A World of Hurt


You are a platoon commander in Company K, 3d Battalion, 8th Marines. Attached to your platoon is one squad from the machinegun section of Weapons Platoon (two M240Gs). The company is conducting a movement to contact, through gently rolling wooded terrain broken by small streams, in order to locate and destroy enemy forces infiltrating your battalion’s area of operations. Yours is the lead platoon. Visibility is generally limited to less than 75 meters because of the thick vegetation. Streams have occasional pools, but are easily waded.

The company march objective is Hill 410. A half hour ago the company commander told you to step it out and reach Hill 410 as soon as possible to begin setting up the company’s defensive perimeter for the night. As a result, you are about 500 meters in front of the company when your lead squad seems to run into a large ambush directly to your front. It sounds like an enormous amount of fire is being delivered on 1st Squad as the whole platoon goes quickly to ground. 1st Squad begins to return fire, and you can hear the squad leader screaming commands. From your position with the machineguns, you start to make your way forward toward 1st Squad when a similar amount of fire erupts on your right flank back around where 3d Squad should be. From your position you cannot see either contact, but you can hear rounds whizzing overhead.

LCpl Vargas, from 1st Squad, crawls back to your position and reports: “Sir, Sgt Carden says 1st Fire Team is down, and we can’t get to them. He thinks there’s got to be a platoon in front of us!” At the same time, word is passed forward from the rear of the platoon: “Platoon sergeant says two men are down in 3d Squad; at least two enemy squads closing in from the right and rear.” Your company commander is on the radio wanting to know what’s going on. What now, Lieutenant?


In a time limit of 3 minutes, issue any orders you would give and any reports/requests you would make. Once this is done, provide a sketch of your plan and an explanation of your decision. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #98-3, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134 or fax 703-640-0823.