When moving as a squad moving in a formation is a good way to ensure that all squad/ team members are positioned in such as way as to provide both optimum protection and the ability to retaliate if the squad comes under fire. Essentially, formations are a way of preparing your squad for enemy fire, saving you time in the organisation of your men following contact with the enemy and ensuring minimum casualties in the event that the squad is attacked. There are a number of different formations which will be used
in different circumstances, depending on terrain, direction of travel, likely direction of enemy fire and overall risk of enemy contact.
A note about spacing: Regardless of what formation the squad is operating in at any given time, one overarching principle to remember is that of spacing. Every member of the squad/ team should be maintaining a reasonable
safe distance between him and his comrades on either side of him. This limits the lethal consequences of a suprise attack from either small arms or explosives such as IED's, mortar/ artillery strikes and grenades. If 3 men are stood within 2 meters of each other and a grenade lands amongst them, all 3 will likely be killed. If the same 3 men are stood 20m apart and a grenade lands near them, it is likely only 1 man will be killed/ wounded. Therefore is is vital to constantly maintain safe spacing between men, both during travel and when stopped. Spacing may be adapted according to local conditions or the leader's orders, for example in tight jungle spacing may have to be reduced to as little as 10m to maintain visual contact with one another, however in flat open desert spacing may be increased to as much as 100m. The general rule is that spacing should be kept as wide as possible, whilst still allowing both visual contact and communication to be maintained by every member of the element.
Column FormationEditThe column formation (also known as the 'Ranger File') is probably the most basic and easiest to maintain
formation that can be utilised by a squad/ team. This formation consists of the squad forming a single file column, with each member following one behind the other. The colum formation would most likely be used when the squad is either travelling between locations, moving through tight terrain which restricts movement (e.g. urban) or if enemy contact was expected from either flank.
An important rule to remember is that when moving in a
column every team member behind the pointman must copy the pace, direction
and actions of the man infront. Pace, direction, etc will be set by the
pointman. If the man infront of you stops and crouches, you must also stop
and crouch immediately, being sure to maintain spacing. This is vital as the
man infront may have spotted a hazard or a threat which you have yet to do
so and if you were to continue onward you may be injured or killed.
Another thing to remember when in a column is that you should tread in the
steps of the man in front of you. If the man infront is able to walk over
a patch of ground unscathed then you know this route is safe in terms of
being free of mines, IED's etc. If you choose to blaze a trail of your own,
stepping on previously untouched ground, you risk stepping on hazards that
the men ahead of you have missed.
A third rule when traveling in a colum formation (and in any formation to
an extent) is that it is important to remember not to simply walk with
your eyes fixed on the man in front of you. You should maintain awareness of
what the man in front of you is doing, however you should also be scanning
the surrounding area for potential threats. The pointman will watch the
180 degrees to the front of the column, each man behind him should watch
the 180 degrees to their left or right, alternating which side they watch.
The rear-most man is responsible for watching the 180 degrees to the rear
of the column, ensuring that no threats are approaching from behind.
(Note: The rear-most man should not walk backwards as this can afect pace
and also reduces awareness of the rest of the column's movements, however
the rear of the column should be checked by turning around or using free
look every few seconds).
Advantages and DisadvantagesEdit
-Easy to maintain formation. This formation simple requires squad members
to follow the man in front of them, copying his direction, pace and actions
(with the exception of the point man of course, who sets pace, direction etc).
-Easy to control the formation. As the formation is being led by a single man,
his actions alone can control the direction, pace etc of the formation, giving
a squad leader good control of the rest of his squad's movement.
-Good firing lines to the flanks. Whilst in this formation every single member
of the team will be able to fire to their left and right without risk of hitting
a team mate. This allows for good reaction to fire if contact comes from either
the left or right, with team members simply having to turn ninety degrees in the
appropraite direction before returning fire.
-Poor firing lines to front or rear. Since the squad is stacked up in single file
behind the pointman, this means that any team members behind the pointman cannot
fire forward for risk of hitting the men in front of them. This also applies to
firing backward towards the rear-most man. Therefore if contact comes from the
front of rear of the column, only 1 man will be able to immediately return fire
without hitting friendlies, the rest of the squad will have to move to either the
right or left of the column in order to safely return fire to the front or rear.
-Vulnerable to attack from the front. The fact that all team members are stacked up
in a single file also means that if fired upon from the front or rear, a single
shooter can inflict multiple casualties in a short space of time without having to
adjust his aim, as he/she can simple knock down each man in the column one after the