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DocEast's Herding Cats---Squad Leader Concepts and Thoughts
By DocEast and 1 collaborators
The Squad Leader. The brains, motivation and direction of the Squad. It's a huge responsibility. Are you ready for it? This might help get you started!
Introduction and Foreword
DocEast's Herding Cats---Squad Leader Concepts and Thoughts
Steam Version 1
November 2016
PDF Version available here: http://forums.joinsquad.com/topic/24069-herding-cats-squad-leader-concepts-and-thoughts/

Hi, I'm DocEast, prior Squad League commentator and fellow community member! Ever since Squad came to Steam there has always been a constant desire for new Squad players to bare the burden and shoulder the huge responsibility of becoming a Squad Leader and unfortunately, never enough players it seems to teach them. So, since I am unable to provide the level of teaching I'd like to give everyone interested in SL'ing, I decided to cobble together this guide to assist both aspiring Squad Leads and Veteran Squad Leads alike. Drawing from military experience, Squad League matches I've analyzed and casted, years playing and SL'ing in Project Reality and countless hours as an SL in Squad stemming from the earliest days of the Closed Pre-Alpha (No Z-Trooper, don't think you'll ever catch me in a different role), I have condensed this guide of my thoughts, actions, considerations and how I generally approach any given moment while I'm stuck in Squad Lead La-La Land during a round. Sort of a guide and a glimpse into my mind and view through my eyes as I approach a round with a Squad of mouth breathing, knuckle dragging heathens who have a collective GT score of 6 in tow.

What this is, is a guide and approach to the concept of Squad Leading, I will not be diving deep into game mode mechanics in this version, this is meant to be an approach and overview to the SL as there are far too many strategies and tactics to any given scenario. As the SL, It will be up to you to make those judgement calls depending on the situation, I can merely just give you more tools to apply towards those situations. Also, the Squad Leader role is an advanced role. You should be no stranger to Squad and understand how other Squad roles operate as it is important to understand the other roles before starting your adventure as an SL. What this isn't, is not necessarily how you should Squad Lead, as how you approach and execute the role is ultimately your own and this guide is here to give ideas or to assist by giving you my approach to the role.

As of Version 1, this guide will only be focused towards Squad Leading in an infantry perspective. Future versions will be released over time as more aspects of Combined Arms come online in Squad. However, the thoughts and concepts within are not game mode or Alpha version specific and will be relevant to whatever situation you may encounter no matter the mode, game version, or dismounted or mounted. Also, I do not claim to be the be all end all of Squad, there are loads of other fellow community members who also are great references and provide information that may meet you more halfway in other subjects of the game guys like Cheesy_LeScrub and his tactical guide, Karmakut and many others. There are many other Veteran SLs out there in the community that are very approachable and always want to help, Z-Trooper, BLITZA, Torpor/Gobsin, Desmolocke, Bears329, RossyRaider to just name a few. Keep an eye out for them!

Intro to the Squad Leader
“Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of the men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory.” -George S.Patton

Imagine for a second. You blink and suddenly you're placed in the middle of the woods in an infantry squad with a group of random people from all over the world. None of you know each other and the enemy is nearby. What's worse is that they are coming your way. In the middle of the panic, do you succumb to groupthink? Letting the general consensus rule? Or do you all go your own way, shattered and picked off one by one, laughingly ineffective. Or, do you step up, take responsibility and organize and aim your group of random misfits in the direction of the enemy where they are weakest? We've all been in that situation at least once since we've first booted up Squad. No-one wants to take the Squad Lead position at the beginning of a round, or the Squad Lead leaves and no-one wants to step up and take the pivotal role. Whether you just decided to take a dive and go for it, and liked it, or just decided that you're ready for the next step in your Squad experience, good for you! You've taken the first step! Now to get you running!

Squad Leading, (or SL'ing) is a daunting role that not all are cut out for, the stress, the intensity, the responsibility; all things that understandably, keep a lot of players from assuming the role. Because of these obstacles, SL'ing is not something that can be quickly mastered, as it takes time, practice, frustration, wins and losses and especially experience to become proficient. However, those who take the leap and step up and put the time in, are in for some of the most intense and most satisfying experiences that Squad offers.

In order to truly understand the Squad Leader role, we must start with a simple question. What is a Squad Leader? What do they actually do? While the simple answer is obvious, the true answer is a little deeper than just, well he leads the Squad, is always super stressed, and can deploy stuff and place map markers. He is the direction, the motivation and the brains of the Squad and the sum of many parts, his squadmates being the most important. At the heart of what he does, he is responsible for and decides how to most effectively wield and direct his Squad against the enemy to achieve the desired outcome. Keep that in mind as you read this guide and constantly remind yourself that as you Squad Lead on active servers.

