Contact Reports

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This is a suggested method of reporting contacts, not a bible.


A contact report entails "A Triple D":

  • Alert
  • Direction
  • Distance
  • Description


The alert or warning, which can be up to two words, the first and most important of which is Contact! It may then have modifiers such as, Audio, Flash (gun flash), Smoke, Dust (indicating vehicle movement), Enemy, Friendly, Tracks (with compass direction, eg running NNW,SSE), Trees down etc.


After warning your comrades you need to tell them which way to face. If you get wounded or slotted after this they at least know where to look.

Frame of Reference

If I call out a contact direction from London for a contact in Ireland and you are in New York and I say "Contact West" and you look west you are looking in the wrong direction. Contact reports should be given by relative direction based on a frame of reference. Either compass from your position, or that of a reference objects.

Line of March

Line of march is always your first point of reference. A groups, line of march in cardinal compass form or better in degrees or mils should always be given by team leader every time there is a major direction change. That is your first and primary reference. Ideally all waypoints and lines of march are given both at the briefing before the mission and repeated in small briefings at waypoints, rally points, LZs etc. Adding a compass baring to a WP marker on map is also useful.

Designated Reference

Designate a reference by stating "REFERENCE!" followed by giving a compass or cardinal direction and a description of the reference object such as "220 Degrees, Brown wooden barn" Any object can be designated to act as frame of reference, preferably reference objects should be predesignated at the initial briefing or waypoint briefing, but they can also be used to pinpoint distant contacts. When a player designates a target in this manner players receiving the contact should say "Seen!" if they can see the object visually in first/third/command view "NOT SEEN" if after a few seconds they cannot see the designated target or reference object. Otherwise the object should be referred to via the map and marker with the statement "Marked On Map!" and the marker description eg. "As EI x 4" (4 enemy infantry) and the player receiving the contact information should say, "Acknowledged!" or "Understood!" or "Got that!" etc. Markers that are not seen need also to be pointed out with "THAT Marker NOT seen!" You can additionally refer to the map and place you compass on its position to get a bearing from it. Then use distance reference methods listed below for directions and distance relative to it.


Any geographic point; objects such as a lone tree, sign post or power pylon, building by general type eg. church, farmhouse, office block etc, areas such as: lake, forest, town, village, or hill top, usually designated by height; can be used as a Geographic reference. You can also refer to the map and place you compass on its position to get a bearing from it.

People, Vehicles and Groups

Any person eg. player or external group member, friend or foe, dead or alive, can be designated as an external frame of reference. Once again you can refer to the map and place your compass on its position to get a bearing from it.

Marker Reference

The ArmA map can be marked; the Dot is probably the most useful marker. Where assaulting a town it is useful to number each building in a quadrant with a dot marker, so that contacts can be reported quickly and so that clearing the buildings is organised, after each is cleared its dot is removed. When assaulting a particular structure; aspect faces given as colour can be useful:

  • Green For Front
  • Yellow For Back
  • Red for right
  • Black for left

Mission Phases are also best designated by colour.

Any one of these map markers can be used as reference point.

Direction Reporting methods

Range to the target and threat are the key factors in choosing how to report a contact.

Less than 150 m Range:

You should use 90 Degree Arcs from line of march, it takes too long to look at the compass: and estimating the distance does not need much exactitude, you just need to say whether it is close or near. Examples: Contact Left, Contact, Right, Contact Front, Contact Rear. Add Close, for less than 50 m Add Near for 50 m to 100 m

150 m to 300 m Range

Clock position from line of march and range to contact, it takes too long to look at the compass, but you need more accuracy of direction than a 90 Degree Arc.

300 m to 500 m Range, plus all air contacts

Compass bearing, accuracy of direction is paramount at longer ranges you need reduce the area people are searching so they can get on the target as fast as possible.

500m plus

At 500 m plus compass bearing is often not sufficient so reference to external objects becomes necessary.


As well simply giving distance to a contact, distance affects the brevity and type of direction information you give. A closer contact needs reporting quicker and because it covers a greater arc of view doe not need so much precision in its direction. Bigger threats need brevity. To judge distance at lower difficulty the space bar and mouse hover over target can be used. The map can also be used to give distance. The grid squares zoomed out are 1000m Zoomed in the are 100m. Several weapons such as sniper rifles, AFV guns and AT launchers have sights designed so they can be used to estimate range. There is also a laser designator that has a ranging system.


This tells you what the contact is: Armor, Infantry, Vehicle, Bunker, Aircraft, Entrenchment etc. Size and weapon of the unit is also important: Soldier, RPG, MG, sniper; Fire Team, Squad, Platoon, Company. What you are doing about the contact eg. Observing. What the enemy is doing eg. State of awareness of the enemy useful: Aware, Unaware, Cautious, At Ease, Firing on... etc.

Use the Map!

In ArmA, if you have the interactive map, use it! Mark your contact on the map use the dot, it is the smallest marker, then add an intials based description; so the T for tank, I for infantry, V for vehicle and a number for the number of units eg. "I-8" would mean an infantry contact of 8 soldiers.

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