Tactical Decision Game 07-23: Trouble in the Archipelago

You command a rifle company. You find yourself on Big Island. Big Island and Little Islands 1-12, along with a few thousand other islands, make up the territory of Ally. Ally is an archipelagic country located within the weapons engagement zone (WEZ) of Adversary. Ten months ago, Adversary sought to annex Island Nation 100 NM east of their coast. This act of aggression led to our engagement in a costly 57-day war with Adversary over Island Nation that also involved Ally. Currently, all parties are signatories to a tentatively negotiated cease-fire. Adversary still maintains a foothold on Island Nation.  

Ever since the cease-fire, the expeditionary strike group has been busy ensuring continued logistical support to special operation forces (SOF) in the theatre. Our maritime freedom of movement has depended upon Ally’s ability to maintain sovereignty over its archipelago. We helped Ally hold the archipelago when Adversary attempted an invasion during the short war to open another flank on Island Nation. While Adversary cannot forcibly remove us from the archipelago, for fear of openly violating the terms of the cease-fire, they continue to explore other ways to make us reconsider our commitment to Ally and the terrain Ally has permitted us to occupy as stand-in forces.  

Coincidentally, Ally now has an insurgent problem made up of violent extremists. Intel reports indicate that the insurgent ambitions, armories, and coffers have been propped up through covert help from Adversary. Additionally, tensions with Adversary, who has been known to respond to what they perceive as violations of the negotiated cease-fire with long-range precision strikes, remain high. Key terms of the cease-fire limit the number of troops in the region. For this reason, perceived increases and build-ups inside the WEZ are heavily scrutinized. While our staff judge advocate tells us that our numbers and movements are permitted, one misunderstanding could lead to catastrophic consequences. Therefore, signature management inside of the WEZ remains important as it not only protects us from insurgent forces but more importantly protects us from Adversary’s persistent and ubiquitous targeting efforts. Simply put, if Adversary can make us leave the archipelago, they can further limit our logistical support to our SOF and further position themselves for success if hostilities resume. 

The battalion landing team’s (BLT) mission is to conduct security operations on this key maritime terrain with our archipelagic ally to ensure our continued control of sea lanes that Adversary seeks to contest.  

Two weeks ago, a host-nation commando squad was destroyed on neighboring Little Island 4 (5 NM north of your current location on Big Island) when an insurgent small UAS tracked the motorized unit long enough to execute an ambush. This ambush was initiated with a swarm of loitering munitions and ended when a few trucks equipped with NSV 12.7mm machineguns rolled up on the ambush site and finished off the remnants of the squad. One week ago, locals on Little Island 7 reported fishing vessels unloading what appeared to be 82mm mortars under cover of darkness. Meanwhile, you and your Marines have been distributed across Big Island supporting host-nation commandos while also emplacing, calibrating, and monitoring sea and ground sensors.   

The BLT has now tasked your company with linking up with SOF elements on Little Island 4 to prepare for the BLT’s establishment of a larger presence throughout the archipelago. Upon occupying Big Island, the BLT intends to distribute more squad-sized elements throughout Little Islands 1-12 to further the mission. For the last 48 hours, you have been preparing to depart the Big Island by way of a Light Amphibious Warship and Land Craft Utilities. Your plan is to join two of your platoons as they displace north to Little Island 4 to link up and reinforce SOF elements already in the vicinity of Little Island 4 and keep your most experienced platoon on Big Island to act as an advance party for additional reinforcements from the BLT.   

1st and 2d Platoons will embark aboard the connectors from the Blue River Docks at the port of Ubeda while 3d Platoon remains in overwatch in the town of Secliso.  Secliso is mostly mud huts with thatched roofs and is home to about 400 local nationals. Green Creek separates Secliso from North Ubeda. Ubeda is the most contemporary city on Big Island, made up of concrete buildings and home to about 3000 locals. South Ubeda is separated from North Ubeda by the Blue River. Blue River can only be passed at the Bridge.  Blue River Docks sits on the banks of North Ubeda. 

You have established a company command post in a concrete building in North Ubeda. You left your mortars in the company arms room on ship twenty-two days ago. However, you still maintain elements of the company fire support team alongside you in the command post. You have a section of Amphibious Combat Vehicles attached to the company. One of the battalion’s four scout sniper teams is currently in direct support of your company to assist with the extract. They have placed themselves in the vicinity of Loma Linda. They are outstanding in recon/counter-recon and maintain working proficiency in close air support and joint fires. A HIMARS battery resides on Little Island 6, 22 NM NE of Big Island. Their employment requires clearance at the one-star level. There is also a section of AH-1Z SuperCobras on a ten-minute strip alert on the Landing Helicopter Dock. The fact that the Landing Helicopter Dock is constantly steaming in and out of the WEZ remains a constant source of consternation for you as there are times it is as far as 60 NM from Big Island.   

