Picture by Aleyboy, public USMC2000 briefing Introduction: why should I try command roles?
Playing in a group as a command role turns Arma into a completely different game. Instead of just being a shooter, commanding mixes in elements of strategy and puzzle games in a format that isn't available in any other game.
Disclaimer: These are my personal thought processes, priorities and recommendations when approaching command roles, intended to give people an idea of what it’s like and why it’s worth trying. I'm not perfect and I don't even consider myself to be particularly good, but I hope these few tips will help break the ice for guys wondering whether they could be a commander. You could take a command role on the public server for your first try but I would highly recommend instead doing the training and taking 2IC on ops first. People who take command roles on public for their first time tend to get put off.
I will only be covering section command roles and not platoon or attachment command, as they all have the same fundamentals and I want to keep this as concise as possible.Airborne Infantry clear buildings, WW2 operation FREYA What do the command roles do? 2IC:
The 2IC is responsible for maintaining the section and keeping it in a condition to do whatever the IC needs to do. The 2IC’s most important job is resupplying his section from his backpack through the night, and then resupplying his backpack from supply crates where possible. His role also involves managing fire support, information (making sure everyone knows where the enemies/friendlies are) and occasionally unit placement/spacing. He is also responsible for setting up any secondary roles such as buddy teams, pointmen, first responders and 3IC’s should the mission require them.IC:
The IC, also known as the section commander, is responsible for the section’s placement and movement within the platoon. It’s his job to collate the information available from the situation as well as the other command roles, put the section in the best place available to them and relay the relevant information to the section so that they know enough to fight effectively or, in the worst case, continue after your death without needing a rebrief.Infantry set up security following a beach landing, Op SWIFT How can I start?
I recommend starting with 2ic on ops. It’s a structured game and gets easier through the night as everyone either adjusts to each other or dies, and it doesn’t have any of the extra game mechanics of the public server such as ammo/vehicle spawning, respawn management or hidden objectives. I find it to also be one of the most forgiving of command roles since, if you’re forgetting something such as ammo, people will remind you when they are getting low.
This will also get you familiar with telling people what to do and reading a situation without being at the front. When you transition to commanding a section you'll be nearer the front but will still want to avoid being in the line of fire much more than the rest of the section. It is also useful in teaching you how to use downtime.
I recommend 2ic on public once you feel comfortable on ops, it functions as a section commander until a section commander joins in. If you let everyone know in the section that you're still getting acquainted to commanding they'll accommodate and generally try and make life easier for you, just make sure they actually let you make the decisions. You don't have the same structure as on ops with set objectives and plays more like a patrol, but you can set objectives yourself by simply saying something like 'we're doing to village x and we'll check out each of the villages along the way'. Personally I just pick a direction and we visit each of the villages on the way, much the same thing but giving yourself an end goal gives you something to aim for. I wouldn’t really recommend command roles on Domination until you’re experienced across public insurgency/siege and ops.2IC Tips:
When under fire, you can work out where the enemy is by finding where they are not. If you can see 90% of the terrain and you know someone is hiding somewhere, he's probably in the 10%.
Secondary roles are often necessary, particularly on ops: 3IC
The 3IC is a backup command role designated to one of the regular section members. If a command role goes down it is the 3IC’s job to step up to 2IC. A stepup command role of some description is imperative when in any section of 4 people or more, even if you don’t have a 2IC or multiple fireteams. When picking a 3IC, try and pick someone you would trust to be a 2IC if the need arises. If possible, also try and pick someone in the fireteam who is most likely to lose their fireteam commander. For example, in a mission where close combat is more likely, charlie would be my preferred choosing ground for a 3IC as charlie will be in close quarters fighting often, putting the IC in the line of fire. However in a mission where ranged combat is expected, the 2IC will be exposed more to search for targets, meaning he’s more likely to go down and making delta the better place to look for a 3IC. This is a lower priority than choosing someone you trust to be able to command though, it simply saves confusion later on if people have to swap around fireteams mid-firefight.First responder
The first responder is the medical asset within the section, again designated to a standard member of the section. He does not gain any more supplies or training than anyone else, but ensures that there is someone dedicated to helping casualties. This is only useful if you expect both fireteams to be together throughout the mission, and has a high chance of failing and requiring additional personnel for treatment if you have two casualties at once. The other downside of a first responder is that other people will not always treat casualties as quickly if they think the first responder will get to them instead, so in situations where this doesn’t happen (split fireteams, first responder down) it can delay treatment. If you do choose to designate a first responder I recommend against choosing any suppression role like a machinegunner, as suppression is usually required in any situation that produces casualties.Pointman
Outside of modern the pointman needs to be designated manually. This is usually done by the IC but can be done by the 2IC as well if the IC is busy at the start of the mission. The pointman needs to be someone who can communicate and listen well as he will be the eyes, ears and sword of the section while moving or clearing, which makes up a large portion of most missions.Buddy teams
Buddy teams are commonly designated by the 2IC, and split the section down further into pairs that look out for each other within each fireteam. When designating buddy teams, make sure noone is left alone and make sure there are no pairs with one man from each fireteam. 3 man buddy teams are fine when there are 3 man fireteams. Buddy teams are useful when dealing with less experienced section members that don’t automatically look out for casualties, but I personally don't recommend them when brand new players are in the section as it adds a layer of confusion to an already complicated experience, as well as a point of failure and feeling of contempt if a new player loses his buddy because he didn’t magically keep up with everything going on. When dealing with buddy teams it’s also common for at least half a pair to be inexperienced with medical treatment, making the team severely hampered compared to the more basic 2 team structure.
