The Diamond Formation: Team Tactics for Preppers

Any prepper would be wise if they planned on surviving a societal collapse or some other indefinite-term survival situation as part of a group, and not just part of any group but a proper team, a collection of individuals capable of working together closely and in unison.

Only teamwork allows a collective to equal more than the sum of its parts when it comes to doing work or defending what is yours.

Unfortunately, unless any given prepper has a background in the military or law enforcement proper team tactics are not going to be second nature, and many don’t even practice them in any capacity.

In an effort to remedy this deficiency, we are producing an ongoing series of articles covering team tactics for preppers.

In each of these articles, including this one, we will dig into the finer details of team tactics and procedures, specifically on-foot movement and all the prerequisite skills required for the activity. Today’s article covers a fairly obscure but nonetheless useful and highly flexible formation, the diamond.

Other articles on team formations:

This formation has started to fall by the wayside even for dedicated infantrymen in the military, but it used to see significantly more use.

More important for our purposes, the diamond offers quite a few unique and particular benefits for small- to medium-sized teams, and is capable of quickly shifting to respond to changing conditions and threats from any direction.

It is challenging to pull off if a team is not well-drilled, but the juice is definitely worth the squeeze in this case. Keep reading to learn more about this old but dependably solid formation.

Diamond Formation Essentials

Formations are a balancing act. Contrary to a common fallacy committed by an inexperienced or overzealous team leader, you should not pick a formation and then stick to it no matter what after you have departed your base or home.

Choosing a formation is not a matter of analyzing all possible variations in the terrain and choosing the “one, right formation” that will do the best under the circumstances. That is totally wrong!

A formation should be chosen because it allows a team to balance the often competing needs for security, the ability to put out effective force, speed, and not least of all control all the team members.

A formation is only as good as its members’ cohesion and some formations are more challenging to maintain than others, conditions being equal. At any rate, the point of all this is that the formation can and should change according to changing conditions, terrain, and objective requirements.

All formations have their pros and cons, and the diamond formation that is the subject of this article is no different, but where the diamond formation really shines is in its sheer adaptability and responsiveness assuming that at least one team member at any “point” of the diamond is skilled and experienced.

A well-rehearsed team using the diamond formation effectively is a thing of beauty, able to respond to all sorts of events and conditions.

The diamond formation is not the fastest, but it’s pretty fast. It is not the easiest to control for a TL, but it’s still pretty easy to control. It does not afford the best security in any given direction, but it affords good security in all directions.

Lastly, it does not allow all members of the team to fire in any given direction, but it allows at least three-quarters of the team to fire in any direction at any given time.

If it sounds like the diamond formation is an “elite generalist” sort of arrangement, you’ve just about got it!

Diamond Formation Details

The diamond formation, as you might be expecting, consists of four corners, or points, in exactly the same shape as a diamond on a playing card.

One of these longer points leads the formation with the TL and/or a scout (if applicable) at the head. The rest of the team members or elements are arranged at the other points.

The diamond formation is particularly recommendable for small teams or groups composed of several smaller teams.

The reasons for this are many, namely that it is highly adaptable while still being easy to control, and even better it is still easy to control if the team is made up of a mix of experienced and inexperienced members (as with the file formation).

Spacing should be maintained per normal, but overall is less critically important for good control.

Why? That’s the beauty of it…

If using a larger team with either more experienced members mixed in with less experienced members, or several independent teams operating as a larger formation, the “junior” TLs, or experienced members can be positioned at each point and it is only they who need to keep the overall TL in view; the junior TLs subordinates/less experienced members need only to keep the “juniors” in view.

This makes control a snap for the overall TL and also allows a high degree of flexibility. Less experienced members of the formation or even dependents who are not capable of contributing in a meaningful way to the defense of the formation can easily be protected and guided.

It keeps getting better. Assuming the team is small or reasonably small the overall team leader can move from point to point when the formation needs to change directions; all the attendant team members then have to do is turn and- you guessed it- follow the team leader!

When push comes to shove, three-quarters of the formation’s firepower can be brought to bear towards a threat on any single facing at any time.

Only the element that is occupying the farthest point from the hostiles cannot engage in a meaningful way without risk of hitting their teammates.

This “agility of fire” is definitely an asset for the diamond formation, although it does demand that each individual team member or element attain a higher degree of proficiency, a fact that is somewhat mitigated by placing more experienced members in “junior” leadership positions over less experienced members at each point.

The high degree of flexibility, mobility, control, and security made possible by the effective employment of diamond formation is something that typically small prepper groups cannot afford to do without.

It might be challenging compared to some of the other formations you’re already familiar with, but time spent mastering it is well-spent indeed.

Pros and Cons

Don’t let the potential complexity of the diamond formation throw you off; learn it and use it! Here is a sort of “cliff notes” on its best features, as well as some drawbacks you should strive to minimize.

Pro – The diamond formation offers superb well-roundedness. It is easy for the TL to control, reasonably mobile, and affords excellent security and force projection in all directions for at least three-quarters of the team at any time.

Pro – The diamond formation is another excellent choice if the overall team is going to be comprised of several smaller teams working in unison, or if it is made up of a mix of experienced and less experienced members.

By stationing assistant team leaders or more experienced members at any point along with less experienced members, overall formation control and cohesion are easily maintained while remaining flexible.

Pro – Rapid redeployment and direction changes are easily accomplished with the diamond formation as the overall team leader needs only to move himself to another point of the diamond, instead of the entire formation moving around the team leader to accomplish reorientation.

Pro – This formation is highly adaptable to larger or smaller teams. It works just as well with four members as it does with 12 or 16.

Con – The inherent flexibility and adaptability of the diamond formation mean that the onus for proper positioning and cohesion is highly dependent on the team members or assistant team leaders in charge of any given point. A lack of experience or lack of attention can see elements badly out of position.


The diamond formation is something of a sleeper success in our modern era. It was once far more common in infantry operations some years ago and is now employed only by a few.

However, its best qualities have not degraded with age for small units, and that means that the typical size of a prepper’s survival group will be well served by this highly flexible, adaptable, and mobile formation, especially if a team is comprised of more and less experienced individuals.

Do not be dissuaded by its seeming complexity compared to other formations. Learn the ins and outs of the diamond formation and your group can benefit from its many strengths for a minimal investment.

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