As you proceed through this guide, I will touch on many topics to include but not limited to essential SL qualities, pre-round considerations, and key ideas and concepts of movement, squad attack, and defend both on and off an objective. I will include many examples of scenarios using videos, pictures, explanations, etc. to convey topics to get you on the road to effectively leading a Squad of randoms from nothing, to a game changing, formidable force.
I. Squad Leader Qualities
"A Leader is a man who can adapt principles to circumstances." -George S. Patton

Squad Leader. Lets split the name in half. Squad, A group of Players who work together toward a common goal. Leader, someone who provides purpose, motivation, and direction to that Squad. A Leader isn't a Boss, he works alongside his squadmates gathers their collective strength and focuses them on accomplishing the task at hand. That being said, a leader must have some qualities that make him stand out and cause players to rally behind him and to come back to play with him round after round. Hopefully you've seen this type of SL and had a good time working with him, as it’s just as great to lead squad mates who are excited to run in your Squad round after round. As a general rule of thumb, your success at leading is immediately measurable, both in the general efficiency in keeping your Squad on task, and when those players stay on to get another round in with you. When you start seeing these things, you're on the right track. Lets get into some of these traits.
There are many ways to approach Leadership, many leadership styles. The best one you cultivate and groom yourself and works for you. However, when it comes down to it, that style needs to at a minimum, cater to the random public player, someone who is simply there to play the game, have a good time and not be treated like trash. That style needs to incorporate several key aspects to keep players both interested and motivated to listen to you and to continue playing with you while respectfully heeding your guidance.

As A Squad Leader:
  • Be Friendly
  • Be Approachable
  • Be Confident
  • Be A Role Model
  • Accept Criticism
  • Always Learn/Teach
  • Be an ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
  • Ignore Squadmates
  • Ignore the Team
  • Rudely Reject Ideas
  • Belittle Fellow Squad Leads
  • Belittle Squadmates
Remember, leading a squad of your best buds is one thing, but leading a squad of complete strangers is a different beast to tame. At any time, you will have to be herding them in the direction of the enemy and keeping them motivated to work under and alongside you during the round. This comes down to setting the environment and tone for your Squad that brings them back. Be friendly and approachable, players need to feel comfortable coming to you and bringing up an issue or a potential issue without worry about being chewed.

It’s daunting coming wide eyed into the SL role from the other roles for the first time. It’s a culture shock and an in your face experience as opposed to the rifleman or any other role. This shock will take some time to conquer and will be a very good confidence check. Squadmates feed on confidence. It may take some time for you to fully come into your own as the best way to build that confidence is time and experience in the role. Make decisions promptly and stick with them, even if they turn out badly, take a breath, keep moving forward and stay confident. Your Squadmates will follow suit and will appreciate it. You will also encounter the inevitable new player. Just as you were once, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, they’ll need mentoring. If you believe you’re advanced enough to attempt SL’ing, you can help them. Extend a hand!

Unfortunately, this is the internet. Not without its toxic players who do nothing but cause grief for others. It doesn’t matter why or how they do it however, what does matter is that they need to be dealt with accordingly. Whether they are just being generally disruptive or think they know the game better than you, it does not matter. Feedback is important and must be listened to and taken into consideration but spiteful feedback has no place amongst the squad. Remember, the kick option is there for a reason. However, that does not mean to go arbitrarily kicking everyone for anything. Be tactful, provide reasonable and justifiable reasons for it, be fair and be open about it. It takes the wind out of their sails when it’s brought up amongst a Squad and legitimate reasons are given.

At the end of the day you are nothing without your Squad, and without you, your Squad is nothing. Remember you are not the all seeing, all knowing god of the round. Treat your Squadmates fairly and like actual human beings looking to play the game just as you are. That said, you are directly and indirectly an ambassador and tour guide for the game and community, whether you like it or not. Being such a large role in a player’s experience gives the average brand new Squad mate cause to draw conclusions to the game and community as a whole. We've all heard it and experienced it, brand new players getting a terrible, toxic squad leader and getting a bad taste in their mouth for the game immediately as opposed to the brand new player who is welcomed by a friendly and respectful SL. The differences in initial experience are huge and the evidence can be found in almost any post about first impressions on the official Squad forums and the Reddit forums.
First and foremost, Communication is BY FAR the most important of a SLs qualities and a core of the game itself. It isn’t just important. It's absolutely demanded to get anything done and to perform at all as an SL. We'll hit it hard in this section.

Straight away, and obviously, please have a microphone. You simply cannot be considering to make an attempt to lead without one. It’s nigh impossible to effectively lead a Squad let alone operate in one without one. With things as fluid as they are as the SL, you simply won’t have the time to type heads up in the time that RPG takes in flight to wipe half your squad. Squad is rife with the typical player who decides to run into the game without a mic and the end result is the same, either it’s near impossible to play effectively or you’re chastised by the squad and/or kicked by the Squad Leader or any combination of the two.

Communication, whilst it may seem easy to most and an easy concept to grasp, still comes with its own learning curve. Especially when it comes to the dynamics of the Squad Leader. As the SL, your Squad and your team are relying upon you to convey messages quickly and clearly in order to direct them. In order to do this and to avoid much unnecessary communications cluttering up the net and confusing players, stop, take a breath and think about what you’re going to transmit over comms and then apply these three basic rules to your message. Keep communication Simple, Clear and Concise to avoid confusion and to quickly pass the message.

Within a squad, communication travels two ways. Both up and down the chain of command. From the basic local level comms, all the way to inter-SL comms. Knowing the difference between the three as well as knowing what and how to efficiently pass that information up and down that chain alone is as potent and dangerous to the enemy as any whole squad worth of firepower.

