By Capt Anthony J. Angelone and the Officers, Company D, 2d Assault Amphibian B, 2dMarDiv
1st Fire Team consolidates in a covered position to the east of the explosion. There they triage the casualties and secure the intersection to the north. 2d Fire Team (with the squad leader) and 3d Fire Team execute a “find, fix, flank” drill on the source of AK fire to the southwest. 3d Fire Team gets out of the kill zone and establishes a base of fire on the source of AK fire. 2d Fire Team maneuvers to the west, attempting to isolate and clear the building where the fire originated. We will not pursue the enemy if he moves more than 100 meters from his original position. Once the building is clear, 2d and 3d Fire Teams will consolidate with 1st Fire Team.
“3d Fire Team, get PID (positive identification) and suppress the target. 2d Fire Team, go right (west) and flank the building and clear it if you think you can. 1st Fire Team, get some cover, give me an accurate casualty report, and stay put. When the smoke clears, everybody meets up with 1st Fire Team.”
Note: the unit SOP uses a white star cluster as a signal for “shift or lift fire” and a red star cluster for “emergency, I need help now.”
Report to the Platoon Commander
F26 this is F21, SALTA (enemy situation (including size and equipment), enemy activity, location, time, friendly action) report (standard International Security Assistance Force, the military component of NATO in Afghnistan) contact report) to follow:
S: Two to four men with small arms.
A: Explosion, either a bomb or a rocket propelled grenade, 15 meters to the north. AK fire on our rear.
L: Give grid or building number.
T: Time now.
A: Possible two wounded in action. Conducting triage and find, fix, flank source of AK fire. Stand by for medevac request.
Note: Once the situation develops, the squad leader will potentially call the platoon commander with a request for reinforcements, medical evacuation, or supporting arms. When the engagement is complete, send up a battle damage assessment and maybe a detainee report.
Issues for Consideration
Who do you believe the enemy is? Members of one of the larger clans that are hostile to the Marines. The clan knows that the smaller clan supports the Marines.
In terms of your mission, what is your most important mission? There was no mission statement given for the platoon patrol. However, we assume it was a security patrol so the tactical task is “secure.” Among the MEU’s tasks, our most important task in this situation is “monitor and maintain security in Afghanistan.” Security is one of the biggest contributions a military force can make to a counterinsurgency fight. Security creates conditions where other elements of national power can operate to improve the economy, rule of law, governance, agriculture, infrastructure, and quality of life. All of these combine to help the people choose the government over the insurgents.
How do your actions and orders relate to that task? We cannot “destroy the village to save it.” While defense of our Marines and innocent civilians is a constraint (per the rules of engagement), we must not create collateral damage that will cause more instability (and thus future engagements) or damage the prestige of the Afghan Government in the eyes of the people of Jalalabad.
What is the enemy trying to accomplish? He is trying to tell the people of the small clan that aligning with the Marines will bring negative consequences. The enemy also wants to show that security efforts by the Marines are ineffective. Finally, the enemy wants to draw the Marines into a situation that results in collateral damage, thus turning more people away from the government.
How will he counter your actions? Primarily, he will draw us into a situation where we inflict collateral damage. As a secondary objective, he will try to piecemeal Marine forces and then concentrate his combat power on inflicting maximum damage on an isolated Marine unit. The enemy’s dream would be to get a Marine prisoner of war or intelligence, which he could use for his propaganda campaign.
What are the effects of your actions and enemy reaction? Number of civilians wounded or killed? Amount of damage and destroyed property? Primary and collateral damage could be significant. Some important principles are maintain PID, use appropriate weapons systems, and orient fires to the southeast (where there are potentially less people than in other directions).
How will the enemy exploit the effects of your actions? In 20 minutes? By the end of the day? By the end of the week? The enemy will try to prove that Marines started the engagement and shot uncontrollably, especially if one of the children was killed. As soon as the Marines leave the area the enemy will go door to door spreading his propaganda and intimidating people so they don’t side with the Marines. As soon as he can, the enemy will produce pamphlets and Internet postings that will demonize the Marines. The enemy will also use local imams to spread the word from minarets and Friday prayer.
What can you do to counter his efforts at exploitation? Now? After you return to base? When the smoke clears, you must stay in the area. It shows strength and tells the locals that you are concerned about more than just your own casualties. This will take reinforcements. Isolate the area, conduct sensitive site exploitation, talk to people, and spread your message. It is a good time to identify people of influence in the area and check for weapons caches. The key is to deny the enemy access to terrain until, at a minimum, after you have put out your message.