A Chinook provides vital logistics support, public server Insurgency on Reshmaan Province I’ve waxed on and waxed off a few times as a 2IC, what’s next?
Once you’re comfortable with 2ICing in the structured environment of ops and ICing/2ICing in the freeform patrol style of public, you’re ready to try commanding a section on ops. By that point you’ll be able to deal with open ended or ambiguous situations, understand what the 2IC needs from you and work out what kind of terrain or tactics can work in your favour in different situations.IC tips:
One of the biggest additional tasks of a section commander is managing the long range radio. When the net gets hectic, try and remember that the 2IC is capable of taking a lot of slack off and you can lean on him. I’ve gone through several assaults as IC without doing anything but jogging alongside and occasionally calling out a change of direction because the long range was too cluttered to hear what was going on and I knew the 2IC was capable of handling the situation as long as he knew I was unable to do it myself.
When moving as a platoon it helps, especially when moving slowly, to look at the terrain and see what’s capable of hiding what. For example, on Chernarus there are many dips and undulations that can hide tanks and other large assets. Keeping an eye on these as you move past can let you react faster to situations. You can think about this the other way around as well, looking around for places you can put your own section in cover if you come under fire.
There are only a certain amount of things you can do with a section. Mounting a vehicle, bounding, suppressing and peeling are all examples of these. Each one has a use case and a success rate which is different depending on who is involved. Different actions are also known different amounts, for example everyone knows how to mount a vehicle with reasonable accuracy but a well executed peel is rare. As you gain experience in the game your ‘vocabulary’ of actions will grow and you’ll figure out what works and when, which is vital to all command roles.
When in combat, I find it useful to think of these actions in terms of how likely they are to produce casualties, and how well we would be able to deal with those casualties if something does happen (I also don’t consider actions such as peeling where people are less familiar with them unless I’m with people I trust to know it or we’ll die if we don’t try it). A high risk scenario would be rounding a blind corner in an area where enemies are expected, but if the point man does go down then the man behind him can drag him back quickly and he can receive treatment. Since the fallback for taking a casualty is fairly simple, we take this risk all the time. However, if this situation is modified it can change how viable it is. For example, if our pointman likes to sprint around every corner then he could go down in a place where we can’t reach him. This would make the action no longer viable since someone could go to drag him and get shot themselves, and the pointman would need to be told to go slower.
This works on a larger scale too. Clearing through buildings is fine as long as the infrastructure is in place to deal with a casualty, but if something happens and you no longer have 1 + 2 people (1 to check the corner, 1 to treat him if he goes down, 1 to keep security while he treats) for every group then you need to hold position until that can get sorted, or move at a much slower pace with much less risk if there are only two people left in the platoon.A Polish Motorised element provides suppressive fire support, public server Domination on Rosche Conclusion: You Will Fail, Get Over It
A lot of people hesitate to take command roles because they don’t want to fail. They see other people’s failures paraded around in TS and come to the conclusion that they don’t want a part of it. I’m saving my biggest point for last here, you’re wrong. If you move through the roles and practice:
- Gathering and acting on second hand information from the other command roles in the mission as well as your own section members,
- Widening and using your ‘vocabulary’ of actions.
You will never make a dumb decision, because a dumb decision is the product of not doing these things. You could be wrong, for example turning left instead of right and stepping on a buried IED, but as long as you put the thought in you will never have a reason to doubt your own decision making, either in the moment or after it.
You will fail objectives and missions, both as a section and as an individual, but it’s up to you to approach those failures with the realisation that the puzzle solving element of commanding doesn’t end once the game closes. Figuring out how you can improve and avoid past mistakes by modifying your attitude, priorities and general approach to different situations is one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of command roles in TWC, and it’s overlooked by many. It’s also something that I can’t teach you, as I’m far from having learned it myself. Good luck!