Keep it simple. Use whatever you can find on the ground (it saves carrying it), but make sure you use the same thing to represent same thing (i.e. don't use pine cones as Enemy and also as RV markers). Powder paint in DKP bottles, plastic soldiers, monopoly houses, plastic farm animals and laser pointers are an affliction of the OTC - don't use them, use items from nature (the more closely related to the things they represent the better). So, what do you need?
What you'll need
- I have used garden sticks with some laminated card (Blue for Friendly Forces, Red for Enemy) on them. Useful, because they can be driven into the ground and won't blow away. Also useful during the summary as you can move them easily. Now available here for colour laser printing onto Rite in the Rain paper.
- 2m lengths of 1cm wide ribbon. You need bright colours. I would recommend red, white, blue, green, yellow. Dark ones will simply be invisible in the dusk/night. Just remember to weight down the ribbon with sticks if it looks at all windy.
- White string for marking the grid lines on your 'area in general' model.
- Small number of coloured chalks - useful in an urban environment / patrol base, and easier than trying to build a model on a concrete floor.
All of which wraps up and tucks into a pocket and can be made at a cost of less than one of the pre-made model kits on the market. I would advise not using bits of kit, rat packs etc. for the model. Remember your prelims: 'In the event of attack, 1 Sect Comd is to destroy the model'? The last thing you want when you are coming under attack is your mess tins being hoofed into the ulu.
The_Duke recommends: Pack of laminated cards, various colours, with marker pens to write on them. Small, light, adaptable. Can't argue with that.
This whole idea of kicking the model alles uber der platz the second you think you have been compromised is stupid. You give orders within a secure environment - patrol base, harbour etc which must be capable of being defended for the 30 seconds it takes for the 2ic to grab the ribbons and stuff them in his pocket whilst kicking the rest of the model flat.
Same for bugging out on the first round being fired - you are more vulnerable bugging out than you are conducting an organised defence from your shell scrapes in a well sited harbour area.
More useful advice
- The model should be large enough to show clearly all relevant ground features, yet not so large that the far edge is unclear to the O group.
- High ground/low ground should be clearly marked, in 3D if time permits.
- Linear features such as rivers/streams or roads/tracks should be marked where they affect the op. i.e. Obstacle crossing, navigation, boundaries.
- A scale should be established and described in the prelims if not actually marked. Hint: use the gap between LoD and Objective for small distances and the edge of your model for longer ones.
- North should be marked and the model oriented to the ground. The O Grp should be seated so as to view the model from the same direction they will be approaching the ground.
- Certain patrol ops might require two models: ‘ground in general’ and ‘objective in detail’. The ‘action on objective’ paragraph is normally lengthy so a separate model can be a good idea, time permitting.
- DS fetishes can include using natural materials to aid destruction in the event of interruption. Personally, I was never a fan of using ribbon, labelled cards, etc. They have their uses, but a trickle of foot powder, a scrape in the dirt, bits of torn up ammo/ratpack box or a trail of pine needles do the trick as well and don’t need to be lugged around and recovered each time. So long as you explain what they represent and are consistent in your labelling, there shouldn’t be a problem.
- Relief: Dig into the ground to create relief, only start "decorating" once the relief is as per the map (you really are wasting your time otherwise) no matter how crap the markings are if there is good relief you can brief off of it.
- Features: As much as possible use natural indicator (i.e. Pine forest Pine needles, open field use dry needles etc) Blue ribbon for rivers and streams, grey for roads etc (I have saw models created using powder paint, for streams and roads, it was excellent, fit for purpose but in reality not sustainable)
- Markings: Make up reusable lumi marker cards (include route markers, RV markers, callsign markers, weapon symbols as much as possible) and don't forget a north pointer - make an arrow from 3 bits of wood. You can buy ready made ones from most mil shops, but you will probably need to make a few more to boot. Fablon the things. (I am in favour of marking in this way, as familiarisation with the ground should be a concurrent activity during pre O group admin)
The O Group
- Make sure you have already issued a Warning Order in sufficient time to allow individual battle prep to begin. A Composition Card, detailing each man’s role and personal/specialist equipment is a good idea for a patrol op since it allows people to do maximum battle prep.
- Passing round a brew will ensure everyone stays awake.
- Seat the O Grp in the order you want them. This may be OOM for a patrol, position in an ambush or formation in the assault.
- A good set of prelims set the stage for the main bulk. Take care to describe the model thoroughly during prelims N.B. this doesn’t mean describe the ground – that’s in the next paragraph – just what everything in your model represents, the orientation and the scale.
- When delivering the orders, be clear, precise and pause frequently to allow your audience to digest what you’ve told them. In a lengthy set such as patrol orders, it may be worth doing ‘question, pause, nominate’ and ‘any questions’ at the end of each paragraph rather than storing them up until the end.
- Never sacrifice rehearsal time for the sake of giving an all-inclusive set of orders. If you have to say ‘actions-on will be rehearsed’ don’t be afraid to take the hit from the DS – your blokes will be far more likely to produce the goods if they’ve walked the op through even once.
- Always double check you have the correct CEI and it covers a worst-case time scale.
- Never forget to synchronise watches.
- Don’t ever listen to advice from His Imperial Splendour, the Emperor Mong.
With thanks to smartascarrots and T.F.R