Capital Crimes


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?”


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?

Attack on Rommerbach


You are a colonel commanding a task force of roughly battalion strength that includes 2 U.S. Marine light armored reconnaissance (LAR) companies, Alpha and Bravo each with a platoon of antitank variants; a TOW section; and 2 host-nation Marine companies, one a company of 12 M60 tanks, the other a company of mechanized infantry. The host-nation Marines are reasonably well trained and can generally be relied on to accomplish basic tasks with a reasonable amount of supervision.

The terrain is rolling farmland punctuated by small villages and wooded areas. Enemy forces have invaded the host nation from the west. The Combined Marine Forces (CMEF), of which your task force is a part, are advancing generally northwest along Highway 7, clearing the area of enemy forces in order to restore the border. Your task force has been ordered to break off from the Highway 7 axis and advance south-southwest from Jennau through Ostglossen and Glossen to Rommerbach and Schilte to clear any enemy forces in zone. Intelligence indicates that as of 48 hours ago an enemy reinforced mechanized company was reported in Schilte, while Rommerbach appeared to be unoccupied save for periodic mechanized patrols. You will have a battery in direct support along the Highway 7 axis and are told that close air support and Cobras will be available based on priority.

You move out with Alpha in the lead, followed by the mech, tanks, TOWs, and Bravo in the rear. You reach Glossen without any enemy contact. As planned, Alpha moves on Rommerbach while you continue with the mech company, tank company, Bravo, and TOWs toward Schilte. You drop your combat operations center (COC) in Glossen and instruct the tank company to halt just west of Glossen as the battalion reserve.

Radio traffic suggests that 10-12 kilometers north, along the Highway 7 corridor, a major engagement is beginning to develop. Meanwhile, Alpha reports it is engaging an enemy force of unknown size near Rommerbach. About 2 kilometers east of Schilte, you gain observation of the town and halt to have a look, searching for signs of a defense. Radio traffic now indicates that sizable enemy forces are launching an unexpected coordinated attack along Highway 7 against CMEF which is now on the defensive. CMEF warns you to be alert for major enemy offensive activity. You should not expect much in the way of aviation support since all available air is now being vectored to the developing battle. CMEF instructs you: “Imperative you secure Rommerbach and Schilte and hold those positions in order to protect CMEF’s left flank.” Through your binoculars you see signs of a prepared defense in Schilte, but the enemy strength is unclear. You maneuver your mech, TOWs, and Bravo into attack positions outside of Schilte. Alpha now reports it has driven six reconnaissance vehicles from Rommerbach and is consolidating the town. Your COC reports that your tank company does not seem to be occupying its designated assembly area, and the Bravo CO reports that the tanks have continued with the column and are directly in trace of him.

Your first indication that something more is up with Alpha is a fire mission called against an enemy mech battalion west of Rommerbach. Shortly after that, the Bravo company commander comes on the command net to report that he has reached the west edge of Rommerbach to discover that a sizable force of mech and armor is closing on Rommerbach from the west: “A battalion, at least, in assault formation. Lead elements inside 3 clicks and closing.” You can now hear the sounds of tank main guns echoing from the north.

What do you do, Colonel?


In a time limit of 5 minutes, describe any actions you will take in the form of orders you will issue or requests/reports you will make. Then provide a sketch of your plan and a brief explanation of your actions. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #98-10, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134 or fax 703-640-0823.

Decision at the Overpass


You are the battalion commander of 1st Bn, 6th Marines, with a weapons company and three rifle companies, one of which has an attached amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) platoon.

6th Marines has been deployed to help stabilize Athsano, a war ravaged country in southern Europe. Athsano government forces are currently reorganizing to the south and are expected to push west along Highway 9 within the next 24 hours. Marine forces have been sent to secure key nodes within the capital city prior to the government’s renewed offensive and arrival of follow-on U.S. forces. These nodes consist of the port facility, airport, and several government and communications centers.

Rebel units appear highly trained and make good use of the terrain. Their tactics have centered around prepared defenses and ambushes within the city. They possess medium to heavy weapons, rocket propelled grenades, and limited indirect fire capability from 82mm mortars. Operating in squad to platoon size elements, they are expected to fight for control of vital areas.

