Hostile Intent


You are the 3d Squad Leader, 2d Platoon, Company F, Battalion Landing Team 2d Battalion, 1st Marines (BLT 2/1), 1 1th 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 1 u2 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 machi neguns, 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 or improvised explosive device (IED). 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 the matter of civil affairs and civil-military relations. They initiated a “weapons buy back program,” paying for each weapon turned in depending upon its lethality. Despite such gain, the AOR still has its share of insurgent attacks. Of the seven major clans in the area of operations, the BLT has secured the support of the 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. 1st Squad is on the left flank, 2d Squad is in the center with the command element, and your squad is 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, you hear and see an explosion where you expect 1st Squad to be, followed by automatic and semiautomatic weapons fire. You execute a halt in place and establish 360-degree security. Firing continues for 30 seconds before you hear 1st Squad report: “Enemy squad with AKs, RPG, mortar IED. Watson and Perez are down. Need casevac. Break. Recommend 2d Squad move north of my position and cut off retreating enemy elements. Over.”

Approximately 30 seconds after the 1st Squad report, the platoon commander radios to you: “2d Squad is reinforcing 1st Squad attack. Proceed north to major intersection in order to prevent enemy reinforcements from attacking our flank. Over.”

After acknowledging the order, the squad proceeds north along Route 6. About 100 meters up the road, you observe approximately 20 men armed with a combination of AK-47s and RPGs emerge from a compound and board 3 pickup trucks and 2 trucks with mounted machineguns. They have not observed you yet. You estimate that this force will be ready to leave the compound in 2 minutes. 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 this new force is? What is their intent?

What actions might you take to determine if this force is friendly or hostile?

If this force is hostile, are your actions in accordance with your commander’s intent?

If this force is friendly, how might they assist you in accomplishing your mission and the BLTs mission?

If the force is friendly, how might they assist your battalion commander in achieving his intent?

Assuming this force is hostile, how can the enemy seek to exploit this situation in the local community?

What are some actions you can take or recommendations you can make to your commander to counter enemy exploitation efforts? Immediately after the fight? After you return to base?