Airsoft Patrolling - Urban

If you're not patrolling in woods then chances are you're patrolling amongst buildings in a built up area.  This requires additional skills and considerations and quite frankly is more difficult because the other guy is in the building, behind cover and probably in a raised position; basically most of the advantages are with the other guy.

We've already looked at assaulting and defending buildings; this is about the bits between those building and hopefully a few hints of how to travel through them with the minimum amount of damage to you and yours whilst making the other guy's life as miserable as possible.  The majority of the considerations discussed in the General Patrolling article still apply, below are additional factors that need to be taken into consideration when patrolling in an urban environment.

As ever this is not meant to be a definitive list of rules for patrolling through built up areas but rather a serious of simple dos and don'ts that will hopefully help you get the best out of the game.  By get the best out of the game I mean win.

Do's

  •  Infantry (which to one extent or another is what most of us are when we play) are at their most exposed in an urban environment.  The three key things in this situation are observation, mobility (pretty much the only advantage you have over the guys in the buildings) and cover.
  • Observations has to be 360 degrees and in all three dimensions.  Look everywhere and actually look, don't just wave your gun around because it looks cool.  Have a method to your cool gun waving (incidentally the gun's waving because it should be pointing where you're looking otherwise the whole exercise is largely a waste of time) make sure that your entire area of responsibility is being checked.
  • As well as observation, whenever you are stopped make sure that you maintain all round security, that's 360 degrees and three dimensions (more if you can find them) again.  If someone's talking you don't need to be looking at them to hear and also why are they talking?
  • Speed is established based on the objective of the patrol (see the article on general patrolling).  Basically the faster you go the less accurate your observation is going to be, you have to decide which is most important speed or accuracy.
  • It is worth stopping irregularly (so you don't establish a pattern) to check the surrounding area.  The US Marines use a short check every 5 metres with a longer check every 20 meters but use what works best for you.  It is certainly worth doing every time you step into a new area or the terrain changes significantly.
  • Know where you're going.  Try to move from cover to cover, if you find the piece of cover you are heading to somehow untenable (it's angry at you, shooting at you, exposed to other angry people shooting at you or just booby trapped) then have a contingency or two in mind, even if it's just run back to where you came from firing wildly.
  • Keep thinking; know what you are going to do before you move and what you are going to do if things change whilst you're moving.
  • Use covered routes wherever possible.  You'd be daft not to.
  • Use concealment wherever possible.  See above as regards daftness.
  • If you encounter resistance you need to sort that out, either by shooting them or withdrawing (preferably the former) before continuing with the patrol.  Avoid leaving live guns behind you whenever possible (not always possible when you're giving the bad guys a good running away).
  • When moving between buildings try and cover as many potential enemy positions as possible.
  • If you have friendly forces covering you whilst you're moving then try to minimise obscuring their field of fire.  Or to put it in simpler terms, don't stand where they are going to want to be shooting as it will annoy them if you do.
  • Use smoke to cover your movement.  Don't run through the smoke that hinders you as much as them.  Instead use it as a barrier between you and the bad guys.  Just remember the barrier won't stop pellets.
  • Where possible familiarise yourself with the route, plan a route and then plan a few more contingencies and make sure that everyone knows and understands them.  First hand knowledge is best, if you are making do with a map then check to see if any other friendly forces have intelligence on the area they can help you with.  Remember that any information you receive second hand may be inaccurate and that situations change quickly, so what you observed the last time may not be the case the next time.
  • If there are other friendly forces in the area then coordinate with them to help avoid Blue-On-Blue (shooting-your-mates) incidents.  This doesn't mean just the commanders, this means that everyone in all the friendly groups should (ideally) be able to recognise everyone else (or more realistically their uniforms).
  • Work out where the choke points are, where good ambush points will be, where the cover is both for you and them and adapt your patrol plan accordingly.  If you are in the area unprepared then you will need to do this on the fly but don't move without a plan unless you have to as it can lead to hesitation and indecision which in turn leads to getting shot.
  • Watch where you are going, urban areas provide lots more potential for booby traps than woods or open ground.  Booby traps don't have to go off to be effective they just have to deny you an area and leave you exposed.
  • If your ROE (Rules of Engagement) allow it, if you're not trying to be too stealthy and you've got ammunition to burn then use Recon By Fire on suspected enemy positions.  Or to put it another way shoot them a lot to see if anything squeals, but remember to use the phrase “Recon by Fire” to justify blazing away with wild abandon.
  • Be aware of potential danger areas.  These include but are not limited to: Open areas, parking lots, garages, intersections, streets, alleys, roadways, traffic circles, cul-de-sacs, bridges, overpasses, underpasses, subterranean areas and rooftops.
  • Decide on Contact Contingencies (response, rally points etc.) as well as Escape and Evasion plans for when it all goes wrong and you have to run away.
  • Where possible have the patrol covered by sustained fire or sniper weapons (preferably both) from raised positions overlooking the patrol area.  If possible be in radio contact with these overwatch positions so they can provide you with ongoing intelligence.
  • When advancing in the patrol make extensive use of overwatch/cover and manoeuvre.  Or to put it simply someone moves and someone covers.
  • If you are operating with other friendly forces as part of an ongoing game then it is worthwhile having a rapid reaction force to reinforce Urban Patrols for when they inevitably run into trouble.  This will require some good organisation and a previously agreed upon signal (either by radio or coloured smoke).

Don'ts

  •  Don't just shoot at anyone.  Because of the close in and confused nature of urban combat it is the most likely to cause Blue-On-Blue incidents, so more than ever you should check your targets.
  • When planning a route try not to go over ground you've already covered, just in case they are waiting for you when you come back.
  • When patrolling, especially an extended or clearing/security patrol then avoid repetitive patterns because some smart arse on the other side will learn them and use them against you.
  • Don't bunch up.  That is an invitation to area effect weapons (like the grenades we sell).  You need to be far enough away from each other to present less of a target and close enough to communicate effectively.
  • If more than one patrol is running in the same area then don't have them all taking the same routes.  Spread them out to cover the entire area.
  • It is very easy to get surrounded, outgunned and covered from superior positions in an urban situation.  Assess the situation; can your patrol handle it?  Are reinforcements on their way?  Do you know that for sure?  If things have gone bad don't be afraid to run away…er withdraw in an orderly fashion.  You can get them later.

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