Battle Along the Tziepov


You are the commander of a brigade-size task force consisting of a tank-heavy battalion (1st Bn), a mechheavy battalion (2d Bn), a motorized reinforced infantry battalion (3d Bn), a reinforced light-armored reconnaissance company (Alpha), and 2 host-nation mixed battalions (4th Bn and 5th Bn, each consisting of 2 tank companies and 2 motorized companies). Your host-nation battalions are battle hardened and capable of most basic missions. You are supported by a battalion of direct-support artillery. Your forces are depleted to about 70 percent strength. The terrain is rolling and thickly wooded in places. The wooded areas are impassable to all but infantry. Enemy forces, also depleted, are principally mechanized and motorized.

Friendly forces (advancing north with the mission of destroying enemy forces en route to the operational objective some 30 kilometers north) and enemy forces (advancing south) have clashed head to head along the trace of the Tziepov River. The Tziepov is a shallow, slow-moving river some 300-400 meters wide (with branches 100-200 meters wide). Upon contact, in an effort to seize the initiative, both forces have started shifting west, trying to turn the other’s flank and establish a bridgehead on the far side of the river. Unopposed crossings of the Tziepov, although time-consuming, are generally not difficult for vehicles or infantry. Assault crossings are another story. Fording sites can be found along most stretches of the river; generally, wherever the river is accessible, crossing sites can be found.

Your brigade is sent west along Rte. 30 with urgent instructions to secure bridges in the vicinity Emamiville-Gunnington-Pageton, or at least to deny those crossing sites to the enemy. Combat intelligence indicates an enemy mechanized regiment closing on Emamiville from the east along Rte. 18. Alpha races ahead and clashes with a reinforced enemy company of tanks and mech at Thorpe Bridge. After a heated engagement, Alpha repulses the enemy, who withdraws to blocking positions north of the river. 3d Bn reinforces Alpha and also continues west and meets an enemy battalion in the process of crossing at Fouse Bridge. Meanwhile, sensor hits indicate heavy vehicular traffic between Emamiville and Fouse Bridge. As darkness falls, a close, confused engagement develops on the wooded slopes of Leon Ridge. The 3d Bn commander reports he has only a rough idea of current friendly– enemy dispositions and that the operation has devolved into a series of intense small unit actions with the use of supporting arms being problematic.

By 2130, Alpha holds its position south of Thorpe Bridge and also screens the river between Rtes. 7 and 9, making periodic contact with enemy probes along its entire front. The company commander estimates he is now opposed by a battalion. 2d Bn has established a blocking position along Rte. 7 north of Gunnington. By 2300, 1st, 4th and 5th Bns occupy assembly areas near Pageton. Your mobile combat service support detachment (MSSD) has already replenished Alpha in its positions and will have your units in GunningtonPageton replenished by 0300. Throughout the night, reconnaissance teams report continuing vehicular movement, estimated at more than battalion strength, west across Heredia Bridge on Rte. 18. By 0030, 3d Bn commander reports the sounds of significant mechanized activity near Fouse Bridge. He reports that the situation has stalemated, with friendly and enemy forces interspersed and the enemy holding a tenuous bridgehead south of the river. He estimates that the situation is very unstable and will not be sorted out at least until dawn. In the meantime, a lull seems to have settled over the battlefield. What will be your next move?


1) In a time limit of 15 minutes, make your decision in the form of any order/guidance you will issue to subordinates and/or reports/requests you will make. Your staff can work out the complete order as time permits. Include a sketch of your scheme. 2) In an additional 5 minutes, explain likely or possible follow– on actions you are considering. 3) Provide a brief explanation of your decision and follow-on plan. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #99-4, 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.

Battle Along the Tziepov, Continued


This scenario is the continuation of TDG #99-4, based on the author’s solution shown on p. 99. You command a task force (TF) consisting of a tank battalion (bn) (lst), a mech bn (2d), a motorized bn (3d), a LAR company (Alpha), and two mixed host-nation bns (4th and 5th, each consisting of two tank companies and two motorized companies). The host-nation bns are capable of most basic missions. Friendly forces, advancing north, and enemy forces, advancing south, met along the Tziepov River, which is slow-moving and fordable in many places. Your TF was sent west along Rte. 30 with urgent instructions to secure bridges on the roads leading to Gunnington and Pageton, or at least to deny those crossing sites to the enemy. Elements of your command made contact at both bridges.

