father and daughter

( or how to throw a great surprise party!)

Of all the different missions in our favorite sport, none give birth to as many legends as a well planned and executed ambush. The only other mission which comes close is pulling off a successful raid.

There are several types of Ambushes and Raids but here, we will discuss only small unit actions involving 5-8 players.

Raids and ambushes are used to demoralize, confuse, and deceive the OPFOR and also to weaken them through attrition. It often involves the sacrifice of a small handpicked team but done right, can account for a large number of “kills” disproportionate to the number of ambushers. This is accomplished by paying strict attention to the basic principals of biting off more than you can chew.

These principals are:

  • Avoid becoming decisively engaged
  • Avoid likely ambush spots, hit them when they think they’re safe
  • Hit fast, leave fast
  • Plan avenues of escape, rally points, leave a surprise or two behind you to slow down the pursuit.

One of the main characteristics of ambushes is that they make use of highly trained, task tailored forces. This means the players detailed to conduct the ambush or raid, tailor their numbers and equipment to Mission, Terrain, and Time. When going out to ambush, you often do not need a lot of the “extra” equipment we like to carry in a big game. Consider losing the vest and using a small 4+1 pod pack or tank on gun set up. If you like to wear an authentic helmet, consider leaving it behind. You want to pick players who are good shooters, fast on their feet, and can put maximum “rounds on target” in the shortest amount of time. A good dose of patience goes a long way also! Remember, you are not going out to fight the Battle of the Bulge, just a short, sharp, over quick fight followed by a good wind sprint back to your own lines!

Often when going out on an ambush or raid, the exact target is not known. Regardless, the ambush/raiding team must know exactly what it can and cannot do.

For example; Charlie Tuna leads a 4 man element out to ambush a trail the OPFOR has been using all day to get behind your base. They go out, pick an area which offers great concealment, decent cover. Perhaps you are truly blessed and can take the high ground on an inside curve of a trail. They set up and begin waiting (remember I mentioned patience?) Soon they hear the sounds of troops moving towards them, they inch slowly up to their firing positions, safety’s off, fingers begin caressing the triggers.1 enemy soldier comes in view but Charlie Tuna has trained his boys good, they don’t open up on the unsuspecting point man. No, they want the meat of the patrol. Shortly, the main body comes into view and as the boys begin taking up the trigger slack they start counting, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,..10.15..(wait a minute)

As Patrol Leader, Charlie Tuna has to make some quick, hard decisions. Of course, his team-mates may have already made it for him in that 1 of 3 things usually happens.
Before we discuss those, you have to ask yourself some questions. Do you open up and take them all on or let them pass?
Done right, an ambush works on surprise. Done right, it is conceivable, if not improbable, that your squad will eliminate all of the OPFOR without them getting a single round off at you. Ambushes work on surprise, once you open up, the surprise is gone.

Option 1:

Your ambush team is scared to death. You look over to your help but they are no longer there! This will definitely not look good on a resume!
Seriously, you may choose not to initiate. Part of a well planned ambush is having a plan top break contact and routes of egress. If you haven’t done this you have little choice but to put your head down and let them pass.

Option 2:

Your team initiates on the lead element and takes a few out. If your lucky, the other team reacts poorly and runs back from whence they came giving your Squad time and opportunity to ‘un-ass’ the area quickly. If you are unlucky, the other team has trained in immediate action drills (Battle Drills) and assault your position. Either way, your team must now break contact and fall back to a predetermined rally point. (More on rally points later).

Option 3:

You delay your ambush letting the bulk of the OPFOR pass and initiate on the trail element. This should result in a fair amount of surprise and you should be able to do a fair amount of damage. The OPFOR will usually do 1 of 2 things. 1) move quickly out of your area accepting their losses or 2) turn and assault back into the kill zone trying to overwhelm your position.
If they choose number 2, watch for them to bunch up as the re-orient themselves to the direction they just came from. Very few people, teams, or gaggles, can perform an about- march without bunching up. If/when this happens, use this opportunity to fire rapidly into the grouping.
Also, remember that when paint starts flying, most players look for cover to their front and not their rear (where you are).

Well, those are Charlie Tuna’s 3 options but Charlie is a resourceful guy so …
He has taken the liberty of placing 2-3 more ambushers as “trail guards/security” approximately 25-40 feet further ahead. This squad has 2 opportunities. 1) when Ambush Team 1 initiates, the target force reacts by attempting to advance out of the kill zone, Ambush Team 2 can then initiate their own ambush thus adding to the OPFOR’s panic/confusion and, seeing this, Charlie Tuna can then move his team into position to “cross the T” and assault the backs of the OPFOR as they are engaged by Ambush Team 2.
Should the OPFOR turn aggressively back to assault the first Ambush Teams position, Ambush Team 2 can move up and take the OPFOR under effective fire from their 6. Personally, I have not had the chance to use this in paintball but in a former life, it worked like a charm against anything but armor.

In conclusion, Ambushes are completely dependent on surprise. In fact, if you believe that surprise has been compromised, abort the mission until a later time. Speed is also vital. Make sure each member knows where the Rally point is and understands when and how to get there. I am not talking about speed as in “miles per hour”, I am referring to speed of action. The ambush must be initiated and carried through faster than the OPFOR can react. This takes time and practice. You must achieve the ambushes objective before the point at which a clean break can be made is reached. You must!

Reacting to an Ambush!!

( or how to ruin a surprise party)

So here it is late in the game and your side has been having it all it’s own way for some time now. You’re getting a bit overconfident and complacent. Your General wants you to take a small force and assault the enemy’s base using the same trail that led to his last victory. You assemble your Squad, (about 8-10) and move off down the trail. In spite of being somewhat overconfident and lazy, your Squad maintains decent spacing as it moves in a staggered column.
As your Squad begins to round a small bend in the trail, all hell breaks loose and the player on your immediate right gets gogged and is out, others freeze, and still others begin bailing in every direction doing what is affectionately called PANIC! Time to face it, …you are screwed! Has anyone seen this before?

So, What can you do?
Near Ambush:

There are generally two types of ambushes, near ambushes and far ambushes.
In a near ambush, (one that is close to you with accurate fire and within range of paint grenades), those troops in the kill zone must immediately return fire while going prone or diving behind the nearest available cover. Anyone not directly in the kill zone will take cover from positions where they can still lay down a massive amount of suppressive fire.
The guys caught in the kill zone must then try everything to blast their way out of the beaten zone quickly by assaulting through the ambush! The suppression teams must remember to shift their fire away from their own guys as the begin to assault through. Once the mad dash through is complete, the suppression team moves up to assist in the clean up of the ambushers. Once you have done this, regroup and wire your shit back together.

Far Ambush:

In a far ambush (you are out of grenade range and the incoming fire is inaccurate), those members in the kill zone immediately take cover and return fire. Those not in the immediate kill zone, will begin to move (usually undetected) and begin to flank the ambushers. (Keep in mind that a smart OPFOR will have security posted on their flanks)

As you can see, there is more you can do when ambushing then there is when being ambushed. Both circumstances come down to acting faster than the OPFOR can react.

Happy Hunting!

By Michael Breslin
HeadHunter Paintball

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  2 Responses to “Ambush!”

  1. [...] ambush article Ambush! | Catshack Reports I thought this was a good read… [...]

  2. Awesome break down of sound military tactics on reacting and carrying out successful ambushes!

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