The Battle of Mount Giddy

This tactical decision game is a little different from previous ones for a couple of reasons. First, it is of a broader scope than previous problems; one might even argue that it verges on being an operational decision game rather than a purely tactical one. Second, it is a Marine air-ground task force (MAGTF) problem-designed for a Marine expeditionary brigade (MEB) commander-in which the requirement is for the broad integration of ground, air, and logistics elements rather than just the tactical control of subordinate units on the ground.

The Situation

You are a MEB commander fighting in a coastal desert that offers excellent mobility and freedom for mechanized and motorized forces save for the ridgelines, which tend to channelize vehicle movement. The theater strategy calls for the Joint Task Force (JTF)-of which the MEB is part-to mount a major land offensive toward the north out of the Damoose region. The MEB's mission is to protect the JTF's southern flank, i.e., its rear, as the JTF attacks north. You are authorized to trade space for time as long as you deny the enemy the Damoose-Brut line, Brut being a key port and airfield and Damoose being a key logistics node.

Your MEB command element (CE) and brigade service support group (BSSG) are located at Damoose. Your aviation combat element (ACE) is located at Brut. The air situation is one of relative parity, the enemy being stronger in air defense assets while you are stronger in offensive air assets. Your ground combat element (GCE) consists of a motorized infantry battalion (minus) in the vicinity of Mount Giddy with a company detached at Huffy, a battalion of amphibious assault vehicles near Gooselub, another along the railroad west of Bed Lake, a light armored infantry company (reinforced) also guarding the right flank near Berra. and a tank battalion (minus) in reserve near Nevertheless. The enemy has a superiority of roughly two to one in ground forces

You plan to conduct a delaying action, trading space for time. You intend to fall back only under pressure, making the enemy pay for every inch of terrain but avoiding decisive engagement. Since yours is a subsidiary mission, you do not intend to force a decision but rather to forestall one. The JTF offensive has been underway nearly a week and to this point the enemy on your front has played into your hands by remaining relatively inactive, probing but not threatening your forward defensive positions. He has irregular forces equipped with light vehicles operating out of the barren desert to the west who periodically try to cut the Damoose railroad, an important line of communication. Intelligence has been reporting a buildup of enemy armored and mechanized forces and supplies south of Gooselub over the last 48 hours. The G-2 anticipates the enemy will mount an offensive in that sector within the next 72 hours.

As it turns out, however, the enemy buildup in the south is actually a wellexecuted deception. Instead of striking Gooselub, the enemy attacks in strength at Mount Giddy supported by massed offensive airpower. The GCE commander also reports that the light armored company and mechanized battalion on the right flank are under attack but holding their own, as is the battalion at Gooselub. But he reports that he cannot make contact with the motorized battalion at Mount Giddy, which apparently has been overrun. Within 12 hours scattered situation reports indicate that enemy mechanized and armored forces have reached Nevertheless, where they are being engaged by the reserve tank battalion, and are beginning to bypass Huffy headed north along the littoral plain.

By all accounts a major offensive has penetrated your left front and is pouring unchecked into your rear. As the MEB commander, what will you do?

The Requirement

Develop a MEB plan that includes a general concept operations (with intent) and broad missions for your GCE, ACE, and combat service support element as appropriate. (Leave it to your staff to work out the details.) Then provide a brief explanation of your plan. Send your solution without delay to the Marine Corps Gazette, c/o Tactical Decision Games, P.O. Box 1775, Quantico, VA 22134. The Gazette will publish several solutions in two months' time.