SL Net: Squad Lead Net dedicated to inter-SL communications. Information discussed here should be about planning, Squad level movements, Squad level threats and warnings.

Squad Net: Squad Net dedicated to inter-Squad communications. Information here should be kept as clear and concise as possible by your Squadmates as dealing with SL Net as well as Squad Net can be very stressful. This is also the quickest way to communicate to your entire Squad especially over distance. Be prepared to have your Squad Clear Comms so you can hear info from higher.

Local Comms: Information at the Squad level should be kept here as much as possible unless the situation dictates otherwise. Your Squad shouldn't too often have to get outside of Local comms range.

Information should be passed up and down this chain where appropriate. For example, it’s appropriate to pass information of friendly squad positions and movements and what they’re encountering down to your squadmates. Not only will this give them better Situational Awareness and understanding to what and why your squad is doing what you’re doing, but your squadmates will appreciate the effort. Whilst it’s inappropriate to pass information of your AR’s position to a Squad leader who’s across the map and has nothing to do with him. Keep information relevant.

    Communication Tips:
  • Keep your Squadmates Informed! Regularly update them on battlefield conditions.
  • Keep your Squad Leads Informed! Update them on enemy movement or potential enemy movement/plans/positions/where they can attack etc.
  • Remember, SIMPLE, CLEAR, CONCISE. The mantra of everything in Squad.
  • Keep information brief and relevant! You dont need to hear about how good a Squadmates sandwich is in the middle of a fight.
  • Dont be afraid to tell your Squad to clear comms. If you are getting an overflow of information from everyone, stop and take it one at a time. Accurate information is better than small pieces of innaccurate information.
  • Think your transmission through before broadcasting. Does it make sense? is it clear?

Communication can be a tough animal to master. Practice. Practice. Practice. Is the only way to truly pick up and wield those keys and larynx’s as weapons. Remember to slow down, Think of what you’re going to say, make sure it’s relevant to the situation and make the broadcast short, to the point, and understandable. Keep your Squadmates informed and make sure they keep you informed. Use every one of them as a sensor, constantly sending up information and you will begin seeing more results both at the Squad level and Team level.
Situational Awareness
What is Situational Awareness (SA)? How does it apply to your Squad? It's exactly the way it sounds like it means. Being aware at all times of your surroundings. Both your immediate surroundings at the squad and individual level as well as the team level. You need to be constantly observing and identifying strengths and weaknesses of your position and where the enemy may be.

    SA Tips:
  • Be aware of your immediate surroundings
  • Your Squadmates aren't just extra firepower, they're eyes, utilize them
  • Your Squadmates need to know whats going on around the battlefield, the more informed they are, the more informed you are.
  • Be aware of terrain, cover or concealment the enemy may use against you at all times
  • Be aware of terrain, cover or concealment you may use against your enemy at any given time
  • Always be tracking the location of friendly Squads
  • Live in your map, you're responsible for knowing whats going on in the big picture
    Take Note @1:00:
  • The crazy proximity, yet they had no clue.
  • Immediately identified enemy
  • Squadmates immediately confirmed enemy
  • Being aware of potential enemy movement and movement routes

Initiative, Flexibility and Multitasking
"A fast moving environment can evolve more quickly than a complex plan can be adapted to it. By the time you have adapted, the target has changed." -Carl Von Clausewitz

As a Squad Leader, Squad is a thinking man’s game where critical thinking, problem solving, that requires you to be able to adapt to many different situations while under immense pressure. But that’s why you are choosing the role right? Being just a cog in the machine is one thing, but being the brains and driver of that machine is an entirely different beast. To operate successfully at that level, you need to both have a sense of initiative and be flexible. Constantly be aware of your surroundings and always be ready to shift your Squad to the enemy as they move throughout the field.

The SL role is a very stressful position. It's completely obvious. Alot of that stress comes from the requirement of needing to multitask. The amount of information thats shot your way can be overwhelming at times. Take information one piece at a time if you need too and slowly try to take on more than one as you feel comfortable. Before long, you will be able to juggle information and tasks efficiently.

"A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week." -George S. Patton

Stay aggressive. The moment you identify a weakness, or an option that may provide you an advantage over your enemy, seize it. Majority of the public firefights I've seen will see Squad Leaders content with staying in a fixed position as they engage, keeping their Squad down and firing at anything that moves. While this is somewhat effective in its own way, its weakness is one thing its fixed. Be aggressive, identify that and begin moving your Squadmates and calling out orders immediately and clearly. Make the decisions that he's not willing to worry about making and watch your Squad become a real force.

  • Slow Down. Don't be afraid to take a moment, and think things through one at a time.
  • Stay Calm. Keep a level head about you when everyone else is losing theirs. Make your decisions calmly and collected.
  • Be ready and looking for chances to take the advantage on an enemy.
  • Move fast and commit. Don't hesitate on making a decision!
  • Explain to your Squad as often as possible the reason they are doing what they're doing.
  • Always be willing to stop what you're doing if it isnt important and divert your Squad to assist somewhere else if need be.
  • Regularly think of what you're doing as a Squad. Is it important? You may be needed somewhere else at a moments notice. Be ready to accomodate this.

