In order to accomplish a task successfully and smoothly with the least amount of chaos or confusion in the heat of battle, a unit must share a common doctrine on the accomplishment of specific tasks. These common doctrines take the form of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and drills.
A battle drill simulates a specific encounter, such as a bunker, an ambush, or a house entry. During the drill, the unit practices specific SOPs relating to this type of encounter, and rehearses each member’s specific duties. By running and re-running these drills over and over, every member of the team is fully aware of their duties, as well as those of the people around them, and the entire series of activities blends into a smooth and repeatable drill. The end result being the unit acting in a coordinated manner when a similar situation occurs on the field of battle with minimal direction or confusion.
As an example, I will detail a movement to contact drill involving a squad sized element.
Conditions: 1 infantry squad (consisting of an alpha and bravo team) on the move through broken terrain.
Standards: Destroy the enemy with minimal casualties and continue movement.
The drill begins with the squad proceeding in a tactical manner toward a distant objective. In the course of this movement an OPFOR force will engage the squad.
Step 1: Take cover! All squad members should immediately seek solid cover and prepare to return fire. Any soldier able to locate the enemy should immediately notify the rest of the squad. The enemy already knows you’re there, this is no time to be bashful.
Step 2: Return fire! As soon as the enemy’s location is fixed, the squad must return fire in sufficient volume to overpower the enemy, and make them seek cover. Only once this is achieved can the unit begin to advance on the enemy and take action.
Step 3: Alpha Team plus attachments achieve firepower superiority! The use of SAWs, and liberal application of automatic weapons fire on the enemy position is intended to keep the enemy from being able to respond to Bravo Team’s movements.
The presence of a machinegun team can significantly increase the suppression of the enemy through the use of graving and suppressing fires applied to the entire enemy position.
Step 4: Bravo Team begins flanking maneuver! On signal from the Squad Leader, Bravo Team begins moving to the left or right of the enemy position through the use of bounding overwatch and maximizing available cover. Bravo Team must keep a keen awareness of any enemies fleeing the objective, or listening posts placed outside the enemy position.
Once Bravo Team has approached close enough to launch an assault on the flank of the enemy position, Bravo Team Leader signals the Squad Leader, so that Alpha Team can adjust their fires away from the approaching friendly troops.
Step 5: Bravo Team assaults the enemy position! In a coordinated manner Bravo Team assaults onto the enemy position using volume of fire and violence of action to overcome any remaining resistance. Bravo Team will continue their assault until they have swept entirely across the enemy position, and are able to take cover beyond the opposite limit of the position.
Step 6: Alpha Team Assaults! Once Bravo Team has successfully crossed the objective and taken cover, Alpha Team will begin to assault the objective, and continue across the objective in order to destroy any surviving enemy personnel or equipment. Once across the objective, Alpha Team will take cover and provide security. At this point there should be an L shaped formation facing outward providing security.
Step 7: Prepare for counterattack! The commotion of assaulting the enemy position may draw other enemy patrols, or prepared reinforcements, to the squad’s location. The Squad Leader should direct both teams to split their elements to provide 360 degree security, with machinegun teams taking position between the two elements. The Squad Leader can at this time assign a detail to search the objective for sensitive items and secure any survivors for EPW processing. During this period every member of the squad should make a damage assessment of themselves, and reload fresh magazines. The Team Leaders should collect an accounting of injuries and remaining ammunition from each team member, and report status to the Squad Leader. If necessary the Squad Leader can order a redistribution of ammunition, or assign a casualty team to evacuate injured or dead squad members.
Step 8: Continue movement! Once the Squad Leader is satisfied that any reinforcements have been repelled, all sensitive materials have been collected, and all EPWs have been processed, he can order the squad to regroup into tactical formation and continue movement to the objective.
As you can see, there is a lot involved in a relatively simple encounter. However, practicing these steps as a unit will help each member of the unit complete their job efficiently, and with the knowledge that each other member of their team is completing their own portion of the drill. After thorough drilling, a Squad Leader has more freedom to assess and control his unit when a similar encounter occurs on the battlefield.
Hundreds of other battle drills exist, and many military manuals and resources outline them. With some research and creativity, these drills can be modified and adjusted to fit airsofting purposes.