Tactical Decision Game 94-6*

Here we present a Tactical Decision Game from the pages of the June 1994 Gazette along with previously published solutions.  Your mission is to critique the solutions.  You may point out what you see as flaws in the proposed solution, highlight relevant tactical concepts, identify the effects new weapons or technology on the course of action or offer your own solution.

Click here to view TDG 94-6

Click here to view the solutions

Tactical Decision Game

You are the commander, 1st Platoon, Alpha Company.

General Situation

Company A is on the far right (northern) flank of the battalion as it clears from east to west in order to (IOT) prevent the Centraban Resistance Force (CRF) from destabilizing the Centraban government. The CRF has been conducting a guerrilla campaign that has been marked by small units operating independently to strike government forces quickly and then withdrawing. The CRF has occasionally massed to company strength to conduct deliberate attacks. CRF forces have occasionally conducted deliberate defenses when they can muster significant strength, and the area defended is critical to their operations. The CRF has been operating in this area for approximately 1 year and is seeking to prevent us from advancing westward into their key territories. 1 st Platoon is on the far right (northern) flank of Company A and is the northernmost unit in the battalion. The company is approximately 2.5 kilometers to the south of 1st Platoon. Since your attack will take place prior to the main efforts attack, you will have priority of fires for the company 60mm mortars until the main efforts attack commences.

Orientation

You arc currently located in Assembly Area Silver in Area ol Operations White (AO White). The map shows the entirety of your AO. The Deep River is swiftflowing and crossable only where there are bridges. North and South Bridges are identical footbridges of wood construction. The Western Swamp is mired in chest-deep mud in almost all areas except for some footpaths that are known to the locals and are nearly invisible. Visibility in open areas is 100 meters, 50 meters in the swamp, 50 meters in the thinner tree line, and 25 meters in the thick tree line. Visibility from the high ground is 100 to 200 meters, but essentially stops at the tree line and 100 meters into the swamp. Within the tree line next to the river, visibility is 25 to 50 meters. Sunrise tomorrow is at 0620, sunset today is at 1726, end of evening nautical twilight today is at 1801, moonrise is at 2106 tonight, illumination will be 50 percent tonight, beginning morning nautical twilight tomorrow is at 0532. It is early winter in the Quantico Highlands and the temperature tonight will be 43 degrees Fahrenheit with light cloud cover and no precipitation. Your probable rate of march in the Eastern Forest is 1 kilometer per hour.

Situation

Enemy: Composition, disposition, and strength: Intelligence reports indicate that a squad of CRF in green camouflage utilities is present in AO White and a platoon may be present 10 ro 20 kilometers to the south. The squad is reportedly armed with at least 1 PKM, one or two RPG 7s, and AK-74s. They may have a single antiquated Soviet 50mm mortar system with a maximum range of 800 meters. They are communicating via cellular phones and handheld radio systems with a maximum range of 5 kilometers. They do not have night-vision capabilities.

lasks

1st Platoon: You are [SE3]- No later than 2000, destroy the enemy in AO White IOT prevent them from interfering with die company’s main-effort attack in AO Black.

2d Platoon: You are the main effort. On order, destroy the enemy squad on Company Objective A IOT protect the battalion’s right flank.

3d Platoon: You are [SEI]. On order, destroy the enemy listening posts/observation posts on Company Objectives B and C TOT prevent them from interfering with the company’s main effort attack on Company Objective A.

Weapons Platoon: You arc [SE3]. On order, support by fire 2d Platoon TOT allow them to close with and destroy the enemy on Company Objective A.

Time is now 1600.

Rahadnak Valley Search

Situation

You are the Commanding Officer, Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2d Battalion, 1st Marines (BLT 2/1), a mechanized rifle company. 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 the 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 company is embarked aboard 14 assault amphibious vehicles. You ordered the weapons platoon to detach three machinegun squads and six teams evenly between the platoons. While traveling southwest along a main road in the Rahadnak Valley during a routine mechanized patrol, your unit 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-IW Cobras, which can reinforce your unit within 1 5 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 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.

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?

Requirement

In a time limit of 10 minutes, issue your orders to your element leaders.

Issues for Consideration

1 . Who do you believe the enemy force is? What is their motivation for attacking?

2. What do you believe is the BLT intent for this area?

3. How do your actions support this intent?

4. How do your actions defeat the enemy’s motivation to attack?

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

6. What do you expect civilian response will be to collateral damage:

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

* Within 1 hour after you leave?

