Fleet Command Guide
Fleet command is as much a task of psychology as it is a task of military preparedness and skill. More so than any other command situation, game-command has to suffer through insubordination and lack of discipline. Inspiring obedience, discipline, and above all loyalty is paramount, then, to proper command. Dismissing the psychological/morale side of the game as so much rubbish is the first mistake of the "d00d" commander - and a mistake a wise commander will not make.
Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances. - Jefferson
While in EVE no one is going to discuss your greater or lesser virtues, clear communications is the key to every other aspect of EVE combat. Teamwork, coordination, and calmness are the foundations of a strong pillar of command.
The first and best victory is to conquer self. - Plato
Panic spreads like a plague, but usually does so from the top. No matter how stressful a situation, the Fleet Commander should sound cool and calm, almost (but not quite) to the point of boredom. Confidence should be obvious, but not overconfidence. Somehow, you have to manage to communicate all of this simply from voice tone. If players hear that you are cool, calm, and confident, they will assume you know something they do not (which may or may not actually be true.) Particularly if you are successful as a Fleet Commander, they will trust your judgment above their own, and follow your orders - sticking out fights where their own determination might have led them to run.
'Ibi semper est victoria, ubi concordia est.' (There victory always is, where unity is.) - Publilius Syrus from the book Sententiae
Disorder is also contagious, and a good Fleet Commander will work hard to keep control of his/her fleet. Particularly when a fleet is doing well, players may become excited and offer up many ideas - and it is vital that these ideas be put into gang chat, where they may be safely used or ignored. If voice communications are saturated with ideas, it causes a variety of problems:
- Lack of clarity on the "real" plan
- Encourages other people to flood comms with comments too (which can lead to all sorts of problems; missed warnings, frustration, etc)
- Apparent failure of control on the part of the FC
- Serves as a distraction from what should be going on
It may very well be that some ideas are good ones, and that some folks offering ideas on voice chat are not intentionally challenging your authority (in fact, most people are excited and want to help you) but it is important that you politely remind folks of Combat Communications, and direct them to the gang chat. By hearing only one or two voices in a stressful combat situation, this serves to reassure pilots - they know there is central control.
One pilot in each squad (ideally not the Squad Commander) should be placed in charge of putting all verbal commands issued by fleet leadership into chat. This provides insurance against audio issues experienced by individual squad members, builds a written record of issued commands in case a squad member disconnects and needs to be brought up to speed, and makes the Squad Commander's job easier.
For a list of standard commands and abbreviations, see The Rookie's Guide to Fleet Ops.
Keeping commands short
The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies. - Napoleon
People in a combat situation are often in a high-stress, "Fight or flight" mode. When someone is in that mode, their brain functions differently, and memory functions work differently. Instincts kick in, and their awareness of strategy/orders tends to falter. (We've all seen pilots do stupid things when emotions and stress kick in, right?)
In order to get commands followed in this environment, keep them short - six or seven words max. Repeat them twice smoothly but swiftly, in case someone wasn't paying attention. This also serves to build confidence for players who think they're doing the right thing, but aren't sure.
Examples of good commands: "Primary, Joe. Secondary, Steve. Damps on Bob." "Warp to gate at optimal." "Coverts get position on Dan." "Orbit at jump range." "Warp out immediately, regroup on Poitot."
Examples of bad commands: "Everyone shoot at Joe but make sure to lock Steve because he's next and damp Bob he's a long way away." "Everyone warp to the gate at whatever range is the best for you." "Let's get some covert ops behind Dan out there so we can warp to you and get him." "Everyone keep moving around the gate so you can't be shot but stay in jump range." "BAIL OUT! BUGGER OUT! RUN! JUST GET OUT AND GO FOR POITOT!"
Rambling and explanations are wasted time - in combat, situations change quickly, so you need to keep things short and pay attention.
Correcting pilot errors
Correction does much, but encouragement does more. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
It is a common mistake for a Fleet Commander to allow mistakes to pass uncorrected; and a worse mistake for a Fleet Commander to hammer a pilot publicly. The first one causes other pilots to notice that following orders and keeping a tight fleet isn't that important - it causes everyone to get more slack, and allows a sharp opponent to pick you off.
Unfortunately, some Fleet Commanders make the opposite mistake - they ruthlessly harass any pilot who screws up, occasionally injecting dramatic sighs or harsh words. While understandable - FC'ing is hardly an easy job - this is no better than saying nothing at all. No one responds well to public humiliation; responses vary from outright defiance to sullen acceptance and then later not returning.
