Tactical Decision Game 07-23: Trouble in the Archipelago

You command a rifle company. You find yourself on Big Island. Big Island and Little Islands 1-12, along with a few thousand other islands, make up the territory of Ally. Ally is an archipelagic country located within the weapons engagement zone (WEZ) of Adversary. Ten months ago, Adversary sought to annex Island Nation 100 NM east of their coast. This act of aggression led to our engagement in a costly 57-day war with Adversary over Island Nation that also involved Ally. Currently, all parties are signatories to a tentatively negotiated cease-fire. Adversary still maintains a foothold on Island Nation.  

Ever since the cease-fire, the expeditionary strike group has been busy ensuring continued logistical support to special operation forces (SOF) in the theatre. Our maritime freedom of movement has depended upon Ally’s ability to maintain sovereignty over its archipelago. We helped Ally hold the archipelago when Adversary attempted an invasion during the short war to open another flank on Island Nation. While Adversary cannot forcibly remove us from the archipelago, for fear of openly violating the terms of the cease-fire, they continue to explore other ways to make us reconsider our commitment to Ally and the terrain Ally has permitted us to occupy as stand-in forces.  

Coincidentally, Ally now has an insurgent problem made up of violent extremists. Intel reports indicate that the insurgent ambitions, armories, and coffers have been propped up through covert help from Adversary. Additionally, tensions with Adversary, who has been known to respond to what they perceive as violations of the negotiated cease-fire with long-range precision strikes, remain high. Key terms of the cease-fire limit the number of troops in the region. For this reason, perceived increases and build-ups inside the WEZ are heavily scrutinized. While our staff judge advocate tells us that our numbers and movements are permitted, one misunderstanding could lead to catastrophic consequences. Therefore, signature management inside of the WEZ remains important as it not only protects us from insurgent forces but more importantly protects us from Adversary’s persistent and ubiquitous targeting efforts. Simply put, if Adversary can make us leave the archipelago, they can further limit our logistical support to our SOF and further position themselves for success if hostilities resume. 

The battalion landing team’s (BLT) mission is to conduct security operations on this key maritime terrain with our archipelagic ally to ensure our continued control of sea lanes that Adversary seeks to contest.  

Two weeks ago, a host-nation commando squad was destroyed on neighboring Little Island 4 (5 NM north of your current location on Big Island) when an insurgent small UAS tracked the motorized unit long enough to execute an ambush. This ambush was initiated with a swarm of loitering munitions and ended when a few trucks equipped with NSV 12.7mm machineguns rolled up on the ambush site and finished off the remnants of the squad. One week ago, locals on Little Island 7 reported fishing vessels unloading what appeared to be 82mm mortars under cover of darkness. Meanwhile, you and your Marines have been distributed across Big Island supporting host-nation commandos while also emplacing, calibrating, and monitoring sea and ground sensors.   

The BLT has now tasked your company with linking up with SOF elements on Little Island 4 to prepare for the BLT’s establishment of a larger presence throughout the archipelago. Upon occupying Big Island, the BLT intends to distribute more squad-sized elements throughout Little Islands 1-12 to further the mission. For the last 48 hours, you have been preparing to depart the Big Island by way of a Light Amphibious Warship and Land Craft Utilities. Your plan is to join two of your platoons as they displace north to Little Island 4 to link up and reinforce SOF elements already in the vicinity of Little Island 4 and keep your most experienced platoon on Big Island to act as an advance party for additional reinforcements from the BLT.   

1st and 2d Platoons will embark aboard the connectors from the Blue River Docks at the port of Ubeda while 3d Platoon remains in overwatch in the town of Secliso.  Secliso is mostly mud huts with thatched roofs and is home to about 400 local nationals. Green Creek separates Secliso from North Ubeda. Ubeda is the most contemporary city on Big Island, made up of concrete buildings and home to about 3000 locals. South Ubeda is separated from North Ubeda by the Blue River. Blue River can only be passed at the Bridge.  Blue River Docks sits on the banks of North Ubeda. 

