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.
The line formation consists of all members of the squad/ team standing side by side (i.e. shoulder
to shoulder) facing the same direction. Essentially the line in a column but with all squad
members having turned through 90 degreess in the same direction, either left or right.
In order to maintain this formation each squad member must ensure that he stays at the same
pace and facing in the same direction as the rest of the element, allowing him/her to stay
in line with everyone else.
This formation should be used when advancing to contact or when enemy contact is expected from the front (i.e. in the direction of movement) as all squad members are facing forward and able to simultaneously return fire instantly. Also, this formation is useful if the squad is sweeping
a large area to their front, as this formation allows the squad to cover a wide area, for example for when hunting for a missing enemy or a dropped item.
When moving in a line formation most squad members will be facing forward, in the direction of travel. This increases the squad's vulnerability to an attack from the rear as enemies have a better chance of sneaking up behind the formation unobserved and undetected. It is therefore important to remember to assign one or more squad members to routinely check behind the formation either by turning around completely or using freelook. The men on either end of the line must also be responsible for observing the area to their respective sides of the formation (i.e. the right-most man watches the right flank, the left-most man watches the left flank). This reduces the chance of enemies to the flanks remaining undetected and being able to mount an ambush or surpise assault (see diagram).
Advantages and DisadvantagesEdit
-All squad members are facing to the front without any obstruction of their line of fire,
meaning that if contact comes from in front of the formation all squad members are able to fire
forwards without hitting any team mates, allowing the maximum amount of fire to be put down to the
-Low vulnerability to attack from front/ rear. Firstly the majority of squad members are observing
to the front of the formation, increasing the likelihood of identifying a threat to the front of
the squad before it can cause any harm, giving the squad chance to pre-emptively eliminate the threat.
The fact that the squad is also well spaced out in a wide line also means that any enemies firing
from the front or rear will struggle to inflict a large number of casualties in a short burst of
-Vulnerable to attack from flanks. The fact that all team members are lined up side by side means that
if fired upon from the flanks, 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 line one after the
-Poor firing lines to the flanks. As the squad is lined up shoulder to shoulder, only one man on each end
of the line will be able to fire to either the left or right, everyone else further in towards the middle
will be unable to fire to their left or right without hitting the man stood next to them. This also means
that there are poorer fields of observation to either flank, decreasing the likelihood of spotting a threat
on either flank.
-Difficult to maintain. All members of the squad are side by side meaning that generally no other squad
members should be in the individual's field of view. This makes it harder to keep track of the behaviour
of the rest of the group, requires each squad member to actively turn their head to the left/ right to
check they are still in formation etc. The fact that the squad are also widely spaced out means that
communication between each end of the line can be difficult, creating the possibility of one end of the
line getting ahead of the other.
-Difficult to control. The squad leader will generally move in the center of the line in order to control
the pace, direction, stance etc of the men on either side. However the fact that the squad leader is
generally outside the field of view of most squad members and vice versa means that there is less
visual reference for each squad member on the set pace, direction etc, and the squad leader will have
more difficulty observing the movement of the line as a whole.
-Can be restricted by terrain. Due to the wideness of this formation it may be unsuitable for use
if the terrain is particularly restricting, for example in very close urban terrain were there is
not enough space to have the entire element spaced out side by side.