3d Platoon is foot-mobile and has been in the vicinity of Secliso in overwatch for the past eight hours. 1st Platoon is in the vicinity of North Ubeda and has been in place for six hours. Amphibious Combat Vehicles are co-located with the 1st Platoon. While the 1st Platoon and the company command post have aggregated within the bounds of Ubeda proper, the 2d Platoon is conducting an infiltration north along Route 3 toward Ubeda for the purpose of extract.  Your company has nine man-packed loitering munitions (three per platoon), each with a range of ten km or ten minutes, a cruising speed of 100km per hour, and each carrying a 40mm warhead. Each platoon has two Carl Gustav 84mm Recoilless Rifles, two medium machineguns, and limited small UAS assets.  

2d Platoon is foot-mobile and moving slowly to maximize security. Thirty minutes ago, the 2nd Platoon reported gaining visual of South Ubeda. The Land Crafts Utility and Light Amphibious Warship should begin arriving in 45 minutes. 

Ten minutes later, the scout snipers on Loma Linda observed at least three generic quadcopters moving south along Route 3 moving toward your position before losing visual. No one else has reported gaining visual of the quadcopters.  

Six minutes later, you hear two faint explosions to your northeast in the vicinity of Secliso.   

Forty seconds later, your third platoon commander reports that one of his overwatch positions was just hit with what he can only believe were 40mm grenades dropped from a loitering munition. He reports one routine, two urgent casualties, and one priority. He is requesting that you send the Amphibious Combat Vehicles for the urgent MEDEVACs.   

Suddenly, you hear six distant pops to your south across the Blue River: mortars. The volume makes you believe the enemy must be very confident in their accuracy for some reason to drop that many mortars in the first salvo. You brace for the impact as rounds slam into the vicinity of 1st Platoon in Ubeda. Outside of the command post, you can hear at least two Marines screaming for a corpsman and plenty of commotion. 

Twenty seconds later, 2d platoon commander reports over comms that the lead trace of his infiltration squads saw several puffs of faint smoke in the vicinity of South Ubeda at the time the mortars were fired. That same squad now sees seven to nine men moving across the road and in and out of buildings in the vicinity of the smoke. 2d platoon commander is requesting permission to engage the men he sees in the vicinity of South Ubeda. 

With all this radio traffic you begin to become concerned with your electromagnetic signature. More radio traffic: scout snipers at Loma Linda report one of the Route 7 ground sensors was tripped 30 seconds ago. Snipers reoriented southeast of their position and now have observation of four to five pick-up trucks rapidly moving west on Route 7 toward Secliso.  

In a time limit of three minutes: 

  • What is the enemy trying to do to you? 
  • As the company commander, what can you affect in this fight?  
  • What are your orders? 
  • What do you tell higher? 

After Action Report:   

  • How did you get into this mess?   
  • What must you learn from this action? 

Tactical Decision Game #23-04: Hide and Seek

The year is 2031 and the world is at war. You are the squad leader for 1st Squad, Alpha Company, 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment. You are tasked with maintaining a low signature sensing cell on the small island of Pamitinan in the Philippine archipelago. Enemy ships frequent the straight between your island and the island approximately nine kilometers to the north. Although remaining undetected to protect sensing capabilities is the primary mission, your squad is equipped with one squad deployment missile system which has eight missiles as well as two unmanned aquatic vehicles each carrying sixteen surface-to-surface launched missiles. Your weaponry allows you a last line of self-defense if spotted and enables a strike capability in case of a high-priority target as designated by the fleet commander.  

You have been on the island for 57 days and are quickly approaching the end of your 60 days of rations and logistical sustainment. Resupplies have been planned for your squad twice in the past three weeks but have fallen through due to unexpected enemy movement in the area that could reveal your positioning or down the incoming aircraft. Three days ago, your 1st fire team leader, Cpl Snow, developed a high fever. He has been vomiting, in and out of consciousness, and recently finished the last IV bag. A medevac for Cpl Snow and a logistical resupply is now a necessity. To avoid detection, you are limited to one randomly generated comm window a day that lasts for two minutes. During the last window, it was passed that an MV-22 Osprey would be landing at your LZ at 0900 with a medical crew for an extract of Cpl Snow and a logistical resupply of 60 days of sustainment.  

As you are preparing the second fireteam to move to the LZ and rendezvous with the Osprey a Marine from your squad grabs you to tell you to look at the radar. You look to see your sensor has picked up not one but two enemy ships. To your northeast is an enemy sensing ship capable of picking up any transmissions that use SATCOM, HF, and VHF within seconds and pinpointing its location for precision-strike capabilities to act on. To your northwest heading toward the other ship is an enemy battleship capable of ship-to-air and ship-to-shore precision-ballistic strikes. It would take approximately 36 of your organic missiles to overwhelm the battleship’s defense capabilities and 24 for the sensing ship. The Osprey that is inbound is only minutes from being within range and is currently flying dark on comms only able to be reached by an emergency VHF net that you could contact to call them off. A strike from the enemy destroyer would be on target within 90 seconds with an attack from the nearest enemy-held island being 5 minutes. The time is 0852, what do you do? 

