TDG 14: Personnel Recovery

Originally posted on American Partisan on June 14, 2022

A TDG is a Tactical Decision Game, a mental wargaming exercise designed to get you practice making tactically sound decisions in a hypothetical scenario.  The ability to make sound and timely decisions based off incomplete and imperfect information is a critical skill to have, especially as a team leader.

You will be given a scenario, confronted with a tactical problem, and given a time limit to think about and write out your answer.  The time limit is to simulate the pressure of a real-world tactical decision, where you must quickly assess the information you are given and come up with the best answer you can.  Then comment below with your answer so you can discuss each others’ solutions.

TDG 14: Personnel Recovery

Week 6 into WROL.  You and your MAG have been living peacefully at your homestead, but last week “Kelly,” the wife of one of your MAG members was kidnapped when she left the homestead alone to check on her sister’s house.  Local sources and your own reconnaissance have led you to the farmhouse where she is being held in the basement, guarded by a small garrison of thugs.  Your MAG has enlisted the help of a nearby Neighborhood Protection Team (NPT) to raid the compound to recover Kelly.

Your MAG has a 6-man squad and the NPT has committed their 10-man QRF to support you.  Since none of you have night vision, you have decided to conduct the raid in daylight.  YOU are the leader of your 6-man squad, which is acting as the assault element.  The NPT is acting as your support-by-fire element for the raid.  You estimate the enemy strength at around 8-12 thugs guarding the compound, with at least 3 awake on guard duty at any given time.

You do not have radios, so you plan to synchronize your actions to a time.  The plan is for the NPT to open fire from the North at 0700 while your squad closes on the farmhouse following the treeline from the East.  After two minutes, the NPT will cease fire while your squad closes the last 50m to the farmhouse to clear it and rescue Kelly.  “Just make sure you’re in position on time,” the NPT squad leader tells you.  “If you’re not in position by the time we cease firing, your approach will be uncovered and very dangerous.”

At 0500 you begin the foot patrol towards your objective.  When you get to the objective rally point (ORP) at 0630 your groups split up and begin their final movement into attack positions.  You’re moving very slowly to avoid making noise.  About halfway to your assault position your pointman throws up a the hand/arm signal for “FREEZE!” and points up.  You look and notice a small quadcopter drone flying North to South over the objective.  Cautiously, you lead your patrol a little further into the tree line to evade the drone.

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You make it to your assault position and everyone gets into the prone to wait for 0700.  So far you have only observed 1 enemy outside the building on guard.  At 0655 you hear a high-pitched whine and look up.  The drone is back, but this time it’s hovering about 200ft above you.  Does it see you?  So far you don’t notice any change in behavior from the guard or any activity from the house.  What do you do?

In a time limit of 5 minutes, decide how you will handle this situation.  Write down any special instructions you would give to your men and explain why you chose to do what you did.

Grid squares represent 100m.  Map created using

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

5 thoughts on “TDG 14: Personnel Recovery

  1. I assume no suppressed weapons and no improvised smoke or flash bang are available. Again not having a military background. Personally as soon as you noticed the drone and you know the hostage is in a lower level and unless you are confident the drone has not picked your IR prints up. I would stick to your original plan, if not this is when you need to take out the sentry as quietly as possible and advance to the location. Set up trying to get a look into the basement to see if the hostage is still alive. Then open up with what you have, and if you do have improvised smoke or flash bang grenades this would be the time to use them when you storm the building


  2. Since we moved the team into concealment prior to the drone arriving overhead I wouldn’t be worried about it spotting us at that elevation. Small drones like these currently don’t possess IR imaging so I wouldn’t be worried about that either. Even if we were spotted the enemy would have to assault us across a wide open field, probably not a great choice. If we remain concealed for 5 more minutes the support by fire will be going to work, most likely distracting the drone operator. Basically just carry on with the original plan and assault as planned.

    For those interested in a Drone’s eye view of a patrol the following contains images from training I’ve done with one. Well camouflaged individuals hiding in concealment are very hard to spot, and I’ve got very good optics on my drone, some of the best available.


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