Attack Out of the Enclave

By Maj John F. Schmitt, USMCR

You are the commander of Ist Battalion, 8th Marines. For months your battalion has been fighting guerrillas in the African countryside. The enemy has launched a surprise offensive to capture several key cities, including the former colonial capital of Tinti along the Attar River. The Attar splits the city in two, with the smaller French quarter located in a bend in the wide river, and the larger, indigenous section located across the river to the north and west. The French section is characterized by typical European colonial architecture: mostly one- and two-story brick and concrete buildings with thick walls, walled yards, tropical gardens, and tree-lined boulevards. From the river there is a 12-foot sloped embankment, and then the terrain slopes gently uphill another 50 meters to the high point at the Universite Nationale. The named and numbered streets are European-style boulevards about 30-35 meters wide. Other streets are mostly narrow lanes. An underground sewer system remains from colonial days.

The plans you are provided are accurate as of 1960, and you have no updated information about the condition of the sewers. In the upper and upper-middle class parts of town, most of the residences are two stories with basements, as are most of the government buildings. In the other residential areas, most of the buildings are one-story, a mixture of brick/concrete and frame structures. The hospital and the academies are three stories, brick and concrete. The only four-story buildings are a couple of buildings in the Universite Nationale and a modern apartment building just north of the university. Most of the local population has abandoned the area, although it is not uncommon to find pockets of civilians, sometimes numbering in the dozens or even as many as 100, huddled in basements.

Friendly forces are engaged in a bitter fight for control of the indigenous city. The enemy has all but captured the French quarter. Two embattled host-nation companies, the 71st and 72d, hold a tenuous enclave north of Pier St. and west of Freedom Blvd. It is estimated that enemy strength in the French section is at least battalion, probably regimental strength. The enemy is equipped with automatic weapons, light and heavy machineguns, mortars, mines, and rocket propelled antitank grenade launchers (RPGs). Your battalion is being sent in to begin the counterattack to recapture the French quarter. Bravo and Charlie Companies (with their attached weapons) and the mortar platoon have been shuttled via landing craft into the enclave at the Velodrome Nationale. Alpha Company remains across the river, ready to cross. You are given operational control of the 71st and 72d and their supporting tank platoon of three M60s. The 71st and 72d are battle-hardened outfits of about 80 men each. In addition to their small arms and machineguns, they are equipped with RPGs and recoilless rifles.

As you face south, the 72d is on the right facing strong enemy forces directly across Pier St., where the res-, idential buildings are closely packed. The 71 st is in the center with the four recoilless rifles. Charlie Company has moved into position on the left, occupying the Academie de Ste. Marie, across Freedom Blvd. from the twostory brick prison, which the enemy seems to have strongpointed with at least a company. The terrain in that sector is primarily larger commercial buildings spread farther apart. The enemy has some positions in depth. The commander of the 71st reports taking sniper and plunging machinegun fire from the upper floors of the four-story apartment just north of the university. Additionally, he reports the enemy has heavy machineguns covering Pier St. and Freedom Blvd. from positions somewhere in the depth of the defense, halting any earlier attempts to cross those streets. In order to minimize civilian casualties and collateral damage, higher headquarters has prohibited the use of artillery and close air support. You have convinced them to let you use your mortars. It is currently 2200. There is a light wind from the north northwest. It is overcast with low cloud cover and intermittent drizzle, temperatures in the mid-60s. Your mission is simple and straightforward: no later than 0600 attack generally south and east in order to clear the city of enemy presence.

What is your plan?


In the space of 20 minutes develop a plan of attack to include at least a concept of operations and tasks for your subordinate units. Then provide a sketch and a brief explanation of your plan. Submit your solution to the Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #00-12, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134 or fax 703-630-9147.

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.