Jäger Loadouts: The Team Leader

The Team Leader is a specialist of sorts. His primary weapon is not his carbine, it is his team; the men to his left and right. His loadout is therefore tailored to support his handling of his primary weapon. Today I will describe what a Jäger Team Leader should carry at all times and what mission-specific equipment he may consider carrying.


The Team Leader should be equipped with the same model carbine as everyone else in his team to simplify the team’s logistics. At the very least, it should take the same magazines and ammunition. He may opt to have a magazine of tracers somewhere on his kit for use in marking targets. The specific setup of the rifle does not matter that much.

Squad leaders are a little different. I am of the opinion that squad leaders should not have a magnified optic on their weapons in order to discourage them from getting tunnel vision engaging targets. The squad leader should only be firing his weapon in self defense or when absolutely necessary, so he can focus on coordinating the maneuver of his teams. For this reason, I believe that squad leaders should have at most a red dot or 1x prism optic on their weapons.

Minimum Gear (always carried)

  • The Rifleman’s Essentials. The team leader employs the fighter-leader concept, which means leading by example. Although his primary weapon is his team, he still employs his carbine and must still be prepared to survive in the field. Therefore, he is no exception to carrying the Rifleman’s Essentials of ammo, water, and basic medical supplies.
  • Notepad and Pencil. While this important for every rifleman to carry, it is absolutely essential for the Team Leader. Writing material is indispensable for keeping a patrol log, preparing combat reports, making a sleep schedule, etc. I strongly recommend a 4″x6″ Rite-in-the-Rain notebook with at least 2 pencils.
  • Wristwatch. Another item that every rifleman should have that is even more important for a team leader. A watch is necessary for keeping pace, setting sleep schedules, noting the time on combat reports, and synchronizing maneuver. The watch should NOT be a smart watch/cell phone, unless you want the enemy tracking your position.
  • Map and Map Tools. Although navigation is primarily the task of the point man, the Team Leader should have a copy of the local map and all map tools for 1: redundancy, 2: situational awareness, and 3: mission planning. A full set of map tools includes the following:
    • Map inside a plastic sleeve (can be improvised with a page protector)
    • Compass
    • Map Protractor
    • “Map Pens” (extra fine-tip permanent markers)
    • Map Pen Eraser (I recommend a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser)
  • Inter-Team Radio. If the team is operating in conjunction with other teams in a squad, the team leader needs to be able to communicate with the other team leaders (and the squad leader, if there is one). This does not need to be powerful or extra-fancy, as you will rarely use it to talk further than a few hundred meters. The team leader is the ONLY ONE who needs this tool, don’t let everyone carry a radio or everyone will talk on it. My personal choice is a Baofeng UV-9R, but there are many great options to choose from.
  • Smoke Grenades. Smoke can be used for many things such as signalling and marking locations. They are also good for temporary concealment when you need to break contact or maneuver. Since the team leader is normally positioned where he can maintain the best situational awareness, he will be in the best position to identify when and where smoke is needed. I strongly recommend that he carry at least 2 smoke grenades where they can be easily accessed in a hurry, with more in his pack.
  • Weapon-mounted IR/Visible Laser. I put this here because a laser is useful for far more than just aiming the rifle. As a team/squad leader, I’ve used my laser to mark targets, assign hasty fields of fire at night, and identify my team’s position to my squad leader. I recommend a full power class III laser like a Perst-4 (if you can get one) because the visible beam on high power has so much utility for a team leader. Just don’t get carried away using the laser or you’ll make yourself a target.

Mission-Specific Gear (NOT always carried)

  • Analog Signaling Tools. Electronics fail, and occasionally the team leader may need to fall back on analog forms of signal to coordinate his actions with other team leaders. In fact, some of these tools are so reliable that I occasionally prefer using them over radios.
    • Whistle. A good, loud coach’s whistle will do the trick. It is obvious, unmistakable, and can be used day or night. I recommend a plastic one that doesn’t rattle as much as metal. If a rattling whistle is all you can find, you can remove the pea. I always keep a whistle attached to my chest rig and have found opportunity to use it many times.
    • Flares. Used primarily for signaling at night but can also be used during the day in certain weather conditions. Be mindful that you do not light the forest on fire around you. Can be handheld or fired into the sky from a launcher.
    • Chemlights. Like flares, but without the fire hazard. They also last much longer (8 hours average) and have nearly an infinite amount of uses. Available in several colors, including IR.
  • Binoculars/monoculars. For when you want to take a closer look at something far away without aiming a weapon at it. Binos offer a greater field of view than rifle scopes, and often have greater magnification. A simple, compact 10x25mm bino will do for a Team Leader. Squad Leaders should probably have larger optics with a 50mm objective lens for better performance in low light. If you can, get a set with a milliradian reticle so that it can also be used to spot and adjust fires from support weapons.


The Team Leader’s job is to control the actions of his team. To do so successfully he must be equipped to plan his part of the mission, communicate with the squad leader, and coordinate with other team leaders. The above list of equipment is designed to fill those requirements.

When we are talking about the context of a Jäger Team Leader conducting light infantry style operations, he must be able to do so with as little dependence on electronics and outside infrastructure as possible. This is why I didn’t include a fancy tactical tablet on this list. I’ve seen small unit leaders lean too heavily on this kind of tool, and it often ended up being more of a hinderance than an asset.

If you are interested in learning more about what it takes to be an effective team leader, sign up for a Team Leader Class. I’ll be adding new classes for 2023 over the next month, so check the training schedule often for new class listings.

Published by vonsteubentraining

Mike is the owner and chief instructor of Von Steuben Training & Consulting (VSTAC). A self-described “Tactical Scholar,” he spent 6 years in the Marine Corps as a radio operator and small-unit tactics instructor. He has dedicated his life to honing the tactical prowess of himself and his fellow patriots, guided by the wisdom of his commanding officer, Jesus Christ. He can be contacted via email at vonsteubentraining@protonmail.com

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