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Ambushes & Counter-Ambushes

All information below is Copyright U.S.A.S.O.C. – The Magazine 2008; no use without granted permission may be used.

Photo Credit: S.N.A.F.U.

We’re back with one of our hit series – “Tactics” – and ready to bring you a much talked about tactical subject: ambushes and counter-ambushes. As with all of our tactics, there are as many ways to conduct them as there are people out there, so take what you want from them, and through the rest away. I’m merely listing out the “theories”, if you will, that have worked for me and my unit in the past, successfully. I’ll be discussing, and diagramming, different types of ambushing techniques and counter-ambushing techniques throughout this article; so with the introduction out of the way, let’s jump right into the topic.

Classic “Linear” Ambush:

The classic “linear” ambush is a quick, easy, and effective ambushing technique; not many people are required for this type of ambush, and it can be set up rather quickly. As you can see in the photo above, the blue team has set up along a road, trail, etc and have waited until the enemy force, the black team, has crossed into their fields of fire.

Some things you’ll want to keep in mind: if possible, you want to have some kind of rear-guard to cover the team’s flank in case of enemy scouts, or in case the enemy doesn’t take the path that your team believes it is going to take. Also, the last guy in the ambushing team (in our example, it would be the far-left blue teammate) and the point-man (far-right blue teammate) should initiate the ambush once given a signal by the team-lead. Why the rear-guard and the point-man? Think of it as two walls closing in on the black team. If you cut off the way they came from and the way they are advancing, the black team is pretty much stuck for a few seconds; during those few seconds, the entire blue team opens up on them and can quickly eliminate them – simple, yet if done right, highly effective.

Where can this ambush be set up? Practically anywhere – ambushes don’t always have to be set up on a road, trail, etc – although, those are the best options in most circumstances. As long as your team has more cover then the enemy and can get a good field of fire on the enemy, then you are good to go. One thing to keep in mind when picking an ambushing spot – a good military friend of mind used to tell me, “If the enemy can’t get into your location, then you’ll, also, have a hard time getting out.” The point of that – don’t pick a location that you and your team can’t easily get out of. Lastly, people…most players out there are LAZY. After a few hours in the woods or desert, a good number of them get lazy and don’t remain focused; they see a trail that could take them to the next objective or whatnot, and they take it. Bingo – all your team has to do is get into the right position along the trail, and you should be good to go. Oh – and as a reminder…don’t become lazy; it’s a fast-track to getting spotted or killed.

Counter-Ambush to the “Linear” Ambush:

Now for a QRD (Quick-Reaction-Drill) for the “Linear” ambush. Alright, your team just got ambushed…what are you going to do? Well the first thing the TL (Team-Lead) should have done before the mission started was to have a QRD procedure if an ambush was to happen to his team. One of the best bets that your team will come out alive is to have a good QRD – that and mental toughness.

What I, and my unit, like to do is the Australian Center-Peel. It’s a successfully and fast drill that gets your team out of a bad situation in little to no time. I’ll lay it out so you can see how this type of reaction is done.

You’re team needs to be in a “zig-zag” formation – basically like a long chain of “Z’s”. Note – completing an Australian Center-Peel is somewhat difficult when being ambushed in the “Linear” formation, but it works flawlessly if you and your teammates are in sync.

Ok – your team is patrolling. All is quiet – then “crack-crack” – contact is made. In this situation, we’ll say that the ambushing team had bad aim and didn’t hit their targets. The red, blue, and green units fire together (see photo on above page); after a few rounds, the red unit pulls back through the center of the team and sets up back behind the black unit – far enough away so he can continue to provide suffice fire-power. The green unit then pulls back, taps the blue unit on the shoulder letting him know he’s the “last-man”, and circles around behind the brown unit. Then the blue unit turns 180 degrees, taps the brown unit on the shoulder, and heads back down the center of the formation. Lastly, the brown unit turns 180 degrees, taps the black unit on the shoulder, and goes down the center of the formation – the entire cycle is then repeated over until contact is broken with the enemy.

A couple of tips – once tapped on the shoulder, usually you fire a complete magazine down range. That way, when falling-back via the center of the formation, you can swap out magazines and get back into the fight by the time you get to your next location. Second, the Australian Center-Peel is hard to do when being attacked in the “Linear” ambush technique, but I’ll show you how it is works better in other ambush techniques; and when I say “harder”, I mean communication-wise. Each teammate has to know who goes first and has to react very quickly – in any of these counter-ambush techniques, your team needs to react quickly.

Traditional “L-Shape” Ambush:

The classic “L-Shape” ambush formation works great. It’s better to have more men, but if you squad is small, it’s still doable. Basically, you want to have the long-leg of the “L” along the main location that the enemy will be traveling; the short-leg of the “L” is set up directly in front of the enemy – this way, you’ll catch the enemy from two separate directions without having to worry about friendly-fire. This type of ambush is by far one of the most effective that I’ve used; also, with any ambush, be very aggressive. The more sound, fire-power, etc that you can make to create more confusion, the better your chances of winning the fight. Use whatever you’ve got – sound devices, airsoft grenades/mines, your voice – seriously, etc. One of the best tools you can use is free – your mouth. Yell, scream, do whatever you can to create chaos for the enemy. The more time the enemy is confused, the more time you and your team will have to place accurate fire-power on them.

Counter-Ambush to the “L-Shape” Ambush:

Here, the Australian Center-Peel works very well. Note – I have the ambushed team falling back directly from where they came from – what’s wrong with that? You’re correct if you answered, “Hey, they are still in ambushing team’s trap.” Right – even though they are falling back, the long-leg of the “L” is still in close contact; a better fall-back route is shifted about 45 degrees to their left (45 degrees to their right from looking at the photo above); that way, they are falling back from the entire ambush team and not just part of them.

