All in a Day’s Work (Part II)

By Dr. Andrew H. Hershey


You are the commanding officer of a small combat engineering detachment consisting of three squads, each equipped with a chain saw and normal weapons (M16s, M203s, and two SAWs), and five vehicles (a 5-ton truck with a ring-mounted .50 caliber machinegun, a 5-ton dump truck, a frontend loader, a 1 1/4-ton truck, and your HMMWV).

Your mobility enhancement mission (a prelude to pending offensive operations) involves improving road conditions along Rte. 4 and repairing the bridge over Gore Creek, a 20-meter wide, bolder-strewn, moderately flowing stream.

Much of the terrain about you is covered with tall pine forest of moderate density. A stone farmhouse, whose plowed fields are enclosed by threestrand barbed wire fences stands close to the bridge. Route 4 and a cart track not marked on your map (or explored by you for lack of time) are the only visible avenues for vehicles. It is late January in a temperate region of the world. While there is no ground snow, the sky is low and heavily overcast; back home one would say “it feels like snow”.

At about 1600, shortly after you have completed work on the bridge, your 3d Squad, which was working about 1,000 meter east of the bridge, was taken under fire by enemy located 500-600 meters further to the east. Reportedly the enemy element has, at least, one BTR and a BMP.

In response to this threat, you directed the 3d Squad to disable the front-end loader to block the road near their position and then to join the rest of the command near the farmhouse complex. You had the dump truck disabled on the bridge to create another roadblock. You sent the 1st Squad with the 1 1/4-ton truck to recon the cart track leading northeast just to the west of the cultivated fields. Finally, you notified the battalion responsible for overall security of the contact and received priority of 81mm mortar fire.

The two squads and the truck with the machinegun remaining in the vicinity of the farm occupied hasty firing position. No further movement was detected on the road, but within a very short time you began receiving a steadily increasing volume of small arms fire from the tree lines east of the bridge. A short while later several of your men spotted enemy troops maneuvering toward the bridge. Your men and the .50 caliber retum fire. Enemy medium caliber mortars begin impacting 150 meters east of you. At that moment, 1st Squad comes on the net and reports, “Sir, we followed that cart track. It headed generally northeastwards, but there was one spur heading west. The track itself continues northeast and runs into Gore Creek maybe 2 kilometers from the bridges. There is a small wooden cabin up there and a shallow stretch of river. I have a team east of the creek, and they have just signaled enemy tracks approaching. Over.”

What now lieutenant?


In a time limit of 2 minutes issue any orders/reports you might make. Then provide a sketch of your actions and the rationale behind them. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #99-7, Quantico, VA 22134 or fax it to (703) 640-0823. Solutions can also be sent by e-mail. See our web site for instructions.

For more detailed information on the structure of Marine Corps units, Marine Corps equipment, and symbols used in TDG sketches, see MCG, Oct94, pp. 53-56 and the modification reported in Jan95, p. 5.