When dealing with a pilot who is screwing up, use names only as an absolute last resort. By all means, notice who is absolutely never aligned for warps, or who is not at the gate, and remember their name, but speak generally. It's also okay to go a little longer on these commands, since generally they're not under combat stress:
"Let's all make sure to align ahead of time, please." "I know battleships are slow boats, but let's make an effort to haul them into alignment."
"It's important that we're all on the gate." "Let's all tighten up on the gate if you're not already."
"Check targeting - we've got stray damage." "All fire on (PRIMARY name) please!"
Calling a pilot out is an absolute last resort; even if you fix the problem, it creates a stigma in the minds of other pilots, and both the error-maker and all the other pilots will remember who screwed up. When people ask, even if you're annoyed, just say "It's not important who - just that we got it fixed."
A leader is the man who has the ability to get other people to do what they don't want to do, and like it. - Harry Truman
As was mentioned above - people in combat are under stress. In real military, you can tell them to shut up and deal. We don't have that luxury in EVE, and so as a result, you have to deal with that most annoying of human characteristics: emotions.
Whenever possible, insert those token words of civility and politeness: please and thank you. Small praises like Excellent, Great, nicely done, and so on go a long way to keeping people tolerant. Taking orders in a game is rarely enjoyable, so not being obnoxious when delivering messages can help keep pilots tolerant of them.
Sharp and harsh orders will usually get the same results - what it won't get you is that same pilot back the next time you're running an operation. Pilots who enjoy an operation and endure being given orders are far more likely to come back, and while you can't guarantee they'll enjoy every op (because sometimes things go bad) you can at least make the memory not sting as much.
In general, commanding a large number is like commanding a few. It is a question of dividing up the numbers.... It is a question of configuration and designation. - Sun Tzu
The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. - Theodore Roosevelt
Fleet Commanders invariably have a great deal of information being thrown about them: enemy position reports, goals, their own fleet composition, etc. As a result, cutting down the amount of specific tasks the Fleet Commander needs to watch is vital.
Make sure your boss (ideally, another Fleet Commander) is knowledgeable about how to set up fleets for leadership purposes. The boss will be shuffling wing commanders, creating squads/wings, etc. Wing Commanders will need to designate squads (occasionally by purpose) and help sort squad leaders. Squad leaders should be looking for updates on the locations of their squad members and so on - most importantly, though, all of this needs to be going on without any Fleet Commander interaction. Delegate people who can take care of this without you thinking about it - you have enough to do. A proper Fleet Command simply assigns a Boss and perhaps a Wing Commander or two, and then sets his mind to other matters, while invites and leadership sorting is taken care of elsewhere.
Composition and purpose
It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared. - Whitney M. Young, Jr.
A standard combat fleet for aggressive engagement should need no more than two interceptors, two interdictors, and two covert ops. Those numbers should change depending on your fleet's need - trade your coverts for interceptors/interdictors on defensive actions since you'll need more tackle and less scout (you know where they're coming to), your interceptors -but not interdictors- for more coverts for an escort, as you'll need more advance warning and coverage. Having more interceptors and interdictors than this number is a waste - their roles are too specific and not damaging enough. Interdictors can smash interceptors, but generally attacking interceptors aren't doing enough damage to merit a major fleet role to smash them.
The greatest accomplishment of reason is the discovery of the advantages of ... the division of labor. - Ludwig von Mises
Most EWAR vessels can generally shut down 2-3 ships each, so configure your fleet approximately 1/3 EWAR and 2/3 damage - with a fleet the same size as the opposing fleet, your EWAR will be enough to shut down the entirety of the enemy fleet without wasting extra damage sources on over-saturating EWAR.
Make sure your fleet knows the proper EWAR discipline - if you have a great deal of the same kind of EWAR, make sure that each pilot spreads their EWAR across multiple ships, instead of piling it all on the same one. If everyone spreads it widely, you can be sure that almost every ship is receiving some jamming or dampening - enough to keep them shut down. If you have a wide variety of EWAR, make sure it is assigned appropriately - damps on snipers, jams on enemy EWAR, disruptors on the close-range damage boats. In extremely large situations, create a distinct EWAR Wing, and have the EWAR wing commander set up squads according to tactics and needs. (Make sure the EWAR Wing Commander knows EWAR backwards and forwards.)
