Return to Rahadnak


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

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

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

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


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

Issues for Consideration

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

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

3. What is your intent for your actions?

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

5. What do you consider mission success?

6. How sensitive are you to:

* Casualties among your family?

* Casualties among the Taliban?

* Casualties among the Nuristani villagers?

* Damage to the village?

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

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



You are Cpl Smith, USMCR, stationed at Pico Rivera, CA. You are an off-duty police officer with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. You’ve spent the morning four wheeling with fellow noncommissioned officer, Cpl Jones. You decide to take a lunch break near an aqueduct that provides about a third of Los Angeles’ water supply.

You parked your truck where the jeep trail ends near a power substation (1 hour’s drive from the main highway). After trying to check in with your wife (your cell phone did not get a signal), you and Jones decide to hike to some high ground and have lunch. You walk for about 20 minutes to a hill that overlooks the station that pumps water over the mountains to your east.

You remark to Jones as you loosen your boots, “I bet we could have driven most of the way to this hill if we stayed near the water. At least the return is mostly downhill.” You rest and eat while calculating how much water must be moving through the station. You remark at the engineering marvel of the aqueduct and the pumping station. “That much water and it looks like only a few guys actually man the site. I wonder if the pumps are monitored remotely?”

As you enjoy the day, two large vans approach the pumping station. They stop at separate locations (shown on the map). With a set of small binoculars you observe six men exiting the second vehicle. On closer inspection you see that they appear to be armed. A minute later you see the men fire an automatic weapon toward an entrance to the pumping station. Dumbfounded, you murmur, “Why did I leave my pistol in the truck?”


In a time limit of 5 minutes explain how you intend to react to this situation. Provide a sketch of your actions and the rationale behind them. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #03-9, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22184, fax 708-630-9147, or e-mail <>.

Poachers by the Bank


You are the leader of 3d Fire Team. Your squad is going to provide left flank security during the company’s movement to an attack position prior to a surprise night assault. As a promising squad leader, you have been instructed to attend the lieutenant’s orders briefing. There you receive information on the route of advance and the enemy’s estimated strength and disposition. You are informed that the company will be moving north, generally parallel and east of Lost Stream. The need for noise discipline and maintaining the element of surprise are stressed repeatedly. The briefing ends, and you return to your team to make final preparations. The night sky has scattered light clouds, and there is a half moon already up. Visibility is excellent, allowing your squad leader to adopt an echelon left formation with good dispersion. Your fire team will be in the left rear. The squad leader will be up between Ist and 2d Fire Teams.

The movement has gone well; you are approaching the last checkpoint before the attack position. It is 0245. Currently, your fire team is strung out along Lost Stream. The vegetation along the banks is a light mix of pines and brush. Numerous game trails also crisscross the area. As you turn from glancing at your SAW gunner behind you, your rifleman signals “Freeze.” Next, he signals “Enemy in sight.” You follow his gesture as he points to the stream, where in the process of crossing from left to right you make out six or seven figures, one of whom appears to be a radioman. You currently have sight of your rifleman and SAW gunner. The assistant gunner to your rear is momentarily out of sight. There is no sign of 2d Fire Team or the squad leader. What now, Corporal?


In a time limit of 1 minute, describe what actions you will take and by what means. Then provide a sketch of your actions and the rationale behind them. Submit your solution to the Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #98-8, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134 or fax (703) 640-0823.

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?


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 <>.

Reconned by Fire


Your battalion intends to conduct a night attack on foot tomorrow night from north to south in order to clear the enemy from your zone of operations-an isthmus 2 kilometers wide and 5 kilometers long.

Your four-man fire team and one other team have been assigned to observe and report enemy positions and activity in preparation for tomorrow morning’s attack. The previous night your patrol established an observation post (OP 1) on the forward slope about 50 yards from the crest. Visibility and fields of observation are good across the treeless grassland. Radio communications with battalion and OP 2 is loud and clear. Your position is well-concealed. Between both OPs you have reported to battalion the positions of the enemy as shown on the map. You observe that the enemy position is well-entrenched. The enemy is behaving rather casually, lining up for chow, doing laundry, etc. The enemy dispatched squad-sized patrols to the northeast earlier in the day.

The time is now 1130. You observe a frenzy of activity on the enemy position. The enemy begins to fire on OP 2 with machineguns and small arms. You monitor OP 2’s report to battalion that they have taken casualties. OP 2’s request to battalion for artillery is denied. Looking to the south you can see OP 2 pop smoke. OP 2 goes silent and does not respond to radio calls from battalion. The enemy continues firing. Now enemy rounds begin to impact all over the hillside you occupy. This fire seems random. You are confident that your OP remains undetected, yet enemy fire intensifies. One of your Marines calls out that he’s hit. An enemy round splashes you with dirt. What now?


In 2 minutes decide on a course of action, and issue your frag order. Provide a sketch and rationale for your action. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #03-6, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or e-mail <>.