Ambush at Dusk

You are the squad leader of 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. You are fighting in a tropical jungle against guerrilla forces armed with small arms, light machineguns, and sometimes mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. Recently, Company C has been conducting patrols in a populated region to counter increased insurgent activity. On this day, your platoon, with a machinegun squad attached, is running a security patrol to locate and destroy any enemy forces. Dusk is approaching-within the hour, you estimate. Your squad is the point of the platoon patrol column, some 200 yards forward of the platoon's main body as you advance north through a rice paddy, paralleling a four-foot dike some hundred meters to your right. As your squad picks its way through a bamboo fence at the northern edge of the paddy, one ' of your Marines trips a boobytrap, suffering a severe leg wound. With the corpsman and platoon radioman, the platoon commander hustles forward to investigate. While they are still 150 meters away, the enemy suddenly opens fire with automatic weapons from the village, and the platoon commander is hit. The steady volume of enemy fire from the village has 2d and 3d squads pinned down in the rice paddy. After tending to the lieutenant, the corpsman makes his way forward under fire to your position, followed shortly by one machinegun team. The corpsman tells you the lieutenant is in a bad way. You wish you had a radio, but the radioman is pinned down near the lieutenant. The enemy fire against your position is sporadic; the two squads in the paddy, on the other hand, are returning fire but appear unable to move. You estimate that the sun will disappear within a half hour. You have no communications with your platoon sergeant. What do you do?


In a time limit of five minutes, describe the actions you would take and the instructions you would issue to your team leaders. Include an overlay sketch and provide a brief discussion of the rationale behind your actions. Submit your solutions to Marine Corps Gazette, Tactical Decision Game #91-11, Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134. The Gazette will publish the author's and other solutions in the January 1992 issue.