On Watch


You are the S-3A (assistant operations officer) and battalion watch officer (as well as battalion landing team (BLT) training officer and education officer) of BLT 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, 1 1 th MEU. Recently, the MEU was sent to Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in support of NATO forces during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. You have been in country 1 month and have been assigned to the northeast sector of the area of responsibility, Nangarhar Province. Recently, the MEU has been focusing on the southern sector of the area of operations intercepting arms and explosives flowing from Pakistan into Afghanistan through the mountains of tribal Pakistan into the Tora Bora region. This region has three major tribes in the area – the majority Pashtun, the Wakhi, and the Tajik tribes. The tribes are further divided by clans, led by family patriarchs, that fight each other, regardless of tribe, over water rights, territory, and trade rights. The MEU has started to establish allies and informants in the area.

Acting on intelligence from a local tribe, the BLT commanding officer (CO) has tasked Echo Company, a helicopterborne company, to conduct a cordon and search operation in the village of Alikhel on the Afghan istan- Pakistan border in order to interdict insurgents and weapons flowing into the country. With BLT and MEU CO approval, Echo Company first deployed scout/sniper teams into the area in order to detect weapons and insurgent activity prior to commencing the cordon and search. Once the sniper teams detect insurgent activity, they are to report to the combat operations center (COC) and then the COC notifies the Echo Company CO (also heliborne unit commander) who then deploys into the area 2 hours after sniper reporr. If the sniper team is compromised, the MEU has a helo team on standby to retrieve the sniper team. It will take the helos 30 minutes to reach the extract landing zone. It is 1 1 30 and two sniper teams have been in place southwest of Alikhel since 2300 last night. Currently the CO is in a meeting with the MEU CO, and the S-3 and executive officer (XO) are out of the office but can be reached by cell phone to inform them they have to come to the COC, but no other information can be passed by phone.

You overhear one of your radio transmission operators (RTOs) talking to the sniper teams and wander over to his position. The RTO turns to you and says, “Sir, Dagger 1 has contact.” You grab the radio, identify yourself to the sniper team, and receive the report.

Approximately 20 enemy armed with clubs and rifles are attacking a local family. Estimate 2 minutes before they slaughter the family. Am engaging pending your orders. Both teams will need evac in 40 minutes. Over.


In 10 minutes, explain what order you give to the sniper team leader; what action you take in the COC; what you report to the S-3, XO, and/or CO; what actions you recommend higher headquarters take; and what actions you recommend Sniper Team 2 take.

Issues for Consideration

1. If you order the team leader not to fire, do you think he will obey you?

2. What do you believe is Sniper Team l’s intent?

3. How do his actions relate to that intent?

4. Do you believe his actions are in keeping with the MEU COs intent? Why?

5. Are the sniper team leaders actions in keeping with the rules of engagement? Why?

6. Do your actions and order support the troops on the ground? Why?

7. What are the potential consequences of Sniper Team 1 s actions?

The Debrief


You were the 11th MEU S-3A (assistant operations officer) but have been reassigned as the team leader of an advisor/liaison team assigned to 15 th Afghan Infantry Battalion. Approximately 4 months ago the MEU was sent to Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in support of NATO forces during Operation ENDURING Freedom. The 15th Afghan Battalion completed basic training prior to your arrival. At this point in their training, they can conduct limited independent operations at the company level and often require coalition assistance for vehicle maintenance, logistics planning, and operational planning. The 15th Battalion’s area of operations is a stretch of land between Jalalabad and Kabul, the regional home of the 15th. Their primary mission has been interdiction of Taliban and insurgent weapons and personnel between Kabul and Jalalabad.

Last night 2d Company conducted a night ambush of an insurgent convoy. You were in Kabul with the battalion commander coordinating a resupply and maintenance budget for the battalion’s vehicles. You assigned your staff sergeant who is a subject matter expert in helicopter observations to observe the company’s ambush, a mission he has done before. The 2d Company has small arms capability similar to a Marine rifle company; however, its communications and night vision equipment is limited. The following morning, the 2d Company returned to the battalion headquarters riding in what you suspect are captured vehicles. You attend the company commander’s debrief to his battalion commander and members of his staff. Following are the company commander’s comments:

“My rifle company, with two medium machinegun teams and two assault teams attached (armed with rocket propelled grenades), was ordered to conduct a night ambush on a known enemy supply route. As the company commander, I had a night vision monocular. We did bring trip flares and six antitank mines along with several antipersonnel pressure mines. Our communications net enabled me to speak with my battalion headquarters and locally to each platoon leader.

“Intelligence reports indicated that enemy supplies are transported by trucks with the occasional armed jeep or light armored car acting as an escort. The trucks generally have an infantry platoon (minus) as local security as well. Convoys are six to eight vehicles long.