>GySgt McGrorty-Hunter is a Cyber Network Chief and is currently serving as a Faculty Advisor at the Staff Non-Commissioned Officers Academy aboard MCB Quantico. He is also the founder of the Quantico Warfighting Society. His most recent assignment prior to serving at Quantico was with ¼ MAR where he deployed twice in support of the 31st and 15th MEUs. 



You are the Squad Leader, 1st Squad, 3d Platoon, Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2d Battalion, 1st Marines (BLT 2/1). Recently the MEU was sent to Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in support of NATO forces during Operation E N-DURING FREEDOM. You have been in-country approximately 2 months and have been assigned to the northeast sector of the area of responsibility, Nan-garhar Province. Last month Company G engaged sizable needihajum forces under Sher Dil during a cordon and search operation within the valley. Company G was able to disrupt arms trafficking via the valley; however, small pockets of resistance continue to slip through the valley (squad-sized, Soviet small arms, light machineguns/rocket propelled grenades (RPGs)). Some of the platoon checkpoints (CPs) have received inaccurate 82mm mortar fire in the last week. Additionally, Company G’s actions last month resulted in significant collateral damage to local poppy fields and goat herds. Several houses and barns within Ada Atah were damaged, and the sole pump in the village center was crushed under the weight of the company’s assault amphibious vehicles. Unequal distributions of solatia payments (appearing to favor Kushtuz farmers in Ada over the minority Nuris-tani) have led to increased thefts and violence against Kushtuz by nonaligned Nuristani tribesmen. The company CP is located 25 miles southwest, and the commanding officer has deployed his platoons throughout the valley to provide security for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), conduct security patrols, and support human exploitation teams in answering demographic requests for information about the local leaders, population, atmosphere, etc.

It is about 1830 now after 3 days in Ada Atah. The villagers are beginning to be less skittish around your Marines and even the World Agro Fund (WAF) and Healthwatch are less irritable. As you head under the cover of an awning by a stable, you hear Cpl Clark’s voice over your internal squad radio, Boss, this is Echo 4 Charlie. I’ve got two males in man-dresses checking out the village from the farm 300 meters to the north. They were out there this morning, but they’re back with binoculars now.

Roger, Charlie. You release the handset, but something has changed in Ada Atah. The village is still packed. There is a hum, a murmur underneath the noise of the crowd. Then you notice the soccer ball lying still in the middle of the road. The flutes of the shepherds aren’t playing. There are no children. A WAF volunteer sprints from the pile of seed to the medical center. As she does, a rifle cracks over the noise of the crowd. A gunman with an AK-47 stands behind a donkey cart and tries to incite the crowd, ‘Bey-baies . . . paida-warunah . . . bon-sat-tunah!’? A rock is hurled from the crowd and strikes the wall next to you. Seconds before the rock above you explodes you see an RPG skip off the top of the pile of seed bags directly across the village. The chatter of machinegun fire comes from the farm to the north. Your radio squeals as your fire team leaders talk over one another, ‘oeBoss, Williams is hit bad. He needs casevac!’

As soon as you look over to Cpl Clark”s position, a teenage boy from the village runs across your path with an AK’?47. He is 1 meter ahead of you and doesn’t see you. What now, Sergeant?


Given the deployment and current activities of your squad, and in a time limit of 5 minutes, issue your verbal orders to your element leaders and any reports to higher headquarters. What are you doing after your orders are issued?

Issues for Consideration

1. What are your priorities? The casevac? The machinegun? The RPG? The boy?

2. What do you want to make happen in the next 60 seconds?

3. What can you make happen in the next 5 minutes?

4. Do your actions and their probable results escalate or deescalate violence in your area of operations?

5. Do you want to kill or capture possible opponents?

6. What considerations do you give to injury to noncombatants and damage to local property (collateral damage)?

7. How much collateral damage do you anticipate as a result of your actions?

8. Assuming your actions result in a fight and victory over insurgent forces, what actions do you take with regard to:

* Dead and injured enemy combatants?

* Dead and injured noncombatants?

9. Based on your actions in question 7, what do you expect civilian/NGO response will be to collateral damage:

* At the conclusion of fighting, while you are in the area?

* Within 1 hour after you leave?

* At the end of the day?

* At the end of the week?

10. Based on your actions in question 7, what is the expected enemy response to collateral damage:

* At the conclusion of fighting, while you are in the area?

* Within 1 hour after you leave?

* At the end of the day?

* At the end of the week?

11. What actions can you and the BLT take to counter and exploit enemy and civilian responses to collateral damage:

* While you are in the area?

* After you return to base?

* When you subsequently patrol in the area?

12. What actions have you, the BLT, and local forces taken to defeat enemy motivation to attack:

* While in the area?