Interdictors and interceptors also need role-specific orders and preparations. Interceptors should know whose job it is to strike the primary and the secondary; two tackles on one target lets the other leave. Divide this up alphabetically, size-wise, or with whatever criteria you wish - but make sure it is divided. Interdictors should also be likewise pre-planned in their roles; is it their job to chase down enemy frigate-class vessels? Shall they run out at snipers and bubble them? Are they to travel towards the largest enemy blob and hold them all down? Bubble-and-jump? High-speed ship pilots must know before combat what they are expected to do - their job is too swiftly done for them to wait for orders.
Fleet Specialist Commanders
I found that there were these incredibly great people at doing certain things, and that you couldn't replace one of these people with 50 average people. They could just do things that no number of average people could do. - Steve Jobs
Once you have assigned other FCs to handle Capital FC, EWAR FC, and Tactical FC, trust them to know their jobs. Assume the EWAR is being coordinated in its own channel. Know the Capital ships will be ready and briefed on what's going on. Be confident the Tactical FC will be killing tacklers and then EWAR as fast as possible with his squad. Focus your attention on talking with your scouts, keeping a mental picture of what's going on, and tending to your fleet.
Final Battle Preparations
In planning for battle I have found that plans are useless; but planning is essential. - Dwight D. Eisenhower
If you have the advantage of holding the field that your opponent is trying to take (or of having pre-scouted the area and created bookmarks) then make sure to take advantage of this tool. Even if you must jump through a gate into enemy hands, if possible have your long-range vessels warp to optimal positions, and if bookmarks aren't available, have them warp out to the nearest body they can and warp back. (Spend the time before uncloaking determining exactly what that nearest body is.)
By having all your forces at their optimal ranges, you inherently defend much of your fleet from attack, simply because your opponents will not all be at their own optimal combat ranges. If possible, make sure all of your long-range vessels have "mirrorpoints" available to them. Since every battle has a predictable center (around a POS, around a gate, around an asteroid belt center, or around a station) it should be possible for a ship that is 100km from a fight to warp to another location that is still 100km from the center of the fight, but more than 150km from their current location. These are called "mirrorpoints" - they may be directly through the center, or going above/below/left/right of it, but the important thing is that they move the warping vessel 150km, and keep them the same range from the fight. This allows the warping vessel several fast advantages: - Breaking all target locks on them - Preventing drones/interceptors/missiles from closing - May cause enemies to lose track of them - At worst, forces the enemy to chase them down again
Especially if your sniping vessels are pre-aligned for these points, it can make them nearly immortal and still very capable of fighting from their new location. In the case of jamming vessels, it is quite possible to jam someone, warp to a mirrorpoint, re-lock the target and re-jam them before the first jam has even expired!
If possible, before the actual battle begins but within two minutes of fighting, briefly detail the overall plan one more time for everyone: engage on this gate, damage will concentrate on that, specialists will be doing this thing. Mention how you expect the fight to go, and what some contingencies may be if you think the possibility of losing is real, as well as what a specific pilot should do if they die early and the fight rages on.
It is absolutely vital that in the last thirty seconds before combat the fleet commander's voice can be heard, and sounds as calm and assured as possible. You can be sure that a pilot will never be more tense than they are in the last thirty seconds before combat is joined - knowing that you have faith in them, that there is a plan, and that victory is expected if everyone works together will go a long way to making sure these things happen.
Engaging in combat
The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his. - George Patton
If your force is well-prepared and well-positioned (or has the ability to become well-positioned) for an engagement, they already have the ability to unleash a tremendous amount of damage on an opponent. What becomes important, then, is recognizing what can ruin a well-prepared fleet's ability to do damage: misdirecting your force, or loss of direction. As long as planning exists to prevent both of these problems, you approach the point where a well-led, well-constructed fleet simply cannot lose. All that remains now is not to give your opponent a chance to disrupt your plans.
See Also :
- The Tactical Bookmarks page for Tactical use of Bookmarks in engagement.
Target selection and declaration
If the enemy is in range... SO ARE YOU. - Old soldier's axiom
The first of the two ways an opposing fleet can still defeat you is by directing all its firepower to your most important vessels. It is important, then, to recognize the ships which are capable of dealing the most firepower and removing them from the enemy force as quickly as possible. Enemy firepower is normally a pretty clear equation based on the number of turrets/launchers, drones, damage bonuses, etc:
Damage Threat Level (highest to lowest)
This list is somewhat surprising to many pilots because of the remarkably low position of the Scorpion. From a strictly damage-dealing standpoint, the Scorpion is the weakest battleship, however.
