Shaping Actions


You are a scout/sniper team leader of Sniper Team 1 assigned to Battalion Landing Team 2d Battalion, 1st Marines (BLT 2/1). 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 this area.

Acting on intelligence from a local tribe, Echo Company, a helicopterborne company, has been assigned a cordon and search operation in the village of Alikhel on the AfghanistanPakistan border in order to interdict insurgents and weapons flowing into the country. The company commanding officer (CO) has decided to deploy scout/sniper teams into the area first in order to detect weapons and insurgent activity prior to commencing the cordon and search. Your teams are specifically looking for trucks filled with personnel, weapons, or boxes moving into Afghanistan and stopping in Alikhel. You radio the BLT combat operations center, and Echo Company will commence the attack approximately 2 hours after your report. If your teams are compromised, helos will be on station in 30 minutes. It will take you 20 minutes to get to the evacuation landing zone. Your sniper team is four personnel with one 7.62 sniper rifle, one .50 caliber sniper rifle, two M1615s with PEQs, four night vision scopes, digital camera with 16x zoom lens, binoculars, and communications capability to talk to air and ground and send digital pictures, as well as your combat load for sniper teams.

Yesterday at 2300 your team and Sniper Team 2 inserted into Alikhel and established positions as shown on the map overlooking the village and main supply route from Pakistan into Afghanistan. It is now 1130 and your team noticed one vehicle approximately an hour earlier either entering or leaving the village going south into Pakistan with no suspicious activity so far. Approximately 10 minutes later you notice about 20 males armed with clubs and AK-47s surround and enter a home in a village. There is a lot of yelling in the home, at least six shots are fired, and a family is dragged from the home and placed in a clearing surrounded by the armed men. A crowd of at least 50 villagers forms around this scene while the perceived leader of the armed men begins to shout something to the villagers that you do not understand. The family consists of one older woman, four male children, and two female children. You have clear shots on several of the gunmen, including the leader. You believe the family will be killed if you do nothing in the next several minutes.


In 10 minutes explain what order you give to your team, what you report to higher headquarters (HHQ), what actions you recommend HHQ to take, and what actions you recommend Sniper Team 2 to take.

Issues for Consideration

1. Based on your understanding of the local culture, could this be an insurgent activity, or could it be a local situation? WTiat could lead an insurgent to take this action? What could lead a clan to this action against another family?

2. What do you believe is your company COs intent? What is the MEU company commander’s intent? How does it apply to this situation?

3. In this scenario, how do your action and order relate to their intent?

4. What does the enemy hope to gain from this attack, assuming it is an insurgent activity?

5. How do your actions deprive the enemy of those gains?

6. What if it turns out the armed men are not enemies but an allied clan?

7. How do your recommendations to higher translate into actions your HHQ can take?

8. Assuming this is insurgent activity, what actions could your company, battalion, or MEU take to prevent enemy forces from continuing actions in this area?

9. Assuming this is a local feud, is it in the company’s, battalions, or MEUs interest to prevent these actions from occurring? Why?

10. Assuming it is in the MEUs interest to prevent vigilante justice in the outlying provinces, what actions can the MEU take to discourage this?

11. What are the possible results of your action given that this is a blood feud culture?