You have established a company command post in a concrete building in North Ubeda. You left your mortars in the company arms room on ship twenty-two days ago. However, you still maintain elements of the company fire support team alongside you in the command post. You have a section of Amphibious Combat Vehicles attached to the company. One of the battalion’s four scout sniper teams is currently in direct support of your company to assist with the extract. They have placed themselves in the vicinity of Loma Linda. They are outstanding in recon/counter-recon and maintain working proficiency in close air support and joint fires. A HIMARS battery resides on Little Island 6, 22 NM NE of Big Island. Their employment requires clearance at the one-star level. There is also a section of AH-1Z SuperCobras on a ten-minute strip alert on the Landing Helicopter Dock. The fact that the Landing Helicopter Dock is constantly steaming in and out of the WEZ remains a constant source of consternation for you as there are times it is as far as 60 NM from Big Island.   

3d Platoon is foot-mobile and has been in the vicinity of Secliso in overwatch for the past eight hours. 1st Platoon is in the vicinity of North Ubeda and has been in place for six hours. Amphibious Combat Vehicles are co-located with the 1st Platoon. While the 1st Platoon and the company command post have aggregated within the bounds of Ubeda proper, the 2d Platoon is conducting an infiltration north along Route 3 toward Ubeda for the purpose of extract.  Your company has nine man-packed loitering munitions (three per platoon), each with a range of ten km or ten minutes, a cruising speed of 100km per hour, and each carrying a 40mm warhead. Each platoon has two Carl Gustav 84mm Recoilless Rifles, two medium machineguns, and limited small UAS assets.  

2d Platoon is foot-mobile and moving slowly to maximize security. Thirty minutes ago, the 2nd Platoon reported gaining visual of South Ubeda. The Land Crafts Utility and Light Amphibious Warship should begin arriving in 45 minutes. 

Ten minutes later, the scout snipers on Loma Linda observed at least three generic quadcopters moving south along Route 3 moving toward your position before losing visual. No one else has reported gaining visual of the quadcopters.  

Six minutes later, you hear two faint explosions to your northeast in the vicinity of Secliso.   

Forty seconds later, your third platoon commander reports that one of his overwatch positions was just hit with what he can only believe were 40mm grenades dropped from a loitering munition. He reports one routine, two urgent casualties, and one priority. He is requesting that you send the Amphibious Combat Vehicles for the urgent MEDEVACs.   

Suddenly, you hear six distant pops to your south across the Blue River: mortars. The volume makes you believe the enemy must be very confident in their accuracy for some reason to drop that many mortars in the first salvo. You brace for the impact as rounds slam into the vicinity of 1st Platoon in Ubeda. Outside of the command post, you can hear at least two Marines screaming for a corpsman and plenty of commotion. 

Twenty seconds later, 2d platoon commander reports over comms that the lead trace of his infiltration squads saw several puffs of faint smoke in the vicinity of South Ubeda at the time the mortars were fired. That same squad now sees seven to nine men moving across the road and in and out of buildings in the vicinity of the smoke. 2d platoon commander is requesting permission to engage the men he sees in the vicinity of South Ubeda. 

With all this radio traffic you begin to become concerned with your electromagnetic signature. More radio traffic: scout snipers at Loma Linda report one of the Route 7 ground sensors was tripped 30 seconds ago. Snipers reoriented southeast of their position and now have observation of four to five pick-up trucks rapidly moving west on Route 7 toward Secliso.  

In a time limit of three minutes: 

  • What is the enemy trying to do to you? 
  • As the company commander, what can you affect in this fight?  
  • What are your orders? 
  • What do you tell higher? 

After Action Report:   

  • How did you get into this mess?   
  • What must you learn from this action? 

Part VII: Deal or No Deal


You are the Company Commander, A Company, 1st Bn, 1st Marines. It has been two days since the two families of squatters living in COP Ritz hastily left their rooms in the outpost after a visit from two of their “cousins.” You have taken a team of three MUGA commandos, including Sgt Chef Benazzi. His seniority and experience remind you of an old-school infantry gunnery sergeant, and he has also proven to be one or your most savvy interpreters. You have been outside the wire since dawn meeting with Imam Mehmet Binouadoud, the Imam of the Al Mumeet Mosque, and Mkuu (chief) Uhuru Honore, the leader of the Albu Xuzuri tribe. You are determined to build on your relationships with these two very different local leaders to get to the bottom of the sudden departure of the squatters and to shore up local security in the neighborhood.