A Fleet Commander then needs to review his EWAR capabilities. In a strong fleet, you will see EWAR assigned as follows:
- Dampeners - shut down targets at long range (Sniper Rokh, Jam Scorpion, Jam Rook/ Falcon, Long-range Raven, etc.)
- Disruptors - ruin turret range and tracking (Megathron, Tempest, Abbadon, Maelstrom, Hyperion, Apocalypse, Armageddon)
- ECM - Jam vessels who are not dampened out or disrupted to uselessness. (Missile and drone boats at close range.)
Assuming you have proper EWAR support then, let's take a look at the list again:
- Megathron - Disruptable, but watch drones
- Dominix - NOS/Drone - needs jamming
- Typhoon - Turrets disrupted - needs jamming
- Raven - Probably only jammable
- Tempest - Mostly turrets - disruptable
- Abbadon - All turrets - disruptable
- Maelstrom - all turrets - disruptable
- Hyperion - all turrets - disruptable
- Apocalypse - all turrets - disruptable OR Long Range - dampened
- Rokh - Long Range - dampened
- Armageddon - all turrets - disruptable
- Scorpion - Long Range - dampened
Examine the threat level at this point; we know that Dampeners on a vessel at range are a 100% shut-down tool. Therefore we can remove Scorpions, Rokhs, and long-range Apocalypse pilots (or any other sniper) from the opposition altogether. (Even if these ships are not at range, a Scorpion's need to lock multiple ships will be greatly hampered by dampeners.)
We know that at close range, Tracking Disruptors are nearly as devastating as dampeners; with greatly shortened range on already short-range weapons and tracking going out the window, most all turret-based vessels will be very greatly hampered. Like dampeners, Disruptors always work - it is only how effective they are on a target that matters.
Jammers, on the other hand, are chance-based. They may sometimes work well, and other times work very poorly. As a result, we have to examine which ships are being neutralized solely by jamming:
- Dominix (Drones and possibly NOS)
- Raven (Missiles, esp. at closer ranges)
- Typhoon (Missiles and drones both available)
- Megathron (possible drone threat)
Of these, the most damage capacity is the Dominix - Drones and NOS (or possibly turrets.) The Raven has six available real damage sources, and the Typhoon four available missiles and drones (but no drone damage bonuses.) In priority for attack, then:
Damage Threats-Jam Only
Closerange possible threats - disrupted
Other Significant Ships
- Field/Fleet Command Ships
- Heavy Assault Ships
- Tier II Battlecruisers
Long range Battleships/EWAR Cruisers - dampened
Other Lesser Vessels - Possibly already destroyed by Interceptor/Interdictor support
- Tier I Cruisers
- Tier II Frigates
- Tier I Frigate
It is important that you keep a continual clear call of a Primary and Secondary - and in the cases of large battles where ships can pop quickly, a Tertiary. This is done so that pilots can lock the needed target well in advance, and shift swiftly to the new foe without wasting time on a relock. If (for whatever reason) you are unable to identify ship types swiftly enough to keep a good call of P/S/T, focus on battleships at closer ranges - though you should definitely work on Primary calling, as this is more important than any function of the Fleet Commander.
Fleet Commanders can often make their jobs much easier during a wild engagement by employing filters to see specific things at a time. By filtering your overview to only see Battleships and Command Ships, searching for an appropriate target to call becomes much easier. An interdictor pilot might wish to filter his overview by frigates if he has a specialty job, and so on. Although every Fleet Commander will have their own preference, here are some recommended settings to have presaved and ready to go:
Filter 1: Battleships/Elite Battlecruisers (Main damage dealers) Filter 2: Battlecruisers/Elite Cruisers (Secondary damage dealers and EWAR recons) Filter 3: All other ships Filter 4: Wrecks
(Note that Tactical and EWAR FCs may wish to have other filters ready, as well.)
The fourth setting is also quite important - it allows you to quickly tally "Friendly" vs. "Unfriendly" losses. As a Fleet Commander, your biggest enemy is having too much information thrown at you; being able to filter it can give you a decided advantage.
