Communication is Critical - Part 2/ 2
A player who masters communication skills on the field is very valuable; and a team that does it - is lethal.
This article contains content mostly taken from the Paintball Warrior Tactics book (Chapter 2, Paintball Warrior Skills, Communication is Critical).
This article is part two of a two-part series on the critical skills of communication in paintball.In Part 1, I explain the foundational communications skills you have to master personally. In this (Part 2) we will look at the more important "team" communication skills your team will need to work like a well oiled machine, destroying your opponents at will.
Communication is Critical - Part 2
One of the biggest advantages you have as an individual is situational awareness. This advantage multiplies many times over if it is shared by a whole squad. Situational awareness for a whole squad can only come from good communication.
In firefights, verbal communication (usually yelled but sometimes whispered) on the field amongst a fire-team or squad must focus on the following questions:
- Where are the opponents? How many of them are there? How many of them have been eliminated? Are they failing or weakening somewhere?
- Where are my teammates? How many of my teammates have been eliminated? Have key players been eliminated? Who? Where are my teammates (fire-teams) going? Do any teammates have gun problems, need ammo or need any other help?
- What is the status of the objective(s)? How much time is left in the game?
The most critical, absolutely essential piece of information is in bold above in point #1. If you can only remember to communicate one thing, yell out where your opponents are.
Notice that if you yell out an opponent’s location, you are implicitly giving your own location to your teammates. Thus, if everyone is “talking it up”, you will form a mental picture of where, in the immediate area, your teammates are; making explicitly saying “I am over here” unnecessary.
This is why in quick CQB engagements, you limit it to “where is the enemy?” When you are actively engaged in a firefight, whether you are attacking or defending, you should be continually shouting out the location of your opponents.
THE ENEMY LOCATION
Yelling out that “I see someone!” really doesn’t help anyone much.
It is far better to yell something like: “2 guys! Windows! Red House!” or “2 guys! 1 o-clock! 30 yards!”
You should add to that and repeat what the teammate on your left knows so the teammate on your right can know it too. For example: “2 guys! Red House! And 1 crawler on the ridge! 2 o-clock, 30 yards!”
FEATURE BASED LOCATION INFORMATION IS BETTER
You should prefer to communicate the location of enemies using feature-based or landmark information.
Use unique identifiers or features for the area you are referring to. For example: a unique building, or location name, like “Red house! Left window!”
Feature based enemy location information is easier for teammates to instantly incorporate into their situational awareness with a low level of uncertainty. Your teammates will know exactly where the enemy players are – with a great deal of certainty of the location you told them.
“one guy, behind the blue house!” This lets your teammates know exactly where the opponent is instantly with total certainty.
In areas that have no unique identifiable features (forest, or a field with generic uniformly built bunkers that all look the same) you may use either north/south or the clock system.
YOUR TEAMMATES LOCATION
You must also try to be aware of where all your teammates are shouting from.
Form a mental picture in your mind of the area and their locations and, if appropriate incorporate that (example: “Check your fire! Friendly’s on your left!”).
WHEN NOT TO COMMUNICATE
Never… well, not really.
Unless you are running some sort of solo mission, get used to hand signals when you need to be quiet. See “Hand Signals”. Adding a good quality radio and throat-mic with earpiece to your equipment can allow you to speak fairly low and still keep up communication. See “Communication”.
When you can’t directly see your teammates or need to be completely still, and you need to be quiet because you are trying to remain undetected – fine, stay silent. But this is one of the only exceptions.
If you are sneaking along an unseen route to your opponents flank while your teammates are drawing their fire – the players giving cover fire should know not to announce your location in their yelled communication and likewise, you will remain silent until you open fire. When you do open fire, simultaneously (a) eliminate as many opponents as possible in the first five seconds and (b) ensure your teammates know where you are by yelling loudly to minimize the probability of getting shot by friendly fire.
Your teammates will probably already know where you are anyway if they are paying attention and you are attacking a static location from a single direction. Things get a bit dicey when there are opponents in all directions. In this rare case, it is likely better to stick together rather than be separated.
In some cases, against some opponents, firing once can be done without giving away your location, even if some of the other opponents are within earshot. This is especially effective if there is another firefight close enough to be heard. Wait for cover noise, and then take the shot.
WHEN TO COMMUNICATE
Always... well, almost.
If you are firing your marker more than once – you can be heard by the guy you are shooting at and everyone else within that range.
So, unless you are completely alone, once you open up at a HROF with your marker, you might as well start communicating – loudly. If all the enemies within range know your location (because you have already been firing at them, and could not have moved very far) you must also be communicating with your teammates – again, loudly.
KEEP YOUR EARS OPEN
In scenario games or “re-spawn” games there will be a lot more information to communicate. This will likely include situational awareness from the entire field.
Recon teams, radio chatter, players re-spawning into the game and any organized leadership will provide information about enemy squads or fire-team locations to incorporate. Keep your ears open and listen for any and all information that may help you accomplish your objectives.
Looking for Part 1?