TDG 1 Recap and Analysis

TDG 1: Antifa Roadblock presents a relatively simple tactical problem, intended as a primer on this sort of mental exercise. We have (seemingly) solid intelligence on the enemy’s disposition, the element of surprise, just 4 men, and a very flexible timeline to work with. And yet, even with a simple exercise like this, there are nearly infinite ways to approach the problem. I looked at the answers to this TDG and noted a few trends, which I have simplified into a few possible Courses of Action (COAs). Today we’ll look at the pros and cons of some of these COAs.

Keep everyone together for the attack

This COA is the simplest, and as with most things, simple is good. By keeping everybody together we eliminate the need for coordination of multiple elements, which removes a LOT of potential points of failure in our plan. Given our small size, this seems like a good choice, especially for our first real-world operation as a team.

Split into two elements and attack from different directions

If our team has trained realistically and is confident in doing so, we may be able to pull off an attack from two angles (ideally 90 degrees offset, or as close thereto as possible). By attacking from two different angles, we make it harder for the enemy to survive. If they take cover from one element, they remain exposed to the other. The last thing we want is for them to have time to call for a QRF.

Reader “Michael in nowhereland” took this a step further and stated that “each team [would] infil/exful independent of each other.” I’m reminded of an old saying among the Austrian Jägers, “Wer zwei Hasen auf einmal jagt bekommt keinen.”, which means “He who chases two rabbits at once gets none.” Splitting a larger element into smaller teams for exfil reduces the chance of a successful pursuit/track by the OPFOR. However, this is normally done by squad sized elements or larger. A 4-man fire team is small enough as it is, and is rarely split up in practice.

All that said, if we are confident and have trained together enough, it could be argued that the risks of splitting the team may be worth the risk of complicating the operation.

Leave the roadblock, ambush the oncoming shift

Some readers decided to leave the roadblock in place, at least for now, and instead ambush their relief further down the road when it’s time for the shift change. After all, we know the enemy’s schedule and approximate strength, so why not hit them when they’re in a vulnerable, thin-skinned vehicle?

An ambush, however, has its own set of complications. There is civilian traffic on these roads, so we need to be able to Positively Identify (PID) the exact vehicle, down to the license plate. The enemy isn’t exactly rolling around in marked, camouflage-painted trucks, so this can be a bit tricky. We would need some very powerful optics that could pick up a license plate (or identifying marks such as stickers) from a distance.

We might even need an observation post up the road to give PID and early warning, or else risk the vehicle getting through our kill zone before we could get PID. Given how small our unit is, I don’t believe we could afford to divert any of our firepower away from the ambush site, so the OP is a no-go.

We would also need to ensure that the target vehicle was not near any civilian vehicles. If, for example, the target vehicle approaches but is right behind a farm truck going the speed limit, we can’t engage because of the risk of civilian casualties. Bottom line, there are less variables and less risk involved if we attack the roadblock instead of attempting an ambush on their relief.

Use vehicles to rush in and attack swiftly

This wasn’t a common answer, but I’ll address it anyway because it brings up a point that I wanted to make anyway. Just because I give you a resource for a TDG does NOT mean that you need to use it. I listed the vehicles as resources available because I wanted to see how y’all would try to use them.

There are two ways to achieve surprise on the battlefield: speed and stealth. Since the enemy is prepared and watching for vehicles (they’re manning a checkpoint, and you can only approach along the roads), it is unlikely that we can achieve enough surprise using the speed of our vehicles. Thus, we should instead lean on stealth.

What do we do with the bodies?

Every time I run this TDG in the Team Leader Class, someone suggests either looting, burning, or mutilating the corpses of the enemies. Whatever arguments are made for this COA, everyone always overlooks the forensic investigation that will inevitably follow our action.

