tactical preschool 30

Another fundamental….movement in formation.

Military/Tactical formations are about as old as human warfare and many have remained quite unchanged over the ages. Military commanders have been constantly looking for ways to organize their troops so that control, speed of movement and deployment of weapons can be used to their greatest effect.

When you have to operate within a group there are specific ways to organize yourselves so that movement or utilization of weapons can be optimized. Different formations have different advantages and disadvantages depending on what you have to accomplish.

The Column: The column formation is best used when time/speed is of the essence. This is the fastest way to move from one spot to another and is the easiest to control. Column formation can provide all around observation if members are assigned alternating areas of responsibility to each flank with the point man covering front and the trail man covering the rear. But the formation is limited in its ability to protect itself as the members in front screen the fire of the members behind. Column formations are also susceptible to enfilade fire. To limit these risks some commanders offset the members of the formation. This limits some of the risk of enfilade and provides a little more security and distribution of fire.


The Line: Best used when the position of the enemy is known. This formation places maximum firepower to the front. Its weaknesses being it’s difficulty to control (because members will have to look to their left or right to see what other members are doing or to give and/or receive orders) and it’s susceptibility to flank attack. It’s ideal for assaulting enemy positions and allows members to effectively distribute and shift fire across the front.


The Wedge: The wedge is a fair compromise between the line and the column formation. It provides all around security and is easier to control. As in all compromises it’s not AS easy to control or AS fast moving as the column and it’s fire is not AS strongly arrayed in any particular direction as it is in other formations. It is one of the easiest to turn into a line formation if the enemy is contacted, the guys on either side simply move up “on line”.

If you have an odd number of members you can place your extra man (or heavier weapon) to either flank depending on where you think the enemy may be.


The Echelon: Echelon formations project firepower to one side or the other depending on which way they slant…left or right. This formation is typically used when you know which side the enemy is on. It is also used to protect the flank of another formation of people that are moving along side of you.

So if you have been paying attention, by now you should be able to determine this formations strengths and weaknesses.



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3 thoughts on “tactical preschool 30”

  1. I always looked at formations like stances in martial arts. They are extremely important and require discipline and practice to maintain. More than that, though, is the ability to transition from one formation (or stance) smoothly. And, more than that, transitioning smoothy from one to another should be practiced for tactical purposes – either as an action to control a tactical situation and/or respond to a tactical situation.

    Good stuff.

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