* After you return to base?

* Over the next week?

The Debrief


You were the 11th MEU S-3A (assistant operations officer) but have been reassigned as the team leader of an advisor/liaison team assigned to 15 th Afghan Infantry Battalion. Approximately 4 months ago the MEU was sent to Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in support of NATO forces during Operation ENDURING Freedom. The 15th Afghan Battalion completed basic training prior to your arrival. At this point in their training, they can conduct limited independent operations at the company level and often require coalition assistance for vehicle maintenance, logistics planning, and operational planning. The 15th Battalion’s area of operations is a stretch of land between Jalalabad and Kabul, the regional home of the 15th. Their primary mission has been interdiction of Taliban and insurgent weapons and personnel between Kabul and Jalalabad.

Last night 2d Company conducted a night ambush of an insurgent convoy. You were in Kabul with the battalion commander coordinating a resupply and maintenance budget for the battalion’s vehicles. You assigned your staff sergeant who is a subject matter expert in helicopter observations to observe the company’s ambush, a mission he has done before. The 2d Company has small arms capability similar to a Marine rifle company; however, its communications and night vision equipment is limited. The following morning, the 2d Company returned to the battalion headquarters riding in what you suspect are captured vehicles. You attend the company commander’s debrief to his battalion commander and members of his staff. Following are the company commander’s comments:

“My rifle company, with two medium machinegun teams and two assault teams attached (armed with rocket propelled grenades), was ordered to conduct a night ambush on a known enemy supply route. As the company commander, I had a night vision monocular. We did bring trip flares and six antitank mines along with several antipersonnel pressure mines. Our communications net enabled me to speak with my battalion headquarters and locally to each platoon leader.

“Intelligence reports indicated that enemy supplies are transported by trucks with the occasional armed jeep or light armored car acting as an escort. The trucks generally have an infantry platoon (minus) as local security as well. Convoys are six to eight vehicles long.

“The company was dropped off by helicopters (provided by the MEU aviation combat element) at Landing Zone Bravo at 0135, some 5 kilometers from the ambush site. The terrain was mountainous, with rocky outcroppings and low scrub. Nighttime temperatures were near or below freezing. The unit marched in column, keeping to a counterlevel below the crest, to the ambush site. Once there a platoon conducted a reconnaissance and then we assumed the fighting positions as outlined on this map. We kept radio talk to a minimum using runners or chemical light signals when able. While it was still dark, the enemy convoy approached from the village as anticipated. No jeeps or armored cars were visible from my position.

“The convoy entered the kill zone, and the company opened fire with the headquarters initiating the ambush. The enemy was hard pressed to react, but some of the infantry managed to return fire aided by a heavy machinegun (HMG) from a jeep in the middle of the convoy, but then they were overwhelmed. We suffered only four lightly wounded, one seriously wounded, and one killed in action.

“While medical attention was given to the wounded, we conducted a quick sweep of the enemy in search of items of intelligence value. We found none but did notice we destroyed a jeep with HMG. Following this search, we discovered that most of the vehicles were still operational. We cancelled the scheduled helicopter extract and returned with a large motor pool. We left the mines in place in the hopes the enemy might set them off later when picking up their dead.”

After hearing the last sentence you glance over at your staff sergeant, who smiles and nods. This is your signal that he did not know that the mines were left in place. He also tilted his head slightly, an indication that the company commander is telling the truth as far as he could observe.

The company commander turns to you and asks, “The mission was clearly a success. Don’t you agree, Captain?”


In a time limit of 10 minutes, write what you would say in front of the battalion staff and what you would say privately to the battalion and company commanders. Describe what actions you would take. Be prepared to provide a rationale for your comments and provide a sketch if you believe that the concept of operations should be different.

Issues for Consideration

1. Would you critique the mission in front of the battalion commander, pull the company commander aside, or a combination? Why?

2. In regard to the minefield, what is your team’s responsibility in this matter?

3. What are some ways that the Afghan battalion can defeat the Kajura population’s will to resist government rule?

4. Will the action of 2d Company help defeat the enemy resolve? Explain?

5. Do the actions of 2d Company further the objectives of the MEU commander? Explain.

6. What do you do if you find out the convoy that 2d Company ambushed was a local militia vice Taliban or alQaeda?


3d Platoon’s Pickle


You are the platoon commander of 3d Platoon (foot-mobile), Fox Company, Battalion Landing Team 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th MEU. Last month, after completing operations in Nangarhar Province, the MEU was sent to support NATO forces in B armai District of neighboring Paktika Province. Two weeks ago, B armai District witnessed dozens of small-scale battles. The fighting has claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians, most of them victims of NATO air and artillery strikes. Because of this, several once pro-NATO villages have begun providing the Taliban with intelligence, supplies, and even men.

Your battalion commander finds this situation alarming and wants to strengthen relations between his Marines and the remaining pro-NATO villages in the battalion area of responsibility. To this end, he has sent each of his companies to billet on the edge of – or if granted permission, within – a large pro-NATO village. Each company has the same mission: protect the villagers and improve their quality of life. Your company was assigned to Soor.

When Fox Company arrived in Soor, your company commander met with the village elders. Impressed by his knowledge of Pashto (and promises of food and medical supplies), they invited the Marines to stay in the village. A few days later, an Afghan National Army (ANA) infantry platoon arrived to augment your force and facilitate cooperation between the Marines and villagers. Consisting of three light infantry squads, the Afghan platoon is highly motivated but knows only the most rudimentary skills of soldiering, and except for its Soviet-era weapons, it is poorly equipped. The Afghan soldiers lack body armor and night vision devices.

Since the Marines came to Soor, the village and its environs have been free of enemy activity. The villages where your sister companies are stationed, however, have seen daily (and sometimes nightly) company-sized attacks by the Taliban. Often poorly coordinated, the attacks have cost the enemy hundreds of dead, the Marines dozens, and the villagers few.

Today you and your men spent the afternoon instructing the Afghan infantry platoon in ambush techniques. With the training over, your platoon began readying itself for a night patrol. Then, around 1700, you received new orders from your company commander. “Lieutenant,” he began, “we just received word from battalion: 20 minutes ago an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) discovered a convoy of 8 pickup trucks a few hours northeast of here. Intel says they’re Taliban, about 50 in number, who came across the border from Pakistan sometime this morning. The trucks appear to be carrying at least a dozen crew-served weapons. And there’s a good chance that the leader of Taliban forces in Barmal District is among the passengers. Higher headquarters wants the convoy taken out for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, we won’t have the aid of the UAS. It’s been sent to help friendly forces caught in an ambush. Now because there are so few good roads in the area, the convoy must pass through Checkpoint Chesty, about 3!/2 klicks northeast of Soor. Ambush it there. I’m giving you three assault teams and a machinegun squad (two teams) for the mission. Since you just finished training the ANA platoon in ambush techniques, I’m sending two of their squads along. You also get the forward air controller (FAC). Two Cobras (AH-IW) are on call, so if you need them, they’re there. At its present rate the convoy should reach the checkpoint a little over an hour from now. As you know, the terrain between here and there is relatively flat and easy to travel, so you should have plenty of time to set up the ambush. Move out within 15 minutes.”

You give a quick patrol order to your subordinate leaders, conduct final equipment checks, and move out. You deploy your force in column formation, with the assault teams, machineguns teams, and ANA squads interspersed between your three rifle squads. 1st Squad is on point.

As the lead elements of the ambush force near Checkpoint Chesty, you hear explosions coming from Soor. You try contacting your company commander on the radio, but he does not respond. You then direct the FAC to check with the battalion air officer. The FAC does so and learns that Soor is taking heavy mortar fire. To make matters worse, the FAC informs you that at least two groups of Taliban (strength unknown) are moving to assault the village from the southwest. Just then, 1st Squad radios in. They report seeing 13 vehicles in the distance. The convoy is fast approaching. Night is falling. What now, Lieutenant?


Within 5 minutes, give your solution in the form of a frag order to your subordinates. Be sure to include your intent, an overlay sketch of your plan, and the rationale for your decision.

> Editors Note: This TDG was originally submitted by Damien O’Connell with comments and suggestions by Bruce Gudmundsson and Timothy Jackson.


‘Cordon and. . . .’


You are the 3d Platoon Commander, Company G (Mechanized, Reinforced), Battalion Landing Team 2d Battalion, 1st Marines (BLT 2/1). Recently the MEU was sent to Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in support of NATO forces during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. You have been in-country approximately 1 month and have been assigned to the northeast sector of the area of responsibility, Nangarhar Province. Recently the BLT has been searching for warlord, Sher Dil, and his needihajum freedom fighters believed to be operating in the Rahadnak Valley. Sher Dil is the primary source of arms transportation into Jalalabad. The arms shipments flow from the northwest tribal regions of Pakistan into the Tora Bora region, through the Rahadnak Valley, then into Jalalabad. The Rahadnak Valley was initially quiet with no armed conflict. However, after successful arms interdiction in the area, organized guerrilla groups ignited an active campaign against coalition forces and inflamed tribal unrest throughout the valley.

Your mechanized platoon is embarked on four assault amphibious vehicles and is further reinforced with one machinegun squad and two assault teams from weapons platoon. Your company is tasked to search a village suspected of harboring Sher Dil and needihajum fighters. Speed is essential as the enemy is prone to resupplying its forces and then quickly fading into the rugged and mountainous countryside. A section of AH-I W Cobras can reinforce the company within 1 5 minutes.

