The Attack on Schmitt Pass

Capt Eric M. Walters

The scenario for this game is the same as TDG #93-7, only it is seen this time from the enemy’s point of view-i.e., with the roles reversed. The games stand alone and can be played in any order, but both should be played. The idea behind doing TDGs in this fashion is to show the importance of understanding your enemy’s capabilities when formulating your own plans.

Again, this TDG places more emphasis on the rationale behind quick decisionmaking. Readers are still asked to formulate their initial concept within a strict time limit. But instead of providing a capsule explanation as has been customary, readers must provide what would be their commander’s estimate and commander’s intent, had they the time to write comprehensive ones. Such an exercise best demonstrates the power of a commander’s estimate and commander’s intent as the best explanation for orders. They should be verbally issued whenever possible. (For discussion of commander’s intent see MCG, Apr93 pp. 50-53, 74-81.)


You are the commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. Your regiment has been on the go for weeks, successfully slicing through consecutive enemy defenses. Your battalion now has the mission of seizing Schilling Ridge and Schmitt Pass from the east so that the rest of your regiment can continue on and seize the vital Kusch River crossings to the west. Your men are dog tired but motivated to go on by the string of victories your battalion has so far enjoyed despite its losses. The enemy has been on the run constantly, never quite having enough time to build a robust defense before it is punctured or bypassed.

Company A is now the forward security element of the battalion, which has lagged behind. Instead of waiting for it to close up, you kept your four platoons moving. You are fortunate that you still have experienced commanders for three of them. 1stLt Baumann has 1st Platoon, Sgt Weising has 2d Platoon-these are your two best leaders-and Sgt Fischer has 3d Platoon. Your company is armed with six machineguns (two have tripods), only one battered 60mm mortar tube, and roughly one light antiarmor weapon per man.

In your last communication with battalion, the commanding officer told you that an enemy platoon-sized unit was in the vicinity of Schmitt Pass. He also ordered you to take the village of Chappell, which lies at the east opening of the pass. He wants to use this town as an attack position to drive through the pass as soon as the rest of the battalion arrives there. Other intelligence indicated that small enemy infantry units that could conceivably reinforce this position are in the vicinity. Last, friendly artillery and air are tied up elsewhere and are not available.

When you approached within a mile of the pass, you and your platoon commanders conducted a leaders’ reconnaissance (see sketch below). There appeared to be sonic movement on the heights; glitters indicated some kind of light crew-served weapons-you imagined a machinegun or two. The Chappell Forest obscured your view of the town. No other enemy was visible-you sensed that the enemy had recently arrived in the area. Your platoon commanders now await their orders-what do you tell them?


In a time limit of 10 minutes, develop a concept of operations for the attack. Subsequently, write a summary of the verbal orders you would issue to your platoon commanders. Instead of providing an explanation as has been customary with previous TDGs, compose the detailed commander’s estimate and commander’s intent you would also issue had you been given the time to do so. Be sure it clearly provides the rationale for your order summary. Include a sketch of your plan. Submit your solution to the Marine Corps Gazette. TDG #93-8. P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134.