Situational Awareness

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The concept of Situational Awareness

Situational Awareness (SA) is the perception of one's environment, both with regards of what is there, how it changes over time, and the impact of one's actions in that environment. A person with a high situational awareness can both better and faster judge how the environment will change over time and how their actions will influence the outcome. They have a good "feel" of the situation.

Having a good situational awareness is critical on the battlefield since making the right decision in a timely manner is a matter of life and death, and one will often have to work with an incomplete picture of the situation that makes a good ability to accurately judge the outcome despite lacking information very important.

Some keys to good situational awareness are:

  • Watch your surroundings. You need to know the relative position of your friends, your enemies, mission objectives, important terrain features, etc.

In-game you can look around with the mouse by holding the Look Around key (default: 'C'). Other alternatives are to use head-tracking devices like the NaturalPoint TrackIR, or FaceTrackNoIR.

  • Communicate. If you do not know the intention of your team's actions it is hard to predict where they will be, what they will do, and how they will react to a situation.

In-game there is both text chat, there is voice chat that can be used in a squad, and there are radio commands available via key presses accessible with the 'Radio Message to Team' and 'Radio Message to Squad' keybinds (default 'T' and 'Y' respectively).

  • What would the enemy do? Would the enemy want to fly high or fly low? Will they prefer airspace close to their own anti-air artillery? Will they try to bomb strategic objectives? Will they flank or come right on? Will they maneuver or camp?

By playing all nations and a large variety of planes and tanks you better learn what the enemy is likely to do on a particular map and with a particular vehicle.

  • What would the enemy expect me to do? If you know what the enemy thinks about you, or about your tank or plane, the better you can use their prejudice against them.

What do you and your team usually do on this map?


Types of Situational Awareness

In addition to the basic concept of situational awereness there are different scopes to which it can apply. The most basic level is the individual situational awareness, where you know your surroundings. But there is also the Team SA, which is about what information is important for a team member to be able to achieve his/her goals, and there is Shared SA, which the common information in a group that matters for all members of it.


Individual SA

What do I need to know to do perform my task?


Example:

You and two other pilots fly in a group of three. Pilot A is acting as bait, pilot B is the leading plane to fly top cover, and you are pilot B's wingman, so the plan is to defeat enemy fighters by luring them into a trap. What do you need to know to perform your role as wingman?


You need to know:

  • If you and your plane are in a state fit for fight, be it plane damage, fuel, ammunition, or something else.
  • ...where A is, and where he is headed.
  • ...where B is, and where he is headed.
  • ...if A is in a state where he can defend himself, be it plane damage, fuel, ammunition, having altitude to make a diving escape with, or something else.
  • ...if B is in a state in which he can help A and help you, be it plane damage, fuel, ammunition, or something else.
  • ...where enemy planes are, and what they are doing.
  • ...where friendly planes are, and what they are doing.
  • ...where bogeys are, and what they are doing.


Team SA

What does team member A and team member B need to know to perform their task so that we can reach our common goal?


Example:

Continuing the example we now include what A and B needs to know. We already know what you need to know, but what does the bait and wing leader need to be aware of?


A needs to know:

  • ...if he and his plane are in a state fit for fight, be it plane damage, fuel, ammunition, or something else.
  • ...if you and B are near enough to help him if he gets attacked.
  • ...if you and B are in a state in which you can help him, be it plane damage, fuel, ammunition, or something else.
  • ...where enemy planes are, and what they are doing.
  • ...where friendly planes are, and what they are doing.
  • ...where bogeys are, and what they are doing.


B needs to know:

  • ...if he and his plane are in a state fit for fight, be it plane damage, fuel, ammunition, or something else.
  • ...where A is, and where he is headed.
  • ...if you as a wingman are with him.
  • ...if A is in a state where he can defend himself, be it plane damage, fuel, ammunition, having altitude to make a diving escape with, or something else.
  • ...if you are in a state in which you can help him, be it plane damage, fuel, ammunition, or something else.
  • ...where enemy planes are, and what they are doing.
  • ...where friendly planes are, and what they are doing.
  • ...where bogeys are, and what they are doing.


Shared SA

What does all of us need to know for our team to reach our common goal?


Example:

Continuing the above example we can see that all three need to know several things that are the same. The common information that all members of the team need to know can be summed up to the following:

  • ...where everyone in the team is.
  • ...the ability of every team member in the event of a fight.
  • ...where enemy planes are, and what they are doing.
  • ...where friendly planes are, and what they are doing.
  • ...where bogeys are, and what they are doing.


Note that information can be quite relative. For example it is of no interest for A and B to know your exact location as long as you are with B, since you are supposed to be his wingman. They know by extension where you are, as long as you are where you are supposed to be. If you would fly away from B for some reason however, your position, heading, and intent would need to be shared.