On Watch

Situation

You are the S-3A (assistant operations officer) and battalion watch officer (as well as battalion landing team (BLT) training officer and education officer) of BLT 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, 1 1 th MEU. Recently, the MEU was sent to Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in support of NATO forces during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. You have been in country 1 month and have been assigned to the northeast sector of the area of responsibility, Nangarhar Province. Recently, the MEU has been focusing on the southern sector of the area of operations intercepting arms and explosives flowing from Pakistan into Afghanistan through the mountains of tribal Pakistan into the Tora Bora region. This region has three major tribes in the area – the majority Pashtun, the Wakhi, and the Tajik tribes. The tribes are further divided by clans, led by family patriarchs, that fight each other, regardless of tribe, over water rights, territory, and trade rights. The MEU has started to establish allies and informants in the area.

Acting on intelligence from a local tribe, the BLT commanding officer (CO) has tasked Echo Company, a helicopterborne company, to conduct a cordon and search operation in the village of Alikhel on the Afghan istan- Pakistan border in order to interdict insurgents and weapons flowing into the country. With BLT and MEU CO approval, Echo Company first deployed scout/sniper teams into the area in order to detect weapons and insurgent activity prior to commencing the cordon and search. Once the sniper teams detect insurgent activity, they are to report to the combat operations center (COC) and then the COC notifies the Echo Company CO (also heliborne unit commander) who then deploys into the area 2 hours after sniper reporr. If the sniper team is compromised, the MEU has a helo team on standby to retrieve the sniper team. It will take the helos 30 minutes to reach the extract landing zone. It is 1 1 30 and two sniper teams have been in place southwest of Alikhel since 2300 last night. Currently the CO is in a meeting with the MEU CO, and the S-3 and executive officer (XO) are out of the office but can be reached by cell phone to inform them they have to come to the COC, but no other information can be passed by phone.

You overhear one of your radio transmission operators (RTOs) talking to the sniper teams and wander over to his position. The RTO turns to you and says, “Sir, Dagger 1 has contact.” You grab the radio, identify yourself to the sniper team, and receive the report.

Approximately 20 enemy armed with clubs and rifles are attacking a local family. Estimate 2 minutes before they slaughter the family. Am engaging pending your orders. Both teams will need evac in 40 minutes. Over.

Requirement

In 10 minutes, explain what order you give to the sniper team leader; what action you take in the COC; what you report to the S-3, XO, and/or CO; what actions you recommend higher headquarters take; and what actions you recommend Sniper Team 2 take.

Issues for Consideration

1. If you order the team leader not to fire, do you think he will obey you?

2. What do you believe is Sniper Team l’s intent?

3. How do his actions relate to that intent?

4. Do you believe his actions are in keeping with the MEU COs intent? Why?

5. Are the sniper team leaders actions in keeping with the rules of engagement? Why?

6. Do your actions and order support the troops on the ground? Why?

7. What are the potential consequences of Sniper Team 1 s actions?

Fight for Rahadnak Valley

Situation

You are Marwand Paywastun, a local leader of the needihajum freedom fighters led by Sher Dil. You live in Rahadnak Valley and are proud to have never left it. It is now spring, the winter has gone, and your friends, family, and neighbors have planted the annual crops hoping for a bountiful harvest. After a few years of relative peace, foreign soldiers invaded your valley. Over the past month the Americans took over to impose foreign rule upon the dozen villages that make up the Rahadnak Valley. There is no reason to expect they will stop. They come in the hundreds, riding in their armored vehicles, often with helicopters flying overhead. Fortunately, while they have vehicles, you own this land and know every cave, ravine, goat trail, and hiding place in the valley.

This season you have been able to recruit over 60 fighters from your village of Ada and 2 nearby villages. While they include many of the major clans, some of the clans are neutral to your cause and some are hostile, favoring the Americans over their freedom. Your fighters have trained since birth as hunters and are organized as eight groups of seven to eight fighters (ineluding your own bodyguard) by clan affiliation. You have been able to amass 6 rocket propelled grenades with 20 rounds, one 82mm mortar with 25 rounds, two 14.7mm machineguns, 45 AK-47s with 80 rounds for each weapon, 4 cell phones, and 3 radios. Communication in the valley is primarily by messenger. Clan leaders have cell phones, and you have most of their numbers. Ada has four vehicles that belong to the local clan leader, who is also your uncle. The landscape is littered with unexploded bombs and shells left over from past wars.