Anyways, the point-man fires a complete magazine once contact is made, falls-back via the center of the formation, taps the red unit on the shoulder as a sign of “last-man”, and sets up shop behind the green unit. The red unit finishes what is left of his magazine, falls back via the center, taps the grey unit on the shoulder, and sets up behind the black unit. This cycle is repeated down through the team and over and over again until your team is safe from enemy contact.

“V-Shape” Ambush:

The “V-Shape” ambush is also just effective as the “L-Shape” technique; as you can see from the photo above, your team encloses the enemy team in a “V-Shape.” Simple put, once the signal from the TL has been given, your team opens fire on the enemy catching them in the “V” shape.

Yet the trick is that the enemy can break through at the neck of the “V” – the weakest point – i.e. the least amount of combined fire-power. As most of you know, conventional military units are told to take the offense when ambushed – instead of falling back, they are taught to focus their fire- power on the center of the ambushing force and break through using superior fire power/suppression. It’s not a bad idea – take the fight to the enemy, but with milsim airsoft, usually we are dealing with small teams of five-ten members per unit; either falling back (I.E. Special Operations/Recon units’ procedure) or taking the fight to the enemy can work for the ambushed team.

From my experience with this type of ambush, it’s been 50/50, and it all depends on how well your team communicates and operates with each other. The times that it has succeeded, it went very well, was lighting fast, and shocked the hell out of the opposing force; the times it hasn’t…well, let’s just say that it wasn’t pretty.
Counter-Ambush to the “V-Shape” Ambush:

For this counter-ambush section, no diagrams are needed – or ones that we haven’t already shown. There are two main QRD that work well in this situation, and they are both very simple; one, use the Australian Center-Peel and haul ass out of the ambush location – this I would not recommend that much in this situation, though. Why? Because your entire team has to turn tail and fall back through enemy fire by the ambushing team in the “V-Shape”. Second, and what I suggest doing if you get caught in a “V-Shape” ambush, is to forge on through the center of the ambushing force – use speed, suppressive fire, and aggression to gain the advantage and win the fight – turn a typical defensive strategy into an offensive one. All your team needs to do is to keep moving and always firing – in a sense, it’s like a reversed Australian Center-Peel. Either way, one of your best bets in any fight is mental toughness – always value living more then, “Oh well – I’ll only have to respawn and start over.” Having the right kind of mindset is a key advantage in any fight – get your “Type A” personality on.

“Dual Linear” Ambush:

Now for a little twist on the classic “Linear” ambush technique –the “Dual Linear.” Some of you may have been wondering, “Why not set up two teams across from each other and catch the enemy squad in a crossfire/broadside?” Well, common logic tells you (or it should…) that, unless the enemy is in a valley and your two teams are on hills firing down, friendly-fire is likely to happen – i.e. not good; in airsoft, you’ll have pissed teammates while the still-alive enemy laughs, but in real life, your best friend of six years is now dead.

Anyways, the “Dual-Linear” is a modified broadsides ambushing technique. As you can see in the photo on the page above, the enemy squad passes the first ambush team on the right (from looking at the photo); the second ambush team on the left waits until the enemy enters the team’s field of fire and then opens up on them. The ambushed team will usually fall back in some sort of fashion, and that is when the other ambush team on the right comes in. While the enemy is falling back and trying to get fire on the primary ambushing team, the secondary ambush team waits until they arrive in their fire sectors – once the enemy gets in the team’s fire-zone, open up and finish them off. Again, this technique is very simple and easy to set up and is one of the most effective ways to take down a squad.

Now – back to the tactical aspect of this method. Alright, the enemy is retreating, and all of a sudden, the secondary team opens fire on them; now they are really caught off guard – two different enemies from two different directions. What I suggest is that the primary ambushing team – the one the initiated contact first – circles around and turns the “Dual-Linear” into an “L-Shape” ambush. See the photo on the page below; once your team is in position, open up fire on the enemy again, thus eliminating them for good.

But what if the enemy doesn’t retreat and takes the fight to the primary ambushing team? Or what if the enemy falls back directly across from the primary team (to the right on the picture two pages above)?

For the first question, one possibility is for the secondary ambushing team to turn the “Dual-Linear” into an “L-Shape” ambush by moving to their left (from looking at the photo).

For the second question, another possibility is, again, to turn the “Dual-Linear” into a “L-Shape” ambush by having the primary team focusing their fire on the retreating enemy, directly across from them; while the secondary ambushing team turns their field of fire downwards (from looking at the photo) onto the enemy.

For any ambush, there are a number of different possible scenarios that your team and/or the enemy team can, and will, do. The best tip I can give you is to have a general plan in mind, but always be ready to adapt to a new situation that your team hasn’t planned for. Also – communication is vital.

Counter-Ambush to the “Dual Linear” Ambush:

There’s really nothing new that I’ll discuss that I haven’t already done before for other counter-ambushing methods; but one idea that stands out in my mind, and has worked a few times, is to take the fight to the enemy when ambushed in the “Dual-Linear” type. Unless the ambushing force has a large number of people in it, then, usually, each ambushing unit (primary and secondary) would be half the strength of a normal ambushing force – i.e. split one team into two smaller ones. If that’s the case, then your team will have more members then either one of the ambushing teams, and there’s a good possibility that your team can take the fight to one of the ambushing units and win; or at least get out of there alive and take out some of the bad guys at the same time.

You’ll just have to remember that, somewhere, there is a secondary team that can reinitiate the ambush if they get into the right position – keep that in mind.

I hope you all have liked our brief look into different methods for ambushing and counter-ambushing tactics. Take some of these methods and apply them to your team – have a general plan, rehearse, and also be able to adapt to new situations when they arise. Until next time – have a good one and be smart out there on the field.

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