“The company was dropped off by helicopters (provided by the MEU aviation combat element) at Landing Zone Bravo at 0135, some 5 kilometers from the ambush site. The terrain was mountainous, with rocky outcroppings and low scrub. Nighttime temperatures were near or below freezing. The unit marched in column, keeping to a counterlevel below the crest, to the ambush site. Once there a platoon conducted a reconnaissance and then we assumed the fighting positions as outlined on this map. We kept radio talk to a minimum using runners or chemical light signals when able. While it was still dark, the enemy convoy approached from the village as anticipated. No jeeps or armored cars were visible from my position.

“The convoy entered the kill zone, and the company opened fire with the headquarters initiating the ambush. The enemy was hard pressed to react, but some of the infantry managed to return fire aided by a heavy machinegun (HMG) from a jeep in the middle of the convoy, but then they were overwhelmed. We suffered only four lightly wounded, one seriously wounded, and one killed in action.

“While medical attention was given to the wounded, we conducted a quick sweep of the enemy in search of items of intelligence value. We found none but did notice we destroyed a jeep with HMG. Following this search, we discovered that most of the vehicles were still operational. We cancelled the scheduled helicopter extract and returned with a large motor pool. We left the mines in place in the hopes the enemy might set them off later when picking up their dead.”

After hearing the last sentence you glance over at your staff sergeant, who smiles and nods. This is your signal that he did not know that the mines were left in place. He also tilted his head slightly, an indication that the company commander is telling the truth as far as he could observe.

The company commander turns to you and asks, “The mission was clearly a success. Don’t you agree, Captain?”


In a time limit of 10 minutes, write what you would say in front of the battalion staff and what you would say privately to the battalion and company commanders. Describe what actions you would take. Be prepared to provide a rationale for your comments and provide a sketch if you believe that the concept of operations should be different.

Issues for Consideration

1. Would you critique the mission in front of the battalion commander, pull the company commander aside, or a combination? Why?

2. In regard to the minefield, what is your team’s responsibility in this matter?

3. What are some ways that the Afghan battalion can defeat the Kajura population’s will to resist government rule?

4. Will the action of 2d Company help defeat the enemy resolve? Explain?

5. Do the actions of 2d Company further the objectives of the MEU commander? Explain.

6. What do you do if you find out the convoy that 2d Company ambushed was a local militia vice Taliban or alQaeda?


Evacuation from Enniottu City


You are the commander of a MEU(SOC) deployed aboard amphibious shipping near the west coast of Africa. Your ground combat element includes three infantry companies (A, B, and C), a light armored reconnaissance (LAR) platoon with four LAVs, a mortar platoon, an antiarmor platoon (usually attached to the companies), a heavy machinegun platoon, an assault amphibian platoon (enough to lift one rifle company), and an artillery battery. Your aviation element is a composite helicopter squadron with 4 AV-8Bs, 4 AH-1s, 3 working CH-53Es, and 10 GH-46s. Other options for ship-to-objective maneuver include light boats, landing craft, and an LCAC.*

Enniottu is a former European colony that has suffered from cultural, political, and economic chaos since independence in 1963. Enniottu City is the former colonial capital. It is densely populated, especially in the slum areas along the coast. It consists of varied urban terrain ranging from European architecture of brick and concrete remaining from the colonial period to one- and two-story wood frame structures in Middleclassville to plywood and tarpaper shanties in the slums. There are no buildings taller than three stories. Some roads are paved but have not been maintained since colonial rule. The named streets (Equality, Freedom, etc.) are twolane avenues. The numbered streets are one-lane, wide enough for vehicles single file. All other streets/alleys, especially in the densely populated parts of town, are questionable as to capacity. The terrain slopes gently uphill from sea level at the beaches to an elevation of about 100 meters at University Hill, where the American University is located. A “navigable” underground sewer system-meaning a man can move with relative ease-also remains from the colonial period. You are able to download a blueprint from your database, current as of 1952, but you have no idea of the system’s current condition. The areas immediately surrounding the city center are haphazard shanty warrens. Imagery shows four barricades emplaced within the last 24 hours: on Independence near West Beach, on Freedom and Industry near North Beach, and on Caserne near 3d St. These consist of heaps of old autos, tires, cinder blocks, felled trees, and other urban impediments.

The two main elements to be reckoned with are the Enniottu Liberation Front (ELF) and the Enniottuese Army (EA). While it is true to say that the EA and ELF are generally opposed to each other, tribal loyalties and hatreds run deeper than political divisions. At least three different competing tribes are represented in both the ELF and EA. The military situation would be unpredictable in the event of hostilities.