Your reports, based on many engagements over the past months, have helped confirm multi-source intelligence analysis findings that the leaders of the Albu Xuzuri tribe may be ready to openly support the MUGA and the CJTF. Your battalion CO has also “read you in” regarding diplomatic efforts at the U.S. mission in the capital, Minna Sultan Usween, to bring the Nuzuris into the MUGA. The Nuzuris are numerous and heavily armed, but they are a minority in the country. They have been historically ostracized as the descendants of enslaved mainland Africans brought to the country by the French in the 18th century. The Nuzuri are further stigmatized due to their unorthodox interpretation of Sufi Islam influenced by tribal and Christian practices. In response, they have developed a strongly self-reliant and isolated warrior culture with a reputation for violence, revenge, and criminal enterprises.

The three of you, along with Sgt Chef Benazzi, are all sitting on the floor of one of the offices on the third floor of the Imam’s compound due east of the mosque, drinking sweet tea. Your commandos, the Imam’s mosque police, and the Mkuus personal guard are posted outside. Soon after the noon call-toprayers, you hear two explosions and heavy small arms fire. You see smoke rising from the northern boundary of the COP, but you cannot make contact with your Marines on the company radio. More automatic weapons fire and several smaller explosions follow, now you are able to see smoke rising from north of the COP. You cannot see the action north of the COP and have no idea how many attackers are involved, what has caused the explosions, or what actions your Marines are taking.

You are still unable to raise your 3d Platoon Commander, 1st Lt Przyby, who you Iert in charge at the COP. As you silently recite the “mantra” of tactical reporting-“What do I know? Who needs to know? Have I told them?”- you use your local network cell phone to call the battalion’s CMOC (civil-military operations center) and, after a brief exchange with one of the contracted interpreters, you provide a “Flash” SITREP to the Battalion Operations Officer: “40-plus enemy; attacking COP Ritz from the north; time: now; automatic weapons and IEDs; COP in danger of being overrun.” You deliberately create a number of attackers to “work the system” the CFACC (combined force air component commander) uses to authorize CAS requests when there is a tactical unit in contact, or “TIC.” You know 30 enemy is the CJTF Commander’s threshold to immediately pull attack aircraft plus either rotary-wing or a UAS terminal controller from one of the “stacks” managed by the CFACC from their palatial combined air operations center at the international airport in the capital. Further, you add a “worse case” assessment about COP Ritz being overrun to ensure your Marines have the best chance for immediate support. As you finish your call, you hear the familiar sound of a .50 cal machingun and the crum-crump-crump of a MK19. You had been expecting the S-4A with a resupply convoy, and it sounds as if he has arrived and is joining the fight.

The Mkuu turns to you and, in heavily accented but perfect English, says, “My men can help you. My Militia is here protecting us at this meeting, and they are ready to fight and kill the terrorists attacking your Marines. I know you are only a captain, but at least you are here with us. I also know you understand what I am offering, and your generals and colonels will listen to you. You will make your reports, and you will see to it that 1 meet with the general of your ‘see jay tee eff.'”

He goes on to tell you that he has 30 militiamen with rifles and RPGs spread between the large, 4-story apartment building north of the Mosque and the COP. Mkuu Honore assures you that his men will support your Marines and help you get safely back to the COP. He goes on to report that the Albu Nuzuri are “blood enemies” of the terrorists and the tribes who support them, and that they are ready to secure this part of the city for the MUGA. Sgt Chef Benazzi and the Imam have been conferring Arabic, and while clearly caught off guard, they both appear pleased.

Suddenly, the Mkuu calls in one of his personal guard who is carrying a Styrofoam cooler held together with duct tape and wire. With obvious pride, he declares “to prove my point…” and opens the cooler to show you the severed heads of the two “cousins” who had visited the squatters at COP Ritz two days ago. Sgt Chef Benazzi starts cursing in Arabic, and Imam Binouadoud reels in shock. The commandos, mosque police, and Nuzuri Militia start screaming at each other in the hall way. You fight back the nausea and lean in to the Mkuu.

Realizing what this means to the CJTF and your battalion, do you accept his offer of support? “Deal, or no deal?”

If you do accept, how do you want to employ the militiamen in the apartment building between you and the COP? What are your instructions, and how do you communicate them?

If your ploy to get immediate CAS to support your Marines is successful, and with degraded communications, how do you plan to ensure effective terminal control of these aircraft?

Where do you put yourself in this fight? Do you get back to the COP as fast as possible, or do you “embed ” with your new allies?

How and when do you tell your battalion commander that your SITREP included deliberate fabrications?

Do you do something completely different?


