Battle Along the Tziepov, Continued

By Maj John F. Schmitt, USMCR


This scenario is the continuation of TDG #99-4, based on the author’s solution shown on p. 99. You command a task force (TF) consisting of a tank battalion (bn) (lst), a mech bn (2d), a motorized bn (3d), a LAR company (Alpha), and two mixed host-nation bns (4th and 5th, each consisting of two tank companies and two motorized companies). The host-nation bns are capable of most basic missions. Friendly forces, advancing north, and enemy forces, advancing south, met along the Tziepov River, which is slow-moving and fordable in many places. Your TF was sent west along Rte. 30 with urgent instructions to secure bridges on the roads leading to Gunnington and Pageton, or at least to deny those crossing sites to the enemy. Elements of your command made contact at both bridges.

Shortly after midnight the situation stabilized somewhat. Alpha was holding Thorpe Bridge and screening to the west. It received periodic probes from an estimated enemy bn north of the river. Enemy forces were holding a bridgehead south of Fouse Bridge. They were contained by 3d Bn, but the situation there was confused. Intel reported increasing enemy activity in the Emamiville-Fouse Bridge area. 2d Bn was positioned north of Gunnington; Ist, 4th, and 5th Bns were in assembly areas near Pageton. Replenishment was underway with completion expected around 0300.

You were unhappy with this posture. You felt you were losing the initiative. Although you couldn’t identify any really attractive option, you decided to undertake these actions: (1) Initiate heavy supporting fires on enemy in vicinity of Fouse Bridge. (2) Order 2d Bn, reinforced by 1st Bn, to ford the Tziepov west of Fouse Bridge without first replenishing and seize Lafferty Heights. (3) Initiate a relief-in-place between Alpha and 4th Bn in order to free up Alpha. (4) Keep 5th Bn in reserve.

2d Bn’s “immediate” move takes longer than you like but by 0415 2d’s leading elements are across the river without making contact. At 0430, the enemy estimated at regimental strength launches a dismounted attack out of the Fouse bridgehead. At 0445, 2d Bn makes contact with an enemy force in defensive positions on the slopes of Lafferty Heights. With priority of fires, it advances slowly against incr easing resistance. The relief-in-place at Thorpe Bridge is complete by 0500. The 4th Bn commander launches a probe across the bridge and at 0530 reports only scattered resistance. 2d Bn reports stiffening resistance and estimates the enemy on Lafferty Heights to be a battalion in hastily prepared defensive positions. 3d Bn reports it has halted the enemy attack out of Fouse bridgehead, at least temporarily. What do you do now?


In a time limit of 10 minutes, make your decision in the form of any orders/guidance you will issue to subordinates and any reports/requests you will make. Include a sketch of your plan. Provide a brief explanation of your decision, to include any possible follow-on plans. Submit your solution to the Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #99-6, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134 or fax 703640-0823.