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Mathew Steel

Questions About Military Procedures

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First off, I have no intention in joining the military, however I have a huge interest in the way they operate. As someone who writes a lot and plays a lot of military themed video games, it's useful to know what certain things mean and why they exist. I've devised a list of questions to ask, and I'm hoping eventually I'll have an answer to each one.

 

1. What does the term "Actual" signify? From my understanding, it refers to a squad or team leader, is this correct?

 

2. I can't think of the term. However, I see in a lot of games and films a situation where an unidentified soldier will prove their friendly by using an activation code of sort. For example in the Modern Warfare 2 campaign, there is a mission where you come across a stranded soldier and your leader asks him for the activation code, to which he replies with a random string from the phonetic alphabet, for example "Tango-Victor-Charlie-Delta-Romeo." What is this and why is it used?

 

3. In a lot of films, we see small squads of about 4-5 carrying out huge missions. Such as them alone taking over an airbase. Does this actually happen? To me it seems very far fetched, but maybe I'm wrong. Are there very small squads that operate alone on large missions?

 

4. What are some simple Rules of Engagement? I tried searching this before but it gave no definitive answer.

 

5. How does squad identification work? For example, 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 1-4. Would the first digit be the squad, and the second digit be the member of the squad?

 

 

If I think of any more to ask, I'll be sure to ask in a reply. Any help is appreciated, thank you! :)


"Gofyn wyf am galon hapus, calon onest, calon l?n."

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Okay Matthew... here we go. First, let me preface my responses with my background. I served in The US Army (during the 1980s) as a Small Weapons Specialist (no great stretch of imagination there, huh? :) ). As such I spent much of my time working very closely with "The Combat Arms" (namely training people how to use their weapons and properly delpoy them - ala small unit tactics). Additionally, I was a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons Rated NCO (briefly). So, as to your questions.

 

1. "Actual" have various meanings (in various Eras). In The 1980s it meant an authentic (or real) component of something. The Commander, The Enemy, etc. In Artillery or Rocket use on the battlefield, "Actual" is often used to verify true and accurate coordinates of a "fire mission" or strike.

 

2. Activation Codes may really be "Authentication Codes" to verify a "friendly from a foe". Again this is a matter of what Era you served in. This was used (in my day at least) - as a form of verifying via radio communications.

 

3. FORGET movies! VERY few of them are accurate. I could give you a short (very short list). However (even in my day), small Special Unit assaults were VERY known. For The US ARMY it is The Rangers and Special Forces who mostly operate like this. Each may has multiple skills and talents (every soldier is cross trained this way in this type of Unit). In this way, they can cause maximum damage to an enemy. Today it is The US Navy Seals, Delta Force and of course British SAS.

 

4. Rules of Engagement have existed (in The American Army and even in European ones) - for Centuries. In todays standards, they are clear cut defined policies for engaging? a hostile force (mostly in an Urban environment). First coming to Public light in The Vietnam War, much of the "testing" went horribly wrong (due to poor intelligence gathering). The most common Rule is to NOT fire one's weapon UNLESS one is taking direct confirmed (yeah right) enemy fire. Additionally, one must NOT engage an enemy when they are in non-combatant locations. Most soldiers have little regard for these Rules but...........

 

5. YOU HAVENT BEEN READING MY THREADS HAVE YOU?? :lol:.? In most Unit identifiers, the numbering is quite simple. C14 for example would be read as "Charlie Company, 1st Platoon, 4th Squad". Further, an American "Company" may have 5 Platoons of 4 Squads each. Each Squad may have as many as 10 soldiers in it (do the math). This formula is often greatly altered due to type of Unit and and actual manpower deployment. Each Branch of Service uses a similar formula, but they often have a different naming system. The Air Force using Squadron, The Marines add the term Force and The Navy well they are REALLY confusing. Further, look into NATO designators..........even worse! ??:)

 

Hope these explanations didnt confuse you even more. There is MUCH more to it (I just gave you the quick explanation). Hope it will help you in some way. If you have any more questions please feel free to ask. I am here to help answer your questions.

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Thank you very much for the response Crusader. Honestly, I was expecting a thorough reply for you and you lived up to that expectation! :D

 

As for:

 

1. Understood

 

2. Understood

 

3. So what you're saying is, there are definitely small squads of 4-5 out there, but the ones that would carry out dangerous missions would be the highly trained soldiers i.e. the SAS and the Navy Seals?

 

4. I always thought the "don't fire unless fired at" rule was a misunderstanding. I didn't realise it was the actual rule, it seems far too risky and as you said, I can't imagine it being followed often.

 

5. Not each one, you post a lot and it's hard to keep up sometimes :(?(not that you posting a lot is a bad thing at all). So, if I was part of a certain Squad within Charlie Company first platoon, I would refer to myself as C1-4-1, and that last digit would change depending on what soldier number I am?


"Gofyn wyf am galon hapus, calon onest, calon l?n."

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Never a problem, Matthew.

In return......

 

3. Yes and No. ANY combat mission is dangerous, but the more specialized assaults are performed by Elite Forces...so you are correct, Sir.

 

4. In The American Army, we are governed by The UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice). Rules of Engagement are often covered within it. If we violate it (regardless how we don't agree with it), we can be brought up on charges and punished accordingly. MANY soldiers do not agree with The Rules, but as I said before.....

 

5. With the reposting of ALL my photos, my Artiles Index is woefully off. There is an article (and I will get the exact page for you) on Hat Brass Insignia (primarily American Civil War) which explained it MUCH better (I worked all night last night so my neurons are WAY off,? :D). But no simply C-1-4 (as explained) is sufficent. One is numbered in a Squad (but it is mostly used for Drill and not in combat or related operation...again in The American Military.

 

I may later on do a series of Articles on this (let me see how I can work it in). My photo "horror" is almost over. I will see what I come up with.

 

"Soldier On!"

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Interesting questions, and thanks for the answers, Crusader1307!

 

And, yes, I agree with Mathew regarding the number four here - about the rules of engagement. Especially if I consider those events from the civil war here in Yugoslavia... I imagine it is different in US for example, where you have profession army (today we have it the same way here as well), while it wasn't the case here. Among others, there were many criminals who were allowed to go to war in exchange for not going to prison (I don't know the details, maybe it was delaying going into prison, maybe it was something in between). Well, when somebody fights against those guys, I guess he should better forget the rules of engagement, as those showed little mercy towards civilians, and not to talk about others... :( But of course, not to be misunderstood, in the war there were people like that in all three sides, and each side suffered.

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I suppose the reason behind the rule isn't so much a moral thing. To me it seems to be more a - we can't prove your life was at risk because you shot first. Maybe I'm just cynical, but in my eyes, it seems like the military don't want the hassle of proving innocence and so that rule is in place. Not to belittle the military in any way, I understand why they would want to do that, and if it's possible to double as a moral standpoint rule, then why shouldn't they do so.


"Gofyn wyf am galon hapus, calon onest, calon l?n."

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