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Author Topic: THE USE OF OCís IN TACTICAL RE-ENACTMENTS  (Read 2142 times)
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« on: January 09, 2010, 05:01:54 PM »


What the Army calls "Observer Controllers" and what most re-enactors think when they hear the term are two different things.  Re-enactors tend to view OC's as umpires, judges, or some type of event authority figure who has final say on things.  A true OC in the Army's view is a trainer first, a safety officer second, and a moderator of events third.  OC's are there to watch their counterpart, answer tactical questions when asked, make sure the soldiers are properly equipped and prepared for their missions, and then watch the actions to make sure people stay safe and generally follow their orders.  Their biggest role is in conducting the After Action Review with their unit.  This is where a great deal of the learning comes from.  It is the most important thing an OC does, short of watching the safety issues, and is why the Army invested so heavily in the process.  During the AAR, the OC guides the discussion by the participants to make them see what they did, how they did it, what went right, what went wrong, and how they can improve.

At a reenactment tactical, the "OC's" are more of a controller than an observer looking for lessons learned.  Since the units involved are not really military units and have had little if any training, it is pointless for the OC's to be in the teaching mode.  They should make sure the unit commanders carry out their orders, keep the units from getting too lost, maintain the flow of the scenario by moving people along or holding them up as needed, and adjudicating the "I shot you first" BS arguments that occasionally arise.

In order to try to maintain some sort of order and prevent total chaos it is a very good idea to use OCs when possible. Sometimes you can get away without the presence of OCs but that is normally not the case if you want a real quality tactical which simulates military operations and not a glorified bug hunt or Scavenger hunt.

The basic thing to remember is that you will only get out of a tactical what you invest in it.  If the organizers run a first class event then the participants will have a good time and through their enthusiasm and participation will add to overall quality of the event. If you do a poor job organizing and running it then it will be a poor event
A good military tactical re-enactment should be an exercise which requires the forces in the field to replicate actual actions which historically would have been undertaken by those forces during the actual war.

Such things as land navigation through use of maps and compass, logistical concerns such as food, water and ammunition as well as the ability to issue and carry out orders using protocol and tactics of the period are critical.

Planning for an Event

1.  The playing field must be inspected in advance during the time of year in which you are going to play.  It can be done days weeks or months in advance but the landscape changes with the seasons so it must be timely.

2.  Communications:  Each OC must have a radio, each overall commander on each side in each lane must have communications and if vehicles are part of the operations, the driver must have communications.  Unit commanders do not get radios, only overall lane commanders,(which could be the largest unit in that lane on each side), they pass down the orders to the unit commanders, the overall commanders take care of the battle tactics after the OCís cut them loose.  OC's run the show, no player or no unit commander should take it upon them selves to give orders to units or individuals which jeopardize the scenario with out clearing it first with the OC, and orders must be followed.

3.  The rules of engagement must be set and explained in advance. Example, snipers have to be announced to all players before the battle and an OC has to be attached to the sniper, half way through a battle is not the time to stop play because your mad that 30 participants didn't take there hit from a sniper. Grenade launchers or other special military apparatus must be declared before the battle and the OCís must set the rules of engagement. In other words, all special tactics, weapons etc must be declared before the battle and all players, OC's, overall commanders and unit commanders have to be aware of it.

4.    All players must be made aware that when an OC tells you to take a hit you will take the hit and you WILL FALL BACK, (or what ever the pre arranged procedure is), cussing out the OC or refusing to take the hit or refusing to move from you position SHOULD be reason enough to administer a penalty of time or expulsion from that scenario. ALL CASUALTIES HAVE TO REMOVE THERE HELMITS AND FALL BACK! Refusal to follow directions from the OC should have some time penalty or expulsion from the scenario. Throwing of weapons, helments, canteen or any other object at your fellow re-enactor should be reason enough to remove your from the EVENT.  Too harsh you say, GROW-UP WE ARE ADULTS WHO HAVE BEEN TAUGHT BY SOCIETY TO FOLLOW THE RULES!!!!

4.   OC's should be silent during the performance of the battle, we should not be talking tactics or giving away positions, however, when everyone finds that perfect tree or hole in the ground and the battle becomes a staring contest, it is time to get things moving, OC's know more about what is going on around you, OC's may have to involve themselves by divulging information to make things happen.  This is to be discouraged but it may be necessary, you came to this event to have fun not take root behind some tree. 

5.   OC's should act as guides for the overall lane commanders as well as the unit commanderís up-to-the point of reaching the line of departure, (unless land navigation is in use). Follow the OC's directions to the line of departure, and then the overall commanders and unit commanders take over.  Once the battle commences then the commanders run the show as far as tactics, but the OC's keep the pace going.


1.   OC's have absolute final authority during the tactical. Arguing can get a unit or individual kicked out.

2.    Have enough OC's to keep control of the matter. One OC per maneuvering unit is critical. There must be radio contact between OCs.

3.    Have OCs who has the knowledge of weapons and what they can do at various ranges and situations. Or have standard info cards or sheets on hand to issue to OCs.

4.    Design scenarios that have a solid outer frame work to keep forces under control but be somewhat flexible with the interior details to allow for creativity to address various situations. Try not to micro manage the scenario unless the scenario requires.

5.    Incorporate props into scenarios (hedge hogs to be destroyed, mock bunkers to be destroyed, mock land mines to be detected and removed, air drop canisters to be found, etc.

6.    Make use of specialty units such as medics to help bring casualties back into the fight quicker, engineers to simulate building or destroying things.

7.    Be creative, give your participants something to talk about, let them have plenty of trigger time, and just enough down time to not wear them out.  I



Compiled by, Dave, Rob and Gary


"see you out there"
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