Command and Control Fog


You are commanding a detachment of Marines assigned to a joint task force (JTF) conducting humanitarian relief operations in the drought stricken country of Neptonia. In support of a United Nations (U.N.) task force objective, your mission is to produce potable water and fill local cisterns. The likelihood of terrorist activity in the joint operations area has you operating on a heightened state of alert. Although terrorists have raided cisterns throughout the joint operations area, there have been no cistern raids in your area of operations. (See map.)

The JTF commander is concerned that cistern raids may lead to civil unrest in Neptonia and ultimately upset the balance of power in the region. For diplomatic reasons, the JTF commander decided to follow the U.N. task force's restricted rules of engagement-individual weapons may be cartied in Condition 1, but JTF personnel may only engage an adversary when fired upon.

Figure 1 contains your force list. Routes 1, 4, 7, and 9 are improved roads, and Routes K, X, and Z are unimproved. The commercial tankers cannot navigate unimproved roads.

For force protection you have limited convoys to 15 vehicles, varied convoy departure times, and directed your engineer company to improve Routes K, X, and Z. Additionally, commercial tankers have been integrated into the convoys, and tactical vehicles with mounted machineguns are in the front and rear of each convoy.

On the 31st day of your deployment, you launch a convoy to Village 2. Your engineer company commander has completed improvements to Route K. He is working in the vicinity of checkpoint 4 and anticipates completing Route X in 5 days. You are located in your command post (CP).

The lead element of the convoy has passed checkpoint 8 and is proceeding east when the convoy commander, a staff sergeant, reports hearing an explosion and seeing a column of heavy black smoke east of checkpoint 2. The excited staff sergeant reports two off-road vehicles (ORVs) approaching the convoy from the north at a high rate of speed. After forcing a tanker off the road and causing it to sink in the loose sand, the ORVs retreated to the hills north of the road. The staff sergeant states that the ORVs appeared to have gun mounts, but he did not see any guns.

While talking to the staff sergeant you hear the unmistakable sound of machinegun fire. The staff sergeant confirms machinegun fire coming from the vicinity of the rear of his convoy but states that he cannot see the rear of his convoy.


From your CP 12 kilometers away, in a time limit of 3 minutes, what orders do you give to your subordinates, and what do you tell higher headquarters? Provide the rationale for your actions and a sketch of your plan. Submit your solution to Marine Corps Gazette, TDG #02-4, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134, fax 703-630-9147, or email <>.