Sher Dill has charged you with defending the western entrance of the valley from the American invaders. (See map.) He also reminds all of his leaders to be vigilant of the mood of other clans and to take every advantage to both defeat the Americans and increase our own numbers and supporters.

This morning one of your nephews rides to your home with news from your brother, a worker at the American base near Jalalabad. He states that the Americans have just received a new unit of soldiers with their armored vehicles, who began patrolling in the area a day after arrival. Based on previous experience, the Americans usually follow the same pattern, encircling the village with some of their men and vehicles and sending a smaller force into the village to search houses. You believe the Americans will be here by tomorrow afternoon at the latest. What now?

Requirement

In a time limit of 15 minutes, prepare your order to your group leader. Be prepared to discuss the rationale for your decisions.

Issues for Consideration

1. What do you believe the Americans’ goal is?

2. What is your estimate of the American strength compared to your own?

3. What do you consider mission success?

4. How does your vision of success correspond to Sher Dil’s objectives?

5. How sensitive are you to casualties among your own fighters? How sensitive are you to local civilian casualties and property damage? How do your actions reflect this?

6. Is your focus on using your fighters to destroy the Americans or to instigate the local populace to action?

7. Assume that at the end of the engagement you have brought down two Americans but are unable to photograph or claim the bodies, one home is damaged in the fighting, one oí your lighters from a nearby village is killed, another is wounded in the fighting, and your force has fallen back to the surrounding countryside and into the valley.

What actions can you take to exploit the loss of life and damage to property?

What actions can the Americans take that will help you exploit the situation?

How can this action increase your standing with the local populace?

How will you communicate your message to the local populace?

Tax Trouble

Situation

You are Khorasan Parsi, a warlord of the Tajik clan in the city of Sar-e Pol. For the last several years, foreign armies have been operating in your country after ousting the Taliban from the government. Over a month ago American armies moved into Jalalabad, about 30 kilometers north of your city. The continued invasions of foreign powers over your lifetime have left their mark upon your family and clan. Your family has learned to deal with all countries that respect them, and your clan sells good and services to all people. At the same time, some members of your clan are resentful that outsiders from Kabul, Europe, and now the United States seek power in your land for reasons that you do not understand. As a warlord, you know how to stoke the fires of resentment when needed and how to laugh and celebrate with strangers from all over the world, all the while looking to increase your clan’s standing, influence, money, goods, and property.

Your family and clan reside north and east of the Styx River and in the north and east sections of the city south of the river as well. In the middle of your area a French and British nongovernmental organization (NGO) has been distributing food, blankets, and fresh water to those whose homes have been destroyed as a result of the invasion and occupation.

During the American invasion, the Pashtun tribes have gained the uppet hand in the endless power struggle between the clans. Through manipulation of the French and British, they have convinced them to distribute the majority of the aid goods to warlords of the Pashtun clans who establish distribution points in the city center then charge tolls to cross the bridge. Through these tolls your clan loses most if not all of what they receive. The French and British do not understand the extortion, and the Americans are only seen in their armored trucks moving from Tora Bora north to Jalalabad.

A few weeks ago your clan leader ordered that the bridge be destroyed and the NGO camp attacked and looted with the spoils distributed among your clan. The bridge was destroyed, and your clan leader ordered you to take charge of sacking the camp when he orders it. Your warband consists of 30 fighters who have trained with AK-47s and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). As young children they learned to fight with all manner of improvised weapons. You also have 6 pickup trucks from your family, 1 cell phone with contacts with the rest of your clan leaders on both sides of the river, 2 radios, 30 AK-47s with 40 rounds each, and 2 RPGs with 2 rounds each. Your men generally move as a mob and will break into smaller warbands of two to five fighters once the battle is joined.

Yesterday evening, over dinner with the clan chief, he informed you that the time to take the camp is today. Whether to attack during the day or at night is up to you. All of the clan leaders and heads of the community have offered their support with the stipulation that you wait until afternoon or evening. You agreed to their requests and reconnoitered the camp that evening. You discovered that the camp has about 20 workers, 2 trucks, and enough food to see your family through the next year.

The next morning you notice a group of 50 or so American Marines with armored trucks and a lot of construction equipment enter your area and begin work on building a new bridge. It is now noon, the attack must commence this afternoon or evening (within 3 to 10 hours), and the Americans look like they have no intention of leaving. What now?

Requirement

In 20 minutes, explain to your men and supporting clan leaders what you intend to do and what you need them to do. Issue your orders to your warband.

