Encounter at Effingham

You are the commander of 1st Battalion, 24th Marines. Division has been attacking steadily north against weakening enemy resistance; your regiment has been advancing rapidly on North-South Highway, and 4th Marines are making only slightly less progress on a parallel axis to the west. After battering the enemy at the Battle of Blue Hills, regiment was reluctantly forced to halt for replenishment During one of the few breaks in the weather, aviation has reported enemy remnants streaming north through Effingham into the Big Valley. The regimental commander is anxious to resume the attack. You share his view that the enemy made his last stand at Blue Hills and is now broken and ripe for pursuit and final destruction. The colonel gives you the following instructions:

1st Battalion will pursue north immediately to reestablish contact and lock horns with the fleeing enemy. Relentless pressure is what we need. Do not let him catch his breath. Do not gel bogged down by pockets of resistance, but keep going. Commit everything you've got. The rest of the regiment will be 24 hours behind you to mop up and take over when you get winded.

The weather is wet, cold, and continuously overcast. The terrain is rugged and undulating, broken by small woods. Large vehicular formations are generally restricted to the roads; even then, movement is hampered by the weather. Your battalion, which has already received its organic TOW section (8 TOWs mounted on HMMWVs), has a tank company (11 M60A1s) attached and an artillery battery in direct support. In compliance with the colonel's orders, you move out quickly to the north and reach Cutout Pass without making contact.

The leading elements of Company A. debauching from Esses Pass on the two-lane North-South Highway, report an enemy force to their front: ragtag and ill-equipped, it is clearly the force you have been pursuing, but battalion strength or greater and apparently reassembled and preparing to make a stand. Company B is in Effingham proper, and has pushed platoons out to either flank. The tank company and TOWs are on the highway south of Effingham. The combat train is negotiating the narrow Cutout Pass, and Company C is south of the pass on the highway. You send your Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) Platoon west on Gravel Road to Lower Valley Vista Point to make visual contact with 4th Marines as instructed. Your first hint of trouble is a fire mission from STA on the conduct of fire net describing a target as "tanks and troops on the road-battalion strength." Immediately, you receive the following urgent message from STA on BN TAC 1: Tanks-tanks-tanks; I count 20-25 T72s-I say again T-72s-with BTR-60s, heading cast on Gravel Road approaching Vista Point-one click west. The valley is full of armor and troops. Infantry on the flanks moving through the woods-cannot make out number-estimate battalion easy. Taking automatic fire-must withdraw.

Meanwhile. Company A reports:

Light resistance from enemy patrols at the northern entrance to Esses Pass. Continuing to advance.

What are your orders, sir?


In a time limit of 5 minutes, prepare the fragmentary orders you would issue to your subordinates, including the intent of your plan and any instructions for the use of supporting arms. Provide an overlay and a brief explanation for your plan. Send your solution to the Marine Corps Gazette. TDG #93-5. P. O. Box 1775. Quantico. VA 22134