    Take Note:
  • The immediate fire onto the enemy.
  • The time between the first few shots and the decision to rush the enemy.
  • Being that close and with little options, the massive amount of fire, followed by a sudden rush put the enemy entirely off balance.
II. Approaching A Round
"Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win." -Sun Tzu

Two of my favorite adages are if you fail to plan, you plan to fail and the first casualty of any firefight is the plan. Planning and setting your squad and your team up in the time preceding a round is essential. It's your opportunity to plan amongst your fellow squad leads as well as setting the all important standard amongst your squad before the round starts, their rules of engagement (ROE), actions before and on contact, the roles you want in the squad, what your squad’s role will be during the round, and what your fellow squads will be doing throughout the round. In the following sections we will touch on this all important phase of a round.
Squad Structure and ROE
Let's break it down to the simple parts. Your squad is made up of players, those players will choose roles based off either their availability, or their desire to serve that role. This is where your prior experience within those roles come into play. You'll constantly be required to be aware of what roles you have and how to best apply those roles to situations you may see on the battlefield. For example, applying an Automatic Rifleman to put fire on an enemy squad to allow your squad to move.

As soon as you create your Squad, begin sizing up your squadmates, their strengths and weaknesses. Identify the experience of each player during the pre-round phase. This judgement will give you an idea of how effective you'll be when moving throughout the battlefield as brand new players to Squad wont be able to handle complex orders as well as veterans to the game. For example, a squad of brand new players will require a little more supervision and reminding to stay on task as opposed to a squad of grizzled Squad OG Closed Pre-Alpha vets. Remember that Veteran Squad players will be of massive help to both you and the new players. Both helping you steer everyone in the right direction as well as keeping the green players in check. Lean on them. Also Identify how communicative your squad is. Do they have microphones?

This is the time to lay basic rules for your Squad. Remind your Squad of what you will be doing throughout the round and what will be expected of them throughout. For example, directing them where to spawn, stay with the SL, stay with the rest of the Squad, maintain some kind of interval so no explosives wipe you, etc. Keep that baseline throughout the round and constantly remind your Squad.

Think back to the breakdown of what the SL does, figures out how to most effectively wield the squad to accomplish a mission. In order to do that you need to be aware of the role you are going to play for the team during the round and what you will need to perform that role. This means what tools will you bring with your Squad to do that. Ensure you have all that you need prior to starting the round and periodically check to see if those roles are still being filled.
    Light Anti-Tank
  • For use as anti-light vehicle, and anti-fortified position attack/defense
  • Utilize to initiate an ambush, assist in assaulting a very defended position
  • Fantastic weapon for enemy Squads moving through open areas.
  • Remind LAT gunner to have weapon ready before vehicles move into range.

  • For use in employing quick indirect fire on an enemy and forcing an enemy to move/scatter.
  • Utilize to initiate an ambush and enemy squads, assist in assaulting defended positions
  • 40mm Grenades are great for flushing out super FOBs and quickly decimating Squads in the open.
    Automatic Rifleman
  • For suppressing the enemy. One of the most important classes, commonly not played to strength.
  • Utilize to immobilize an enemy through copious fire hindering their movement, allowing your Squad to fix and flank the enemy.
  • Remind your AR to dump rounds in enemy positions. The more fire, the more blind the enemy.
  • One of the most important classes, capable of reviving and healing players, keeping them in the fight. Protect them!
  • Utilize your medics carefully, remind them to stay near the back of the Squad as you move. Remember to lay down fire as they move to revive Squadmates.

  • For use in engaging enemy outside of normal Squad range, or to provide precise fire on an enemy.
  • The bane of most SL's is players grabbing this kit and going off to play Chris Kyle on the other side of the map. Remind them to keep close and actually work with the Squad.

  • Basic fighting role. Most flexible.
  • Use your rifleman to augment your special role players and to be the main force when flanking and assaulting positions.

Set the standards. Set the Rules Of Engagement of your Squad and ensure that they understand what their left and right limits are. They need to understand what to do when contact happens. Establish by name your special kit holders and what they are to do when enemy contact is initiated or even before.

    ROE Tips:
  • At first opportunity, brief this to your Squad. Let them know what they should do on first visual of enemy.
  • Regularly remind your Squad of the ROE and your intentions during a round. Public players will appreciate the guidance.
  • Depending on the circumstances, change your ROE. Sometimes you will be needing to approach an objective silent and unseen, other times you may need to go in as loud as possible.
  • Identify what your Squads objectives are and manipulate your ROE as appropriate to the task.

Before you guys step off and between your main and your first objective, rehash the plans and everyone’s roles and what they are to do. Be sure from time to time to re-iterate these rules to ensure everyone is always on the same sheet of music. For example,

"Alright guys here's what’s going on, Squad 2 is taking Nilrem Village, Squad 3 is pushing to Storage and we're taking the first flag at train yard and then pushing up to support Squad 3. Keep your eyes open and call up enemy when you see them. Don't engage unless they engage first or if you’re right on top of them, I'd like to maneuever on them, get them where we want them and catch them by surprise first. If we start taking fire, I want everyone to immediately start putting fire in their general direction, even if you don’t see precisely where the fire is coming from, light it up. Medics stay in back, AR and Grenadier, be ready to bring the pain if they decide to fight us. Let’s go get these guys."