In 5 minutes or less, write your decision, providing a brief discussion of the rationale behind your actions. Submit your solutions by email to gazette@???marines.org or to the Marine Corps Gazette, TDG 09-17, Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134. The Gazette will publish solutions in an upcoming issue.

Tactical Decision Game 94-6*

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

Click here to view TDG 94-6

Click here to view the solutions

Rahadnak Valley Search


You are the Commanding Officer, Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2d Battalion, 1st Marines (BLT 2/1), a mechanized rifle company. Recently, the MEU was sent to Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in support of NATO forces during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. You have been in-country approximately 1 month and have been assigned to the northeast sector of the area of responsibility, Nangarhar Province. Recently, the BLT has been searching for the warlord Sher Dil and his needihajum freedom fighters believed to be operating in the Rahadnak Valley. Sher Dil is the primary source of arms transportation into Jalalabad. The arms shipments flow from the northwest tribal regions of Pakistan into the Tora Bora region, through the Rahadnak Valley, then into Jalalabad. The Rahadnak Valley was initially quiet with no armed conflict. However, after successful arms interdiction in the area, organized guerrilla groups ignited an active campaign against coalition forces and inflamed tribal unrest throughout the valley.

Your mechanized company is embarked aboard 14 assault amphibious vehicles. You ordered the weapons platoon to detach three machinegun squads and six teams evenly between the platoons. While traveling southwest along a main road in the Rahadnak Valley during a routine mechanized patrol, your unit is tasked to search a village suspected of harboring Sher Dil and needihajum fighters. Speed is essential as the enemy is prone to resupplying its forces and then quickly fading into the rugged and mountainous countryside. A section of AH-IW Cobras, which can reinforce your unit within 1 5 minutes, remains on call to provide close air support.

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

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

What now, Captain?


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

Issues for Consideration

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

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

3. How do your actions support this intent?

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

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

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

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

* Within 1 hour after you leave?

* Ar the end of the day?

* At the end of the week?

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

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

* Within 1 hour after you leave?

* At the end of the day?

* At the end of the week?

8. What actions can you and the BLT take to counter and exploit enemy and civilian responses to collateral damage:

* While you are in the area?

* After you return to base?

* When you subsequently patrol in the area?

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

* While you are in the area?

* After you return to base?

* When you subsequently patrol in the area?

Diesel Dilemma


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?


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?


Attack and Seize the Pass


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

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

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

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

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


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

Tropical Gold


You are the company commander for Company C, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines and your regiment is attached to 2d Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force that is part of Joint Task Force (JTF) Rambada. Six months ago the Revolutionary Forces of Rambada (ReFoR) began combat operations and were able to seize the enure country of Rambada. It took 90 days for the U.S.-led task force to position themselves and execute an amphibious and vertical assault with the intent of reestablishing the legitimate Rambadan Government. After seizing the port facilities and most major cities within the country’s interior, JTF headquarters (HQ) has decided to make the final push to destroy ReFoR and all of their assets. This has been your mission for the last 2 months, and you have now entered the “seclusion zone,” deep in the Rambada rain forest, to hunt down the last remaining ReFoR elements. ReFoR elements have continued to withdraw into the seclusion zone and have executed delaying actions the entire way. They have limited, but proficient, 82mm mortars and an excellent array of small arms and heavy machineguns (MGs) (U.S. and Soviet block). It has been determined that they have been withdrawing in an attempt to use their familiarity with the terrain to gain an advantage. Intelligence believes the big fight is coming, and the ReFoR is consolidating its forces.

It is approaching the monsoon season and is raining 12 hours a day. The high jungle is triple canopy, and low areas are marsh and patties. Most rivers are not fordable and take hours to rig for crossing. The ReFoR and local farmers have systematically slashed and burned sections of low-lying rain forest to help in the growing of crops.

At present your battalion is executing a blocking mission along a supply route, and your company’s mission is to secure the small village of Bulverde and the main unimproved road intersection nearby to ensure that the enemy is unable to resupply or reinforce to the northeast or withdraw from the north to the south-southeast. ReFoR command and control (C^sup 2^) facilities are considered high-priority targets and should be engaged once discovered.

You have planned to secure the intersection and the village and use the surrounding steep terrain to provide mutual support to defend the village and intersection. Your battalion commander’s intent is for you to hold Bulverde for 48 to 72 hours to allow the regiment to sweep north along your eastern flank.

