Dear fellow support gunners and milsim players, I would like to propose two scenarios to you to illustrate supressive fire.
Your unit has been tasked with attacking a small building in a wooded area known as the “ammo dump”. Your squad has made contact with the enemy near your objective, and you exchange quick bursts, popping in and out of cover to do so. You are able to peek around your cover at will to check on the well being of your comrades and the location of some of the enemy combatants. If a group of enemy were to take off in a flanking maneuver, you would be able to see it and direct some of your force to take care of them. Your team leapfrogs forward, some players shooting while others move. Eventually you take your objective and the remaining enemy players flee to fight another day.
Now what did this look like from your enemy’s perspective?
One of the enemy’s keen eyed riflemen spotted one of your unit from afar and signaled his squad leader that he had “eyes on”. The squad leader passed this information to the rest of his unit and they began engaging your unit as they had clear targets. Eventually, your unit moved so close that the remaining players abandoned their positions.
Your unit has been tasked with attacking the same building against the same unit. You have put your squad in the same attack formation and are moving ever closer to your objective. All of a sudden, long streams of automatic fire spew from the enemy ranks. You hear rounds smacking into trees and bushes all around you. You dive into cover and hunker down, waiting for the barrage to end. You look to either side of you and can see only one of your teammates who is also hiding. The barrage slacks off a little bit and you can tell that most of the rounds are coming from only a few guns. However, you can only get tiny glimpses of the battlefield from behind your cover. You send several of your unit around to one side but they too get pinned down. You are now without initiative, your unit is fragmented, and all you can do is watch the remaining time you have to get to your objective expire.
So what did this look like from your enemy’s point of view?
Again, one of the enemy unit spotted your unit and advised his squad leader. However, this time the enemy squad leader directed his support gunner to fire at the general mass of your unit and to continue firing bursts at the cover your squad hid behind until ordered otherwise. He did just that, his assistant gunner continually updating him on new locations that your unit was sighted. He focused on the main mass of your unit, relying on the rest of the unit to pick up stragglers or any flanking elements. He did not kill a single one of your unit but simply peppered every piece of cover in your area, making you stay in cover until your time expired.
Supressive Fire Works!
The number of milsim players that actually understand supressive fire is sadly minuscule. The simple fact is this. Shooting at the enemy even when he is in cover makes him hide and degrades his morale very quickly. It also allows the other members of your unit to focus on shooting the bad guys when they do poke out from cover, rather than just trading pot shots. This is why the support gunner was invented. This one member of the unit can focus on keeping the enemy’s heads down while the remaining players kill them. It works. PLEASE TRY IT!