    Take Note:
  • Keeping the Squad close to maximize the amount of options when the fun starts.
  • Regular reminders of orders and ROE
  • Squadmates effectively passing information around the Squad, giving me plenty of SA to organize an ambush.

Keep your Squadmates on a leash of sorts. Reguarly remind them what they can and cannot do especially in a situation like the above. Continually issue orders and continually remind Squadmates and your experiences as a Squad will be amazing.
Planning and Understanding Maps
"in preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible." -Dwight D. Eisenhower

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I'm not talking about a full blown OPORD here as the parallels between Squad gameplay and IRL planning aren’t always clear. However, establishing plans both among your Squad and Team and how they both incorporate each other whether you spend a few seconds or a few minutes and have a quick conversation with your fellow squad mates can mean all the difference in the outcome of a round. In order to do this effectively, some forethought needs to be applied before you even spawn and then continued throughout the round.

Planning in Squad as well as in real life warfare is an ever evolving process. WIth the speed in which the battlefield changes, plans must also change. Constantly morphing and evolving as both sides vie for control and denial of positions. As you begin the round and throughout the round stop and ask yourself these questions. At first, asking yourself these things so often may be a bit daunting. But over time, this will become natural and you will be doing it without even noticing.

    Think of these things:
  • Whats your overall goal? Taking Storage Site? Nilrem Village?
  • Analyze the situation around you. Is a sister Squad taking that objective? Is the enemy taking that objective?
  • What can you do to take or defend that point? Lock down a position just outside of it on ridgeline?
  • Can you incorporate yourself within another Squads attack or defense on that point? Or do you need another Squad to support yours?
  • Identify any possible obstacles, cover, concealment, avenues of approach and fields of fire you may use and the enemy can use.
  • Be aware of what the enemy consists of. Do they have armor or vehicles to worry about? Where can you expect to first make contact with them?

As a player advanced enough to believe you're ready to Squad Lead, you should be completely familiar with maps and grid coordinates. ensure you're using them and map markers to update your fellow SL's and Squadmates to movement and enemies.

Essentially, understanding and being familiar with maps will ultimately only come with time and experience playing both the maps and the game modes. However, this doesn’t mean that you are unable to have any forethought towards the strategy of the round. Remember to take note of the layer and the objectives and the dynamics surrounding them, attacking and defense positions and terrain respectively.
III. Tactical/Strategic Considerations
"The expert in battle seeks his victory from strategic advantage and does not demand it from his men." -Sun Tzu

Combat in Squad can be summed up in 3 aspects. Communication, Terrain, and the actual firefight. Each one dependent on the other and equally as important as the other. How you communicate affects how you utilize terrain and how you utilize terrain determines how you engage, or any combination thereof.

Before we get into the meat of this topic remember, this is not an exact replica verbatim of Battle Drill 1A, as there are instances where in-game and IRL tactics parallel and at other times, do not and are not applicable to the game. (You won’t be sending back aid and litter teams or EPW teams for example.)

Begin applying the traits and concepts from the previous topics, as the basic thoughts and tactics I will discuss will be a simple base and concept to apply to general situations. I will not be able to give plans for every possible scenario as we can play the what if game all day. Thats where you'll need the communication, flexibility, initiative and SA to succeed as no two firefights are the same but they are all similar at their core.
Terrain Considerations
Terrain. Oh Terrain. The often misunderstood, misused, and frankly, at times completely ignored aspect of Squad. Just as useful and important as the weapons you engage the enemy with. Too many times have I witnessed, both in Squad League matches, Clan matches and especially public matches the complete under utilization of terrain when moving, attacking and defending.


    Terrain Tips:
  • Utilize Defilade: The protection of forces from enemy observation or gunfire. For example moving up the opposite side of a ridge from an objective, out of enemy sight.
  • Be aware of concealment and cover.
  • Identify BEFORE you approach or move what terrain that will benefit you.
  • Identify key terrain around objectives, hills, ridgelines, ditches, riverbeds, etc.

As you approach and during your planning time before the round, identify positions and locations that will be key in attack, defending, and manuevering throughout the map. Positions like defensible terrain or terrain that will allow you to approach an enemy location with the maximum concealment, cover, and defilade from them.

    Take Note:
  • Being aware of potential enemy movement and flank on the high ground and pushing 2-3 Squadmates to that position IOT to mitigate this.
  • Constant communication amongst Squad and SL's
  • Effective use of defilade on approach to the enemy FOB
  • The holding of Key Terrain outside of an objective with clear sight lines on enemy approaches, effectively halting movement into the cap and allowing for a quick rush into the cap in case the enemy is in the cap.
  • Positioning Squad on terrain features that provide the best visibility and safety.
Terrain: Common Mistakes
People are lazy. They tend to look for and capitalize upon the easiest and fastest route to get to things, especially when adrenaline starts pumping and thrill of the firefight kick in. Even more so for pumped up SL's just trying to shepherd their squad in the correct direction. Often times, players and SL's will blatantly sacrifice concealment and cover just to make 30 second sprint across a wide open field with hills all around when a safe and concealed 1 minute trek around the outskirts of the field, although longer, can be done without placing you and your Squad in unnecessary risk. The same also goes for general movement to objectives.

