Enemy Over The Bridge: A Thwarted Plan

by Col John E. Greenwood, USMC(Ret)

Readers will recognize this scenario as the continuation of TDG #90-1, “The Enemy Over the Bridge.” The actions described here are based on a solution submitted by Maj Claes Henrikson, an instructor at the Company Commander’s Course, Armored Troop Combat School, Swedish Army.

The Situation

You are the executive officer of 2d Battalion, Sixth Marines consisting of a rifle company on trucks, two rifle companies on foot, a tank company, and a TOW section. As the lead element in a major division offensive, your battalion was moving to an assembly area in preparation for an attack north across the river at 0400 tomorrow morning. Although the assembly area, bridge, and riverbank were supposed to be in friendly hands, at 2000 your battalion discovered this was not the case. An enemy force of at least company size has seized the bridge and occupied your assembly area.

Recognizing the importance of the bridge and the need to move at once if the division attack is to proceed as scheduled, the battalion commander directed the mobile force of Company E (in trucks), supported by Company A (tanks), and the TOW section to attack the bridge by East Farm Road within one hour. As this was the main effort, he accompanied the force with his mobile command group. Companies F and G were directed to attack immediately to the northwest across East Hill toward Hamlet, the original assembly area, and West Farm. The intent of this attack was to gain control of the main roads leading south, protect the deployment and advance of the main force, and divert the enemy’s attention from the bridge.

As executive officer, you moved behind Company F and were coordinating the attack of the two companies in the south. Briefing and preparation for the attack by both mobile and ground elements took longer than expected as troops were tired and had been looking forward to resupply and rest in the assembly area. At 2110 Company G reported that elements on East Hill heard loud explosions and an intense firefight to the northeast. It seemed clear that the mobile force had contacted the enemy, but neither you nor Company G on East Hill were able to raise anyone with the mobile force on any radio net. Periodic small arms could be heard for several minutes, then enemy artillery began impacting in the vicinity of East Farm. At approximately the same time, Company F reported contact with the enemy south of the original assembly area. At about 2120, you received a garbled, panicky report from a radio operator on the conduct of fire net. The mobile force had been ambushed with heavy casualties. It is stopped on the road, disorganized, and now under artillery fire.

As the battalion executive officer, what would you do?


Within a 10-minute time limit respond to the above question by describing the actions you would take, the frag orders you would issue, and the reports you would make. Explain the rationale supporting these decisions and provide a sketch map showing the positions to be assumed by battalion elements.