Early Morning Attack

By Dr. Andrew H. Hershey


You’re the company commander, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines. Directed to conduct a reconnaissance in the western portion of the battalion’s area of responsibility, you have opted to attach one assault team and one machinegun team to each of your platoons.

During the last 2 days you have conducted a series of night patrols as you have moved west toward the small town of Timberville. These patrols have been uneventful. It would appear as though battalion’s concerns about enemy forces in this area are unsubstantiated. The area you have been moving through is primarily farmland, however, there are several large, wooded areas that your company will be moving through this evening. You anticipate arriving at Timberville early the next morning. There are two roads within your zone of action, Routes 6 and 17, which intersect at Timberville. While listed as primary roads, they are little more than improved dirt roads.

2d Platoon is designated as your lead element, with lst Platoon on your right and 3d Platoon on your left. You have maintained a position just inside the tree line as the company has moved through the woods. During the late evening hours the company has moved steadily through the woods without encountering any enemy forces.

It’s approximately 0515. Your line of sight is hampered by the woods to the north, but 2d Platoon has just reported that he is about to break out of the wooded area and begin his movement through the orchards just to the north and east of Timberville.

Suddenly, you hear small arms fire, including several machineguns off to your right. Your radio crackles. 1st Platoon reports that he is taking fire; appears to be a squad– sized unit; he can handle the situation. He also reports that he has two Marines with minor wounds. Within seconds of this report, 2d Platoon reports that he is taking fire from what appears to be a platoon located in Timberville. One of his squads is pinned down, and he has one Marine wounded. The platoon commander breaks communications but comes back with the following report: “Three amphibious armored personnel carriers (BTRs) moving south on 17 just about to enter Timberville.” You hear extensive machinegun fire followed by an explosion. You soon see smoke billowing to your front and assume that 2d Platoon took out one of the BTRs.


What now, Captain? In a time limit of 2 minutes, issue any orders or reports you might make. Provide a sketch for your scheme of maneuver and the rationale for your actions. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #00- 11, 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 modifcation reported in Jan95, p. 5.