Issues for Consideration

1. What is your goal for this attack? How does the American presence complicate it? How do your actions negate the American presence?

2. What do you consider mission success?

3. How does your vision of success correspond to your clan leader’s objective?

4. How sensitive are you to casualties among your own fighters? How sensitive are you to local civilian casualties and property damage? How do your actions reflect this?

5. Is your warband being used to attack the Americans, instigate the local populace to action, take the NGO camp, or something else? Whom do you use and who will be reliable to deal with other situations that your warband cannot handle; i.e., will they take the NGO camp and keep the supplies?

6. Do your actions force the Americans to fight your warband? If so, what are the possible repercussions of a fight with the Americans?

7. If you chose not to attack the Americans, what other methods could you use to neutralize them?

Home on the Range

Situation

You are the 1st Squad Leader, 3d Platoon, Company F, 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. The MEU has been in country approximately 45 days and is assigned to the northeast sector of the area of responsibility, Nangarhar Province. Recently, your company has been assigned to the eastern sector of the area of operations (AO), a sector that includes the main road from Jalalabad to Pakistan through the Khyber Pass. Your company’s tasks include defeating anticoalition/insurgent/Taliban forces, halting the illegal flow of arms and explosives, and strengthening local government, police, and army forces. All of these tasks are executed in order to increase local stability and promote legitimate economic growth in the AO.

Your company commander assigned your platoon to the town of Basawul with the specific task of working with Afghan police in support of the BLT antiinsurgency campaign. The area around Basawul is arid, sparsely populated, and poor, with a market square in the town center. Extended families reside in low, single-story dwellings built around a central courtyard. You and your men are quite familiar with these dwellings from your weeks of patrolling and frequent house searches for weapons and contraband.

You command a Marine rifle squad (13 men) mounted in 3 HMMWVs, 2 with ring-mounted M240 machineguns, and 1 Afghan police pickup truck. Four Afghan policemen are attached to your squad for this patrol. The mission of your patrol is to interdict any insurgent forces or their supplies transiting your AO and to confiscate any caches of arms or equipment discovered in order to deny this region to the enemy as a sanctuary or supply source. The platoon has two personnel HMMWVs back at the police station, and the Afghan police have two more pickup trucks. One combined antiarmor team is approximately 10 minutes from the town and serves as a quick reaction force.

During an uneventful patrol through the local village you notice more than a dozen unarmed militaryaged men loitering about. You don’t recall seeing any of them before. Those who meet your gaze give you hard looks. You notice that the general store has sold out its small stock of canned goods. Per the patrol route, you drive by a circuitous route to a residence 4 kilometers east of town reputed to be the family home of a popular insurgent chief your battalion has long been after.

You halt your HMMWVs away from the residence, and you assign 1st Fire Team to advance with two of the policemen in the pickup truck to observe the house. You are able to observe through binoculars the team drive up the north side of a mountain, dismount, then ascend the mountain to observe the home. Approximately 5 minutes after they crest the ridgeline and you cannot observe them, your radio operator hands you the radio and says, “1st Fire Team.”

You receive the report. “There’s an unfamiliar pickup truck and a van parked in the courtyard. There’s an older man butchering a sheep in the front yard. Afghan police officer states that he believes the activities in the courtyard are in preparation for a celebration.” You hand the Afghan police officer the radio, and he talks to the Afghan police officer with 1st Fire Team. He then looks at you, shrugs his shoulders, and says in his broken English, “Something will happen, maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day.” He indicates the clear sky and says, “Tonight is a good night for a fight,” and smiles. You look at your watch and notice that sunset is in 80 minutes, and the patrol is due back in 60 minutes. What now?

Requirement

In a time limit of 20 minutes, indicate what actions you will take, issue your orders to your team leaders, give your report to your platoon commander, and make a recommendation on support you need from him to accomplish the mission.

Issues for Consideration

1. What do you believe will happen in the area over the next 4 hours and 24 hours that will impact the platoon’s mission?

2. What do you want to make happen?

3. How do your actions, orders, and recommendations do this? What is the task and purpose of the local police force, if anything?

4. Do your actions and their probable results escalate or deescalate violence in your AO?

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

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

7. 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?

8. Based on your actions in question 7, what do you expect civilian 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?

9. Based on your actions in question 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?

10. 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 leave the base?

* When you subsequently patrol in the area?