Shortly after midnight the situation stabilized somewhat. Alpha was holding Thorpe Bridge and screening to the west. It received periodic probes from an estimated enemy bn north of the river. Enemy forces were holding a bridgehead south of Fouse Bridge. They were contained by 3d Bn, but the situation there was confused. Intel reported increasing enemy activity in the Emamiville-Fouse Bridge area. 2d Bn was positioned north of Gunnington; Ist, 4th, and 5th Bns were in assembly areas near Pageton. Replenishment was underway with completion expected around 0300.

You were unhappy with this posture. You felt you were losing the initiative. Although you couldn’t identify any really attractive option, you decided to undertake these actions: (1) Initiate heavy supporting fires on enemy in vicinity of Fouse Bridge. (2) Order 2d Bn, reinforced by 1st Bn, to ford the Tziepov west of Fouse Bridge without first replenishing and seize Lafferty Heights. (3) Initiate a relief-in-place between Alpha and 4th Bn in order to free up Alpha. (4) Keep 5th Bn in reserve.

2d Bn’s “immediate” move takes longer than you like but by 0415 2d’s leading elements are across the river without making contact. At 0430, the enemy estimated at regimental strength launches a dismounted attack out of the Fouse bridgehead. At 0445, 2d Bn makes contact with an enemy force in defensive positions on the slopes of Lafferty Heights. With priority of fires, it advances slowly against incr easing resistance. The relief-in-place at Thorpe Bridge is complete by 0500. The 4th Bn commander launches a probe across the bridge and at 0530 reports only scattered resistance. 2d Bn reports stiffening resistance and estimates the enemy on Lafferty Heights to be a battalion in hastily prepared defensive positions. 3d Bn reports it has halted the enemy attack out of Fouse bridgehead, at least temporarily. What do you do now?


In a time limit of 10 minutes, make your decision in the form of any orders/guidance you will issue to subordinates and any reports/requests you will make. Include a sketch of your plan. Provide a brief explanation of your decision, to include any possible follow-on plans. Submit your solution to the Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #99-6, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134 or fax 703640-0823.


You are the commanding officer of Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) DEEP STRIKE, consisting primarily of two light armored reconnaissance (LAR) battalions, a detachment of UH-1 and AH-1 helicopters with ground support, and a mobile combat service support detachment (MCSSD) consisting mainly of refuelers. You have been deployed to the war-torn and drought-plagued African country of Kushmahdi as one of the leading elements of a joint task force (JTF). Relief organizations have been operating in Kushmahdi for several months, ministering to the star ing and displaced population. Military forces from the neighboring country of Tsanu freely make incursions deep into Kushmahdi and have lately begun raiding relief centers at Yummy, Middleville, Stumpz and Barstool with increasing frequency. Of these, Stumpz is the most important. Relief convoys bound for Stumpz out of Waterside are postponed. While Tsanu has one of the most capable militaries in the region, intelligence estimates conclude it lacks the command and control to conduct coordinated, large-scale operations.

The initial JTF plan calls for the deliberate deployment throughout the country from Waterside as forces arrive at the port and airfield there, but the frequency of attacks against the relief centers necessitates immediate action. SPMAGTF DEEP STRIKE is instructed to strike quickly to secure the relief centers, sweep Tsanu forces from the country, and establish a screen line along the border at the Odaroloc River in support of a Military Exclusion Zone sanctioned bv the U.N. Your task force will be supported by carrier aviation and will be sustained entirely by a combination of in-theater foraging and aerial logistics.

On D-day, Company C from 7th Marines and Company D, 1st LAR arrive by strategic airlift at Middleville. 1st and 3d LAR battalions arrive at Waterside by sealift and airlift and immediately advance inland. On D+l, 3d LAR secures Barstool, 1st LAR relieves Stumpz, and Company D, 1st LAR drives Tsanu forces out of Yummy. By late D+3, Ist and 3d LAR have advanced to the border to monitor crossing sites along the Odaroloc, augmented by stealth reconnaissance and sensors. 3d LAR is in the north, 1st LAR(-) in the center, and Company D, 1st LAR and C/1/7 in the south. The Tsanu Government immediately protests the establishment of the Military Exclusion Zone, which it describes as a provocation. By D+5, as more U.S. forces are arriving at Waterside, intelligence reports describe an unprecedented massing of Tsanuan forces near the border. On D+6, at first light, an enemy force estimated to be battalion strength attacks D Company, 1st LAR in the vicinity of Yummy. Another probes 1st LAR’s positions near Pooker, while a mechanized/motorized force of at least one battalion breaks through at Cheery, heading west along the heavily populated Highway 10 corridor. Satellite imagery shows that the enemy column is moving about 25-30 miles per hour.

