TDG 15: The Best Laid Plans

Originally posted on American Partisan on June 28, 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.

Condor map pouch, my “Team Leader Pouch”
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TDG 15: The Best Laid Plans

2 months into foreign occupation.  The PLA (Chinese Army) have been invited in by the governors of several states as “peacekeeping” forces to restore order to the region. The National Guard and US military have been ordered to stand down and cooperate with the PLA, who came in as “UN Peacekeepers.”  From the first day that Chinese troops marched ashore they began taking sniper fire.  What followed has been a full-on guerrilla war against the occupiers conducted by militias, rogue military units, and criminal organizations.  Still, due to sheer numbers of troops and equipment, the PLA has managed to make slow, steady progress expanding their area of control.

YOU are the commander of a local Jäger force, a squad-sized element consisting of 13 men including yourself, operating just outside of the enemy’s zone of control.  The terrain in your area is mostly flat, forested with dense but navigable undergrowth.  You receive a tip from a local civilian that a PLA reconnaissance patrol is operating in your area.  The SALUTE report for the enemy is as follows:

  • Size: 10 men
  • Activity: Inserting via helicopter and patrolling on foot South towards the town of Hidalgo
  • Location: 934 385
  • Uniform: PLA Infantry
  • Time: 0709 Yesterday
  • Equipment: 9x QBZ-191 rifles, 1x Type 67 GPMG (Chinese PKM), rucksacks with entrenching tools visible, 2x ghillie suits, helmet-mounted night vision

You have good intelligence on their probable return route, so you decide to ambush them on their way back to an LZ for helicopter extraction.  You break your 13-man squad into the following teams:

  • 1x 5-man squad all armed with AR-15s and 2x NVGs
  • 1x 5-man Machine Gun squad with the following:
    • 2x M240B LMGs
    • 3x AR-15s
    • 3x NVGs
  • 1x 2-man scout team with AR-15s and 1x NVG
  • Yourself, with an AR-15 and NVG

You give the following order to your men:

“We believe the enemy will patrol North towards a likely location for an LZ for their extraction tonight around midnight.  Their most likely route is through the woods East of Cinderville, handrailing Patriot Rd.  At 2000 the Scout team will push out to 9410 3826 to establish an LP/OP for early warning of the enemy’s advance and to confirm their route.  We are going to set a baited L-shaped ambush in this clearing here.  1st Squad will open fire with a few rifle shots when the enemy enters the clearing.  They will likely form a skirmish line to assault through what they think is a small team.  When they do, 1st squad is to go to ground and cease firing.  When the enemy gets into the kill zone, 2nd Squad will open up on them with enfilading fire from the machine guns.  When the enemy is destroyed, 1st team will become the assault element and sweep through the kill zone to finish them off.  After that we will conduct TSE (Tactical Site Exploitation) and regroup.  We will occupy our positions no later than 2100”

The Plan

You issue each team leader a radio.  Since you have time you conduct plenty of rehearsals to really nail down the scheme of maneuver and all signals.  At 2000, as planned, your scout team departs to establish their LP/OP, and at 2045 your force reaches the ambush site.  Just as you are about to set in to your ambush positions, however, your scout team calls you over the radio.

Got radios? Be a lot cooler if you did.
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“They’re patrolling past us now!” the scout team leader whispers over the radio.  “They’re on the road, and they’re moving pretty fast in a staggered column.”

The enemy is early and moving quickly.  You had suspected that they might use the road and had a backup plan to relocate further north if that happened.  However, you weren’t expecting them to be moving this quickly.  It would take you 5 minutes to get there and the enemy will be at your position in about 2 minutes.

In a time limit of 5 minutes, draft the frag order that you would issue to your squad.  Write down any special instructions you would give to your men and explain why you chose to do what you did.


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 15: The Best Laid Plans

  1. Linear ambush along the side of the road we’re on.
    MG team stays in the clumped tree we’re at. Upon setting off the ambush, run through one belt, re load then rifle team will cover retreat 100 meters to a rally point.
    Rifle team moves north and sets up 25 meters away and 25 meters off the road. Upon setting off ambush, rifle team helps gain fire superiority and then focuses on priority targets.
    Once reloaded the rifle team covers the retreat of MG team westward to rally point followed by rifle team.

    If an overwhelming advantage is gained, I would still order the retreat.


  2. I’m a newbie, but here goes:

    Draw them into your kill zone- Maintain positions to start; 1st squad open fire when patrol reaches approx Grid: 384.25 x 942.2. After initial salvo through the trees onto Patriot Rd, 1st squad falls back due east to next tree line, approx grid 384.5 x 943.25. This should draw the PLA unit in pursuit of 1st squad into the initial kill zone wherein 2nd squad can open fire as per the original plan.

    If after initial contact, PLA decides to flank right, they should still fall into 2nd squad’s line of fire. If the PLA decides to flank left, then 1st squad continue to fall back from the secondary tree line position, but more southeast. This should bring the PLA into 2nd squad’s line of fire when the PLA reaches the foot trail.

    These are all still L shaped ambushes, but you are just changing the orientation of your L.


  3. With only 2 minutes to go there’s only two options I can think of, hasty ambush or just disengage and let them pass.

    For the hasty ambush I’d set up a linear ambush parallel with the road. I’d kick my scout team to the left for left side security, place the MG team in the center and have my rifle team on the right. I’d be with the MG team. I’d engage once the front of their squad reaches the front of my rifle team, but only if I felt I was in a good position to do so. Everybody with NOD’s would be instructed to seek out and engage crew served weapons and leaders. My rifle team would envelope to clear the kill zone on command, followed by the MG team.


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