The battalion’s mission is to attack in zone to seize the radio station designated as Battalion Objective A (see map) in order to deny the rebel forces the ability to communicate with their supporters and the civilian populace. Additionally, the battalion must assist in refugee control. Your desired end state is the radio station secure, the battalion zone clear of rebel forces, refugee flow diverted away from Hwy 9, and the battalion prepared to continue the attack. Company C is the battalion’s main effort, with Weapons Company and Company B as supporting efforts, and Company A as the reserve.

The plan of attack is as follows: At 0100, Company C attacks in zone to seize Bn Obj A in order to deny the enemy use of the television station. Company B will have moved earlier to the east to prevent refugees from entering either Company C’s zone or Hwy 9. The 81mm Mortar Platoon is in general support of the battalion, and the remaining Combined Antiarmor Team (CAAT) is patrolling Hwy 9. Company A (Rein) is in reserve with attached Dragon Section, CAAT and the AAV Platoon. Upon consolidation of Bn Obj A, the reserve will reinforce Company’s C zone and expand local security.

It is now 0120. From a vantage point on Hwy 9, you observe heavy fighting to the north. The S-3 states, “Company C (advancing via the buildings on the left of its zone) has been stopped by a determined enemy defense and reinforcement. It reports heavy casualties in its lead platoon. Company B reports over 500 refugees in a holding area and an enemy of unknown strength moving to its north. The battalion reserve and 81mm platoon have staged on a secondary road south of the Hwy 9 overpass. What now, sir?”


In a time limit of 15 minutes, decide what you will do, prepare appropriate orders as well as any reports/requests that you would submit. Provide a sketch and an explanation of your plan. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #99-10, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134 or fax 703-630-9147.

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.

Attack on Rocky Run Hollow


You command the 1st Battalion. Your enemy is elements of the Quantico Liberation Front QLF). A tough and effective guerilla force, the QLF tends to operate in small units, relying on ambush and hit-and-run tactics. Faced with a superior enemy, QLF forces will usually withdraw quickly, springing ambushes on their pursuers. QLF forces have shown themselves capable of mounting operations up to battalion size, with up to 8-10 light tanks in support. The terrain is thickly vegetated; line of sight is rarely more than 200 meters, and often less than 100. The largest stream, Rocky Run, is never more than 3 feet deep; the others are intermittent and pose no obstacle to infantry. The only road in your area is Highway 6, a one-lane dirt road. Vehicles are mostly limited to the road and trails.

Regiment hopes to bring the QLF to battle with a pair of simultaneous predawn surprise attacks. Your battalion is tasked to locate and attack a possible enemy regimental supply depot in Rocky Run Hollow west of Highway 6. The regimental commander makes it clear that the true objective is to force the QLF to fight, and the idea is to do that by threatening his logistics. Meanwhile, some 10 kilometers east, 2d Battalion will launch a helicopterborne raid on Triangletown, a suspected QLF assembly area.

You have two sections of Cobras (Zipper 1 & 2) in direct support and two preplanned close air support missions. Your antiarmor assets are organized into “Whiskey” Company, consisting of M2 heavy machineguns, Mk19 grenade launchers, and TOWs mounted on HMMWVs and organized into four platoons of four vehicles each.

You come up with what you think is an adaptable plan. Alpha will swing around to block the western flank near Hill 86. Whiskey will advance north on Highway 6 to block from the cast. Bravo will advance directly north on the suspected logistic site in order to fix the enemy or flush him toward Alpha or Whiskey. Charlie will be in reserve, ready to exploit the situation. Aviation will be on call.

The approach march goes well. Alpha reaches its attack position at 0300 without making contact. Whiskey reaches Homestead 1 having lost only one vehide to an enemy mine. Bravo advances quickly in the face of sporadic harassment from an estimated squad and reaches the rise overlooking the suspected logistic site with minimal casualties. Radio traffic indicates 2d Battalion has rim into a sizable force near Triangletown. As Bravo continues to advance at 0400, Whiskey moves north from Homestead 1 toward the E-14 trail intersection to “tighten the noose.” Bravo reports increasing resistance, probably platoon strength, but no sign yet of a logistic site. At 0430, Whiskey reports an enemy colunm of infantry with six enemy tanks at the Highway 6/E-14 intersection, heading east on E-14. Whiskey was able to knock out a light tank before “everybody went to ground. They didn’t expect us.” Just then, you receive a report from higher headquarters of an enemy infantry company “double– timing” south on Highway 6 near Homestead 2.

What will you do?


In a time limit of 5 minutes, make your decision in the form of any orders you will issue or reports you will make. Then provide an overlay and a brief explanation of your decision. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #99-11, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134 or fax (703) 630-9147.

Operation LUMP SUM


You are an advisor to the 719th Guerrilla Battalion in a civil-war-torn country, which makes you the de facto commander when it comes to operations in the field. The 719th consists of five 80-man companies (71st-75th), a mortar platoon, and an antitank guided missile (ATGM) platoon. The companies are actually fairly good guerrilla forces, making effective use of ambush and hit-andrun tactics, but for political as well as operational reasons, coordinated operations at battalion level and above are practically impossible, The battalion is lightly equipped, with few vehicles and only one unencrypted VHF radio. The companies are armed with mostly older-generation small arms, light machineguns, and light antitank weapons. Each company also has a pair of 23mm antiaircraft guns mounted on trailers. You have recently received a large arms shipment of shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles and medium mortars-enough mortars to form a sixtube platoon in each company and an eight-tube platoon at battalion level. The mortars have a range of 3,500 meters and the ATGMs have a range of 2,000 meters, although line of sight in this rolling, wooded terrain is rarely more than a kilometer. Vehicle forces are pretty much restricted to the trails and few roads.

The 719th is responsible for defending the Millennium complex, with each company based near one of the five villages in the complex. The 719th draws it support from the local population and is resupplied from a series of cache sites throughout the sector. You have one assistant advisor, a squared-away junior captain.

The enemy is attacking generally from the south and outguns your forces in practically every way. The enemy has air superiority, which he relies on heavily. He prefers to operate in massed formations of brigade or even larger to maximize his firepower. The enemy has demonstrated the capability to lift up to a battalion by helicopter at one time. Intelligence indicates he is preparing for a major offensive-up to a brigade-size air assault with gunship support deep into guerrilla territory, probably in conjunction with a ground penetration by a mechanized battalion from one of the several fire bases some 40 kilometers south of your sector. Intelligence has even learned the enemy’s code name for the operation: “Operation Lump Sum.” Recent enemy reconnaissance activity suggests the enemy has been reconnoitering landing zones (Us). Your assistant has hastily mapped the likely enemy Us in your sector. The two largest, each of which will handle a battalion, are between Millennium I and Millennium 3 along Rte. 6.

Higher headquarters estimates the enemy offensive will commence within 72 hours and wants to know the 719th’s plan for defending its sector. The battalion commander turns to you. What’ll it be?


In a time limit of 15 minutes, describe your plan in the form of the orders/guidance you will “recommend” to the battalion commander. Then provide a sketch and a brief explanation of your reasoning. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #00-1, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134 or fax 703-630-9147.

Attack Out of the Enclave

You are the commander of Ist Battalion, 8th Marines. For months your battalion has been fighting guerrillas in the African countryside. The enemy has launched a surprise offensive to capture several key cities, including the former colonial capital of Tinti along the Attar River. The Attar splits the city in two, with the smaller French quarter located in a bend in the wide river, and the larger, indigenous section located across the river to the north and west. The French section is characterized by typical European colonial architecture: mostly one- and two-story brick and concrete buildings with thick walls, walled yards, tropical gardens, and tree-lined boulevards. From the river there is a 12-foot sloped embankment, and then the terrain slopes gently uphill another 50 meters to the high point at the Universite Nationale. The named and numbered streets are European-style boulevards about 30-35 meters wide. Other streets are mostly narrow lanes. An underground sewer system remains from colonial days.

The plans you are provided are accurate as of 1960, and you have no updated information about the condition of the sewers. In the upper and upper-middle class parts of town, most of the residences are two stories with basements, as are most of the government buildings. In the other residential areas, most of the buildings are one-story, a mixture of brick/concrete and frame structures. The hospital and the academies are three stories, brick and concrete. The only four-story buildings are a couple of buildings in the Universite Nationale and a modern apartment building just north of the university. Most of the local population has abandoned the area, although it is not uncommon to find pockets of civilians, sometimes numbering in the dozens or even as many as 100, huddled in basements.

Friendly forces are engaged in a bitter fight for control of the indigenous city. The enemy has all but captured the French quarter. Two embattled host-nation companies, the 71st and 72d, hold a tenuous enclave north of Pier St. and west of Freedom Blvd. It is estimated that enemy strength in the French section is at least battalion, probably regimental strength. The enemy is equipped with automatic weapons, light and heavy machineguns, mortars, mines, and rocket propelled antitank grenade launchers (RPGs). Your battalion is being sent in to begin the counterattack to recapture the French quarter. Bravo and Charlie Companies (with their attached weapons) and the mortar platoon have been shuttled via landing craft into the enclave at the Velodrome Nationale. Alpha Company remains across the river, ready to cross. You are given operational control of the 71st and 72d and their supporting tank platoon of three M60s. The 71st and 72d are battle-hardened outfits of about 80 men each. In addition to their small arms and machineguns, they are equipped with RPGs and recoilless rifles.

As you face south, the 72d is on the right facing strong enemy forces directly across Pier St., where the res-, idential buildings are closely packed. The 71 st is in the center with the four recoilless rifles. Charlie Company has moved into position on the left, occupying the Academie de Ste. Marie, across Freedom Blvd. from the twostory brick prison, which the enemy seems to have strongpointed with at least a company. The terrain in that sector is primarily larger commercial buildings spread farther apart. The enemy has some positions in depth. The commander of the 71st reports taking sniper and plunging machinegun fire from the upper floors of the four-story apartment just north of the university. Additionally, he reports the enemy has heavy machineguns covering Pier St. and Freedom Blvd. from positions somewhere in the depth of the defense, halting any earlier attempts to cross those streets. In order to minimize civilian casualties and collateral damage, higher headquarters has prohibited the use of artillery and close air support. You have convinced them to let you use your mortars. It is currently 2200. There is a light wind from the north northwest. It is overcast with low cloud cover and intermittent drizzle, temperatures in the mid-60s. Your mission is simple and straightforward: no later than 0600 attack generally south and east in order to clear the city of enemy presence.

What is your plan?


In the space of 20 minutes develop a plan of attack to include at least a concept of operations and tasks for your subordinate units. Then provide a sketch and a brief explanation of your plan. Submit your solution to the Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #00-12, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134 or fax 703-630-9147.

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.

Cossack Sweep


There have been reports of infiltration and possible enemy efforts to consolidate forces in area “Cossack.” As the commanding officer (CO), 2d Battalion, 7th Marines (2/7), you have received orders from regiment to perform a battalion sweep, south to north, of area Cossack; make contact; and destroy any enemy and stores he may have in the area. There will be very few civilians in the area. You are to round them up and keep them out of harm’s way, but do not send them to the rear. 1/7 will be to the immediate east and in contact with your right flank.

You relay these orders to your company commanders. You have given orders that will put the battalion on line, with Fox Company on your left flank and Echo Company on the right flank. Each company is to provide its own reserves, rear, and point security. Fox and Echo Companies will provide flank security for the battalion. Fox Company will maintain left flank control by keeping its left tight on an abandoned railroad track that parallels the axis of advance. All companies will guide on Fox Company. Air and artillery are oncall. 81mm mortars will be 1,000 meters in trace of weapons company. No enemy armor or mechanization is expected, so Weapons Company is to leave behind their heavy machineguns and antiarmor weapons and will equip themselves with Mk19 machineguns, AT-4s (self-contained shoulder fired antitank weapons), and Mk153s (shoulder launched multipurpose assault weapons). No HMMWVs will accompany the battalion. All other members of Weapons Company are to assume the role of riflemen and provide rear security for the battalion. Battalion command will be with the left flank of Echo Company. The battalion executive officer will be with Weapons Company. All radio nets are up and working.

The battalion has been moving forward at the expected pace with no civilian contacts, even though some small villages have been passed, when Fox’s flank security walks up on a well-concealed, reinforced, company-sized ambush behind the railroad embankment. Action is immediate with very heavy firing from the enemy and Fox Company. Fox’s CO reports that he is taking intense machinegun and rocket propelled grenade fire; he has turned all three platoons into the ambush and is assaulting the position. In some areas his men have crossed over the railroad embankment. Contact is close. Casualties are light.


As the battalion CO, in a time limit of 5 minutes, issue orders to all companies and supporting arms addressing this new situation. How do you deal with the original mission? What information do you provide the regimental CO who is overhead? Provide a brief rationale for your actions and a sketch of your plan. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #01-10, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or email <>.

Command and Control Fog


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.


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 <>.

Island Takedown


The time is now 1630, Wednesday. You are the battalion commander of 1st Battalion, 2d Marines (1/2), an east coast unit deployment program infantry battalion. Your unit is well trained and is currently preparing to return to the continental United States after over 5 months in theater. As part of the United States’ continuing war on terrorism, the Commander in Chief, Pacific Command has identified a terrorist training camp on Hok Island located 190 nautical miles from Okinawa. Seizure of this island and capture of these terrorists would be seen as a key indicator of U.S. resolve in the region and a major boost for the American public.

Intelligence estimates place the number of rebels on the island as platoon- to company-sized strength with limited small arms capability. Operating mainly in the northern portion of the island, they have established a village base and a trail network connecting the island’s northern beaches. The terrorists have also been seen operating small patrol craft in the bays surrounding the island.

Hok Island is a small, irregularly shaped island, 5 kilometers by 3 kilometers, located in the Philippine Sea. Except for four beaches, a village, and the known trail network, it is primarily covered with dense jungle and rough terrain. The beaches are generally rocky and rise sharply into the jungle. The two eastern beaches (East Beach 1 and 2) and West Beach 2 are suitable for up to a section of CH-53Es, while West Beach 1 can only support single aircraft landings.

At the 1800 planning session, III Marine Expeditionary Force designated 4th Marines as mission commander, HMH-465 as the aviation combat element (ACE), and 1/2 as the ground combat element. The ACE commander turns and tells you that the lift available is 4 CH-53Es (30 passengers each) with a 4-hour round trip flight window. He also states that fixed-wing close air support will be available continuously ofter L-hour (specific hour at which a deployment operation commences) from available Marine F-18 squadrons and a 3-hour window for an AC-130 mission. L-hour is set as 0600, Thursday.


Within the rapid response planning process that followed, 4th Marines’ operations order tasked you with the following: “Seize, occupy, and search Hok Island.” With this in mind, the battalion’s concept of operations seems clear-long-range helo insert, seize a foothold, multiple waves. As you are discussing this with your operations officer, an intelligence update is brought in via messenger.

Intel Update

“Terrorists on Hok Island appear to have prepared fortified positions surrounding their village and are guarding the two northern beaches. Patrol craft with heavy weapons seen in bay near East Beach 1. Reserve unit of unknown strength seen moving in central portion of the island.”


The time is now 2115, Wednesday. In a time limit of 10 minutes, issue the changes to the concept of operations and orders to all companies and supporting arms addressing this updated situation. Provide a brief rationale for your actions and a sketch of your plan. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #02-8, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or e-mail <>.

More Hell in a Handbasket

This scenario is the continuation of Tactical Decision Game #95-9, “Hell in a Handbasket,” MCG, Sep95. You are the executive officer of 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. The MEF has made a landing in the enemy rear and is driving west toward the enemy city of Lung-Hoc. Your battalion, reinforced with a company from 2d Battalion, has made a helicopterborne landing 15 kilometers south of Lung-Hoc in the Han-Bas-Quet triangle and has set up a series of blocking positions in order to prevent enemy forces from escaping south out of Lung-Hoc or from reinforcing Lung-Hoc from the south. Each company is reinforced with a section of Dragons and a combined antiarmor team (CAAT) of two TOW vehicles and two heavy machinegun (HMG) vehicles. The battalion is expected to hold its positions until mechanized advance elements of the division arrive within 24-48 hours. Company A, in a blocking position near Han, has sighted enemy activity to the north but has not made contact. Company B, with the battalion commander, was to have landed at Landing Zone (LZ) Robin, but there has been no word from them, and Robin is teeming with enemy activity. Your estimate is that they never made the landing. At Bas, Company G came under heavy attack from two directions and has begun delaying toward Quet. One platoon (callsign “Anchor”) from Company C is holding Quet with the 81mm mortar platoon and has had no enemy contact. The rest of Company C (with your small command group in trace) has moved northeast toward Hill 865 with the object of taking over Company G blocking mission. You can no longer raise the reconnaissance team that had been in the vicinity of Hill 865 and reported the enemy activity around the Rt 65-Rt 40 intersection.

