Tactical Briefing 02: Formations

by Chuck “Magnum” Ankenbauer


Series Introduction

Welcome to the second in a series of articles discussing different aspects of squad and team level virtual combat. All of this information is taken from real world sources and modified for gaming purposes.

If you have any interest in playing tactical shooters on either a next gen console and / or a personal computer then I hope this and subsequent articles will help you get the most out of your gaming. Sure, you can continue to play a shooter as a run and gun, you paid for it, but if you’re like me you prefer to play tactical shooters with an emphasis on tactics and teamwork. These articles are geared toward that type of gamer.

Before you can run, you need to learn to walk. Therefore the first couple of articles will be just basic information that most of you may already know.

– Magnum

Tactical Briefing 02: Formations


In today’s briefing we will be discussing the squad and fire team formations and when to use them. Of course we will also discuss when not to use them.


Formations are arrangements of elements and soldiers in relation to each other. Squads / fire teams use formations for control and security. Leaders choose formations based on their analysis of the different factors of the mission. Leaders are up front in formations. This allows the leader to lead by example, set the pace, and direct the action. All members of a fire team should be able to see their fire team leader at all times.

Column Formation

Column formations are also known as file formations because you are in a single file line behind the fire team leader. Column formations are usually used when the terrain is dense or full of vegetation. The column is the easiest to control because you simply follow the man in front of you, who is following the fire team leader. But the downside is that there is less flexibility in a column formation. It takes longer to get your men adjusted to a certain situation. The column formation is the least secure; you have fire capabilities on your left and right flanks but hardly any in the front or rear.

The best time to use a column formation is when you are pretty sure the area you are in is secured (in front of enemy lines) and you need to get from point A to point B quickly.

Column Formation

Staggered Column Formation

Staggered column is just a “sloppy” column formation. Every other man is slightly offset to the left or right and able to cover and see just a little bit more than in a column formation. If you’re in a desert or open area, then the staggered column could be more useful than the strait and narrow column formation.

Staggered Column Formation

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