11. What actions can you, the BLT, and the local forces take to defeat enemy motivation to attack:

* While in the area?

* After you return to base?

* Over the next week?

Unwanted Guests

Situation

You are Ahmed al Aba. You have been the patriarch of your extended family in Basawal for over 30 years. Your extended family is of the Wakhi tribe, and your family interests are primarily in farming and trade. Over the past several years you have watched the Taliban leave to Pakistan through the Khyber Pass, the Americans move in and then leave, the Taliban return, the Europeans come and go, and now the Americans have returned. During this time you have noticed other tribes and families ally themselves with the foreigners, installing themselves in government and army positions, and then stealing from the people they should be protecting. Your family has not benefited from the occupation and has suffered in confrontations with the local “army” and “police” force who are primarily members of the majority Pashtun and city-dwelling Tajik tribes. You have regained some of your family’s prominence by hosting and moving weapons and people from Pakistan into Jalalabad. While you do not have strong passions toward this “insurgent” faction, they at least let your family live in peace according to your customs and tradition and provide you with some means to resist the corrupt police and army in your area.

Over the past month the Americans have been supporting local Pashtun and Tajik tribes as they seek to consolidate power over the region. To further this gain, the Americans have been training the local police force. While this has had the desired effect of making them less corrupt (they cannot charge bribes in front of the Americans), it has also given them more power to attack other family and tribe strongholds, usurping power in the area.

In response to this situation, you called the leaders of three of the families in the area with the idea of diverting some Taliban fighters who flow through your area from Jalalabad into the town of Basawal in order to attack the local police and remind them who is boss. The patriarchs agreed to your idea, and three of you arranged a home and weapons for the fighters in Basawal.

Fifteen fighters arrived yesterday, and you met with their Taliban leader who agreed to do what you asked. In the Afghan tradition, the night before the first attacks in Basawal, the fighters, the family heads, and several members of your family have come to your house to celebrate the coming venture.

Just before sunset, as you are readying to sit and eat, you see your son, Ustad, talking excitedly on his cell phone. He hangs up, walks over to you in defiance of good manners, and whispers in your ear, “Father, my friend told me there are some, maybe four, American armored vehicles with an Afghan police vehicle perhaps 1 kilometer southwest of here along the City Center Road.” You look around and realize that you have 1 5 Taliban fighters, the heads of 3 families with 2 fighting- aged sons each, 20 AK- 47s with 2 magazines each, 6 grenades, and 1 rocket propelled grenade with 4 rockets in your home. There are also four women and children from each of the families who have not learned to fight. You think and remember that your pickup truck and van are inside the compound. You close your eyes, gather your thoughts, and walk over to the head of the three families and the Taliban leader. What do you say?

Requirement

In a time limit of 20 minutes, indicate what actions you will take, what your intent is, and what actions the family heads and Taliban leader must take tonight.

Issues for Consideration

1. Do you face a threat or an opportunity? Explain.

2. What (and when) do you believe the Americans and Afghan police will do tonight?

3. What is your intent for your actions?

4. How do your actions and orders meet your inrenr?

5. Can you ambush the Americans? If so, how?

6. What do you consider mission success?

7. How sensitive are you to:

* Casualties among your family?

* Casualties among the Taliban?

* Casualties among the other family members?

* Damage to your property?

8. Do your actions force the Americans to fight? Is so, what are the possible repercussions of a fight with the Americans?

9. If you chose not to attack the Americans, what other methods could you use to neutralize them?

Return to Rahadnak

Situation

You are Baz Dagar. You are 45 years old and fought with the mujahideen when the Soviets came across the mountains. You were running guns for Sher Dil when the Americans roared up the valley in armored vehicles last month, just like the Soviets in 1981. You are the fifth son of Dagar and have little chance of becoming the patriarch of your fatherâeuro(TM)s Tajik enclave in the northern end of the valley. Thatâeuro(TM)s why you decided to help Sher Dil. Since the 1970s, the Soviets came and left, and then the Americans pushed out the Taliban. When the Americans left the Rahadnak, the Taliban came back. Though you are not interested in where the guns are going or whether the Taliban come back, one thing is for certain, working for Sher Dil has given you prestige that being the fifth son of Dagar never could have afforded.

