The Army Infantry Platoon and Squad manual (FM 7-8) says this about MOVEMENT:
“Infantry platoons spend more time moving than fighting. Moving carelessly may cause a unit to make contact when unprepared. This can cause a loss of the initiative and needless loss of lives.” These three sentences say it all, really.
The subtle truth about moving, maneuvering and fighting in the virtual battlefield, is that the time we spend on the first two (moving and maneuvering), versus the last item (fighting), is significantly smaller. We spend much less time actually engaged with the enemy and firing our weapons. This fact need not be accepted for the importance of deliberate and decisive movement across the battlefield, to speak for itself.
Careless movement is any movement without deliberate decisions on where you are going and why. Spawning back to life at the base, and then breaking into a sprint in the general direction of the objective—something we all do—is a non-decision. The most logical reasons why running in a direction without a deliberate intention are obvious, but easy to forget.
When running, If you encounter any enemy who is standing still, he has the complete advantage and initiative. When running, in order to fire your weapon, it is essentially a three step process—stop, aim, and shoot.
When running, you cannot easily see what is happening on either side of you—which narrows your line of sight and increases the potential for you to pass right by enemies that can expose you to fire from the rear, and get you shot right in the ass.
You don’t have to be running to be moving carelessly. Any time you move across a blind corner, passage or linear danger area—like a city street—without observing for enemy activity, you invite bad guys to shoot you in the ass when you are not looking, and this is careless and a waste of time and momentum.
Making deliberate decisions does not take more time and could be thought of as a mild commitment to die less. I’m going to say that again: making deliberate choices when moving around, will often save your life. And preserving your life is the key factor in increasing your Situational Awareness.
Making a conscious effort to stay behind solid cover, and choose cover with a good field of fire, as often as possible, is an easy and sensible thing to do. Though some battle maps make it neither easy or sensible. Well, it’s always sensible, but some close-quarter environments make it near impossible.
Before you leave your position of cover (especially before you run), if you choose your next position of cover before you take off, you will live longer and benefit your team by being alive to help them. It’s just good business. The next position you choose should be a short sprint away. It defeats the purpose of being deliberate in your movement, if the next position you choose is 100 meters away. You definitely want to pause regularly to scan the area. Though, in a sniper heavy situation, this could work against you. But you can’t account for everything.
Consider how long it takes for an enemy at medium range to spot you, take aim and fire—this is a good judge for how far you should run to get behind the next position with good cover. Anything more than ten running steps (unless you have to cross a big field with no cover) is a little excessive.
Fundamentals of Movement:
The Army Infantry Platoon and Squad manual (FM 7-8) lists these three items as the Fundamentals of Movement:
Move on Covered and Concealed Routes.
Do not move directly forward from covered positions.
Avoid likely ambush sites and other danger areas.
Many battlefields have paths to the objectives (Avenues of Approach) that provide either good cover or good concealment and sometimes both. Moving (or running) directly up Main Street, for example, isn’t using a concealed route. It is also rarely deliberate decision making for movement toward the objective. As a guideline, you should always maneuver and attack at the enemy sides.
The second bullet point is incredibly applicable to online combat, and so many of us rarely think of it. Don’t run directly forward. Move up to the left, and up to the right, to find cover and a solid position to take cover. Moving straight forward from your cover in the direction of the enemy, makes you predictable, and is a very delicious moment for a sniper or a patient machine gun.
Move as a Unit: Not at the Same Time
Once contact with the enemy is expected: Squad members should never all move at the same time. When I say that you should never move all at once, I mean that it makes the most logical and tactical sense. With tactics there are only guidelines, and no hard and fast rules for success.
A squad should move in pairs to maximize speed. Or one at a time to maximize firepower and control of the battlefield. This applies more and more as you get closer to the objective and more inside the areas where enemies could be in any direction.
When at least one squad member is planted behind cover, if the moving squad mate(s) get attacked, at the very least, the man behind cover can sit tight and be a spawn man for the squad. Once your squad gets near the objective, maintaining a presence there should be a high priority. So not all moving around where you are all exposed, will play to your advantage. Squad-mates will die. The challenge is keeping someone alive so the squad can spawn back in without losing their position.
Once your squad is ready to breach the area of the objective, where you anticipate strong enemy resistance, it could help for you to all assault together and overwhelm the enemy. But again, if you all die, then you’ve lost all that momentum. Where as if even one man hangs back to provide cover fire from a little distance, you have a chance at respawning and getting back in the fight from where you left off.
Bounding Over Watch:
This strategy of movement also involves two teams. The Bounding team moves from it’s current position to its next position while the Overwatch team, well, over watches. There is very little more to know than that, but there are some details to consider. The Overwatch position should “dominate the route which the Bounding Team will take.”
This detail, along with several others in the real-world version are too difficult to consider and apply to the fast paced environment of a BF3 battle. Even as easy as it sounds here, in practice, given the limitations of the virtual world, it’s actually kind of hard. Online, the best way to begin applying depth and strategy as a squad is to just watch each other. Watch each other move, watch to see what position they choose, watch them react to situations and engagements. Communicating your intentions in the game is hard, trying to communicate what you’d like a squad mate to do is even harder, the first step along the road to being a cohesive fighting unit is to watch each other. Also, when your squad observes you move into position, stay at that position as much as you can. Knowing where each other is out there, has to be the biggest challenge. Being where your squad mates expect you to be goes a long way toward that goal.