The Point Man

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While the point man is not an official position in the military, it definitely comes with a few added tasks. Being numero uno on the order of march is both a blessing and a curse; and it is not for the faint of heart.

Your Purpose

As point man it is your job to select the specific route that your unit takes. You will be given a path to follow by your unit leader, but you must stick to it and confer with him or her in the instance that it needs to change. As the first guy in the line, your job is also to watch the front of your unit. If you walk into an ambush zone, so does your entire unit…and it will be your fault.

Your Priorities

Your mission will determine your priorities. If speed is all that matters, take roads and trails. Keep your unit moving quickly so that if you’re seen, you’ll be out of the area before the enemy can hit you.

If stealth is paramount, snake your patrol through the nastiest, most covered and concealed route possible. Go through whatever terrain you think the enemy will take one look at and pass by because no one could possibly get through there. At all times, keep at least one, preferably 2 terrain features (hill, ridge, cliff, etc) between you and any known enemy positions.

Point Man Tips/Tricks
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  1. If you come across an area that you think looks sketchy, halt your unit and go check
    it out for yourself  before bringing them through it. A well trained unit won’t shoot at the first man in a formation, but if you can convince them that you’re alone they might get excited and take a shot.
  2. You will usually be the one to initiate the linear danger area drill, designate rally points and halt the formation when you near locations that you’ll need to recon before walking into. Get familiar with your route before you take it via maps, your gps or other navagational tools. Knowing where major land forms and landmarks are in relation to your position is invaluable in a combat environment.
  3. Keep your movement down to a minimum. There’s no reason to walk through the woods swinging your rifle everywhere that you look. Your unit lives and dies on your ability to see the bad guys before they see you, so when you do move do it slowly and deliberately. This includes movement of your head as well. Scan with your eyes and move your head slowly when necessary. Try it now, keeping your head centered on this article, move your eyes up, down, left and right. You’ll be surprised how much you can see.
  4. Never underestimate the value of a Stop, Look, Listen, Smell (SLLS) halt. These brief halts are used to allow your unit to stop moving and get used to their environment, enabling them to distinguish man made noises from naturally occurring ones. This is particularly important at the beginning of a mission once your unit has left friendly lines or at night when your unit will be relying on their hearing and smell much more than normal.
  5. Remember, movement is what gives most players away so stopping your movement is the best way to scan for hostiles. Even holding still for a few seconds will allow your brain to notice things that are moving among your surroundings.
  6. Last but not least, keep in constant contact with your unit. Look back regularly to make sure you are receiving all hand signals coming up the line and that your unit is keeping pace with you.

Many thanks to KDog Action Photography for the use of her photos.