You are instructed to deal with the problem. An allied tank company located at Waterside is placed under your operational control. What is your plan?


In a time limit of 20 minutes, provide your solution in the form of a concept of operations, tasks for subordinate units, and any other pertinent planning guidance. Then provide a sketch and an explanation of your plan. Send your solution to the Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #97-10, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134 or fax 703640-0823.

Battle of the Dadmamian Swamp

by Maj John F. Schmitt, USMCR

You are the commanding officer of 4th Marines, which consists of two battalions on trucks, one battalion on assault amphibious vehicles, a tank battalion, and a reinforced light armored infantry (LAI) company. You are west of the river with the mission of holding a bridgehead until reinforcements can arrive from the east in about 72 hours from now.

An enemy unit, which consists of infantry reinforced with limited numbers of tanks, is advancing generally from the west. An enemy regiment battered your 1st Battalion 24 hours ago in an engagement west of Gumbyville, but rather than pursue has halted near Gumbyville. Your 1st Battalion has withdrawn east across the Dadmamian Creek. You hold the bridges across the creek with 2d Battalion and the LAI company. The tank battalion is in reserve near Sphericberg. Your 3d Battalion protects the southern flank near Furburg. While the first enemy regiment occupies Gumbyville, 3d Battalion reports that another enemy infantry regiment is rapidly marching on Furburg from the southwest; 3d Battalion’s security elements are beginning to fall back under pressure. What are your orders, Colonel?


In a time limit of 10 minutes, give the orders you would pass to your subordinates. Provide a sketch of your plan, any guidance for supporting arms, and a brief explanation of your plan. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #93-3, P. O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134.

Short End of the Stick, Part I

The Situation

Since we landed eight days ago, the operation has been going well. We quickly gained air superiority. Our mobile forces-mounted in light armored vehicles, well-equipped with a new generation of precision-guided weapons, and acting in close cooperation with our aircraft-are moving rapidly inland. Indeed, we would already have destroyed the enemy’s conventional forces were it not for the fact that so much of the country was heavily wooded.

You are the commander of a Marine infantry battalion (four companies, without attachments) serving as part of the follow-on forces that must “mop up” the pockets of resistance bypassed by the mobile forces. You have only your organic vehicles. As a result, you and your men must move and fight largely on foot. Worse yet, the density of the woods in which you operate-which remind you more than anything of the places in Quantico where you got lost trying to learn land navigation-makes the use of the new long-range precision-guided munitions almost impossible.

Thus, for the past week you have been marching and fighting the oldfashioned way. Fortunately, resistance has been light, so that you and the battalions on your flanks have been able to move about 25 kilometers a day. While there have been no wholesale surrenders, groups of enemy stragglers have been giving themselves up on a regular basis. Those enemy units that do wish to put up a fight have seldom tried to hold their ground. They have generally been satisified to drop a few trees and fire a few shots before fleeing.

Today, however, as you and your battalion, near the end of a 23-kilometer march, were entering the supposedly secure town of San Miguel, you were surprised by three enemy light armored vehicles that burst out of the woods and onto the road. One was quickly dispatched by a hail of fire from your grenade and rocket launchers. The crews of the other two vehicles surrendered in time to avoid the same fate. You were lucky this time. Although the vehicles had working machineguns and plenty of ammunition, the crews neglected to fire on the tempting target offered by your battalion on the road.

As night falls, you find your billets in San Miguel. At 2200, you receive your orders, and a home-made map. from regiment.

“We are continuing the work of securing these roads through the woods,” the order read. “Your job is to clear the stretch of woods between road number five and the Marquesa Creek, inclusive. I’m giving you no deadline; take whatever time you need to get the job done. Remember, however, we have to maintain the tempo of this operation. We don’t want to give the enemy time to reorganize itself.”

