2 Hours Left to Support a Troper-Created Project : Personal Space (discuss)

The Squad

"Look, we know you're new to this command, but the army field manual is very clear on the subject of squad stereotype composition. Every squad must include: 1 quiet religious guy who goes insane, 1 maverick loose cannon who plays by his own rules and dies in a blaze of glory, 1 covert recon operative with a dark past who at first betrays the team but then has a last minute crisis of conscience and nobly sacrifices himself for the greater good, 1 fresh faced new recruit who survives but loses his innocence and learns to become a man and 3 or 4 other guys who you don't care about so they can get brutally shot so you can show how serious the war is."
Loading Ready Run makes it official.

Military and war stories have a number of different levels of focus, from the global strategic level all the way down to squad tactics, and even the plights of individual soldiers on the battleground.

When the focus is at the smaller end of the scale, we get this trope. Very often, this is a squad composed (like a Five-Man Band or The Team) of interlocking character types or roles.

There are quite a few similarities with the types and roles of the Command Roster. The main difference is the Command Roster is a very specific combination of skills that may not be strictly military. The Squad may be a Badass Crew and have a Squad Nickname. If it's made up of women, it's an example of an Amazon Brigade.

The trope's inspiration comes from the fireteam and squad units of infantrymen. Such a setup possibly first appeared in The Napoleonic Wars, where open order skirmishers armed with rifles (at the time, more accurate but slower to reload than standard muskets) depended on close coordination to be effective. They would stealthily get into a good position to fire good shots and avoid the sweeping, densely-formed gunfire that enemy line infantry units provided. The use of fire and movement tactics - some soldiers move towards the enemy, others provide covering fire - also contributed to the reorganisation of militaries into small squads. However, gunpowder in The Napoleonic Wars was "black powder" that would quickly fill a battlefield with thick smoke, which made firing accurately difficult. It was not until World War 1, where breech-loading rifles using smokeless powder had become commonplace, that the average infantryman became far more accurate and quick-firing. Throwing in the (proliferation of machine gun crews) that would inevitably shoot first when a mass of men approached them, defenders in cover were granted a huge advantage. Military science thus experimented: infantrymen would attack fortified positions in small groups, approaching with methodical covertness. This became the default method of military tactics, and remains so to this day.


Some of those character types and roles:

If the story follows the characters through boot camp, or specialized training, expect to see Drill Sergeant Nasty make an appearance. If the story follows them after the war, expect at least one Shell-Shocked Veteran.
Some works featuring The Squad include:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheSquad