Cache Search

by Capt Jason Topshe

Situation

 

You are 3d Squad Leader, 1st Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, deployed to Farah Province, Afghanistan. Your squad was tasked with finding and destroying a suspected Taliban weapons cache reported to be located somewhere in the village of Wadi Zai.

The last reported activity involving U.S. forces in the area is from an Army patrol which conducted a route clearance mission almost seven months ago. That patrol identified a possible IED on the road in vicinity of Building A5. However, when they dismounted their vehicles to investigate, one soldier stepped on a pressure plate IED located near the southeast corner of Building A4. A second soldier moved to provide first aid, but he also stepped on a pressure plate IED along the eastern wall of Building A3. In the ensuing minutes, both of them died of their injuries. The possible IED in vicinity of Building A5 was later confirmed and rendered safe.

During mission planning, through the use of sensors provided by unmanned aerial systems, and through reliable reports from intelligence sources, you have identified four possible IED locations in the village. These are marked by a red “X” on the map.

The remainder of your platoon is located 2km south at Forward Operating Base Driftwood. As your squad patrols into the village from the South, your Platoon Commander comes over the radio with the following information: “Intel reports indicate a high probability the enemy weapons cache is located in Building A3. Get there ASAP and search that building.”

As you approach Building A3 on foot from the south, you notice disturbed earth in three locations surrounding the building, specifically in locations that you identified as likely IEDs during mission planning. Your interpreter is also talking to a local man who claims to live in Building B1. He nervously tells you that you should not go in there because the entire compound is filled with “bombs.”

You report the situation back to your Platoon Commander and request explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) support to further investigate and render any IEDs safe before entering the compound. He comes on the radio with this reply: “Negative. EOD currently unavailable. Find another way to get into that compound. You need to find that cache.”

The compound walls are about six-feet high, and you know your Marines can scale them with the help of a buddy. Through your interpreter, you ask the local man if he knows of a safe way to get into the compound while avoiding IEDs, but he says that he is not sure. He adds that the Taliban used to use the building, but they do not go in it anymore because they forgot where the “bombs” are. After you spend a few minutes talking with the local man, your Platoon Commander comes over the radio and says the following: “Quit delaying. Search that building or I’ll put someone else in charge of your squad who will.”

Troops and Fire Support Available

  • (1)Rifle Squad with (15) Marines
  • (1)Interpreter
  • 155mm howitzer battery located 5km west
  • Squad-sized QRF with (4) MRAPs located 2km South at FOB Driftwood.

Requirements

  1. How do you respond to your Platoon Commander?
  2. In three minutes or less, develop a plan and give orders to your squad.

Considerations

What are the potential risks and benefits associated with obeying your Platoon Commander’s order to search the building? What are the potential risks and benefits of disobeying him?

T&R ITS Links

  • INF-ASLT-4003: Conduct a breach (T&R pg 7-10)
  • INF-FSPT-4001: Integrate fires (pg. 7-11)
  • INF-INT-4001: Conduct Tactical Site Exploitation (TSE) (pg. 7-12)
  • INF-MAN-4213: Conduct a cordon and search (pg. 7-31)
  • INF-MAN-4301: Conduct a combat patrol (pg. 7-32)
  • 0300-PAT-2007: Lead a unit in reaction to a detonated Improvised Explosive Device (IED) (pg. 8-82)
  • 0300-PAT-2008: Lead a unit in reaction to a undetonated Improvised Explosive Device (IED) (pg. 8-83)
  • 0311-MOUT-1003: Execute lower-level entry (pg. 11-15)
  • 0311-MOUT-2001: Lead a squad in urban operations (pg. 11-36)
  • 0311-OFF-2002: Lead a squad in offensive operations (pg. 11-38)
  • 0311-OFF-2005: Direct the employment of an assault team in offensive operations (pg. 11-41)

To Ambush or Not to Ambush

Situation

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

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

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

Requirement

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

Protecting the ‘Golden Leaf’

Situation

You are the 1st Fire Team Leader, 2d Squad, 2d Platoon, Company C, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines of the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (22d MEU(SOC)). Your company has been tasked to maintain peace in the city of Koper, Slovenia. Slovenia has been suffering from a 5-year civil war. The legitimate government has finally come to a truce with the major belligerents in the war; however, there are rebellious factions who continue to conduct guerrilla warfare against the government and its supporters. The citizens of Koper remain peaceful with American forces but have recently begun to hold peaceful demonstrations against American imperialism. The demonstrations have yet to ignite into resistant crowds. The MEU commander believes that the population will soon become more aggressive in their protests. This is due to a few unfortunate misunderstandings and guerrilla propaganda. The citizens are caught in a whirlpool between the guerrillas’ political ideologies and the efforts of American forces. Their emotions are severely stirred and teetering on the edge. The guerrillas have Soviet-bloc small arms and experiment with crude “basement made” chemical irritants and explosives.

Your squad has been tasked to conduct an urban security patrol in a village located in your company’s area of operations in order to show presence and deter guerrilla actions. Attached to your squad is a corpsman, machinegun squad, assault team shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapon, and a human exploitation team (HET) Marine who can speak Slovenian. It is early afternoon, there is light traffic on the streets, and the sky is cloudy. After crossing the bridge en route to checkpoint Nissan, your squad is fragged over the radio to set up a vehicle checkpoint. Your squad leader states that S-2 (intelligence) has reliable information indicating that rebel forces are planning to attack the nearby State Tobacco factory with a car bomb. Your squad must search every vehicle attempting to enter the factory’s perimeter. Your squad establishes a checkpoint in the middle of Tobacco Lane-the only road leading into the factory. There are some small houses to your west and a river to the east. A small crowd of civilians approaches from the riverbank to watch the Americans in action.

As your squad begins to set up the vehicle checkpoint, members of the 3d Fire Team, on the east flank, report a strange odor. At the same time the HET Marine with the 3d Fire Team begins to vomit uncontrollably. He begins to rub his face screaming that his eyes and skin are burning. He collapses in agony and continues to cry out. Your squad leader immediately gives the command to don protective masks, but it is too late for another two members of 3d Fire Team-the squad automatic weapon gunner and rifleman begin experiencing the same symptoms as the HET man. The Marines who masked in time experienced no symptoms except for burning of exposed skin. The corpsman speculates that these are symptoms of a known improvised non-lethal gas that the guerrillas have developed. The crowd becomes aggressive when several civilians begin feeling the effects of the gas. They begin throwing debris (bricks, bottles, and rocks) with extreme force and incredible accuracy at the Marines. Seeing the Marines mask up, the crowd thinks that the Marines used the chemical agent on them. Acting utterly on emotion they are unaware of the fact that the guerrillas probably employed the gas. The squad leader is then suddenly hit in the face with a rock knocking him nearly unconscious. You are now in charge. The crowd is growing angrier and more people are joining them. They are not holding back. What do you do?

Requirement

In a time limit of 2 minutes, write down your fragmentary order and any reports to higher headquarters. Provide a sketch of your actions. Rules of engagement state that riot control agents require authorization, and approval for their use will be given on a case-by-case basis. Submit your solution and rationale for your action to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #04-6, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or e-mail <gazette@mca-marines.org>.

Rahadnak Valley Search

Situation

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

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

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

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

Requirement

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

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

Cartonville Patrol

Situation

You are the platoon commander of 1st Platoon, Company C, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 8th Marines. You are currently engaged in stability and support operations in the country of Grapeland. Coalition forces have routed organized enemy resistance, but there are still numerous “dead-enders” who operate in squad-sized units. These units utilize Soviet Bloc small arms to include AK-series assault weapons, light machineguns, rocket propelled grenades, and 82mm mortars. They are mostly former regime military officers augmented by terrorists from other countries. Their actions are well-thoughtout, rehearsed, and usually effective. Hostile threat is high, but you have not been engaged in any manner in the 14 days you have been there. Your battalion is in a defensive perimeter at a rundown airfield located within city limits of Cartonville, Grapeland. Your rules of engagement state that you are only to fire if fired upon or if hostile intent is positively identified. You are to use the least amount of force necessary to gain fire superiority. There have been restrictive fire measures emplaced as well. In any situation, collateral damage is to be kept to a minimum.

Your platoon has been tasked with a security patrol in the city. You have two machinegun teams and two assault teams attached to you. The platoon has a standard combat load of ammunition (squad automatic weapon, M203 grenade launcher, M16), and each squad has one AT-4 rocket as well. You have no direct or indirect fire support due to the restrictive fire measures. Illumination is your only asset from your supporting weapons platoon and company. There is a section of AH-IW Cobras armed with 20mm and 5-inch Zuni rockets, as well as a dedicated medevac bird (on 20-minute strip alert at a nearby forward operating base), that are within a 5-minute flight of you once they launch. It is 1 hour before dusk, and your patrol exits friendly lines. Your patrol is spread out about 400 meters long and staggered on both sides of the road. As you come to the intersection in the city square, you see that two of the avenues are now barricaded with trash, vehicles, and wood and are impassable for your patrol. There are very few people in the streets as well. At this time you halt the patrol to look at your map in order to coordinate new routes. You are hit from the front by small arms and machinegun fire. The machineguns seem to have interlocking fire, and the small arms are in sporadic positions within the buildings. All of the buildings in the square are two floors or higher and made of heavy concrete. (1st Fire Team, 1st Squad is pinned down and taking casualties.) As the patrol advances toward the contact, mortar fire begins to fall in behind your position, pushing you toward the kill zone. First assault team and machinegun team moved to join 1st Squad on their own initiative upon contact. second assault team and machinegun team moved to support 2d Squad upon contact. 3d Squad moved into a reserve position and all are awaiting orders.

What do you do?

Requirement

In a time limit of 5 minutes, come up with a fragmentary order for your squads and your attachments; include scheme of maneuver, commander’s intent, and signal plan. Provide an overlay for your scheme of maneuver. Also prepare any reports that you would send to higher headquarters, along with any requests for support. Send your solution and rationale for your actions to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #04-11, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or e-mail <gazette@mcamarines.org>.

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.

First Contact

Situation

You are the 2d Platoon Commander, Company F, Battalion Landing Team 2d Battalion, 11th Marines (BLT 2/11), 11th MEU. Your company has recendy 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 ate paved and two lanes wide. Side roads are also paved but only 1 !/2 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 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. 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 area of operations, the BLT has secured the support of one smaller clan but stili 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. 1st Squad is on the left flank, you are with 2d Squad in the center, and 3d Squad is on the right. You have only your organic weapons and are in radio contact with the other squads and the battalion combat operations center, though such contact is not always 100 percent due to the urban environment.

Approximately 20 minutes after crossing the bridge you hear and see an explosion where you expect 1st Squad to be. The explosion is followed by automatic and semiautomatic weapons fire. 2d Squad leader executes a halt in place and 360-degree security. Firing continues for 30 seconds before you receive 1st Squad’s report: “Enemy squad with AKs,. RPG, mortar IED. Watson and Perez are down. Need casevac. Break. Recommend 2d Squad move north oí my position and cut off retreating enemy elements. Over.”

Requirement

What now, Lieutenant? 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?

What do you believe your company and battalion commanders’ intents are?

In this scenario, how do your actions and orders relate to their intents?

What does the enemy hope to gain from this attack?

How do your actions deprive the enemy of those gains?

How will the enemy counter your platoon’s actions?

Assume that as a result of this incident, two civilians are wounded and one home is damaged. How will the enemy exploit this information in 20 minutes? By the end of the day? For the rest of the week?

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

Hostile Intent

Situation

You are the 3d Squad Leader, 2d Platoon, Company F, Battalion Landing Team 2d Battalion, 1st Marines (BLT 2/1), 1 1th 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 1 u2 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 machi neguns, 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. S-2 (intelligence) believes such battles center around religious sites.

The BLT has been relatively successful in the matter of civil affairs and civil-military relations. They initiated a “weapons buy back program,” paying for each weapon turned in depending upon its lethality. Despite such gain, the AOR still has its share of insurgent attacks. Of the seven major clans in the area of operations, the BLT has secured the support of the 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. 1st Squad is on the left flank, 2d Squad is in the center with the command element, and your squad is 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, you hear and see an explosion where you expect 1st Squad to be, followed by automatic and semiautomatic weapons fire. You execute a halt in place and establish 360-degree security. Firing continues for 30 seconds before you hear 1st Squad report: “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 after the 1st Squad report, the platoon commander radios to you: “2d Squad is reinforcing 1st Squad attack. Proceed north to major intersection in order to prevent enemy reinforcements from attacking our flank. Over.”

After acknowledging the order, the squad proceeds north along Route 6. About 100 meters up the road, you observe approximately 20 men armed with a combination of AK-47s and RPGs emerge from a compound and board 3 pickup trucks and 2 trucks with mounted machineguns. They have not observed you yet. You estimate that this force will be ready to leave the compound in 2 minutes. What now, Sergeant?

Requirement

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 this new force is? What is their intent?

What actions might you take to determine if this force is friendly or hostile?

If this force is hostile, are your actions in accordance with your commander’s intent?

If this force is friendly, how might they assist you in accomplishing your mission and the BLTs mission?

If the force is friendly, how might they assist your battalion commander in achieving his intent?

Assuming this force is hostile, how can the enemy seek to exploit this situation in the local community?

What are some actions you can take or recommendations you can make to your commander to counter enemy exploitation efforts? Immediately after the fight? After you return to base?

Culminating Point

Situation

You are the company commander for Bravo Company, Ist Battalion, Ist Marines operating in the province of Aceh, Indonesia. Your battalion is operating as part of a special purpose Marine air-ground task force with a general mission of conducting operations to clear the area of ex-government units involved in a rebellion against a newly elected civilian government. Enemy units have generally been operating in squad- to platoon-sized elements with only small arms and medium machineguns, primarily during daylight hours. Prior to today, no contact with the enemy forces had been reported by any elements of your battalion, despite 2 days of extensive patrolling. There are no friendly foreign national units in your battalion or company zone of operations.

Your company mission is to dear in zone in order to deny the enemy a safe haven from which to conduct operations against the civilian government. Your battalion commander’s desired end state is no cohesive enemy units in the area of greater than squad size. Once that criterion has been met, the sector can be considered cleared and loyal government units can move in and complete the “pacification” process. Alpha Company was assigned the zone considered most likely to produce enemy activity based on prior reports and has been designated the main effort.

Bravo Company is a standard table of organization rifle company, with an attached host-nation interrogator-translator team (ITT). You task organized for this mission into patrolling/clearing elements consisting of Ist and 3d Platoons (generally eastern and western portions of the zone respectively), and a reserve/reaction force consisting of 2d Platoon following in trace of the two clearing platoons in the center of the company zone. The machinegun section from weapons platoon moves with 2d Platoon to provide supporting fires should you encounter enemy forces. The mortar section moves in trace of 2d Platoon with security provided by the SMAW (shoulder launched multipurpose assault weapon) section. You have attached the host-nation ITT to the company headquarters element under the watchful eye of your company gunnery sergeant. No artillery or close air support assets are available, although the battalion 81mm mortar platoon can range the majority of your sector.

Today, at 0700, you advanced into a previously untouched sector. The terrain is hilly, single canopy jungle, interspersed with large clearings and cultivated areas. 3d Squad, Ist Platoon, after 2 hours of exhausting movement, reported signs of enemy activity on a lightly wooded ridgeline 200 meters to their north. You immediately ordered 2d Platoon to move forward to 3d Squad’s position, which the 3d Squad would secure for use as an assault position for 2d Platoon’s attack. You moved forward along with the ITT to the attack position, and after a quick visual reconnaissance and conference with 3d Squad leader and 2d Platoon commander, confirmed the personnel were in fact an enemy unit. You then emplaced the machinegun section at a 70-degree offset to provide a base of fire. You ordered 2d Platoon to prepare to attack the enemy position and radioed the battalion commander to inform him of your situation. After a quick discussion, you were given permission to begin the attack.

2d Platoon conducted their attack in a professional manner, and after an exhausting uphill climb under heavy enemy fire, reported the enemy reinforced squad’s surrender. Friendly casualties were two men killed and three wounded. The enemy casualties were four dead and three wounded enemy prisoners of war. At least two enemy soldiers had escaped. They had, however, used up half of their ammunition in the process. A quick situation report from 3d Platoon revealed that they still had no enemy sightings. As you moved up to the ridgeline to inspect the results of the fight, the 2d Platoon commander reported enemy in at least two-squad strength moving into assault formation and at least two machineguns being set up on the next hill over.

At this time, your machinegun section is still moving onto the ridgeline, lst Platoon is still consolidating with two squads at the old attack position, and one squad is still on the move. 3d Platoon continues to patrol in sector to the west. What do you do?

Requirement

In a time limit of 5 minutes, issue your orders to your team leaders. Provide a brief rationale for your actions and a sketch of your plan. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #01-8, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or e-mail <gazette@mca-marines.org>.

Out on Patrol

General

A special purpose Marine airground task force (SPMAGTF) has been deployed to the coastal region of Southlandia to take an active role in America’s war on drugs. The coastal plain of Southlandia is tropical with thick vegetation. Rivers are the major means of transportation and communication. On these rivers, narcotics traffickers transport their products from inland camps, where the drugs are manufactured, to the coast where they are exported by sea and air.

The narcotics traffickers in Southlandia have been growing more and more technical in their means of producing and exporting. Manufacturing locations are small, widely dispersed camps that move frequently and, apparently, randomly. While some drugs are driven and some flown from the inland, most are transported via river to the coastal area where ocean and air transportation are more readily available. There are even rumors that submarines may be employed to ship drugs. The SPMAGTF is based at a small airbase near the third largest village in the province. The command element is augmented with several provincial police, a liaison officer from the U.S. Coast Guard, and a detachment from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The SPMAGTF is part of a Marine Corps led joint task force located in Southlandia’s capital. The MAGTF is composed of an aviation combat element built around four CH-53Es. The ground combat element (GCE) consists of a lightly equipped infantry battalion and a detachment from the division’s small craft company. Companies conduct operations along the Pacora and Chepo rivers. The combat service support element provides general support to the MAGTF and provides direct support to the GCE in the form of one forward logistics base supporting riverine operations along the Chepo.

Situation

You are a squad leader conducting a security patrol along the Chepo River. The remainder of your platoon is located at the base camp, having just returned from operations up river. The rest of the company is operating on the east side of the river and with small craft (two riverine assault craft and six rigid raider craft) on the river to the south.

Your patrol was inserted by boat near checkpoint 5 (CP 5). From there you moved through the thick, 10-foot high vegetation to CP 1, then to CP 2. As you moved southeast from CP 2 to CP 4, you noticed what looked like a crossing site. You decided that you would report it during your next radio call at the top of the hour. On reaching CP 4, you post security and take 10. While finishing your second canteen, you hear gunfire to the north. You radio back to the base camp, occupied by the rest of your platoon and the combat service support detachment; you get no answer. As the firing intensifies, you are convinced that the base camp is under attack.

As you pull in your men to issue a frag order, you find out that one of them has spotted what looks like two boats a few hundred meters down river. What is your frag order?

Requirement

In a time limit of 2 minutes, issue your orders to your squad. Provide a brief rationale for your actions and a sketch of your plan. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #01-11, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or e-mail <gazette@mca-marines.org>.

Under Fire Amid Camera’s Aim

Your fire team is on a peacekeeping assignment in a civil war torn country where a shaky cease-fire is only a few weeks old. Your duties have been a combination of patrolling village streets and community restoration and aid projects. You’re currently assigned to a village whose control was disputed by the contending parties in battle and now is part of tense, ongoing cease-fire negotiations. Marine presence, in any form, is resented in this village by one of the factions. Battalion intelligence believes there is such vehemence because the Marine presence has thwarted the efforts of this one faction to intimidate the opposition in the village into leaving and thereby gaining control for use as a card in the negotiations. While armed exchanges between the feuding groups and Marines have been few, the extensive use of mines and boobytraps during the civil war has meant that such weapons have continued to claim victims on all sides.

Presently, your fire team is on a sweep in the center of the village, which is characterized by debris strewn cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways, and stone buildings in various states of disrepair. The main square of the village is dominated by a large fountain. The square is used by all as a local market. The village’s factional majority has also taken to using the square as a gathering point for its bands to vocalize their dislike of Marines. Such gatherings are not forbidden by your rules of engagement if conducted peacefully and without arms. Trailing your patrol throughout the day, of its own accord, is a U.S. news crew from CNN.

Your fire team has just arrived in the square. In addition to your standard weapons, you have five rounds of tear gas for the M203 (40mm grenade launcher) and a radio that links you to your squad leader and platoon leader. The remainder of your squad on the patrol is located to the east some 50 to 75 yards away. Suddenly, close by, there is a small explosion. You turn and see a cloud of dust to your left rear. A scream of pain reaches your ears. “Johnson tripped a boobytrap in the alleyway.” Immediately the film crew is in action close at hand. You glance quickly over your shoulder to check your front and see villagers, some of them women, marching toward the square. Two men are armed with bolt-action rifles. “Corporal, I’ve got a dozen plus people heading toward me from the west, maybe 100 yards out. They don’t look happy. They’re chanting something, and they have banners with ‘U.S. and Marines Out,'” barks your automatic rifleman. Just then a burst of M16 fire erupts to your left. “Sniper on the balcony to your front!” You see Martinez dive for an open doorway.

What now, Corporal?

Requirement

In a time limit of 30 seconds issue any orders/reports you might make. Provide a sketch of your actions and the rationale behind them. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #02-1, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or e-mail <gazette@mcamarines.org>.