The company scheme of maneuver calls for two platoons to encircle the village, one from the west and the other from the east, one platoon to advance along the main avenue of approach to seal the entry point, and a dismounted mortar section to isolate the objective area with calls for fire as needed. The section of Cobras can be used to further isolate the objective area or provide supporting fires if required. Your platoon is the main effort. On order, you will secure the main supply route (MSR) northwest of Ada while 1st and 2d Platoons isolate the village. During isolation operations, are the reserve. Be prepared to attack the enemy force west and east of the village in support of 1st and 2d Platoons’ mission. Upon conclusion of isolating the village, you will enter the village and search for weapons caches, needihajum fighters, and Sher Dil. Your platoon is reinforced with a weapons cache detection team (fire team of combat engineers), the company intelligence cell (the company executive officer attended basic Farsi language school), and the company interpreter who speaks Farsi and the local tribal language. You have used the tactic successfully in this area in the past and are familiar with your mission and the local area. You have placed the platoon sergeant with 1st Squad, and you are with 2d Squad with the company attachments.

During the isolation of the village, your platoon advances to the outskirts of the village along the MSR and secures the northeast exit of the village as 1st and 2d Platoons execute their mission. Your platoon established blocking positions, overwatch, and observation into the village as shown on the graphic. Approximately 10 minutes into the operation you hear machinegun fire from west of the village, and about 2 minutes later you hear mortar round explosions from the west as well.

2d Squad Leader calls you over and reports, “Sir, take a look. There are approximately six vehicles being loaded down with men, women, children, bags, and boxes. The men are all carrying AK-47s, and I see two rocket propelled grenades so far.” You confirm what 2d Squad observed and note that the vehicles will be completely loaded in approximately 1 0 minutes at the rate they are going. At the same time, fire erupts from 1st Squad’s position, but you cannot see what they are engaging.

The radio operator hands you the radio and says, “1st Platoon talking to company.” You listen in, “. . . on Hills 2 and 3, squad-sized each, machineguns on Hill 2, mortars on Hill 3. Lieutenant and Jenkins down. Need 2 minutes of immediate suppression on south side of Hill 3, grid 354256. Am assaulting Hills 2 and 3. Over.”

Less than 5 seconds later, your platoon sergeant radios you, “Enemy team on north side of village attempting to access a weapons cache. 1st Squad engaging to suppress. Still developing situation. Over.”

Less than 10 seconds after that, the company commander radios you, “Need your platoon to attack enemy forces on Hill 2 in support of 1st Platoon’s mission. Attack northeast to southwest and flank the enemy force.” He then radios 2d Platoon and orders them to focus on taking Hill 4 and attacking enemy forces on Hill 3 in order to prevent their escape into the valley. What now?


In a time limit oí 5 minutes, issue your orders to your element leaders as well as any reports and recommendations to the company commander.

Issues of Consideration

1. What is the enemy’s disposition of forces? What is the enemy trying to accomplish with this attack?

2. What do you believe is the company and BLT commander’s intent for this area?

3. How do your actions support these intents?

4. How do your actions defeat the enemy’s intent?

5. What do you expect the enemy to do as a result of your orders?

6. Do your orders exploit the enemy’s response?

7. Did you consider collateral damage (civilian injury and damage to property) when determining your orders and recommendations?

8. What do you expect civilian response will be to collateral damage (property damage and casualties), and how do you think it will be communicated:

* At conclusion of fighting, while you are in the area?

* Within 1 hour after you leave?

* At the end of the day?

* At the end of the week?

9. What is the expected enemy response to collateral damage, and how do you think their response will be communicated:

* At conclusion of fighting, while you are in the area?

* Within 1 hour after you leave?

* At the end of the day?

* At the end of the week?

10. What actions can you, the company, and the BLT take to counter and exploit enemy and civilian responses to collateral damage while you are in the area and after you return to base?

11. Are there any recommendations you would give to the company’s commander to improve future missions of this type after the mission is complete?

Tropical Gold


You are the company commander for Company C, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines and your regiment is attached to 2d Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force that is part of Joint Task Force (JTF) Rambada. Six months ago the Revolutionary Forces of Rambada (ReFoR) began combat operations and were able to seize the enure country of Rambada. It took 90 days for the U.S.-led task force to position themselves and execute an amphibious and vertical assault with the intent of reestablishing the legitimate Rambadan Government. After seizing the port facilities and most major cities within the country’s interior, JTF headquarters (HQ) has decided to make the final push to destroy ReFoR and all of their assets. This has been your mission for the last 2 months, and you have now entered the “seclusion zone,” deep in the Rambada rain forest, to hunt down the last remaining ReFoR elements. ReFoR elements have continued to withdraw into the seclusion zone and have executed delaying actions the entire way. They have limited, but proficient, 82mm mortars and an excellent array of small arms and heavy machineguns (MGs) (U.S. and Soviet block). It has been determined that they have been withdrawing in an attempt to use their familiarity with the terrain to gain an advantage. Intelligence believes the big fight is coming, and the ReFoR is consolidating its forces.

