Cartonville Patrol

by Sgt Stephen Chorney

Situation

You are the platoon commander of 1st Platoon, Company C, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 8th Marines. You are currently engaged in stability and support operations in the country of Grapeland. Coalition forces have routed organized enemy resistance, but there are still numerous “dead-enders” who operate in squad-sized units. These units utilize Soviet Bloc small arms to include AK-series assault weapons, light machineguns, rocket propelled grenades, and 82mm mortars. They are mostly former regime military officers augmented by terrorists from other countries. Their actions are well-thoughtout, rehearsed, and usually effective. Hostile threat is high, but you have not been engaged in any manner in the 14 days you have been there. Your battalion is in a defensive perimeter at a rundown airfield located within city limits of Cartonville, Grapeland. Your rules of engagement state that you are only to fire if fired upon or if hostile intent is positively identified. You are to use the least amount of force necessary to gain fire superiority. There have been restrictive fire measures emplaced as well. In any situation, collateral damage is to be kept to a minimum.

Your platoon has been tasked with a security patrol in the city. You have two machinegun teams and two assault teams attached to you. The platoon has a standard combat load of ammunition (squad automatic weapon, M203 grenade launcher, M16), and each squad has one AT-4 rocket as well. You have no direct or indirect fire support due to the restrictive fire measures. Illumination is your only asset from your supporting weapons platoon and company. There is a section of AH-IW Cobras armed with 20mm and 5-inch Zuni rockets, as well as a dedicated medevac bird (on 20-minute strip alert at a nearby forward operating base), that are within a 5-minute flight of you once they launch. It is 1 hour before dusk, and your patrol exits friendly lines. Your patrol is spread out about 400 meters long and staggered on both sides of the road. As you come to the intersection in the city square, you see that two of the avenues are now barricaded with trash, vehicles, and wood and are impassable for your patrol. There are very few people in the streets as well. At this time you halt the patrol to look at your map in order to coordinate new routes. You are hit from the front by small arms and machinegun fire. The machineguns seem to have interlocking fire, and the small arms are in sporadic positions within the buildings. All of the buildings in the square are two floors or higher and made of heavy concrete. (1st Fire Team, 1st Squad is pinned down and taking casualties.) As the patrol advances toward the contact, mortar fire begins to fall in behind your position, pushing you toward the kill zone. First assault team and machinegun team moved to join 1st Squad on their own initiative upon contact. second assault team and machinegun team moved to support 2d Squad upon contact. 3d Squad moved into a reserve position and all are awaiting orders.

What do you do?

Requirement

In a time limit of 5 minutes, come up with a fragmentary order for your squads and your attachments; include scheme of maneuver, commander’s intent, and signal plan. Provide an overlay for your scheme of maneuver. Also prepare any reports that you would send to higher headquarters, along with any requests for support. Send your solution and rationale for your actions to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #04-11, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or e-mail <gazette@mcamarines.org>.