The leading elements of Charlie Company crest Hill 865. Below you to the east you can see and hear Golf Company delaying along Route 25. From what has been reported and the sounds of things you estimate there is at least a mechanized battalion advancing down Rt 25. Charlie Company reports a steady flow of enemy forces (“dozens of vehicle lights”) heading south on Route 40 through LZ Robin and then east into Bas. Alpha reports that it is being probed by enemy patrols from the north. You hear small arms fire from over the crest of Hill 865, and Charlie Company reports that it has driven off what seems to be an enemy combat patrol moving up the north slope.

What now, Major?


In a time limit of 5 minutes prepare the frag orders you will issue and any reports/requests you will make. Then provide a sketch and a short explanation of your decision. Send your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #95-11, P. O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134 or fax (703) 640-0823.

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.

On a Clear Day

You are the commanding officer of a tank battalion operating in a desert region with three tank companies and an antitank platoon of five TOWs. It has been a war of rapid movements. The enemy is generally to the north, but after the marching, countermarching and confused fighting of the last 24 hours you realize that is a fairly meaningless distinction. There exact location is uncertain. At 0200 you are in a leaguer. With no idea of where the nearest friendlies are, you established 360-degree security. You have refueled; you have redistributed ammunition and decide you have enough to get you through another engagement. Your main concern is trying to raise Bravo Company, which you have not seen or heard from since early afternoon. Alpha Company has seven tanks, Charlie has eight.

You are thinking you might actually get some rest tonight when you receive instructions from division: “A mixed enemy force of tanks and mech-estimated battalion strength, but that’s probably exaggerated-was reported to have overrun the Faludi airstrip about an hour ago. Attack to destroy.” You ask for more information, but that is all that is known. You remind division of your ammunition situation and the fact that you only have 15 tanks, and the reply is: “Roger; attack at the earliest opportunity.”

Faludi is a deserted settlement on a small mound some 25 kilometers north-north-west. By 0245 you move out with Charlie in the lead, followed by your headquarters with the TOWs, and Alpha in the rear. At 0330 you meet up with a reinforced light armored reconnaissance company (19 LAVs) that lacking any other instructions, falls in behind Alpha. At 0430 Alpha reports that another platoon of LAV-25s (callsign “Whippet”-4 LAVs) has attached itself to your right flank.

At 0550 Charlie reports it has hit a track that you think must be Route 10A. You move forward to have a look. Dawn is just beginning to appear. Your gunner is listening to Armed Forces Radio and says: “It’s gonna be clear and hot today.”

Charlie reports it can just make out Faludi in the haze about 5 kilometers north. “There are a couple thin-skinned vehicles there. I can’t ID them.” Suddenly, gunfire erupts to the south and Charlie reports: “Whippet has just engaged a convoy of about 10 vehicles. They are fleeing south.” Charlie now reports: “I’ve got a visual on the airstrip. About 30-40 trucks; maybe 6 artillery pieces; no armor or mech.”

The engagement continues in the south and now Alpha reports: “Whippet is pursuing the convoy and says they’re engaging some ZSUs-4 or 5 of ’em-on an escarpment about 5 clicks south.” Just them, artillery fire starts to land just north of your position. A piece of shrapnel pings off your turret. You decide it’s going to be anything but clear today, but it is starting to get hot. What do you do?


In a time limit of 5 minutes, decide what you will do by issuing instructions to your subordinates. Then provide a sketch, a short explanation, and a premortem (see box insert) of your decision. Send these items (the initial solution, unaltered by the premortein results) to Marine Carps Gazette, TDG #96-19, Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134 or fax 703-640-0823.