It is approaching the monsoon season and is raining 12 hours a day. The high jungle is triple canopy, and low areas are marsh and patties. Most rivers are not fordable and take hours to rig for crossing. The ReFoR and local farmers have systematically slashed and burned sections of low-lying rain forest to help in the growing of crops.

At present your battalion is executing a blocking mission along a supply route, and your company’s mission is to secure the small village of Bulverde and the main unimproved road intersection nearby to ensure that the enemy is unable to resupply or reinforce to the northeast or withdraw from the north to the south-southeast. ReFoR command and control (C^sup 2^) facilities are considered high-priority targets and should be engaged once discovered.

You have planned to secure the intersection and the village and use the surrounding steep terrain to provide mutual support to defend the village and intersection. Your battalion commander’s intent is for you to hold Bulverde for 48 to 72 hours to allow the regiment to sweep north along your eastern flank.

Your plan is to move your company to the initial release point and set in mortars and HQ elements and then release one squad from the MG section and your four-man sniper team to move to their overwatch/support by fire position to the west of you. Two platoons will then systematically sweep toward the village, secure the intersection west of the village, and begin to clear the town from west to east. Once the intersection is secured you will move forward with your remaining assets and begin to prepare defenses while your remaining platoon helps secure the village and surrounding terrain. This is the fourth village your company has secured, and you have been told there are no defenses in place and the local populace should not react harshly to your presence. You are the supporting effort and have no priorities of fires, except for a section of Cobras set on 5-minute strip alert with an estimated time of arrival of 10 minutes.

You assume your overwatch position without contact, and your two platoons quickly move forward to seize the northern bridge, intersection, and gain a foothold in the village. As they near the bridge one platoon finds itself in a minefield and quickly takes three casualties. Instantly, your second platoon comes under direct MG fire from the west of the village, and both platoons begin to take sporadic mortar fire. Your MG section opens up and attempts to destroy the enemy guns but quickly comes under accurate sniper fire from the north and takes three casualties. Your sniper team begins to report a large concentration of C^sup 2^ facilities within the village and a large concentration of troops moving toward your position.


In a time limit of 5 minutes, develop a plan to deal with the situation. Provide a sketch of your actions and the rationale behind them. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #04-2, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or e-mail <gazette@mca-marines.org>.

The Fallen Angel


Your Marine expeditionary unit (MEU) has been conducting operations in the coastal country of Atlantica. A former general by the name of Franco has been terrorizing the capital city by sending his rogue army to loot and pillage the locals and kill all who oppose him. U.S. carrier-launched aircraft have been making low-altitude, high-speed flybys to make our presence known and demonstrate the resolve of the international community. They have also bombed Franco military units after Franco’s forces engaged U.S. aircraft with antiaircraft fire. Later that day a Navy F-18 was shot down by a long-range surface-to-air missile and crash-landed south of a local airfield. The pilot’s last radio transmission stated that he had ejected safely and was heading to his extraction point (which is near the airfield).

You are 1st Squad Leader, 2d Platoon, Company C, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, and your platoon is tasked to conduct a TRAP (tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel) mission to recover the downed F-18 pilot who is hiding in Building 13 of the abandoned airport. The MEU S-2 (intelligence) reports that there is no known enemy presence at the bombed out airport. The airport consists of four administrative buildings made of cinder block and corrugated steel roofs. The runway is cratered and covered with debris.

At 2200 2d Platoon is inserted by helo into Landing Zone (LZ) Alcatraz (50Om south of Building 13). Two AH-I Cobras are on station but only for 20 minutes. 2d Platoon moves out in a tactical column heading north to Building 13. 1st Squad with the platoon commander will clear the building and find the pilot. 2d and 3d Squads are responsible for perimeter security north of the building using the remains of cars and debris for cover outside of the building. 1st Squad tactically and quickly enters the back door of the building and immediately clears the first floor of the two-story building. When you reach the second floor you notice a dead body with an AK-47 in hand directly across a door in the hallway. Stacked against the wall the lead fire team leads the way into the room. Suddenly the room erupts with automatic rifle fire. The fire team returns fire and the AK-47 fire ceases. The fire team leader yells out, “Room clear,” and you enter.

From a closet in the back of the room you hear a voice shout, “I am an American!” The F-18 pilot comes out of the closet and explains that he was compromised in his hide site and had to seek cover in this building. The enemy rushed him and he shot the one in the door minutes before you arrived. As you step back in the hallway to tell your platoon commander that you have the “package,” you see the corpsman frantically tending to the platoon commander. One of the AK-47 rounds penetrated the wall and hit him in the stomach under the interceptor vest. he is bleeding profusely and is out of the fight.