The SL that both realizes and acts on this faster than the enemy SL, will have the advantage almost every time. The SL that is aware of how enemy squads and players move around the map and can easily exploit the enemy team for doing so, is the SL that becomes scary effective at denying the enemy team any kind of movement, and therefore, the winning of the round.

    Some Common Mistakes/Opportunities :)
  • Skylining: Running on the edge of a ridgeline, directly exposing your sillouhette against the sky to anyone, making yourself an easy target and easily spotted.
  • Beelining: When moving in straight lines across the map to save time with no interest in cover or concealment i.e. an open field with concealment all around, running straight through the open to save time. See also, Pea Brain.
  • Failure to use terrain to Conceal movement.

    Take note:
  • Cover and concealment options for the enemy
  • Enemy individual spacing
  • Enemy completely unaware
  • Waiting until Squad aquire's the target before engaging
  • Friendly Squad's position in concealment
  • Enemy completely happy about their getting schwacked :D

    Take note @0:25:
  • Cover and concealment options for the enemy
  • Enemy disregarding their own safety for a "quick" jog with no cover for the sake of convienience
  • Scanning for others making same mistake
  • Friendly Squad's position in concealment and movement to stop the flow of more
Be a step ahead of that enemy SL. Be aware ahead of time of the terrain around you at all times. Be aware of your next move before you need to make it. Take your time and use terrain, and utilize defilade, keep it between you and the enemy.
Battle Rhythm and Actions On Contact
SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! The first 3 rounds past your head is just the momentary prologue to a cacophony of hate and explosives about to be hurled in your Squads direction. You're the SL right? You're responsible for this, the identification, gathering of strength (i.e. your Squad) and the quick and swift return of fire and hate. So what do you do?? This is what Its all about, the time that will really make or break an SL, a time full of stress, intensity, critical decisions, and a flurry of information that if not acted on immediately, may mean defeat. It always happens quickly, and more often than not, the initial 5 seconds of any firefight can quickly and harshly decide the outcome of the entire fight. Engaging or actions on contact, or whatever other way you want to describe it is a fast and furious animal that demands ALL of your attention and capacity to multitask and think critically. But, it's is easily traversed by simply following a mantra.

Immediately take up the nearest cover and return fire in the direction of the enemy contact. Immediately communicate the direction and distance of the fire and direct your Squad to engage. Determine whether or not you must move the squad out of the engagement area. Determine if you can gain suppressive fire. Make an assessment of the situation, is the enemy in a location that is superior to yours? Can you maneuver effectively? Determine and communicate the Location of the enemy, Size of the enemy and their capabilities (any vics,ARs,IDF) Vulnerable flanks, Take note of any possible covered and concealed flanking routes to the enemy. After quickly sizing all this up, identify your course of action i.e. Flank, break contact. Eventually, as the mechanics come online in Squad, Call for and adjust indirect fire and EXECUTE IT. DO NOT stop and deliberate. As I said, the 1st 5 seconds of a fight will often decide the victor, once you have a plan, make the decision and COMMIT. The Squad who seizes that initiative, will almost always end up in an advantageous position.
    Tips on Initiating/Actions on Contact
  • Identify whats engaging, where it's engaging from, how far, and communicate that to your Squad
  • Be aware of potential enemy routes of movement before you move through an area
  • Make quick decisions and stick with them, don't second guess yourself after you've committed to something. Follow through.
  • Be ACTIVE not REACTIVE during a fight. Don't let the enemy SL make moves you need to defend from in the first place.
  • If engaged first, direct your ENTIRE Squad to return fire in the direction of the enemy, regardless if they dont see exactly where the enemy is. Too often do Squadmates neglect to do this.
  • Direct your AR and grenadier to immediately lay the hate on the enemy. Utilize these two kits as much as possible.

One thing I constantly see on any given server is the idea among SL's that when engaged, you must constantly attack until either A: You win through attrition or B: Your Squad is absolutely decimated. Remember, your responsibility is to your Squad, keeping them an effective force. Thats impossible if you dont have their tickets worth in mind. KEEP THEM ALIVE. If an attack isnt going well or you're caught off guard by an enemy who has superior numbers or a superior position, maybe theres something you can be doing different besides throwing your squad and tickets at the enemy for them to farm. Stop, think about the fight, think about whats around you and disengage if need be. Cut your losses, re-organize your Squad, find a weak spot and exploit it. The sooner you do, the more effective you'll become. Let's touch on it a little.


