Contact at the Han Lu River Bridge

By Capt Timothy E. Barrick


You are the commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. Your battalion is attacking north to secure a bridgehead across the Han Lu River for the regiment’s attack into the enemy’s rear areas. There are two bridges in the battalion’s zone, and it is the battalion commander’s aim to secure both bridges to give the regiment more flexibility in choosing its axis of advance. Company B has been tasked with seizing the bridge about 6 miles to the east and is the battalion’s main effort. You are the supporting attack and have been tasked with seizing the bridge to your front. Company C is in reserve to the rear of Bravo.

The S-2 believes that the remnants of an enemy mechanized battalion may be defending the areas north of the river. The enemy is experienced and well equipped with surplus Warsaw Pact weapons and vehicles. However, the force you are facing has been significantly worn down after several days of severe fighting. It is 1420, and the weather is clear. The terrain is wooded and consists of gently rolling hills. The woods are not thick and allow passage of vehicles, although the going is difficult.

Your company is mounted on AAVs. You are moving in a wedge formation with lst Platoon on the left, 2d Platoon in the lead, 3d Platoon on the right, and your Headquarters Section tucked in the middle. You have attached one machinegun squad and two assault teams to each platoon. Your Mortar Section is moving with the Headquarters Section.

You send 2d Platoon forward to get eyes on the bridge. The platoon commander radios that he is dismounting and moving to the forward tree line to observe the bridge. A few minutes later he reports:

Bridge is intact. Roadblock on the south side of the bridge. Dug-in positions in tree line across river on both sides of the road. Estimate platoon size position. I have not been seen. Am continuing to . . .

His radio transmission is interrupted by the chatter of machinegun fire. Beginning with one gun, it rapidly escalates. Moments later, the platoon commander reports again:

Am receiving heavy machinegun fire from tree line across the river. They are vehicle mounted and well dugin. Cannot identify vehicles clearly. Have three casualties and am pulling back to the tracks.

As his transmission ends, you hear and see light mortars begin to impact in the vicinity of 2d Platoon. What now, Captain?


In a time limit of 5 minutes, issue any orders you would give and make any requests or reports. Once this is done, provide a sketch of your plan and an explanation of your decision. Send your solution to the Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #97-6, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134 or fax 703-640-0823.

For more detailed information on the structure of Marine Corps Units, Marine Corps equipment, and symbols used in TDG sketches, see MCG, 0ct94, pp. 53-56 and the modification reported in Jan95, p. 5.