‘Cordon and. . . .’


You are the 3d Platoon Commander, Company G (Mechanized, Reinforced), 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 approximately 1 month and have been assigned to the northeast sector of the area of responsibility, Nangarhar Province. Recently the BLT has been searching for warlord, Sher Dil, and his needihajum freedom fighters believed to be operating in the Rahadnak Valley. Sher Dil is the primary source of arms transportation into Jalalabad. The arms shipments flow from the northwest tribal regions of Pakistan into the Tora Bora region, through the Rahadnak Valley, then into Jalalabad. The Rahadnak Valley was initially quiet with no armed conflict. However, after successful arms interdiction in the area, organized guerrilla groups ignited an active campaign against coalition forces and inflamed tribal unrest throughout the valley.

Your mechanized platoon is embarked on four assault amphibious vehicles and is further reinforced with one machinegun squad and two assault teams from weapons platoon. Your company is tasked to search a village suspected of harboring Sher Dil and needihajum fighters. Speed is essential as the enemy is prone to resupplying its forces and then quickly fading into the rugged and mountainous countryside. A section of AH-I W Cobras can reinforce the company within 1 5 minutes.

The company scheme of maneuver calls for two platoons to encircle the village, one from the west and the other from the east, one platoon to advance along the main avenue of approach to seal the entry point, and a dismounted mortar section to isolate the objective area with calls for fire as needed. The section of Cobras can be used to further isolate the objective area or provide supporting fires if required. Your platoon is the main effort. On order, you will secure the main supply route (MSR) northwest of Ada while 1st and 2d Platoons isolate the village. During isolation operations, are the reserve. Be prepared to attack the enemy force west and east of the village in support of 1st and 2d Platoons' mission. Upon conclusion of isolating the village, you will enter the village and search for weapons caches, needihajum fighters, and Sher Dil. Your platoon is reinforced with a weapons cache detection team (fire team of combat engineers), the company intelligence cell (the company executive officer attended basic Farsi language school), and the company interpreter who speaks Farsi and the local tribal language. You have used the tactic successfully in this area in the past and are familiar with your mission and the local area. You have placed the platoon sergeant with 1st Squad, and you are with 2d Squad with the company attachments.

During the isolation of the village, your platoon advances to the outskirts of the village along the MSR and secures the northeast exit of the village as 1st and 2d Platoons execute their mission. Your platoon established blocking positions, overwatch, and observation into the village as shown on the graphic. Approximately 10 minutes into the operation you hear machinegun fire from west of the village, and about 2 minutes later you hear mortar round explosions from the west as well.

2d Squad Leader calls you over and reports, "Sir, take a look. There are approximately six vehicles being loaded down with men, women, children, bags, and boxes. The men are all carrying AK-47s, and I see two rocket propelled grenades so far." You confirm what 2d Squad observed and note that the vehicles will be completely loaded in approximately 1 0 minutes at the rate they are going. At the same time, fire erupts from 1st Squad's position, but you cannot see what they are engaging.

The radio operator hands you the radio and says, "1st Platoon talking to company." You listen in, ". . . on Hills 2 and 3, squad-sized each, machineguns on Hill 2, mortars on Hill 3. Lieutenant and Jenkins down. Need 2 minutes of immediate suppression on south side of Hill 3, grid 354256. Am assaulting Hills 2 and 3. Over."

Less than 5 seconds later, your platoon sergeant radios you, "Enemy team on north side of village attempting to access a weapons cache. 1st Squad engaging to suppress. Still developing situation. Over."

Less than 10 seconds after that, the company commander radios you, "Need your platoon to attack enemy forces on Hill 2 in support of 1st Platoon's mission. Attack northeast to southwest and flank the enemy force." He then radios 2d Platoon and orders them to focus on taking Hill 4 and attacking enemy forces on Hill 3 in order to prevent their escape into the valley. What now?


In a time limit oí 5 minutes, issue your orders to your element leaders as well as any reports and recommendations to the company commander.

Issues of Consideration

1. What is the enemy's disposition of forces? What is the enemy trying to accomplish with this attack?

2. What do you believe is the company and BLT commander's intent for this area?

3. How do your actions support these intents?

4. How do your actions defeat the enemy's intent?

5. What do you expect the enemy to do as a result of your orders?

6. Do your orders exploit the enemy's response?

7. Did you consider collateral damage (civilian injury and damage to property) when determining your orders and recommendations?

8. What do you expect civilian response will be to collateral damage (property damage and casualties), and how do you think it will be communicated:

* At conclusion of fighting, while you are in the area?

* Within 1 hour after you leave?

* At the end of the day?

* At the end of the week?

9. What is the expected enemy response to collateral damage, and how do you think their response will be communicated:

* At conclusion of fighting, while you are in the area?

* Within 1 hour after you leave?

* At the end of the day?

* At the end of the week?

10. What actions can you, the company, and the BLT take to counter and exploit enemy and civilian responses to collateral damage while you are in the area and after you return to base?

11. Are there any recommendations you would give to the company's commander to improve future missions of this type after the mission is complete?