Lights Out


Yesterday, large-scale power outages occurred throughout metropolitan regions of the United States. Millions of Americans remain without power. The National Security Agency (NSA) has identified the source of these attacks as the Matrix. The Matrix has long been believed to sponsor and lead training for anti-American terrorism. This is their first confirmed cyberattack. The NSA claims that a man called Neo Khalid masterminded this recent attack.

The Matrix has a training compound in the country of Futeria. The Futerian Government has taken no action against Matrix because computer attack is not illegal in Futeria.

The Matrix compound is believed to be a modern training facility. The Matrix is well-sponsored and is believed to have access to a variety of modern light weapons. It is estimated that the compound maintains an active force of about 70 trainers and trainees.

Late today, the State Department persuaded the Futerian President that the Matrix initiated these attacks from his country. He has authorized a restricted retaliation by the United States against the Matrix, specifically to capture Khalid. It is unknown if Khalid knows that he has been discovered as the source of these attacks. National assets indicate that the Matrix compound is in a normal state; however, it must be assumed that the Matrix has prepared for retaliation. The Matrix compound is near the sea and in an isolated part of Futeria.


You command a Marine expeditionary unit (special operations capable) (MEU(SOC)), currently afloat. You have just received a directive authorizing military action against the perpetrator of these attacks. You and your staff are quite familiar with the Matrix. They have been on your list of possible enemies for some time. Your MEU is the quickest response to prevent further offensive action by the Matrix.

As part of the Department of State agreement with the Futerian President, air delivered munitions may not be employed. Offensive actions are restricted to the immediate compound area. Lastly, you are directed to capture Khalid and other Matrix members and computer or electronic equipment employed in this attack. You are currently 100 miles from the coast of Futeria and the sun is setting.


Draft a mission statement, commander’s intent, and a concept of operations to start your staff’s planning. For this operation, assume any standard MEU task organization or propose a nontraditional organization with justification for current/future relevance. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #02-3, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or e-mail <gazette @mca-marines.org>.

Another Day Afloat


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Evacuation from Enniottu, continued


This situation is the continuation of TDG #00-4, “Evacuation From Enniottu City,” described in detail in MCG, Apr00 and summarized on p. 91 of this issue. You are still the commander of a MEU(SOC). Your original plan is to wait until you are within range to launch all your assets at once, and to conduct a simultaneous twoaxis evacuation: India Company (reinforced with a platoon from Lima) and an Evacuation Control Center (ECC) element will go into the American University by helo to evacuate the Embassy, while Kilo Company and an ECC element will evacuate the American Fruit & Sugar Company (AFSCO) by assault amphibious vehicles over North Beach. Your Cobras and Harriers will provide escort and close air support. The Light Armored Reconnaissance Platoon, preboated on an LCAC, will be prepared to launch a surface tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel (TRAP) or Sparrow Hawk (platoon-size reaction force). The Mortar Platoon will be prepared to launch a helicopterborne TRAP. Lima Company (minus) will be prepared to launch a helicopterborne Bald Eagle (company-size reaction force) with one platoon designated for Sparrow Hawk.

The situation deteriorates during the night, with the Embassy and University taking sporadic mortar fire and a mob forming outside the Embassy walls, so at 0145 you launch your CH-53Es with India Company (minus) to secure the Embassy. The CH-53s refuel once en route. By 0500 India has secured the Embassy perimeter, although the situation outside the walls is still very tense, and the CH-53s have departed with 135 evacuees. India reports the mob growing outside the Embassy and another forming further west on Independence, near the market and Parliament.

At 0800 Kilo Company comes ashore at North Beach, met by members of the media. Hundreds of locals are manning the obstacles at the beach exits, and the situation quickly turns dangerous as gunfire is heard and Molotov cocktails and even a few rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) explode. Employing CS gas, Kilo scatters the crowd, skirts the obstacles to the east and moves on AFSCO, making contact with a hostile force firing RPGs and machineguns from across 5th St. opposite the cannery.

Meanwhile, the rest of India (with the platoon from Lima) lands at the University by CH-46. One inbound CH-46 takes machinegun fire and crash lands off Freedom Blvd. in the slum about 400m northwest of the Embassy. Of the 18 Marines on the flight, 10 are injured, 2 seriously. The Cobra flying escort is talking to the Marines on the ground and reports that they have set up security around the crash, but the locals are starting to get curious. He reports that the nearest landing zone is the intersection of Freedom Blvd. and Pier St., but it will handle only one CH-46 at a time (maybe a CH-53).