Over the past month the militia who stood and fought were cut down by the Americans. If Allah wills it, it is of no importance to you, but the fields were destroyed. An illumination mortar round burned your uncleâeuro(TM)s house to the ground. In response to this, you called on some of the younger Tajiks in the north to come down to Ada, where a platoon of Americans has been staying. You have heard that the Nuristani in Atah are upset with the Americans, who are trying to appease the Kushtuz majority in the province. You sent your nephews to spray paint graffiti in Ada Atah about the godless Americans plowing under the poppies because their masters see opium as competition for American drug dealers. Some Nuristani teenagers you met at the gas station on the Jalalabad road agree to help you if you can prove you have Sher Dilâeuro(TM)s blessing. The only problem is that no one has seen him since before the Americans came back last month.

Five fighters arrived yesterday, and you met with their Taliban leader who agreed to help you recruit the Nuristani in Ada Atah for attacking the Americans. With the five Taliban on your side, perhaps the Nuristani will think Sher Dil sent the fighters. What then will your father think of his fifth son who controls all of the guns and poppies that travel through the Rahadnak?

Just before sunset, 3 days after the squad of Americans landed in their helicopters at Ada Atah, one of your sons calls on his cell phone. He heard, over a captured Motorola radio, that the Marines are leaving the day after tomorrow at noon. The European aid workers will be leaving too. You have to act tonight. In your pickup truck you have 4 AKâeuro?47s, 22 full magazines, 1 rocket propelled grenade launcher with 7 rockets, and 1 RPK (light ma-chinegun) with 400 rounds. It would take all night to dig up the cache in the mountains. This is all you have, not counting the Taliban. It has to be tomorrow. What do you say to your family? What do you say to the Taliban fighters?

Requirement

In a time limit of 20 minutes, indicate what actions you will take, what your intent is, and what actions your sons, nephews, and Taliban leader must take tonight.

Issues for Consideration

1. Do you face a threat from the Americans or an opportunity? Explain.

2. What do you believe the Americans will do tonight and tomorrow?

3. What is your intent for your actions?

4. How do your actions and orders meet your intent?

5. What do you consider mission success?

6. How sensitive are you to:

* Casualties among your family?

* Casualties among the Taliban?

* Casualties among the Nuristani villagers?

* Damage to the village?

7. Do your actions force the Americans to fight? If so, what are the possible repercussions of a fight with the Americans?

8. If you choose not to attack the Americans, what other methods could you use to neutralize them?

Diesel Dilemma

Situation

You are the Commanding Officer, Company F, Battalion Landing Team 2d Battalion, 1st Marines (BLT 2/1), 11th MEU. The MEU was sent to Nangarhar Province (capital city Jalalabad), Afghanistan, in support of NATO forces during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. You have been incountry almost 3 months now. Approximately 45 days ago your company was assigned to the eastern sector of the area of operations (AO), a sector that includes the main road from Jalalabad to Pakistan through the Khyber Pass. Your company’s tasks include defeating anticoalition/insurgent/Taliban forces, halting the illegal flow of arms and explosives, and strengthening local government, police, and army forces. All of these tasks are executed in order to increase local stability and promote legitimate economic growth in the AO.

You decided to assign one platoon to work with the Basawal Police and one platoon to work with the Hazar Police. The 3d Platoon in your company is assigned as a quick reaction force (QRF) in Hazar. The weapons platoon is currently reinforcing your maneuver platoons, and the BLT has provided one combined antiarmor team (CAAT) as the Basawal QRF under operational control to you. Company mortars are in general support of the company, currently with you at your headquarters in Basawal.

Over the last 45 days your company has been very successful in deterring insurgent activity in your AO, and your platoon commanders report success in building the professionalism and tactical proficiency of the Afghan police force in these two cities. Approximately 2 days ago, demonstrations in the town of Hazar resulted in several injuries to civilian and local police forces, as well as the seizure of local fuel trucks that were recovered 6 hours later minus the fuel they were carrying.

Yesterday, you completed movement of the company command post (CP) to the town of Hazer and temporarily reassigned the CAAT to Hazar as a company reserve. You then ordered security patrols and a curfew in coordination with the Afghan Police. While order is being restored, several tribal leaders of both the Qizilbash and Pashtun tribes have accused police and military forces of stealing fuel from local vendors. Local police (a mix of Tajik and Pashtun tribes) did not deny this, stating that their vehicles need fuel, the government will not provide it, and they will pay for what they have taken when the funds become available. What now?

Requirement

In a time limit of 20 minutes, issue your orders to your subordinate units, actions you will take, and what reports, recommendations, and requests for support you will give to battalion.