Your plan is to move your company to the initial release point and set in mortars and HQ elements and then release one squad from the MG section and your four-man sniper team to move to their overwatch/support by fire position to the west of you. Two platoons will then systematically sweep toward the village, secure the intersection west of the village, and begin to clear the town from west to east. Once the intersection is secured you will move forward with your remaining assets and begin to prepare defenses while your remaining platoon helps secure the village and surrounding terrain. This is the fourth village your company has secured, and you have been told there are no defenses in place and the local populace should not react harshly to your presence. You are the supporting effort and have no priorities of fires, except for a section of Cobras set on 5-minute strip alert with an estimated time of arrival of 10 minutes.

You assume your overwatch position without contact, and your two platoons quickly move forward to seize the northern bridge, intersection, and gain a foothold in the village. As they near the bridge one platoon finds itself in a minefield and quickly takes three casualties. Instantly, your second platoon comes under direct MG fire from the west of the village, and both platoons begin to take sporadic mortar fire. Your MG section opens up and attempts to destroy the enemy guns but quickly comes under accurate sniper fire from the north and takes three casualties. Your sniper team begins to report a large concentration of C^sup 2^ facilities within the village and a large concentration of troops moving toward your position.


In a time limit of 5 minutes, develop a plan to deal with the situation. Provide a sketch of your actions and the rationale behind them. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #04-2, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or e-mail <gazette@mca-marines.org>.

No Bugles, No Drums


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Rahadnak Valley Search


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?


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>.

Trouble in Ponchoville


You are the commander of Company C, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines. Your battalion has been conducting peace enforcement operations in the country of Tenochichitlan. Tenochichitlan has been suffering from a horrible civil war, and U.S. forces are supporting the legitimate government by helping to eliminate armed guerrilla resistance. Your company has been tasked with conducting a cordon and search of the village of Ponchoville in order to locate weapons and information on guerrilla activities. This small village of about 200 people has been known to support the guerrillas by hiding weapons and providing food.

The guerrillas are known to possess Soviet small arms (AK series, Dragunov sniper rifles, light machineguns, and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs)). They operate in small units and only conduct harassing attacks. They will not fight to the death and are not capable of reinforcing. They will withdraw when friendly reinforcements arrive.

The village consists of several small stone houses and a few farming structures. Ponchoville lies in a valley surrounded by forested hills and fields of lettuce. There are three dirt roads leading into the village that break the surrounding farmland into three areas. Many of the villagers are indifferent about the U.S. and government forces, but some are very upset about the foreign presence.

You have tasked organized your company into cordoning and searching elements. 1st Platoon and weapons platoon will enter the village to do the searching. 2d and 3d Platoons will lay in the cordon. Additionally, you have six HMMWVs from the battalion’s heavy machinegun platoon attached. They consist of three M2 .50 caliber heavy machineguns and three Mk 19s, all vehicle mounted. 2d Platoon will place one squad along each road as it enters the valley. Each of those squads will have two heavy machinegun HMMWVs attached. 3d Platoon will conduct patrols of the farmlands and forested areas around the village while the search is conducted.

The cordon is in place at 0500, just as the sun comes up. 1st Platoon and weapons platoon arrive at the village 1 hour later. After meeting with the village chief, he agrees to have the villagers assemble just outside of the village to the west. Weapons platoon watches over the villagers while 1st Platoon searches. 3d Platoon begins its patrols. Two hours later, 2d Platoon calls and informs you that there is a large crowd of approximately 100 visibly upset civilians approaching the northern cordon position. They appear to have come from a nearby village north of their position. They are carrying banners that state, “Amerikan go hoom!” You immediately send 1st Squad, 3d Platoon to their position to aid in dealing with a potential riot.

One hour later, you’re told that the crowd at the northern cordon position is getting bigger and angrier. At the same time, you hear the sound of RPGs and small arms fire south of the village. 2d Platoon calls to inform you that the southern cordon position is under attack. The two HMMWVs have been destroyed by RPGs, and many of the squad are wounded. Your first sergeant reminds you that the search is not yet complete and that the villagers are getting restless.


In a time limit of 5 minutes, issue orders to your platoons and reports to higher headquarters. Include your intent, scheme of maneuver on an overlay, and report(s) to higher headquarters. Send your solution and rationale for your actions to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #04-12, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or e-mail <gazette@mcamarines.org>.

Culminating Point


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?


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>.