Know Your Battle Drills

You’re patrolling along, minding your own business and all of a sudden some rude individual starts shooting at you! What do you do? There’s no time to plan out a response so your entire unit must have a planned way to deal with most major situations. These planned responses are called battle drills.

React To Contact


  1. At the instant that the enemy begins firing, all members of the patrol drop to the ground. Those that have a clear sector of fire immediately fire on the enemy position. Anyone that can see the enemy yells out their direction and distance. All members of the patrol repeat this verbally.
  2. In this instance, the Alpha Fire team is in contact. The Alpha Fire Team Leader moves his men up so that they are all even with the point man. This is called coming “on line” and it gives all of the members of the team a field of fire on the enemy. Fire team members move to their positions by low crawling.
  3. Once the Alpha Fire Team Leader has his team in place, he will advise the Squad Leader. The Squad leader will order the Bravo Fire Team Leader to move his team into a supporting position on either the left or right of Alpha Fire Team. At this time the Bravo Fire Team will move to a place where they can engage the enemy from cover. Note that the Bravo Fire Team moves off to one side or the other before moving up. This presents the enemy with two separate targets.

NOTE: This drill illustrates why it is so important for there to be space between fire teams while a squad is patrolling! A squad cannot afford to have it’s entire force engaged at the same time.

Hasty Attack while Under Fire

hasty attack 1hasty attack 2hasty attack 3

  1. The Hasty Attack can be performed before or after contact with the enemy is made. If it is done after contact is initiated, it is preceded by the react to contact drill described above.
  2. Once the fire team that is not in contact (in this instance it is Bravo Team) moves to a position where they can support Alpha Team, the Squad Leader decides whether to attack, break contact or hold position.
  3. If the Squad Leader decides to attack, he will give the order to the Bravo Fire Team Leader, who will then maneuver his team to assault the objective from it’s flank. As Bravo Fire Team moves up to the objective, Alpha Fire Team will suppress the enemy there.
  4. Bravo Fire Team will not stop and will assault all the way across the enemy position. The Alpha Fire Team leader will order his fire team to shoot to whatever side of the enemy unit that Bravo Fire Team is not assaulting from. This decimates any enemy running from Bravo Team.
  5. Once Bravo Team has assaulted all the way across the enemy position, Alpha Fire Team will cease fire and assault across the objective from their position. The two fire teams will end their assault in an “L” shape on the far side of the objective, and the Squad Leader will decide whether they will defend their position or move on.

Break Contact

break contact 1break contact 2

  1. The break contact battle drill is one of three options given to the Squad Leader at the end of the react to contact battle drill seen above. This drill is performed if the unit in contact is unable to overwhelm the enemy by itself and there is no help available. In this scenario, Alpha Fire Team has come under contact (prone in the open) and Bravo Fire Team has moved to support them (prone behind cover on the hill).
  2. To initiate the break contact drill the Squad Leader will yell “Break Contact” and all members of the patrol will repeat it. At this time, the Fire Team which is closer to the enemy position (Alpha in this case) will pop smoke if it is available and bound backwards for a distance as a fire team or by buddy team at their
    break contact 3Fire Team Leader’s command.
  3. Once they are in place, Alpha Team
    will suppress the enemy position and advise Bravo Team that they are set. Bravo Team will then bound away from the enemy position 
  4. The fire teams will repeat steps 2 and 3 until contact is broken. At that time the Squad Leader will order a new course of action.

React to Near Ambush

react to ambush 1

  • The near ambush drill is the most simple battle drill but it also takes the most intestinal fortitude. The reason for this it that your job is to charge head first into incoming fire. Yes that’s correct, you have to run at the guys shooting you.
  • This drill is initiated because the enemy starts shooting at you or because someone sees the enemy. Any member can initiate this drill and it is done so by shouting “Close Ambush Left/Right!”
  • Immediately upon the initiation of the drill, EVERY member of the patrol turns and rushes in the direction indicated, sweeping the ground with fire. As this is milsim, it is very important to use the safety kill when you are under your engagement distance.

The reason this drill works best is that if the enemy set his ambush up correctly he will have obstacles and fire covering the route away from them. They will also have security forces set up to prevent you from running forwards or backwards along your original direction of travel. Therefore, your only remaining option is to assault them. The assault must be immediate because the enemy has planned for you to stay in the kill zone. Moving out of it puts the enemy on the defensive and forces them to change their plans instantly. This far from perfect but it is by far the best course of action.

So How do I Know When To Do What?

As a leader, when should you attack, hold your ground or break contact? In order to find that out you must ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Can your fire team in contact quickly kill all of the enemy? If yes have them do so. If not, move on to 2.
  2. Can the fire team in contact suppress the enemy? If yes, ATTACK. If no, move on to question 3.
  3. Your trailing fire team should already be moving into position to support the fire team in contact as part of the react to contact drill. Can  your full squad suppress the enemy? If yes can it maneuver? If the answer to both questions is yes, then ATTACK. If the answer to either question is no, move to question 4.
  4. Do you have other units that can help? If yes, defend your position and direct your other units to where the enemy is. If no, BREAK CONTACT.

Why Are These Important?

At this point in time there are VERY few if any milsim teams that have perfected their battle drills. Of course, no battle drill will go exactly as planned in live combat but the ability for your team to instantly move into a pre-planned response upon a specific circumstance will overwhelm the enemy and prevent him from moving against you a very high percentage of the time. Learn your battle drills and teach them to your team. This is how you survive when the plastic starts flying.

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