Children Bearing Gifts

Scenario 1: Squad TDG Situation

You are the 1st Squad Leader, 2d Platoon, Company F, BLT 2/1, 11th MEU. Your company has recently taken over the area of responsibility (AOR) of Jalalabad, Afghanistan. After initial operations, organized resistance has ceased. However, insurgent and tribal fighters remain as active combatants.

Your AOR is in an urban environment characterized by densely but haphazardly arranged mud brick houses of one and two stories with flat roofs, with the occasional taller building – usually a mosque or other religiously associated structure. The main roads are paved and two lanes wide. Side roads are also paved but only one and a half lanes wide. In addition, there are numerous narrow dirt alleyways only suitable for foot traffic.

The enemy you face wears no standardized military uniform and often appears in civilian dress, uses Soviet-era infantry weapons (AK-47s, light machineguns, and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs)), and has the occasional command of 82mm mortars and 12.7mm machineguns. His main tactic is the ambush, initiated by RPG attack and improvised explosive device. The enemy rarely stands to fight, even after such ambushes. When they do, it is often the signal of a major engagement. S- 2 (intelligence) believes such battles center around religious sites.

The BLT has been relatively successful in matters of civil affairs and civilmilitary relations. They initiated a “weapons buy back program,” paying for each weapon turned in depending upon its lethality. Despite such gains, the AOR still has its share of insurgent attacks. Of the seven major clans in the AO, the BLT has secured the support of one smaller clan but still faces resistance from several of the larger clans in the city and surrounding area.

Currently your platoon is on its second patrol. After crossing the Route 6 bridge you enter the area controlled by the smaller clan that supports coalition forces. You are moving from south to north, your squad on the left flank, 2d Squad in the center with the command element, and 3d Squad on the right. You have only your organic weapons and are in radio contact with the other squads and command element, though such contact is not always 100 percent due to the urban environment.

Approximately 20 minutes after crossing the bridge, the patrol is broken by the sound of yelling and screaming kids coming at you from your left through an alley. You turn to see four young boys, 8 to 10 years old, each with different types of ammunition. One boy has a belt of 12.7mm around his neck, two boys hold 82mm mortar rounds like dead fish from their fin tails (you note one is fused), and to your horror, the fourth clasps a grenade, spoon in place, like a dead frog, but from your angle you cannot see signs of the pin.

At this instant there is the sound of an explosion and a large dust cloud forms to your front. “Sergeant,” yells your 1st Fire Team Leader, “Watson is down hard. Perez is hit too, but maybe not as bad.” One kid drops his mortar round and flees, followed by the kid with the 12.7mm. Then AK-47 fire erupts from a nearby building behind you.


What now, Sergeant? In a time limit of 5 minutes, determine what actions you would take, what orders you would issue, and what reports, if any, you would make.

Issues for Consideration

* Who do you believe the enemy is?

* In terms of your mission, what is your most important task?

* How do your actions and orders relate to that task?

* What is the enemy trying to accomplish?

* How will he counter your actions?

* What are the effects of your actions and enemy reaction? Number of civilians wounded or killed? Amount of damage and destroyed property?

* How will the enemy exploit the effects of your actions? In 20 minutes? By the end of the day? The rest of the week?

* What can you do to counter his efforts at exploitation? Now? After you return to base?

Submit your solutions by e-mail to Solutions may also be mailed to: Senior Editor (Attn: TDG), Marine Corps Gazette, PO Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134.

Editor’s Note: This TDG is based on TDG 05-2, “Children Bearing Gifts, ” by Andrew H. Hershey, printed in the Marine Corps Gazette. All imagery used in the TDGs has been provided by Google Earth.