It should go without saying that any time your NPT is leaving your perimeter, the movement will be tactical in nature. For the ease of understanding, it’s mentioned once here to ensure everyone reading, both subject matter expert and anyone new to the subject, are on the same page.
Simply put, movement is the active positioning of your team on a potentially or actually contested area in preparation for contact with the opposing force, aka, “Mutant Biker Zombies (MZB),” and is always based upon anticipation of MZB ground contact (which is the observation of or the initiation of or reaction to a firefight.
Movement is not maneuver; movement that which is done in preparation for contact. Maneuver is movement supported by fire to gain position or advantage over the MZB’s.
When determining formations and techniques to employ during movement, the NPT leader must consider the most effective combinations for each situation using METT-TC as a balance beam, so to speak. In parallel with METT-TC (Mission, Enemy, Troops Available, Terrain – Time , Civilian Considerations) the NPT leader should (if the leader doesn’t do this, get a new leader) select the formation and movement by weighing his selection against the Nine Principles of Tactical Movement that can be quickly learned by memorizing its acronym (most everything these days has an acronym, and military skills are no different!):
M O V E S E C U R E
Its meaning is:
M – Maintain 360 degree security.
O – Observe team cohesion (buddy team, 4 person NPT, and Squad (if you’ve got that many).
V – Visual contact and communication must be maintained.
E – Enforce mission task required speed and momentum.
S – Screen NPT movement with covered and concealed routes. Remember, the easy way is always mined or ambushed!
E – Enforce noise and light discipline at all times! No talking unless life and death depend on it!
C – Contact with MZB’s should always be made with the smallest element forward if at all possible.
U – Used the METT-TC indicated technique/formation.
R – Route selection by METT-TC and covered/concealed routes is critical!
E – Enforce proper dispersion between NPT members, which will change based on time of day, weather, and terrain.
The above example doesn’t indicate that in this instant, when the photograph was taken, that MOVE SECURE was employed by the leader, does it? This team is exposed, if only due to a ‘photo op’, so don’t take this as what you should do. It could also be this team is in training and are exposed because the instructor cadre wants to observe clearly. As we’re not there, we don’t know. Point remains, however, don’t let you team be exposed on a halt.
Next up is movement formations. These included various elements (teams) and individuals that are specifically arranged in an ‘order of movement’ in relation to each element or individual’s particular task. The purpose of the formation is to provide the NPT leader control of the overall team based on his METT-TC analysis. The NPT leader is not constrained to be in any one position, but enjoys the freedom to position himself where he can best provide command and control of the team performing its task.
Leadership by example is key. The old axiom, “Follow me and do as I do,” fits here perfectly. If at all possible, all team members should be able to see the team leader. This can be done when the team is 6 men or less most times. In larger groups, visual contact with various teams, individuals, or elements must be maintained for effective command and control.
When moving in larger teams, say a NPT comprised of 16 to 24 people, the leader must carefully select the location for any supporting positions, such as ‘designated marksmen’ or ‘heavy riflemen’ in the movement formation. These positions are flexible in their location, as the leader puts them where they will be able to do the most good if they’re needed.
Remember, formations are selected based upon the METT-TC analysis!
Basic Movement Formations: There are four that are universally taught in the wide, wide world of tactics: The Wedge, The File, The Line, and the Diamond (or modified wedge).
The cornerstone of formations for movement is the Fire Team Wedge, and the NPT should master it. Here’s a good example; remember, in our world, we don’t enjoy grenadiers or automatic riflemen, unless one of your NPT members has a Class III license!
The interval between team members can vary, but is typically between 5 and 10 meters based on terrain and visibility.
When the wedge isn’t feasible due to terrain or visibility, the file is the next best thing. In fact, when moving at night, it’s the ‘go to’ formation for ease of control, silent movement, and speed, again terrain, visibility, and weather dependent. The more wind, rain, fog, cloud cover, or snow that’s around, the more concealed the team will be when it moves. Interval is the same as the wedge, between 5 and 10 meters (or just a few feet) depending on terrain and visibility.
Next up is the Team Line. Of the four basic formations, it’s the most difficult to control, affords slower movement, provides very little security to the flanks, but can afford maximum security to the front and rear. (Remember, what is important is that all weapons are able to engage to the front of the formation. In that sense, the wedge is also a line when it comes to engagement capability, as all weapons can be trained directly front if needed.) As always, interval is between 5 and 10 meters, but can change terrain and visibility dependent. The more open the terrain, the further the interval should be, but only to a point that the team can respond to the team leader’s instructions, typically hand & arm signals, or, if the NPT all has radios, voice command.
Last, and certainly not least (for this installment), is the Diamond, or Modified Wedge formation. The team will use this formation when the team leader, based on his METT-TC analysis, believes it necessary to maximize control and security of the team. Interval is the same as all other formations outlined so far: 5 to 10 meters depending on terrain and visibility.
Now, imagine how easy it is to modify the wedge formation into the diamond. The rifleman, regardless if he’s on the left or right, swings into a trailing position directly behind the team leader. Again, 5 to 10 meters interval, terrain and visibility dependent.
Now let’s get to the most important part of these formations: The ability to perform them immediately without talking. That means practicing with your NPT not only the formations themselves, but the hand and arm signals necessary for them to be initiated.
Next time, we’ll get into the fundamentals of tactical movement by your NPT. Until then, take care of your buddy; train with each other every chance you can.