It is now 0815. You have one section of Cobras in the air and another refueling. Kilo reports overcoming its resistance and securing the cannery after a sharp engagement. Both the Embassy and University start taking sporadic fire from the three-story apartment building about 150m north of the compound. Because of the compound walls and the high ground, most of the fire hits the upper stories of the Chancery and the University buildings. This fire seems to be increasing in volume and accuracy. It includes a heavy machinegun, but its exact location has not been pinpointed yet. The CH-46s are still on the deck at the University soccer field, waiting for the second wave of evacuees to appear from the Embassy building. One of your Cobras now reports what appears to be a companysize convoy departing the National Barracks by the main gate and turning west on Caserne Rd. Your State Department representative reports he is trying to make contact with the Enniottuese Army now to learn what its intentions are.

All this is not quite the way you drew it up at 2300 last night. What do you elect to do?


In a time limit of 5 minutes, decide what you will do in the form of any instructions or orders you will issue. Provide an overlay and a brief explanation of your decision. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #00-6, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, or fax 703-630-9147.

NEO From Instablia


You are the operations officer of 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, or 26th MEU(SOC), organized as follows:

* A command element (CE).

* The ground combat element (GCE) consists of 1st Battalion, 6th Marines reinforced with an M198 artillery battery, a tank platoon, an assault amphibian platoon with 10 AAVP7s (enough to carry one reinforced rifle company), a reconnaissance platoon, and a combat engineer detachment.

* The aviation combat element (ACE) consists of HMM-365 reinforced, deploying with 4 CH-53ES, 12 CH-46s, 4 AH-1W Cobras, and 4 UH-1N Hueys.

* The MEU Service Support Group (MSSG-26).

The MEU is afloat on a routine deployment. Suddenly, in the nearby Third World country of Instablia a disaffected military faction launches a violent coup attempt. The Inslablian President escapes capture but is believed to be in hiding in the countryside near Instablia City. Random violence and looting break out in the streets. AntiU.S. sentiment grows. A Canadian attempt to evacuate by air fails when Inslablian military forces intern the aircraft and halt the evacuees en route to the airport; Instablian forces open fire; the Canadians flee to the American University, suffering half a dozen casualties. The U.S. Ambassador, his staff, and numerous Americans and foreign nationals are for all intents and purposes besieged in the U.S. and Mexican Embassies. A handful of Marine security guards plus contract security forces of questionable utility protect the personnel at the U.S. Embassy; there are no security personnel at the university; and the security situation at the Mexican Embassy is unclear. To this point there have been no actual military or mob actions directed at the embassies or the university, but the situation is described as “increasingly volatile.”

Those Instablian military forces that have not openly declared support for the coup are of questionable reliability and loyalty. These elements consist of an infantry battalion at the lnstablia garrison, four Hip-C attack/transport helicopters at the military annex of the airport, a platoon of motorized infantry with two S-60 antiaircraft guns at Lighthouse Point, and six gunboats (with .50 caliber machineguns) operating from the waterfront.

The U.S. Ambassador has asked the State Department to arrange for the prompt evacuation of 101 persons from the U.S. Embassy, 68 from the Mexican Embassy (including 18 Americans), and 150 from the American University campus. Rules of engagement state that U.S. forces may fire only when fired upon. The situation has not yet reached critical mass, but the Ambassador estimates that evacuation will be necessary within the next 24 hours. Your amphibious ready group (ARG) is currently about 1,000 nautical miles from the objective area. The commanding officer instructs you to develop an evacuation plan based on the following assumptions:

* Given the volatility of the current situation and the MEU’s location, the initial launch of forces may have to take place from as far as 400 nautical miles from lnstablia City.

* Due to this range only the CH-53s will be available for the first phase of the evacuation and that one or more aerial refuelings may be required en route.

* Because the ARG will continue to steam toward the objective area, the CH-46s will be available for employment within 18 hours (at the most) of the launch of the first wave of CH-53s.

* The MEU can be in position to commit surfaceborne forces by AAV or landing craft, if needed, within 24 hours of the initial launch.

* The environment will likely be in the words of the ambassador, “extremely nonpermissive. At the first sign of military force expect all hell to break loose.”

* Instablian military forces will likely attempt to interfere with the evacuation and at some point it may become necessary to engage Instablian forces in combat in order to conduct the evacuation.

* Four AV-8B Harriers and two KC-130 refuelers assigned to the MEU will be available by fly-in deployment (from a nearby friendly country) to support all phases of the operation.

For planning purposes, your CH53s can carry 30 passengers each; your CH-46S. 15; and your AAVs, 25. The U.S. Embassy has landing zone space for three CH-53s or six CH-46s and the Mexican Embassy space for one CH-53 or two CH-46s. There is unlimited space for helicopters at the University. The size of your helicopter waves is not limited by ship deck space.


Develop your evacuation plan. It is not necessary to write a complete operations order, but describe your concept of operations, tasks or phases, contingency plans, and coordinating instructions. Provide a sketch of your plan and a brief explanation. Send your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG 93-10, P. O. Box 1775, Quantico. VA 22134.