Issues for Consideration

1. What do you believe is the BLT or MEU intent in this area?

2. How do your actions and orders support this intent?

3. What is the focus of effort for your company in this situation?

4. What is your priority in this situation? What do you think is the civilian priority in this situation?

5. How do you employ the local police force?

6. What actions do you take to defeat civilian motivation to riot:

* While in the area?

* After you move your CP back to Basawal and return the CAAT to Basawal?

* Over the next month?

7. How can information operations support your actions to defeat civilian motivation to further resist?

 

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.

 

Children Bearing Gifts

Scenario 1: Squad TDG Situation

You are the 1st Squad Leader, 2d Platoon, Company F, BLT 2/1, 11th MEU. Your company has recently taken over the area of responsibility (AOR) of Jalalabad, Afghanistan. After initial operations, organized resistance has ceased. However, insurgent and tribal fighters remain as active combatants.

Your AOR is in an urban environment characterized by densely but haphazardly arranged mud brick houses of one and two stories with flat roofs, with the occasional taller building – usually a mosque or other religiously associated structure. The main roads are paved and two lanes wide. Side roads are also paved but only one and a half lanes wide. In addition, there are numerous narrow dirt alleyways only suitable for foot traffic.

The enemy you face wears no standardized military uniform and often appears in civilian dress, uses Soviet-era infantry weapons (AK-47s, light machineguns, and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs)), and has the occasional command of 82mm mortars and 12.7mm machineguns. His main tactic is the ambush, initiated by RPG attack and improvised explosive device. The enemy rarely stands to fight, even after such ambushes. When they do, it is often the signal of a major engagement. S- 2 (intelligence) believes such battles center around religious sites.

The BLT has been relatively successful in matters of civil affairs and civilmilitary relations. They initiated a “weapons buy back program,” paying for each weapon turned in depending upon its lethality. Despite such gains, the AOR still has its share of insurgent attacks. Of the seven major clans in the AO, the BLT has secured the support of one smaller clan but still faces resistance from several of the larger clans in the city and surrounding area.

Currently your platoon is on its second patrol. After crossing the Route 6 bridge you enter the area controlled by the smaller clan that supports coalition forces. You are moving from south to north, your squad on the left flank, 2d Squad in the center with the command element, and 3d Squad on the right. You have only your organic weapons and are in radio contact with the other squads and command element, though such contact is not always 100 percent due to the urban environment.

Approximately 20 minutes after crossing the bridge, the patrol is broken by the sound of yelling and screaming kids coming at you from your left through an alley. You turn to see four young boys, 8 to 10 years old, each with different types of ammunition. One boy has a belt of 12.7mm around his neck, two boys hold 82mm mortar rounds like dead fish from their fin tails (you note one is fused), and to your horror, the fourth clasps a grenade, spoon in place, like a dead frog, but from your angle you cannot see signs of the pin.

At this instant there is the sound of an explosion and a large dust cloud forms to your front. “Sergeant,” yells your 1st Fire Team Leader, “Watson is down hard. Perez is hit too, but maybe not as bad.” One kid drops his mortar round and flees, followed by the kid with the 12.7mm. Then AK-47 fire erupts from a nearby building behind you.

Requirement

What now, Sergeant? In a time limit of 5 minutes, determine what actions you would take, what orders you would issue, and what reports, if any, you would make.

Issues for Consideration

* Who do you believe the enemy is?

* In terms of your mission, what is your most important task?

* How do your actions and orders relate to that task?

* What is the enemy trying to accomplish?

* How will he counter your actions?

* What are the effects of your actions and enemy reaction? Number of civilians wounded or killed? Amount of damage and destroyed property?

* How will the enemy exploit the effects of your actions? In 20 minutes? By the end of the day? The rest of the week?

* What can you do to counter his efforts at exploitation? Now? After you return to base?

Submit your solutions by e-mail to gazette@mca-marines.org. Solutions may also be mailed to: Senior Editor (Attn: TDG), Marine Corps Gazette, PO Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134.

Editor’s Note: This TDG is based on TDG 05-2, “Children Bearing Gifts, ” by Andrew H. Hershey, printed in the Marine Corps Gazette. All imagery used in the TDGs has been provided by Google Earth.

