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?

 

Command and Control Fog

Situation

You are commanding a detachment of Marines assigned to a joint task force (JTF) conducting humanitarian relief operations in the drought stricken country of Neptonia. In support of a United Nations (U.N.) task force objective, your mission is to produce potable water and fill local cisterns. The likelihood of terrorist activity in the joint operations area has you operating on a heightened state of alert. Although terrorists have raided cisterns throughout the joint operations area, there have been no cistern raids in your area of operations. (See map.)

The JTF commander is concerned that cistern raids may lead to civil unrest in Neptonia and ultimately upset the balance of power in the region. For diplomatic reasons, the JTF commander decided to follow the U.N. task force’s restricted rules of engagement-individual weapons may be cartied in Condition 1, but JTF personnel may only engage an adversary when fired upon.

Figure 1 contains your force list. Routes 1, 4, 7, and 9 are improved roads, and Routes K, X, and Z are unimproved. The commercial tankers cannot navigate unimproved roads.

For force protection you have limited convoys to 15 vehicles, varied convoy departure times, and directed your engineer company to improve Routes K, X, and Z. Additionally, commercial tankers have been integrated into the convoys, and tactical vehicles with mounted machineguns are in the front and rear of each convoy.

On the 31st day of your deployment, you launch a convoy to Village 2. Your engineer company commander has completed improvements to Route K. He is working in the vicinity of checkpoint 4 and anticipates completing Route X in 5 days. You are located in your command post (CP).

The lead element of the convoy has passed checkpoint 8 and is proceeding east when the convoy commander, a staff sergeant, reports hearing an explosion and seeing a column of heavy black smoke east of checkpoint 2. The excited staff sergeant reports two off-road vehicles (ORVs) approaching the convoy from the north at a high rate of speed. After forcing a tanker off the road and causing it to sink in the loose sand, the ORVs retreated to the hills north of the road. The staff sergeant states that the ORVs appeared to have gun mounts, but he did not see any guns.

While talking to the staff sergeant you hear the unmistakable sound of machinegun fire. The staff sergeant confirms machinegun fire coming from the vicinity of the rear of his convoy but states that he cannot see the rear of his convoy.

Requirement

From your CP 12 kilometers away, in a time limit of 3 minutes, what orders do you give to your subordinates, and what do you tell higher headquarters? Provide the rationale for your actions and a sketch of your plan. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #02-4, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or email <gazette@mca-marines.org>.

Another Day Afloat

Situation

You are the commander of a Marine expeditionary unit (special operations capable) (MEU(SOC)) sitting 25 miles off the coast of the country Exbeyond.

Exbeyond is a mountainous country recently liberated by coalition forces with an interim government friendly to the United States. The countryside, however, is still sympathetic to the terrorist forces that were recently driven from power. The country is war torn and in need of humanitarian assistance and military support while it rebuilds its infrastructure.

It is now 1900. There are currently two missions that the MEU is conducting. The first is a humanitarian assistance operation. A platoon-sized element (1st Platoon) is providing medical, dental, and food services to the port of Jassim, the second largest city in the country. Jassim is located 70 nautical miles southwest of the amphibious ready group’s position. They are supplied daily after nightfall.

The second mission is a close air support (CAS) mission being conducted by three of the MEU’s four AV-Ss. The fourth AV-8 is down for maintenance. The CAS is in support of an Exbeyond battalion engaging a terrorist base camp 200 miles to the southeast.

At 1930 collection assets detect a terrorist base camp consisting of 30 to 40 men, 75 miles due south of the MEU. Intelligence indicates that Abdul bin Wazaid is present. Wazaid is the operations chief for the entire terrorist organization in Exbeyond and is responsible for a number of attacks on U.S. forces. Intelligence also indicates that Wazaid will be moving at 0300 to another location. This is the first time that Wazaid has been positively identified, and it will likely be some time before he is located again.

You give the warning order for a heliborne raid to be conducted no later then 0200. Your plan is to use four CH-53Es for the raid and four AH-Is for CAS.

At 2037 Ist Platoon reports that a large crowd of Exbeyondians has gathered requesting health care and food. The majority of these Exbeyondians appear to be refugees from the local countryside. The platoon is out of medical and dental supplies and requests resupply in order to continue providing services to the Exbeyondians. The crowd is currently peaceful, but it is becoming increasingly hostile as the platoon is forced to turn them away.

At 2105 one of the returning AV-8s is shot down by a manportable air defense missile. The remaining two AV-8s are returning ofter locating the crash site. Both AV-8s have taken damage from antiaircraft artillery fire while conducting the CAS. The pilot has established contact with friendly forces and is moving to an evasion and recovery site. The S-2 (intelligence) informs you that the terrorist forces are aware of the pilot’s position and will close in on it by 0200.

The MEU is the only friendly unit in the area capable of conducting these missions. Joint and theater assets are hundreds of miles to the south supporting a coalition offensive near the southern border.

The CH-53E is the only asset that can recover the downed pilot.

You have a hostile crowd, ‘a downed pilot, and one shot at catching one of the world’s most wanted terrorists. What do you do, Colonel?

Requirement

In a time limit of 3 minutes issue your orders to your platoon commanders. Provide a fragmentary order, overlay of your scheme of maneuver, and the rationale for your actions. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #03-1, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or e-mail <gazette@mcamarines.org>.

Sidebar

All in a Day’s Work

You are the commander of a combat engineer detachment. In preparation for an upcoming offensive, you have been tasked with mobility enhancement operations along a stretch of Rte. 4, to include repairing a blown bridge across Gore Creek, a 20-meter-wide, bolder-strewn, moderately flowing watercourse. You will be operating in the security area, forward of the main battle positions, protected by mobile security forces. The road repair consists primarily of filling in shell craters and clearing fallen trees. Your detachment has just completed the bridge repair and reinforcement, making the bridge passable once again for light traffic.

Your detachment consists of three squads. Your equipment includes three chainsaws (one per squad), a 5-ton dump truck, a heavy-duty front-end loader, a 11/4-ton truck, and a 5-ton truck with a ring-mounted .50 caliber machinegun. Your detachment is otherwise armed with only its organic infantry weapons–Ml6s, M203s, and two SAWs per squad. From your HMMWV, you have radio contact with your engineer company headquarters and the infantry battalion in whose sector you are operating. You are also in hand-held radio contact with your three squads.

The area alternates between farmland and pine forest of moderate density. Near the bridge stands an old stone farmhouse whose plowed fields are enclosed by threestrand barbed-wire fence. Rte. 4 and a rutted cart track, not marked on your map or explored by you for lack of time, are the only visible avenues for vehicles. It is late January in this temperate region of the world, and while there is no snow on the ground, the sky is low and heavily overcast; back home you would say, “It feels like snow.” It is 1535 hours.

Your forces are deployed as follows. East of Gore Creek, 3d Squad is clearing tree debris from the roadside. The front-end loader waits nearby for the return of the 5ton dumper to refill it with dirt from the nearby piles. The 5-ton truck is parked just east of the bridge. Just west of the bridge, 2d Squad unloads the dumper to fill in a series of craters. Ist Squad, with the light truck, is on break next to the farmhouse. You have just dismounted from your HMMWV on the bridge to give it one last look before declaring it open for traffic. You think to yourself that medium vehicles could also cross individually at slow speed. This thought is interrupted by the sounds of an explosion and gunfire to the east. 3d Squad comes on the net: “We’re taking fire from 500-600 meters down the road. Looks like a BTR and a BMP, and I can’t really tell what else.”

What now, Lieutenant?

Requirement

In a time limit of 2 minutes, issue any orders and submit any reports/request. Then provide a sketch of your actions and the rationale behind them. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #99-5, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134 or fax (703) 6400823.

All in a Day’s Work (Part II)

Situation

You are the commanding officer of a small combat engineering detachment consisting of three squads, each equipped with a chain saw and normal weapons (M16s, M203s, and two SAWs), and five vehicles (a 5-ton truck with a ring-mounted .50 caliber machinegun, a 5-ton dump truck, a frontend loader, a 1 1/4-ton truck, and your HMMWV).

Your mobility enhancement mission (a prelude to pending offensive operations) involves improving road conditions along Rte. 4 and repairing the bridge over Gore Creek, a 20-meter wide, bolder-strewn, moderately flowing stream.