* Ar the end of the day?

* At the end of the week?

7. What is the expected enemy response to collateral damage:

* 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?

8. 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?

9. What action can you take to defeat enemy motivation to attack:

* While you are in the area?

* After you return to base?

* When you subsequently patrol in the area?

“What now, Staff Sergeant?”

Situation

You are the 1st Platoon Sergeant. Company G (mechanized, reinforced), Battalion Landing Team 2d Battalion, 1st Marines (BLT 2/1). Recently the MEU was sent to Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in supporr 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 the warlord, Sher DiI, and his needihajum freedom fighters believed to be operating in the Rahadnak Valle}·. Sher DiI is the primary source of arms transportation into Jalalabad. The arms shipments flow from the northwest tribal regions of Pakistan into the Torà 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 initiated 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 DiI 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 the sea] 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 tasked with encircling the village from the west in order to prevent enemy forces from escaping the village during the search operations. The company main effort is 3d Platoon, which will conduct the search of the village. Your boundary (limit of advance) is southwest of the village ending at a line from the village to the western part to Hill 4. You have used this tactic successfully in this area in the past.

The platoon commander orders the platoon to advance west of the village with each squad tasked with securing Hill 2 (1st Squad), the main supply route (MSR) between HiJIs 2 and 3 (2d Squad), and the MSR between Hills 3 and 4 (3d Squad). 2d and 3d Squads are reinforced with one machinegun team .and one assault team. The platoon commander is with 3d Squad, you are with 2d Squad, and the platoon guide is with 1st Squad.

As 1st Squad advanced toward its objective and 2d and 3d Squads continue toward their objectives, lsc Squad begins taking machinegun fire. 2d and 3d Squads dismount and begin to suppress the enemy on Hill 2. Approximately 1 minute into the fight for Hill 2, mortar round and machinegun fire impact around 3d Squad. You see 3d Squad directing fire on Hill 3 but cannot see what they ate firing at. Over the radio 3d Squad Leader reports, “Lieutenant and Jenkins down, enemy team, squad sized, on Hill 3, am preparing to assault pending further orders.”

What now, StaffSergeant?

Requirement

In a time limit of 5 minutes, Issue your orders to your element leaders and any reports and recommendations you would make to higher headquarters.

Issues for Consideration

1. Who do you believe the enemy force is? What is the enemy’s intent for this attack?

2. What do you believe is the platoon commander’s intent?

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

4. How do your actions support these intents?

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

6. What do you expect the enemy to do as a result ol your orders? How do your orders exploit the enemy’s response?

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

8. How many civilian casualties do you anticipate as a result of your actions?

9. What do you expect the civilian response will be to collateral damage (property damage and casualties):

* 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. What is the expected enemy response to the collateral damage:

* At conclusion ot fighting, while you arc 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 the collateral damage?

12. What actions can you, the company, and the BLT take to deter future enemy activity in this area:

* While you are in the area?

* After you return to base?

* During subsequent patrols in the area?

‘Cordon and. . . .’

Situation

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?

Requirement

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?

Trouble at the VCP

Situation

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 Enduring Freedom. You have been in-country approximately 2 months and have been assigned to the northeast sector of the area of responsibility, Nangarhar 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, and rocket propelled grenades). Some of the platoon checkpoints (CPs) have received inaccurate 82mm mortar fire in the last week. Additionally, Company Gs actions last month resulted in significant collateral damage to local poppy fields and goatherds. Several houses and barns within Ada At ah 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 Nu ristani) have led to increased theft and violence against the 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, conduct security patrols, and support human exploitation teams in answering demographic requests for information about the local leaders, population, atmosphere, etc.

It is 1030 and your squad has been at work in Ada Atah for about an hour and a half. You have been in radio contact with your platoon commander and the vehicle CP (VCP). The VCP is closing up shop and is about to push out to continue patrolling along the main supply route. It’s about time; you believe they’re just a target there. In the street in front of you, children kick around a soccer ball that one of your Marines produced out of his pack earlier in the morning. You can hear music from flutes of shepherds who are intermingled with the growing crowd of locals at the seed distribution center and the building housing the health workers. As you clip the handset back to your flak vest you hear the dull thud of two mortar rounds to the north and look up to see a brown pickup truck tear off of the main supply route into a poppy field, heading south. Your radio crackles to life with the voice of one of the heavy machinegun (HMG) corporals up at the VCP, “Orphan 1-3 this is Thor 1. Brown pickup with four Afghans heading south along the dirt road.”