Capital Crimes

Situation

You are the battalion intelligence officer with a collateral billet as the assistant information officer, Battalion Landing Team 2d Battalion, 1st Marines (BLT 2/1), I lth MEU. Recently, the MEU was sent to Nangarhar Province (capital city Jalalabad), Afghanistan, in support of NATO forces during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. The MEU completed the relief in place of the small NATO force 2 days ago and has started operations in Jalalabad and the Tora Bora region of your area of operations (AO). After initial operations in Jalalabad, organized resistance has ceased. However, insurgent and tribal fighters remain as active combatants.

Jalalabad is an urban environment characterized by densely but haphazardly arranged mud brick houses of one and two stories with flat roofs, with the occasional taller building, usually a mosque or other religiously associated structure. The main roads are paved and two lanes wide. Side roads are paved but only 1 ll2 lanes wide. In addition, there are numerous dirt alleyways only suitable for foot traffic.

The enemy you face wears no standardized military uniform and often appears in civilian dress, uses Soviet-era infantry weapons (AK-47s, light machineguns, and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs)), and has the occasional command of 82mm mortars and 12.7mm machineguns. His main tactic is the ambush, initiated by RPG attack or improvised explosive device (IED). The enemy rarely stands to fight, even after such ambushes. When they do, it is often the signal of a major engagement. Recent prolonged engagements between insurgents and NATO forces here and in Kabul indicate that prolonged engagements generally occur around religious sites.

The NATO force has been relatively successful in matters of civil affairs and civil-milirary relations. They initiated a “weapons buy back program,” paying for each weapon turned in depending upon its lethality. The MEU commanding officer (CO) has continued this program at the same rates the NATO force authorized. Despite such gains, the area of responsibility still has its share of insurgent attacks. Of the seven major clans in the AO, the BLT has secured the support of one smaller Tajik clan but still faces resistance from several of the larger Pashtun and Tajik clans in the city and surrounding area.

It is 1530. The BLT is on day 3 of operations in Jalalabad with Fox Company as the main effort. Their specific tasks include deterring enemy activity and identifying local police and security forces in order to isolate enemy forces in Jalalabad. You are currendy in the combat operations center (COC) tracking 2d Platoons patrol. They have crossed the Helmand River bisecting Jalalabad and are continuing north along Main Supply Route 6 (Route 6). You note that they are currendy entering the area controlled by the one friendly Tajik tribe in Jalalabad. As you are monitoring their progress, the watch officer (the BLT S-4A (assistant logistics officer)) yells, “Quiet in the COC. 2d Platoon in contact,” grabs the radio, and turns up the speaker. You notice someone in the COC pick up the cell phone, dial a number and say, “To the COC,” and hang up.

From 1st Squad: “Enemy squad with AKs, RPG, mortar IED. Watson and Perez are down. Need casevac. Break. Recommend 2d Squad move north of my position and cut off retreating enemy elements. Over.”

Approximately 30 seconds later from 2d Platoon commander to 3d Squad: “2d Squad is reinforcing 1st Squad attack. Proceed north to major intersection in order to prevent enemy reinforcements from attacking our flank. Break. Break. [Platoon call sign to battalion call sign], Request casevac at TLZ [tactical landing zone] Robin in 10 minutes. How copy, over?”

Approximately 1 minute later from 1st Squad to COC: “Be advised, we also have one local child urgent casevac. Over.”

The watch officer radios casevac helo section and verifies they will be available at the time and place specified.

Approximately 4 minutes later from 3d Squad to platoon commander: “Be advised, at intersection. Intercepted local security force that is assisting. Over.”

Approximately 5 minutes later from 1st Squad: “In position at TLZ Robin. Observe helos inbound.” Approx 1 minute later: “Casevac away. Break, break. [Call sign 1st Squad to platoon commander], we are rejoining platoon moving from south to north along the road. Over.” The platoon commander verifies 1 st Squad’s transmission.

Approximately 4 minutes later the helos land, and the injured personnel are transferred to the shock trauma platoon. Also this from the platoon commander: “Enemy forces no longer resisting. We have four enemy killed, three wounded, and local female wounded. Request casevac at TLZ Robin. Will drop captured weapons and munitions with casevac helo and leave one fire team as security for wounded EPWs [enemy prisoners of war] with casevac. Will turn over bodies to local security force that 3d Squad found. Will continue patrol pending further orders. Over.”

The watch officer looks at you and asks, “Anything you want them to do from the intel side while they are there?”

Requirement

In a time limit of 20 minutes, indicate to the watch officer what 2d Platoon needs to accomplish and why (task/purpose), what actions you will take (and additional actions you will recommend to the CO that the BLT take) with regard to the EPWs and wounded civilians, what information operations products you will recommend to the CO as a result of this action, and what other information you need from 2d Platoon now and after they return from patrol.

