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 wedge formation is essentially an adaptation of the line, where members of the squad are stagged backwards
from the center of the line in order to form a wedge, arrowhead or upturned V type of shape (^). The wedge
shares many of the advantages of the line formation however it aims to reduce the effect of certain
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, as well as being slightly behind and to one
side of the next man inwards in the formation.
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.
The wedge can also be used when enemy contact is expected from the front or either flank. The fact that the
squad members are staggered backwards means that every man can fire either to their left or right depending
on which side of the wedge they are on, and should also be able to fire through the gaps between men on the
opposite side of the wedge without hitting any friendlies. The fact that the wedge allows effective firing
to the front and both flanks means that this is a highly versatile formation and can be used in most
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
-Reduced vulnerability to attack from flanks. Due to the fact that the line has been staggered backwards,
at least half of the formation will now have clear lines of fire to one flank (i.e. the left hand half of
the formation have clear lines of fire to the left side, the right hand half has clear lines of fire to the
right). This means that at least half of the squad will be able to observe and fire to any given flank,
reducing the squad's vulnerability to attack from each flank and improving the squad's retaliatory ability
on both flanks as well. It may also be possible for men on one side of the wedge to fire through the gaps
between men on the other side of the wedge, allowing the whole squad to fire on either flank to an extent
without hitting their team mates.
-Easy to maintain. Each squad member (aside from the point man) will should have at least one other squad
member within their field of view to either their front right or front left, providing them with much
better visual guidance on the speed, direction, stance etc of the squad and also providing reference
points for their spacing.
-Easy to control the formation. By moving at the 'tip' of the wedge the squad leader should be visible to
the rest of the squad either to their front right or front left. This means that squad members simply have
to observe the squad leader and follow his movement and actions, without the squad leader himself having
to issue order or constantly observe his men. Like the column or staggered column formation, the wedge is
essentially another example of 'follow the leader' unlike the line formation where the leader is not visible.
-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.