Disengaging or Breaking Contact is something you must always have in the back of your mind at the start of any engagement. It follows a simple process, If you've identified that the force you are going against has a decisive advantage on you or if you must fall back to ensure the survival of your Squad. Identify the need to fall back and Immediately communicate it to your Squad. Identify a safe direction to fall back towards and communicate it to your Squad (Always be aware of this need) Employ smoke and AR/Grenadier fire in the direction of contact to conceal your movements and disengage quickly whilst returning fire. Reconsolidate your Squad at your identified rally point.
    Tips on Breaking Contact/Disengaging
  • Disengaging is NOT necessarily a defeat, simply choosing to fight the enemy where YOU want.
  • Be aware of and dedicate a location or direction to move BEFORE the need to disengage arises.
  • Gauge the pressure you are pushing and how much the enemy is pushing onto you.
  • Once you disengage, commit to it, get your Squad back together quickly
  • As you disengage, begin assessing your next move, attack? Start looking for options. Retreat? Don't do that! :D

    Take Note Breaking Contact @ 1:10
  • Identifying the need to disengage
  • Immedate concealment of the Squad
  • Manuevering Squad to disengage and consolidate
  • Notifying Friendly Squads of the situation and asking for help.
  • Gathering Squad at an assigned rally point (does not have to be an ACTUAL rally, just somewhere to consolodate)
    Take Note Actions on Contact @ 7:00
  • Identifying the Friendly Squad and maintaining comms
  • Immedate assessment from the friendly Squad passed and course of action identified.
  • Manuevering Squad to engage whilst employing class abilities to multiply Squad effectiveness
Squad Movement
Getting from Point A to Point B. Easy right? Sure it is, but you can essentially only do it one of two ways. The dangerous/easy/fast way or the deliberate/safe/slow way. Both ways are plausible ways to maneuver your Squad. However, its the current situation that dictates what way you choose to move your Squad.

When beginning any kind of movement, open your map. Take note of your position, the locations of your Squadmates, the terrain around you, and the possible danger areas that your Squad may encounter moving from one point to another. Be aware of where the enemy may be moving and whether or not you have the possibility to engage them enroute as you may be able to beat an enemy to a key terrain feature and set an ambush.

    Take note:
  • Utilizing a small ditch lined with foliage to manuever.
  • Staying concealed as long as possible, keep the enemy guessing your Squads position.
  • Be prepared for the enemy to have the same idea.

    Movement Tips
  • Take note of terrain features that are key to you and the enemy both
  • Stay concealed, even if it takes a little longer, utilize terrain features to mask your approach to the enemy.
  • Don't take unnecessary risks moving your Squad through a danger area that is easily avoided.
  • Clearings and open fields should be avoided like the plague, unless absolutely necessary.
  • Constantly remind your Squad to stay low and avoid revealing themselves.
  • Explain to your Squad the importance of utilizing terrain and concealment since you may be going a little out of your way to the objective.

    Take Note @ 3:20:
  • Looking for terrain to exploit against the enemy.
  • Funneling the Squad down and around the objective completely unbeknownst to the enemy.
Objective Attack/Defense
The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable. – Sun Tzu

Ok, so you've moved your Squad across the battlefield. Now what? Throw your Squad directly into the fray? ABSOLUTELY. However, there is the brash, sloppy way, and the intelligent way. The same rings true with organizing a defense. We'll touch on it here.

Attack an Objective? Simple! Most will say. We'll just throw our entire Squad straight across this open field. Straight into a well entrenched enemy who is usually unaware of the best ways to approach their position that they wont see coming but we'll get our entire Squad wiped rushing directly into the objective full YOLO. As you approach, live in your map, identify and utilize terrain and concealment to mask your movements until you are ready and in a good position. If you begin to take too heavy losses or face heavy resistance, continually running to your deaths might not be a good idea. Disengage and begin probing for another way to approach.

    Objective Attack Tips
  • Identify terrain around cap points that will allow you safer approach to an objective
  • Be well aware of the cover and concealment
  • Do NOT telegraph your presence to the enemy until you are ready. Stay hidden while moving.
  • Be aware of where they may be massing to prepare for you.
  • Be fluid. Water in a stream against a rock slides around it and finds a way right? Same concept here, if resistance is too heavy, shift, find another way in.
  • If initiating contact, initiate with the most casualty producing and most effective weapons to suppress, AR, Grenadier, LAT.

    Take Note:
  • Communication with fellow Squad Leads to cover their advance
  • Identifying, communicating, and shifting fire and Squadmates to flex where the enemy moves.
  • Limiting enemy movement by drawing their fire and suppressing them, allowing for a friendly squad to approach and take the objective.


Defend an objective? Easy! Some might say. I'll just park my entire squad in this single room here in the point and then wonder why the enemy is able to get in and either A:Cap the point just by sticking their collective toes in range, B: Lob a single nade, kill your entire Squad and cap the point, or C:Both. You'll see Public Squads regularly do this when in reality, an objectives defense relys on what terrain is directly outside the actual cap point and how its held. Its a simple idea, if you keep the enemy from getting anywhere near the point to begin with, you defend the objective without having to go toe to toe in a phonebooth so to speak.

    Objective Defense Tips
  • Identify terrain around cap points that will better facilitate a defense.
  • Note cover, concealment, routes for you and the enemy to approach/hold.
  • Check your map, where might the enemy be coming from? Adjust your Squad accordingly.
  • Assume the enemy will think like you, be ready to shift as they try to shift to find your weaknesses.
  • Deliberately place your Squad in cover and concealment directly in the enemy's route or if a better position is available overlooking it and wait.
  • Patience. Keep your Squad in close, let them come to you.

