne you have to communicate with your FAC to order your squads into the given birds if the LZs are split.
The LR communications ensures that all squads can relay and receive information as fast and accurate as possible. Please refer to Kreeper’s amazing “Guide on Communication [refer link] to be up to date on it. Do not use LR for chatter.
The rules for SR in PltHQ are stricter than in a regular squad. These is based on the fact that you will have your FAC as well as your RTO on the SR net giving and receiving orders. They both are on constant LR comms with your assets, so refrain from using SR to chatter and keep that solely for direct chat. Same rules apply for the SR as for the LR as PltHQ. Be precise and short, it will make your FAC and RTOs life so much easier.
The speed and accuracy you will have to assess the map, is on a much higher scale than for a squad lead. For this please refer to one of the map-reading guides on the forum and train them as a SL and in the editor. Not only the squads, but also your assets accuracy is dependent on your map-markers. Keep natural covers in mind for your brief and in-mission orders!
The ground assets can only be as good as their positioning and flow of information. Though the initial setup for Knight and Mortar is usually done by platoonlead, following orders are handled through RTO. This means that you will have always at least two chains of information about your ground assets. - One from RTO himself which relays information from within the asset, the other from the squad(s) assigned to the asset. Based on these informations, your map reading skills and the ability to “see into the future” [refer to “Planning ahead”], you will give RTO specific orders for changes in the holding or attacking pattern of Knight. Be aware that Knight has specific needs to be perfectly operational and needs infantry support! The RTO and the crew should have a fair degree of freedom to adjust to situations on their end
Special Case: Knight in Convoys
Make sure that Knight is protected both front and rear, as well as strict commands on
clearing building which could inhabit enemy AT. The best approach is to rotate the squads (see Briefing: Convoy)
Similar to the ground assets all of your air is managed by your FAC. In this case the information from your squads is most likely limited to the position of enemy infantry, armor or air, while FAC provides you with current holding patterns and attack power. As with the RTO, FAC will handle all your needs of air if you provide him with information about LZs, Exfils, or enemy presence. He will give you an ETA to relay to your squads, which you will have to enforce. Air does not fare well on the ground, so keep your birds safe and up in the air! Air should and will not wait for your squads - Coordinate them! If you feel the squads are too far from LZs or are taking too long to get organized, don’t be afraid to get FAC to wave off the air assets for another approach if need be. Also FAC is securing his assets. Be aware that he might not give them free for tasking if it seems too dangerous!
Prophet will have mostly free reign over the positioning, they will update you with helpful information about the AO and take out especially harmful threats as mounted AA or static 50.cal.
Mortars are under direct command of RTO, who will require bombardment markers relayed by you from the squads.
The drone operator is part of the PltHQ squad. He will mostly be equipped with a Darter, scouting the AO and marking threats on the map.
He is your flying eye! Use him to see everything happening
Multi-tasking your platoon
Platoonleading is equal to multitasking on a higher scale. You will have to keep an eye on each of your squads and assets,
receive and re-evaluate information and give orders to make the mission a success and fun for everyone involved.
Sometimes three different squads will seek new orders. Be sure to have the entire AO with projected targets, enemy and friendly presence in your head.
If you are unclear about specific locations, ask for a SitRep from a squad close by. Information is your best friend!
Though you might think a plan different from the one you are currently pursuing might be suited better,
don’t switch around plans too much! Pulling squads around demands time and a lot of nerves from them!
Due to time pressing on you during the pre-mission brief and maybe still unknown factors you will not have the entirety of the mission planned out by the time the squads begin their mission.
Continue your plan once you are in the AO and update the map with markers adequately. Never forget to relay these informations to the squad.
Find suitable form-up points and OW-positions, redirect squads to other locations. If you receive information of squads being overwhelmed you will have to have squads already in mind as a reinforcements.
Move your assets as fit for them to be as effective as possible, but be aware of deficits. - Redirecting a squad from a OW point takes time, if you pull one away from a town,
there is a possible weak point in the defense. Always weigh in pros and cons whilst moving squads even before you have to move them.
Dealing with sudden changes
First thing to remember: NEVER PANIC! - Remember what you planned ahead! Just because a squad got ambushed you don’t need to pull of three squads from somewhere else! Assess the situation and deal with in logically and in order.
How long can the ambushed squad survive? Are they in cover?
How strong is the ambush? Mostly EI? Air? Armored vehicles? MBTs?
Which squads/assets are in vicinity?
Can the squad/assets successfully assist the ambushed squad?
Are there restrictions on the MSR? AA, AT, Emplacements?
What happens to the location the squad/assets currently is at?
Once you decide which squad/assets you send in you relay the information to both the ambushed as well as the reinforcing squad/asset. Give them an ETA and orders for once the ambush is dealt with. Obviously this sounds as it would take 5 minutes until you send in a reinforcement, but if you keep your planning up, this will happen almost immediately!
Sometimes the SLs don’t give any/enough information. Don’t be afraid to request a SITREP from them if you feel they might be in trouble, combat ineffective, or if they just don’t seem to be moving.
Playing Arma as PltHQ
There are a lot of ways to play Arma as PltHQ, but there are two most common ways to do this.
Setting up an PltHQ at the rear of friendly forces
This includes that you are mostly static. You will stay in one position for mostly the entirety of the mission with FAC, RTO and drone. It is an easy way for beginners and AOs which are spread out over a big area. You want to place yourself as strategic as possible, preferred on an elevated ground with lots of cover. Here you have to rely completely on information relayed to you and markers on the map as you will not see anything going on at all. Nonetheless it is a quiet and central position to make your plans and relay them. You always want to do missions like this!
Being a Combat PltHQ
As a combat platoon you will be just behind the squads, actively moving, and for the better or worse, encountering enemies! It is a fast paced way to play platoon as you have to mind your cover, your movement as well as your planning. Especially during defense, convoy and infiltrating missions there is no other way to do this. This method will give you a better sense of how the fight is going on, but planning while covering from incoming bullets and shells is WAY more stressful than sitting 2 clicks behind on a nice little hill. Be aware that everything you do, plan, relay and make up will take at least twice as long as it would take normally. Each time you need time to check the map you will have to find cover.