Much of the terrain about you is covered with tall pine forest of moderate density. A stone farmhouse, whose plowed fields are enclosed by threestrand barbed wire fences stands close to the bridge. Route 4 and a cart track not marked on your map (or explored by you for lack of time) are the only visible avenues for vehicles. It is late January in a temperate region of the world. While there is no ground snow, the sky is low and heavily overcast; back home one would say “it feels like snow”.

At about 1600, shortly after you have completed work on the bridge, your 3d Squad, which was working about 1,000 meter east of the bridge, was taken under fire by enemy located 500-600 meters further to the east. Reportedly the enemy element has, at least, one BTR and a BMP.

In response to this threat, you directed the 3d Squad to disable the front-end loader to block the road near their position and then to join the rest of the command near the farmhouse complex. You had the dump truck disabled on the bridge to create another roadblock. You sent the 1st Squad with the 1 1/4-ton truck to recon the cart track leading northeast just to the west of the cultivated fields. Finally, you notified the battalion responsible for overall security of the contact and received priority of 81mm mortar fire.

The two squads and the truck with the machinegun remaining in the vicinity of the farm occupied hasty firing position. No further movement was detected on the road, but within a very short time you began receiving a steadily increasing volume of small arms fire from the tree lines east of the bridge. A short while later several of your men spotted enemy troops maneuvering toward the bridge. Your men and the .50 caliber retum fire. Enemy medium caliber mortars begin impacting 150 meters east of you. At that moment, 1st Squad comes on the net and reports, “Sir, we followed that cart track. It headed generally northeastwards, but there was one spur heading west. The track itself continues northeast and runs into Gore Creek maybe 2 kilometers from the bridges. There is a small wooden cabin up there and a shallow stretch of river. I have a team east of the creek, and they have just signaled enemy tracks approaching. Over.”

What now lieutenant?

Requirement

In a time limit of 2 minutes issue any orders/reports you might make. Then provide a sketch of your actions and the rationale behind them. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #99-7, Quantico, VA 22134 or fax it to (703) 640-0823. Solutions can also be sent by e-mail. See our web site for instructions.

For more detailed information on the structure of Marine Corps units, Marine Corps equipment, and symbols used in TDG sketches, see MCG, Oct94, pp. 53-56 and the modification reported in Jan95, p. 5.

Dilemma at Styx River Bridge

Situation

You are the platoon commander of 2d Platoon, Company B, 2d Combat Engineer Battalion. You arrived in the country of Devastation 3 days ago. As part of Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/6, you are assisting the local government in earthquake relief by providing a secure environment and repairing serious damage.

A fledgling democracy, Devastation is threatened by “insurgent forces” based in the neighboring country, which the BLT S-2 and higher headquarters fear may take advantage of the destruction in Devastation to expand their frontier. The United States hopes to avoid becoming involved in a border war. Rules of engagement allow deadly force in self defense only. So far, however, there has been no sign of trouble.

The terrain is thick with vegetation, particularly around the river, with many cleared areas for cultivation. The battalion is located in the town of Nice, 25km to the southeast of Nasty. Radio retransmission sites have been established throughout the battalion’s tactical area of responsibility (TAOR).

You are tasked with building a ford near the destroyed River Styx Bridge in order to open the lines of communication within the BLT’s TAOR. Your platoon arrived on HMMWVs at 0700 and has been working all day. The river is 2 feet deep, 10 meters wide, and has a current of 3-5 knots. An NGO (nongovernment organization) base camp is 500 meters away outside the village of Nasty. The NGO team has been establishing temporary shelters for the homeless, organizing food distribution, and providing limited medical treatment for the local population. You have been unable to raise the battalion on your radio for several hours. You are expected to rejoin the battalion before sunset.

Toward the late afternoon, you are visited by a group of Frenchmen from the NGO camp. They are very concerned about a report that the insurgents will attack the village within the hour in order to capture the NGO camp and supplies, and secure control of the ford site. The Frenchmen report that there are 25 other British and French aid workers at the camp. They have two 2 1/2-ton trucks and about 18 tons of food and medical supplies.

What do you do?

Requirement

In 5 minutes, explain to the French aid workers what you intend to do, and what you want them to do. Issue any orders to your Marines. Then provide a sketch of your decision.

For more detailed information on the structure of Marine Corps units, Marine Corps equipment and symbols used in TDG sketches see MCG, Oct94, pp. 53-56 and the modification reported in Jan95, p. 5.