A leader is a dealer in hope. - Napoleon
As anyone training to be a Fleet Commander should be aware, the loss of direction for a fleet can be an utter disaster to its survival. While we cannot always be certain to survive as any particular member of the fleet, there are certain measures we can take to insure the fleet remains under firm direction: fly ships which are difficult/impossible to kill, and make sure that in the event of your own destruction, you have suitable backup commanders.
Survivability is a simple question of choosing the right ship: Destroyers, T1 frigates and cruisers are probably not the ships of choice; neither is a purely "gank" setup of battleship. Interceptors and Assault Frigates are also probably not good choices - any ship which requires frequent significant attention will distract a Fleet Commander. Good choices of Command Vessels are:
Recon Cruisers: The ability to direct a fight while cloaked may mean very few killmails, but it means your likelihood of getting killed is very low indeed. Disadvantage here is that you have no real means of watching the health of your targets, and anticipating when the next target may need to be called. With practice, though, this can be overcome. Most Recon Cruisers also have great "emergency response" abilities, allowing you to neutralize one ship quickly to change the course of a battle.
Sniper Vessels: A sniper vessel is not quite as "safe" as a cloaked one, but does enjoy the advantage of generally being too far to be attacked often. (Trying to survive, after all, is a bit distracting!) In addition, most sniper pilots have fast lock times, allowing a commander to quickly shift targets and potentially harass difficulty-causing EWAR vessels.
Passive-Tank Supertanks: If you have no way to avoid the front lines of combat, try to do so in a ship with a very strong tank that requires no real attention. Passive tanks simply "go" and so require no attention from the pilot. It can still be a bit disconcerting to know you're being pounded, but at the very least, you don't have to spend time trying to prevent your own demise - if you're going to pop, you can't do much to change that!
Supertank Battleship/Command Ships: The least desirable choice, but still an acceptable one, is a vessel heavily overtanked. Most opponents will know relatively swiftly who the Fleet Commanders of their opposition are (if they have any sense, anyhow.) Because of this, fitting a Battleship for heavy damage is just asking to have your own fleet beheaded. By fitting a supertanked battleship, though, you may be able to soak up fire for some time, simply by counting on the fact that you're going to be pounded on. For the same reason, a Command Ship can make an excellent...well... commanding ship... because it can endure a tremendous amount of punishment.
If you are popped as a commander, though, it is generally not a good idea to try and continue commanding from your pod. Get out and if possible, re-arm and return. Pod-command puts you at serious risk of implant loss (everyone likes squishing pods), and limits you greatly as far as monitoring target health and maneuverability.
Good tactics can save even the worst strategy. Bad tactics will destroy even the best strategy. - Patton
EVE has a certain love affair with two large fleets smashing into each other, beating each other senseless, and then calling it a day. Good combat tactics, though, has nothing to do with even numbers, and even less to do with an even fight. By engaging in clever positioning and other tactics, you can turn the tried-and-true tactics of our veteran foes on their head. This is by no means the only set of tricks you can use, but these are tried and true maneuvers that have already proved their worth. Feel free to add to this list.
One of the oldest and most-used maneuvers for any Fleet Commander is the ambushing of an enemy sniper/EWAR distance force by use of a warp-in covert ops. When attacking, try to make sure you always have one covert vessel in your force. This enables you both to have a scout, and to have someone prepositioned for striking at snipers and EWAR at range. Note that you cannot warp to someone who is less than 150km away. If an enemy target is 120km away, have your covert sit behind them at 150km, and warp to your pilot at 30km... neatly dropping you right on top of the target.
Note: Stealth bombers can be used for this purpose as well; although they are visible while warping, many times in a large fleet battle opponents will not be aware of where a suddenly-disappearing frigate on their overview went, giving the Stealth time to scoot into position after landing.
Particularly when taking the last tactic into account, having your EWAR forces visible at the scene of the battle is asking for trouble. Have an interceptor create a bookmark approximately 500km from the site of the conflict. Then, have your EWAR forces sit at that mark, aligned to the expected battle site. Approximately three seconds after the first primary is called, signal the EWAR force to warp in. This has a variety of benefits:
- Surprise addition to your numbers at the conflict side if the enemy is unwary. - Even if your opponent suspects the maneuver, he may not know precisely what EWAR is coming, and how many. - Even if your opponent knows how many are coming, and what they are, it denies them the ability to pre-position their covert operations vessels. (They can't know where the EWAR will land precisely.) - Because the EWAR is arriving late, it is likely that the enemy fleet is already targeting specific ships, and changing primaries is rarely done easily or smoothly.