This isn’t a full on WROL or guerrilla warfare scenario, just a partial collapse. It is in our best interests not to leave behind evidence that could eventually point to a member (or members) of our team. By walking up onto the objective and messing with bodies/vehicles/equipment, we would leave behind a treasure trove of forensic evidence. Boot prints, fingerprints, fibers from our clothes, and even DNA from bubba’s dip spit. Not to mention that we risk someone seeing us and taking pictures.

The risk doess not seem to be worth the reward, and we are likely better off just leaving the bodies for their friends to find.

Long range or short range attack?

Another consideration was whether to conduct the attack from longer, stand-off distances, or to approach closer. Most submissions decided to take advantage of the range of their weapons and have at least one element engage from “long range” (in this case, the furthest engagement distance that the terrain will allow is roughly 600m). One reader proposed using long range fires to distract the enemy while a maneuver element closed in to destroy them.

A key consideration here is how the enemy will react to our actions. As soon as they start taking fire, there’s a strong chance that they’ll call for a QRF, either their own people or from LE. If that happens, we will find ourselves in a tricky situation where we need to escape and evade a pursuing force that outnumbers us, even if we win the initial skirmish. The only way to prevent this is to eliminate all the commies quickly before they can make that call, a long firefight is not in our favor.

Back to the engagement distance. We stand a much better chance of killing all 4-5 enemies if we take advantage of the terrain to infiltrate as close as possible before shooting. Once we get to our firing positions, we can assign a different target to each shooter, and synchronize our shots. If we do it right, everyone fires 2-4 shots and the fight is over. No shots are fired back at us, mitigating the risk to our team. Locals probably wouldn’t even think twice about the noise because it would be over so fast. It would take some rehearsals, but with a team this small it should be easy.

The psychology of killing

This is a factor that is often ignored in TDGs, but is absolutely critical when you are working with green troops or civilian volunteers. We, as made by our creator, have an innate resistance to killing our fellow man. In fact, prior to Vietnam, this was a very serious problem in the military, with many soldiers finding themselves unable to kill the enemy even when a rifle was aimed at their face.

This is a very, very complex topic that I could not hope to do justice to here. If you haven’t already, read “On Killing” by Dave Grossman. It’s absolutely indispensable reading material for any warrior, and lays bare the psychology of killing in war and peace.

For now, suffice to say that the closer you are to an enemy, the less willing you are to kill him, especially if you can see his face. Since this is our first operation together, there is a serious possibility that one or more members of our untested team may find themselves unable to kill at close range, which jeapordizes all of us. This reason alone may be enough for us to back off a few hundred meters so that at least our enemy’s faces are harder to make out.


Hopefully you got something useful out of this TDG. TDGs are excellent supplements to in-person training classes because they’re an inexpensive way to get you to think. The best way to play these is to post your solution in the comments, read each others’ submissions, and debate them. You’ll find very quickly that there are many, many ways to tackle any tactical scenario

I plan to post these every week or so going forward, as regularly as possible. Thank you to everyone who played, I look forward to reading your solutions in the weeks to come!

Published by vonsteubentraining

Mike is the owner and chief instructor of Von Steuben Training & Consulting (VSTAC). A self-described “Tactical Scholar,” he spent 6 years in the Marine Corps as a radio operator and small-unit tactics instructor. He has dedicated his life to honing the tactical prowess of himself and his fellow patriots, guided by the wisdom of his commanding officer, Jesus Christ. He can be contacted via email at

4 thoughts on “TDG 1 Recap and Analysis

  1. I subscribed to the blog since seeing this here. Really good exercise. Thanks for posting these. I’d like to think such a scenario is completely fanciful then my left brain takes over..


  2. The feedback on plans is immeasurably valuable, thank you. Having someone who can point out the benefits, risks, and problems of a given plan is a learning experience that only learning the hard way can beat.


  3. Very much appreciate these thought exercises. Found this one on the Mother Ship and made my way over here to find many, many more. Looking forward to going through the exercises. I have a sinking feeling this becomes reality in my lifetime.


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