Decision at the Overpass

By Capt Douglas J. MacIntyre


You are the battalion commander of 1st Bn, 6th Marines, with a weapons company and three rifle companies, one of which has an attached amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) platoon.

6th Marines has been deployed to help stabilize Athsano, a war ravaged country in southern Europe. Athsano government forces are currently reorganizing to the south and are expected to push west along Highway 9 within the next 24 hours. Marine forces have been sent to secure key nodes within the capital city prior to the government’s renewed offensive and arrival of follow-on U.S. forces. These nodes consist of the port facility, airport, and several government and communications centers.

Rebel units appear highly trained and make good use of the terrain. Their tactics have centered around prepared defenses and ambushes within the city. They possess medium to heavy weapons, rocket propelled grenades, and limited indirect fire capability from 82mm mortars. Operating in squad to platoon size elements, they are expected to fight for control of vital areas.

The battalion’s mission is to attack in zone to seize the radio station designated as Battalion Objective A (see map) in order to deny the rebel forces the ability to communicate with their supporters and the civilian populace. Additionally, the battalion must assist in refugee control. Your desired end state is the radio station secure, the battalion zone clear of rebel forces, refugee flow diverted away from Hwy 9, and the battalion prepared to continue the attack. Company C is the battalion’s main effort, with Weapons Company and Company B as supporting efforts, and Company A as the reserve.

The plan of attack is as follows: At 0100, Company C attacks in zone to seize Bn Obj A in order to deny the enemy use of the television station. Company B will have moved earlier to the east to prevent refugees from entering either Company C’s zone or Hwy 9. The 81mm Mortar Platoon is in general support of the battalion, and the remaining Combined Antiarmor Team (CAAT) is patrolling Hwy 9. Company A (Rein) is in reserve with attached Dragon Section, CAAT and the AAV Platoon. Upon consolidation of Bn Obj A, the reserve will reinforce Company’s C zone and expand local security.

It is now 0120. From a vantage point on Hwy 9, you observe heavy fighting to the north. The S-3 states, “Company C (advancing via the buildings on the left of its zone) has been stopped by a determined enemy defense and reinforcement. It reports heavy casualties in its lead platoon. Company B reports over 500 refugees in a holding area and an enemy of unknown strength moving to its north. The battalion reserve and 81mm platoon have staged on a secondary road south of the Hwy 9 overpass. What now, sir?”


In a time limit of 15 minutes, decide what you will do, prepare appropriate orders as well as any reports/requests that you would submit. Provide a sketch and an explanation of your plan. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #99-10, 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.