As you digest the fact that you are now temporarily in charge, a long burst of machinegun fire lets loose on 2d and 3d Squads’ positions outside of the building. The 2d Squad Leader reports that they are taking heavy machinegun fire from Buildings 10, 11, and 12. The platoon sergeant, located with 2d Squad, has been hit in the shoulder breaking his collarbone. all Marines carry a full combat load. Additionally, the squad leaders have intrasquad radios, and the platoon has two PRC-IlQs and a PRC-113.

You are 1st Squad Leader and you have assumed command of the mission. What do you do?


In a time limit of 60 seconds develop your scheme of maneuver including any request for close air support. Prepare an overlay depicting your scheme of maneuver, designated targets, and rationale for your actions. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #04-3, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or e-mail <gazette@mca-marines.org>.

To Ambush or Not to Ambush


You are the 1st Squad Leader, 1st Platoon, Company F, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines (2/7). Battalion Landing Team 2/7 (BLT 2/7) is the ground combat element of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit that has landed at the port city of New Zeda in the country of Zedastan. The established government is struggling with counterguerrilla insurgency, and there have been numerous high-profile kidnappings, bombings, and assassinations in the past month. Conditions have deteriorated to a point requiring international intervention. The city is home to over 1 million people most of whom require humanitarian relief. The main enemy force, the Zedastan People’s Army (ZPA), retreated from the city upon the arrival of the Marines. ZPA is a large but untrained army with mostly small arms, machineguns, and a few mortars. They do have access to modern communications such as cell phones and global positioning systems.

The BLT is the security element for both U.S. and international aid organizations that are feeding the estimated 300,000 refugees. Company F has been tasked with ensuring that ZPA forces do not return to the city to interfere with humanitarian efforts. Your platoon has been tasked with conducting security patrols outside the city approximately 2 kilometers to the northeast. The terrain is heavily wooded with rolling hills.

Your squad has been on patrol for over an hour. The BLT perimeter and city outskirts are approximately 2 kilometers to the south. Your point man spots what appears to be an enemy patrol armed with small arms moving south toward your squad. You decide to establish an ambush and set your squad into hasty ambush positions oriented to the northwest. You radio higher headquarters and inform them of the situation. just as you are about to initiate your ambush (with a closed bolt weapon), the 1st Fire Team Leader points out another enemy unit moving toward and behind you. he counts at least six enemy with more following. He’s not sure how many. The team leader also notes at least one RPK (Soviet) medium machinegun. It is now 1730 and EENT (end evening nautical twilight) is 10 minutes away. What now, Sergeant?


In a time limit of 30 seconds decide whether or not you will spring your ambush. Develop your scheme of maneuver for either case and rationale for your decision. Submit your solution and rationale for your action to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #04-4, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or e-mail <gazette@mca-marines.org>.

Protecting the ‘Golden Leaf’


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 <gazette@mca-marines.org>.

Rahadnak Valley Search


You are the Commanding Officer, Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2d Battalion, 2d Marines-the mechanized rifle company currently deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (26th MEU (SOC)). Recently, the MEU was sent to the country of Ghanifstan in order to reinforce coalition units searching for Nadel nib Amaso and remnants of his Nabilat forces and needihajum freedom fighters believed to be operating in the southeastern part of the country. Throughout the winter months Rahadnak and the surrounding provinces have been relatively quiet with no armed conflict in this region. However, with the arrival of the spring thaw and warming temperatures, organized guerrilla groups reignited an active campaign against coalition forces and inflamed tribal unrest throughout the region.

Your mechanized company, embarked aboard 14 assault amphibious vehicles, is reinforced with elements from its organic weapons platoon, including three machinegun squads and six assault teams evenly dispersed between the platoons and a 60mm mortar section. While traveling east along a main road in the Rahadnak Valley during a routine mechanized patrol, your unit is tasked to search a village suspected of harboring Nabilat and needihajum fighters. Speed is essential as the enemy is prone to resupplying its forces and then quickly fading into the rugged and mountainous countryside. A section of AH-IW Cobras that can reinforce your unit within 15 minutes remains on call to provide close air support.

In order to maximize the “shock and awe” and speed of your mechanized unit, you decide on a simple, though previously effective, scheme of maneuver that calls for two platoons to encircle the village-one from the north and the other from the south-one platoon to advance along the main avenue of approach to seal the entry point and a dismounted mortar section to isolate the objective area with calls for fire as needed. The section of Cobras can be used to further isolate the objective area or provide supporting fires if required.

As your lead elements enter the village area, 1st Platoon immediately begins taking machinegun fire from the vicinity of Hill 2. As the platoon commander begins to take immediate action, mortars begin impacting around him. One of his vehicles has sustained a mobility kill. What now, Captain?


In a time limit of 5 minutes, issue your orders to your element leaders. Prepare an overlay depicting your scheme of maneuver, fragmentary order, and rationale for your actions. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #04-7, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or email <gazette@mca-marines.org>.

For more detailed information on the structure of Marine Corps units, Marine Corps equipment, and symbols used in TDG sketches, see the MCG web site at <www. mca-marines.org/gazeUe>.