On Watch


You are the S-3A (assistant operations officer) and battalion watch officer (as well as battalion landing team (BLT) training officer and education officer) of BLT 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, 1 1 th MEU. Recently, the MEU was sent to Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in support of NATO forces during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. You have been in country 1 month and have been assigned to the northeast sector of the area of responsibility, Nangarhar Province. Recently, the MEU has been focusing on the southern sector of the area of operations intercepting arms and explosives flowing from Pakistan into Afghanistan through the mountains of tribal Pakistan into the Tora Bora region. This region has three major tribes in the area - the majority Pashtun, the Wakhi, and the Tajik tribes. The tribes are further divided by clans, led by family patriarchs, that fight each other, regardless of tribe, over water rights, territory, and trade rights. The MEU has started to establish allies and informants in the area.

Acting on intelligence from a local tribe, the BLT commanding officer (CO) has tasked Echo Company, a helicopterborne company, to conduct a cordon and search operation in the village of Alikhel on the Afghan istan- Pakistan border in order to interdict insurgents and weapons flowing into the country. With BLT and MEU CO approval, Echo Company first deployed scout/sniper teams into the area in order to detect weapons and insurgent activity prior to commencing the cordon and search. Once the sniper teams detect insurgent activity, they are to report to the combat operations center (COC) and then the COC notifies the Echo Company CO (also heliborne unit commander) who then deploys into the area 2 hours after sniper reporr. If the sniper team is compromised, the MEU has a helo team on standby to retrieve the sniper team. It will take the helos 30 minutes to reach the extract landing zone. It is 1 1 30 and two sniper teams have been in place southwest of Alikhel since 2300 last night. Currently the CO is in a meeting with the MEU CO, and the S-3 and executive officer (XO) are out of the office but can be reached by cell phone to inform them they have to come to the COC, but no other information can be passed by phone.

You overhear one of your radio transmission operators (RTOs) talking to the sniper teams and wander over to his position. The RTO turns to you and says, "Sir, Dagger 1 has contact." You grab the radio, identify yourself to the sniper team, and receive the report.

Approximately 20 enemy armed with clubs and rifles are attacking a local family. Estimate 2 minutes before they slaughter the family. Am engaging pending your orders. Both teams will need evac in 40 minutes. Over.


In 10 minutes, explain what order you give to the sniper team leader; what action you take in the COC; what you report to the S-3, XO, and/or CO; what actions you recommend higher headquarters take; and what actions you recommend Sniper Team 2 take.

Issues for Consideration

1. If you order the team leader not to fire, do you think he will obey you?

2. What do you believe is Sniper Team l's intent?

3. How do his actions relate to that intent?

4. Do you believe his actions are in keeping with the MEU COs intent? Why?

5. Are the sniper team leaders actions in keeping with the rules of engagement? Why?

6. Do your actions and order support the troops on the ground? Why?

7. What are the potential consequences of Sniper Team 1 s actions?