On a Clear Day

You are the commanding officer of a tank battalion operating in a desert region with three tank companies and an antitank platoon of five TOWs. It has been a war of rapid movements. The enemy is generally to the north, but after the marching, countermarching and confused fighting of the last 24 hours you realize that is a fairly meaningless distinction. There exact location is uncertain. At 0200 you are in a leaguer. With no idea of where the nearest friendlies are, you established 360-degree security. You have refueled; you have redistributed ammunition and decide you have enough to get you through another engagement. Your main concern is trying to raise Bravo Company, which you have not seen or heard from since early afternoon. Alpha Company has seven tanks, Charlie has eight.

You are thinking you might actually get some rest tonight when you receive instructions from division: "A mixed enemy force of tanks and mech-estimated battalion strength, but that's probably exaggerated-was reported to have overrun the Faludi airstrip about an hour ago. Attack to destroy." You ask for more information, but that is all that is known. You remind division of your ammunition situation and the fact that you only have 15 tanks, and the reply is: "Roger; attack at the earliest opportunity."

Faludi is a deserted settlement on a small mound some 25 kilometers north-north-west. By 0245 you move out with Charlie in the lead, followed by your headquarters with the TOWs, and Alpha in the rear. At 0330 you meet up with a reinforced light armored reconnaissance company (19 LAVs) that lacking any other instructions, falls in behind Alpha. At 0430 Alpha reports that another platoon of LAV-25s (callsign "Whippet"-4 LAVs) has attached itself to your right flank.

At 0550 Charlie reports it has hit a track that you think must be Route 10A. You move forward to have a look. Dawn is just beginning to appear. Your gunner is listening to Armed Forces Radio and says: "It's gonna be clear and hot today."

Charlie reports it can just make out Faludi in the haze about 5 kilometers north. "There are a couple thin-skinned vehicles there. I can't ID them." Suddenly, gunfire erupts to the south and Charlie reports: "Whippet has just engaged a convoy of about 10 vehicles. They are fleeing south." Charlie now reports: "I've got a visual on the airstrip. About 30-40 trucks; maybe 6 artillery pieces; no armor or mech."

The engagement continues in the south and now Alpha reports: "Whippet is pursuing the convoy and says they're engaging some ZSUs-4 or 5 of 'em-on an escarpment about 5 clicks south." Just them, artillery fire starts to land just north of your position. A piece of shrapnel pings off your turret. You decide it's going to be anything but clear today, but it is starting to get hot. What do you do?


In a time limit of 5 minutes, decide what you will do by issuing instructions to your subordinates. Then provide a sketch, a short explanation, and a premortem (see box insert) of your decision. Send these items (the initial solution, unaltered by the premortein results) to Marine Carps Gazette, TDG #96-19, Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134 or fax 703-640-0823.