    Take Note:
  • Communication with fellow Squad Leads to coordinate the defense
  • Identifying, communicating, and shifting fire and Squadmates to flex where the enemy moves.
  • Limiting enemy movement through approaches to the Objective kept the enemy from getting near the point to begin with.

IV. Logistical Considerations

You need to not only fight but more importantly, be able to continue it right? To do that you need to manage your spawn capabilities and be responsible for understanding when and where it's needed and when to worry about its safety. From both Rally Points to FOBs, you need to understand how important they are when it comes to both attacking and defending objectives.
FOB/Rally Point Thoughts
FOBs and Rally Points. Things that your lazy inclined Squadmates will ask you for when you're no more than 30 meters from main at the start of a round. (looking at you bears329 and torpor) These Squad Leader placed keys to success are a cornerstone of the role and as such, also must be thought of in both a tactical and strategic way.

Rally Points should be utilized to quickly spawn your Squad on a strategic and tactical location. Choose a position that you can quickly get into the fight without the enemy getting to close to destroy it. Also, as a backup, place your Rally Point as a sort of auxiliary FOB, spaced off a bit away from it and only spawned on if your FOB is discovered and under attack. Giving you the ability to mount a FOB defense from another direction the enemy may not be expecting.

FOB's a very important resource and should not be placed carelessly and squandered. A major blunder in FOB placement is being placed directly in the path of enemy movement. Avoid this when at all possible. If you are moving to place one, its FAR easier to take extra time and place it away from a cap point rather than in it, turning the point into a ticket/meat grinder, or in a bad position, or in the path of enemy movement.

    Rally Point/FOB Tips:
  • Take note of the location. Is it directly in the travel route of the enemy? How easy is it for them to locate?
  • If you're defending a point, and constant pressure seems to be originating from one direction, chances are their is a FOB. If its a several minute push and then nothing, its probably a Rally Point.
  • Take care to place it in a location thats within defilade and of a strategic position from a cap point.
  • Try not to place a FOB within or too close to a cap point
  • If a FOB is threatened, immediately divert to defend it or tear it down if necessary.

    Take Note:
  • The position of the FOB was directly in the avenue of approach to the next cap point, making it easily located.
  • The super FOB'ing of the point locked the enemy into both a limited field of fiew along with drawing their attention away from an entire Squad coming up behind them.
  • Note the approach that was taken to the FOB. Deliberately out of sight.
V. Vehicles, Squads, and the Squad Leader

VI. Specialty Squads

VII. Conclusion/Future Expansion/Thanks
Hopefully you were able to glean at least a little information from this novel of a write up!

As Squad comes more of age and as more features and mechanics are added, I will be updating this guide in the future. Especially as more SL tools come online! Expect things that are missing or short to be updated when im available to. Look for updates on this progress on r/joinsquad and the official Squad Forums!

More to follow! :D

Special Thanks:
Offworld Industries
Squad Community
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[12thVA] WEST Sep 17, 2021 @ 11:13am 
i see nutdessa is also a person of culture
Odessa ♡ Apr 9, 2019 @ 6:29pm 
sexy guide
EncartaCDROMBoxset Dec 9, 2017 @ 9:37am 
Really good writeup, but looks like a the YouTube links might be dead. Viewing the guide via Steam, trying to load a clip freezes the app, and viewing the guide on Chrome, the embedded videos don't appear on the page at all.
Nossa30 Aug 8, 2017 @ 8:07am 
The SL kit, the most difficult and most rewarding kit in the game. A kit so important it truly does deserve its own guide and this is the best one I've read so far. I constantly looking to improve my leadership skills and this guide should be the defacto standard.

As an experienced SL, everything in this guide is so spot on and is certainly representative of a very senior veteran of the SL kit. There is something that feels good about taking the kit nobody wants, but everyone needs.
embecmom Mar 13, 2017 @ 5:41am 
also dont micro manage every movement you need to let your squad breathe a bit...
embecmom Mar 13, 2017 @ 5:37am 
nice write up .. lot of people should read this that want to SL in the game

other pointers:-

situational awareness use of map is a must.. take cover when doing so.

Retreat is no bad thing... I like to send out a couple up front to scout then bring them back and draw enemies into the rest of the squad.

Dont rush back into contact in exactly the same place you have just been wiped out.... so many SLs do this.. funnily enough you end up witht he same result.

if your not superfobbing dont build sandbags around your fob area.. although this is going to be obsolete in the next patch with the spawn and fob point.

Dont leave your rally in the same place as a fob.. if fob found your rally will be too.

Be ready to explain your decisions to your squad... there are a lot of back seat SLs who never SL but tell everyone else how to do it... so be prepared to explain your decisions, and take responsibility when they go wrong.. nothing bad about saying you screwed up.

DocEast  [author] Mar 8, 2017 @ 1:05pm 
Fox Mar 3, 2017 @ 7:49pm 
FAJLLEX Jan 14, 2017 @ 2:10am 
I want the honor to play with you