Stick and move
There is a big difference between a retreat and a rout. A good Fleet Commander will recognize this. If your fleet is being chased by the enemy, have half a dozen battleships hold on the gate before actually jumping through into the next area. When they have all been fired on, have them jump through. Odds are good the enemy fleet will follow, but many of their pilots will be unable to actually engage. This results in a brief period of time when you may actually outnumber/outgun the enemy fleet, despite their earlier advantages that caused you to flee in the first place. Use this period to pop one or two enemy ships, and then continue your retreat to the next gate again. Odds are good that most enemy fleets will stop chasing after being chipped a few times by this maneuver.
When a fleet enters a system, the defenders have a habit of locking and firing on the first vessel that appears - no matter what that ship might be. Good fleet commanders can take advantage of this mistake. The first ships to uncloak any time you go through a bottleneck (you jump through a gate to attack an enemy group that is waiting) should be frigates - ideally, assault frigates or interceptors. A few moments later, cruisers should uncloak, and bigger ships, and so on. EWAR typically should be one of the last to uncloak at any size. When possible, have the ships (especially the smaller ones) move as rapidly as possible outward, forcing the enemy to commit to one area of the gate or another.
This will cause the opposing force to spend time and energy locking up ships that have less effect on the coming battle, and possibly not have time/lock slots left to then target larger ships later in the fight. Even if your opponents know/suspect such a strategy, you have the advantage of getting your smaller ships into tackling/attack positions on remote enemy EWAR, etc. It is rather likely that even in a well-led fleet, some enemy pilots will lack the discipline to not lock smaller, less valuable targets that present themselves, instead of waiting for the bigger foes.
There are uncommon but legitimate reasons for why a force would potentially want to camp a gate and prevent traffic through. In these situations, it is almost always better to divide your force in half and place it evenly on both sides of the gate. This gains you:
- Deception about true force size; even local won't warn a foe - Advance notice to either side of the gate about traffic - Covered retreat route if needed
As a general rule, denying information about what your fleet is comprised/capable of is never a bad thing to do, and unless your opponent has advance knowledge of your dual-natured force, gate-splitting is one of the best things you can do to advance your own success.
"Only the dead have seen the end of war." - Plato
Never is a victorious fleet more disorganized than during the aftermath of a battle, when gear is recovered. (This is in fact a great time for opposing fleets to use stealth bombers and the like to even the score a bit.) To prevent reinforcements or ambushes from smashing your control of the field, make sure that the only vessels out scavenging are swift ones, and that your longer-range vessels and EWAR are in at a central core. This way, fast vessels which can scoot in and out of danger are supported by a strong central unit which can coordinate fire well. A dedicated salvage ship - preferably a Cormorant destroyer - is an excellent tool for the job of clearing wrecks profitably. Allow pilots who have lost vessels to collect their own gear at the same time, but encourage them to do so in a frigate-class vessel if possible. If you are aware of the gate the enemy fleet has fled through, sending a scout to that gate can be prudent to prevent ambushes.
All men make mistakes. Only wise men learn from their mistakes. -Winston Churchill
Hopefully, all your post-combat discussions will be about how enemy tactics failed, any unpleasant surprises you adjusted to in victory, and how you can work more efficiently the next time. Unfortunately, it is rather unlikely that this will always be the case. Regardless as to the outcome of the fight, discussing what worked - and what did not - with your fleet (after you are well clear of the battlezone) can be an excellent resource. There may have been important information that you missed, and it can help to figure out how to get that information the next time. Different players will see a fight differently, and you may be able to figure out how to support specific chunks of the fleet that were weaker than they might have wished. (And, more importantly, share your experiences here!)
Make sure to ask your specific tactical areas for their input: did the EWAR manage to shut many of the enemy down, or were they harassed too much? How did tackle/anti-tackle see things? The folks who lost ships should be queried to find out how to prevent that loss in the future. Although discussing losses is by no means one of the more fun things to do in any given combat encounter, it can be vital to understanding what to do better in the future.
The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. - Max DePree
Being a Fleet Commander is by no means easy, nor is it for everyone who would presume to try it. It is a job which subjects you to "duty" and criticism, to second-guessers and cowards, to impossible situations and boring escorts. All of these come with the title, and very little reward comes as well. What you can be sure of, though, is that with proper work and training, a well-prepared Fleet Commander can bring glory to himself and his fellow pilots far beyond what is expected.