Issues for Consideration

1 . Who do you believe the enemy is? What information do you need to determine who the enemy is?

2. How do your actions and orders to 2d Platoon provide that information?

3. What kind of information do you plan to get from the EPWs that may support your intelligence and information operations?

4. What course of action would you recommend to the CO for the injured civilians? The local “security force”?

5. What will the enemy say about the attack, and what method will he use to exploit the situation in his favor? How do your actions and recommendations counter his efforts to exploit the situation?

6. What will the local population say about the attack, and what method will they use to discuss this incident? How do your actions and recommendations promulgate the idea that your unit’s presence is positive for the local population? How do you plan to measure the messages effectiveness?

Shaping Actions

Situation

You are a scout/sniper team leader of Sniper Team 1 assigned to 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 1 month and have been assigned to the northeast sector of the area of responsibility, Nangarhar Province. Recently the MEU has been focusing on the southern sector of the area of operations intercepting arms and explosives flowing from Pakistan into Afghanistan through the mountains of tribal Pakistan into the Tora Bora region. This region has three major tribes in the area – the majority Pashtun, the Wakhi, and the Tajik tribes. The tribes are further divided by clans, led by family patriarchs, that fight each other, regardless of tribe, over water rights, territory, and trade rights. The MEU has started to establish allies and informants in this area.

Acting on intelligence from a local tribe, Echo Company, a helicopterborne company, has been assigned a cordon and search operation in the village of Alikhel on the AfghanistanPakistan border in order to interdict insurgents and weapons flowing into the country. The company commanding officer (CO) has decided to deploy scout/sniper teams into the area first in order to detect weapons and insurgent activity prior to commencing the cordon and search. Your teams are specifically looking for trucks filled with personnel, weapons, or boxes moving into Afghanistan and stopping in Alikhel. You radio the BLT combat operations center, and Echo Company will commence the attack approximately 2 hours after your report. If your teams are compromised, helos will be on station in 30 minutes. It will take you 20 minutes to get to the evacuation landing zone. Your sniper team is four personnel with one 7.62 sniper rifle, one .50 caliber sniper rifle, two M1615s with PEQs, four night vision scopes, digital camera with 16x zoom lens, binoculars, and communications capability to talk to air and ground and send digital pictures, as well as your combat load for sniper teams.

Yesterday at 2300 your team and Sniper Team 2 inserted into Alikhel and established positions as shown on the map overlooking the village and main supply route from Pakistan into Afghanistan. It is now 1130 and your team noticed one vehicle approximately an hour earlier either entering or leaving the village going south into Pakistan with no suspicious activity so far. Approximately 10 minutes later you notice about 20 males armed with clubs and AK-47s surround and enter a home in a village. There is a lot of yelling in the home, at least six shots are fired, and a family is dragged from the home and placed in a clearing surrounded by the armed men. A crowd of at least 50 villagers forms around this scene while the perceived leader of the armed men begins to shout something to the villagers that you do not understand. The family consists of one older woman, four male children, and two female children. You have clear shots on several of the gunmen, including the leader. You believe the family will be killed if you do nothing in the next several minutes.

Requirement

In 10 minutes explain what order you give to your team, what you report to higher headquarters (HHQ), what actions you recommend HHQ to take, and what actions you recommend Sniper Team 2 to take.

Issues for Consideration

1. Based on your understanding of the local culture, could this be an insurgent activity, or could it be a local situation? WTiat could lead an insurgent to take this action? What could lead a clan to this action against another family?

2. What do you believe is your company COs intent? What is the MEU company commander’s intent? How does it apply to this situation?

3. In this scenario, how do your action and order relate to their intent?

4. What does the enemy hope to gain from this attack, assuming it is an insurgent activity?

5. How do your actions deprive the enemy of those gains?

6. What if it turns out the armed men are not enemies but an allied clan?

7. How do your recommendations to higher translate into actions your HHQ can take?

8. Assuming this is insurgent activity, what actions could your company, battalion, or MEU take to prevent enemy forces from continuing actions in this area?

9. Assuming this is a local feud, is it in the company’s, battalions, or MEUs interest to prevent these actions from occurring? Why?

10. Assuming it is in the MEUs interest to prevent vigilante justice in the outlying provinces, what actions can the MEU take to discourage this?

11. What are the possible results of your action given that this is a blood feud culture?