Protecting the ‘Golden Leaf’

by 1st Fire Team, 2d Squad, 2d Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines


You are the 1st Fire Team Leader, 2d Squad, 2d Platoon, Company C, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines of the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (22d MEU(SOC)). Your company has been tasked to maintain peace in the city of Koper, Slovenia. Slovenia has been suffering from a 5-year civil war. The legitimate government has finally come to a truce with the major belligerents in the war; however, there are rebellious factions who continue to conduct guerrilla warfare against the government and its supporters. The citizens of Koper remain peaceful with American forces but have recently begun to hold peaceful demonstrations against American imperialism. The demonstrations have yet to ignite into resistant crowds. The MEU commander believes that the population will soon become more aggressive in their protests. This is due to a few unfortunate misunderstandings and guerrilla propaganda. The citizens are caught in a whirlpool between the guerrillas’ political ideologies and the efforts of American forces. Their emotions are severely stirred and teetering on the edge. The guerrillas have Soviet-bloc small arms and experiment with crude “basement made” chemical irritants and explosives.

Your squad has been tasked to conduct an urban security patrol in a village located in your company’s area of operations in order to show presence and deter guerrilla actions. Attached to your squad is a corpsman, machinegun squad, assault team shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapon, and a human exploitation team (HET) Marine who can speak Slovenian. It is early afternoon, there is light traffic on the streets, and the sky is cloudy. After crossing the bridge en route to checkpoint Nissan, your squad is fragged over the radio to set up a vehicle checkpoint. Your squad leader states that S-2 (intelligence) has reliable information indicating that rebel forces are planning to attack the nearby State Tobacco factory with a car bomb. Your squad must search every vehicle attempting to enter the factory’s perimeter. Your squad establishes a checkpoint in the middle of Tobacco Lane-the only road leading into the factory. There are some small houses to your west and a river to the east. A small crowd of civilians approaches from the riverbank to watch the Americans in action.

As your squad begins to set up the vehicle checkpoint, members of the 3d Fire Team, on the east flank, report a strange odor. At the same time the HET Marine with the 3d Fire Team begins to vomit uncontrollably. He begins to rub his face screaming that his eyes and skin are burning. He collapses in agony and continues to cry out. Your squad leader immediately gives the command to don protective masks, but it is too late for another two members of 3d Fire Team-the squad automatic weapon gunner and rifleman begin experiencing the same symptoms as the HET man. The Marines who masked in time experienced no symptoms except for burning of exposed skin. The corpsman speculates that these are symptoms of a known improvised non-lethal gas that the guerrillas have developed. The crowd becomes aggressive when several civilians begin feeling the effects of the gas. They begin throwing debris (bricks, bottles, and rocks) with extreme force and incredible accuracy at the Marines. Seeing the Marines mask up, the crowd thinks that the Marines used the chemical agent on them. Acting utterly on emotion they are unaware of the fact that the guerrillas probably employed the gas. The squad leader is then suddenly hit in the face with a rock knocking him nearly unconscious. You are now in charge. The crowd is growing angrier and more people are joining them. They are not holding back. What do you do?


In a time limit of 2 minutes, write down your fragmentary order and any reports to higher headquarters. Provide a sketch of your actions. Rules of engagement state that riot control agents require authorization, and approval for their use will be given on a case-by-case basis. Submit your solution and rationale for your action to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #04-6, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or e-mail <>.