One of the HMG HMMWVs wheels around to the south in the poppy field west of the dirt road and stops. Its gunner traverses the .50 caliber and fires a six-round burst over the pickup that impacts about 100 meters short of the creek bed. The brown pickup jumps onto the northsouth dirt road and continues south at about 40 kilometers per hour. You have about 20 seconds until that pickup makes it to Ada At ah. What now, Sergeant?

Requirement

Given the deployment and current activities of your squad, and in a time limit of 5 seconds, 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. Do you engage the pickup truck? Did the truck’s occupants commit a hostile act/show hostile intent? How does the indirect fire play into your decision? Do your actions change if the passenger points an AK-47 straight in the air out of the window? What if the passenger fires the AK- 47 back at the HMG section?

2. What do you tell the HMG section to do, if anything?

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

4. What do you expect the enemy to do as a result of your orders? How do your orders exploit the enemy’s response?

5. How do you expect the nongovernmental organizations to react to the actions of your squad?

6. What do you expect civilian reaction/sentiments to be to the collateral damage and/or the actions of your squad? Within 2 hours after you have arrived? At the end of the day? At the end of the week?

7. What is the expected enemy response to collateral damage and/or actions of your squad? Within 2 hours after you leave? At the end of the day? At the end of the week?

8. 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?

9. What actions can you, the company, and the BLT take to deter future enemy activity in this area? While you are in the area? After you return to base? During subsequent patrols in the area:

The Debrief

Situation

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?”

Requirement

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

Situation

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?

Requirement

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.

 

Attack and Seize the Pass

Situation

You are the company commander of a rifle company that has been reinforced with the following assets: engineers, .50 caliber machineguns, and Javelins that are all foot mobile. Your total strength is 174 Marines and sailors. Platoons consist of 28 Marines to include corpsmen. Weapons platoon is robust with complete sections: 18 Marines with 6 M240G machineguns, 13 Marines with 6 Mk153 shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapons, and 15 Marines with 3 60mm mortars. Attachments, as stated, are the following: 8 engineers, 10 Marines with two .50 caliber machineguns, and 10 Marines with 3 Javelins.

Your mission is to attack and seize a platoon (reinforced) strongpoint. It is reinforced with three BMPs (Soviet mechanized infantry vehicle) and possible SA-7 man-portable air defense systems. The enemy has typical Soviet-style small arms with medium machineguns and rocket propelled grenade assets. It is critical that this strongpoint is destroyed and the ground to the northwest of the objective be held to protect the battalion’s movement on the left flank of the pass.

The area is a narrow pass in a mountainous and desert terrain. The average temperature is 90 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night. The enemy is a platoon (reinforced) and has been in the vicinity of the pass for 2 weeks. This has allowed the enemy to prepare minefields, trenches, and harden vehicles in the vicinity or the trenches. All minefields are covered with wire, interlocking fire, and 10 meters in depth. Two of the BMPs are in a hardened position while the remaining BMP acts as a mobile reserve. All intelligence of the site is recent to within 6 hours due to recent unmanned aerial vehicle flights in the area in preparation for the battalion’s movement. The S-2 (intelligence) reports that the enemy position appears isolated, and its purpose is possibly to serve as a “tripwire” for units moving into the vicinity of the pass. In addition, the enemy’s parent mechanized battalion is 20 kilometers away.

As stated, your battalion will be moving to your left along a separate corridor to the southwest. The battalion is mechanized with a company of tanks in the lead. They will be moving through the valley in 4 hours. Your mission is to seize the pass. In addition, your company must be prepared to defend the area and protect the battalion’s flank until they seize their objective. (Not shown on the map.)

As a heliborne force your company must move swiftly to destroy the enemy in the pass while reserving combat power for immediate follow-on operations. To aid in your attack, the company will have a section of AH-1s and one section of fixed-wing for 1 hour prior to and during your initial arrival into the landing zone (LZ). With two LZs identified (LZs Hawk and Sparrow), the company will have a lift capability of three CH-53s and six CH-46s. To aid in communications, one Huey will serve as “command and control” and aid with initial fire support coordination then pass the “baton” once forces are aground and a “battle handover” is conducted. Fire support will be robust initially with one artillery battery in direct support for the attack.