As you ponder your map, your staff gathers. The first to arrive is the supply officer, who tells you that your request for additional night vision goggles (to augment the 50 sets that you already have) has been denied.

The Requirement

Discuss your intent, the concept of operations, and the guidance you will give the staff concerning the order to be issued to the battalion. Include any plans for the use of supporting arms, an overlay of any schemes of maneuver, and any further communications you would make with battalion. Then give a brief explanation of your rationale. Send your solution to the Marine Corps Gazette, Tactical Decision Game #91-10, Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134. The Gazette will publish the author’s and other solutions in the December issue.

Battle of the Garagiola River


You are the commander of an infantry regiment advancing generally west along the lakeshore to reestablish contact with the enemy. Your regiment, the 2d Marines, includes the 1st and 2d Battalions on amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs) approaching the Garagiola River, the 3d Battalion on trucks at Androida, and a tank battalion east of Androida. Steep banks make it infeasible for your AAVs to swim the river. The regimental TOW platoon is distributed equally among the three infantry battalions. Your mission is to defeat any enemy forces in your sector, or, failing that, at a minimum to delay and disrupt the enemy advance.

For the last 2 weeks you have been facing large enemy mechanized forces and have been forced to fall back in the face of superior numbers, slowly wearing down the enemy while conserving your own combat power. You have learned that the forces you have been facing are from the 1503d Mechanized Division, commanded by MajGen Bludski N. Gutsovich, which consists of a tank regiment and two mechanized infantry regiments. Enemy tactics emphasize attacking aggressively upon contact and maintaining the momentum. The enemy will generally try to overrun resistance with tanks and prefers to dismount infantry only when necessary for close combat.

As your leading elements approach the river, a light armored infantry (LAI) company (reinforced with assault guns and TOWs) passing westward through Tragedia reports a sizable enemy mechanized force to the west approaching Checkpoint 68. The LAI estimates an enemy division with a tank regiment in the lead. At this stage the LAI commander does not believe he has been detected by the enemy. You have an artillery battalion in direct support, but your fire support coordinator assures you he can also get reinforcing fires. Your air officer says he can get you “a couple of sorties of A-6s.”

At this rate, enemy tanks will be approaching Tragedia or Garagiola in about 30 minutes. What are your orders, colonel?


In a time limit of 10 minutes, give the orders you would pass to your subordinates. Provide a sketch of your plan, any guidance for supporting arms, and a brief explanation of your plan. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #92-10, P. O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134.

Quote to Ponder:

On Tactics

To move swiftly, strike vigorously, and secure all the fruits of victory, is the secret of successful war.

-Stonewall Jackson: Letter, 1863

Battle of the Garagiola River Revisited

The scenario for this game is the same as TDG #92-10, only it is seen this time from the enemy’s point of view-i.e., with the roles reversed. The games stand alone and can be played in any order-but both should be played. The purpose is to illustrate the importance of trying to understand an enemy by seeing the situation through his binoculars.


You are the commander of the 9th Marines advancing generally east along the lakeshore as part of the division. Your regiment includes the 1st and 2d Battalions on assault amphibious vehicles (AAVs) and the 3d Battalion on trucks. For the last 10 days the division has been advancing against an enemy tank-mechanized force of regimental strength. This enemy has been waging an effective and clever delaying action, fighting tenaciously from delaying positions, making effective use of terrain and supporting arms, but disengaging and falling back before the division can bring about a decisive engagement. Frustrated over the rate of advance and inability to force the enemy into battle, the division commander moves your regiment into the lead and attaches a tank battalion. His instructions to you are: “Attack aggressively, force a crossing of the Garagiola River as quickly as possible to facilitate the continuation of the advance, and crush the enemy force opposing us once and for all. The 4th Marines will be ready to reinforce and exploit your success.”

Intelligence indicates that the enemy has fallen back through Tragedia and Garagiola and is preparing positions along the Garagiola River, which has steep banks that make it impassible to any vehicles. As your leading mechanized battalion approaches Checkpoint 68, you receive a report of enemy light-armored infantry (with antitank missiles) at Tragedia. Within the next half hour your regiment will be engaged. What are your orders, Colonel?


In a time limit of 10 minutes, give the orders you would pass to your subordinates. Provide a sketch of your plan, any guidance for supporting arms, and a brief explanation of your plan. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #92-12, P. O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134