Requirement

In a time limit of 60 minutes develop a heliborne operation that includes the following: movement of units in the attack (using supporting efforts and main effort), actions on the objective, consolidation, and resupply. Consider fire support assets to be used. Use a graphic depiction to aid in continuous suppression of the objective from insertion of the force to actual destruction of the strongpoint. Lastly, consider the site for possible “resupply LZ” to aid in the hasty defense of the pass. Provide the rationale for your actions and a sketch of your plan. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #04-1, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or e-mail <gazette@mca-Marines.org>.

Tropical Gold

Situation

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.

Requirement

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>.

No Bugles, No Drums

Situation

For the past 7 weeks the 2d Marine Division has been conducting conventional operations against an invading enemy force in the country of Hartland. The enemy has been fighting a delaying action as 6th Marines has pressed its attack across the open countryside; however, they are beginning to consolidate in more urban areas as they approach their own borders. Intelligence believes they will continue to consolidate forces and attempt to reinforce while they prepare to defend more earnestly.

Brownsville is a small town that sits along the White River, 15 miles south of Orange City, the metropolis in a string of urbar communities along the White River known as the “Upper Valley.” The Upper Valley and Highway 5 have been serving as important transportation and supply routes for enemy forces operating within this area of Hartland.

You are the company commander of Company G, 2d Battalion, 6th Marines (2/6). 6th Marines is conducting an attack on the southern sector of Orange City, and 2/6 is supporting that attack by seizing Brownsville and isolating enemy units in their area of responsibility in order to prevent enemy interference with the main effort to the north. Your battalion scheme of maneuver is sending Companies E and F into Brownsville from the northeast via assault amphibious vehicles, while a combined antiarmor team screens to the northeast. You have been tasked with conducting a heliborne insertion south of Brownsville and isolating the town south of Phase Line Blue (PL Blue) along route Baltimore. 3/10 is in general support of the regiment, and two sections of rotary-wing aircraft are in general support of 2/6. Company E has priorities of fire from the 81mm mortars platoon. PLs Red and Blue are serving as company boundaries for this operation.

The S-2 (intelligence) reports that the majority of the indigenous population has fled the town. Those who remain are sympathetic to the enemy invasion and should be considered dangerous to U.S. forces. Expect at least a company-sized enemy force within the town itself. They have been using BMPs/BTRs (Soviet mechanized infantry vehicles/Soviet armored vehicles) and 82/120mm mortars but have been operating without adequate resupply for some time. Their morale is waning due to the lack of support and bad weather, but their increased defensive posture indicates they expect an imminent U.S. attack. There have not been any reports of reinforcement or resupply within the past 72 hours.

You inserted into Landing Zone Eagle, 7 kilometers (km) to the south of Brownsville and have proceeded north in a movement to contact formation for 5km. The terrain on the western side of the White River consists mostly of rolling hills that gradually rise into a low intermittent mountain range off to the west. The local country alternates at varying intervals between cleared farm communities and wooded areas. The forests contain moderate undergrowth that thankfully does not limit foot trafficability. Heavy rainfall in recent weeks has swollen the river and streambeds while hampering vehicle mobility on all unimproved surfaces.

Along your route toward Brownsville your company has been involved with two brief engagements with the enemy. 1st Platoon, at the lead of the company formation, came into contact, and both times you directed 3d Platoon to maneuver to the west with one assault squad and one machinegun team in accordance with your unit standing operating procedure. In both instances the enemy disengaged and withdrew ahead of the company as 1st and 3d Platoons pressed forward and pursued by fire. As you approach PL Blue, 3d Platoon is still out forward to the west and you have been unable to communicate with anyone over battalion Tactical Net 1 (Tac 1).

3d Platoon now calls you over the company Tac and tells you he has spotted what looks to be a platoon (minus) dismounted from three BTRs attempting to drive northeast toward PL Red. They are traveling along an unimproved road not recorded on the map. At that moment you hear single shots and automatic weapons fire erupt from 1st Platoon’s direction, and the battalion operations officer suddenly comes through over battalion Tac 1 asking for an update. What do you do?

Requirement

In a time limit of 5 minutes, develop your plan. Include an estimate of the situation, your intent, scheme of maneuver with overlay, and all reports to higher headquarters. Send your solution and the rationale for your actions taken to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #04-5, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or e-mail <gaze tte@mca-marines.org>.