Photo Information

Marines from Bravo Co., Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, work alongside Iraqi soldiers in a search for weapons caches and insurgents during Operation Koa Canyon along the Euphrates River Jan. 16, 2006. The 22nd MEU (SOC) is conducting counterinsurgency operations in Al Anbar province with an Iraqi infantry battalion, collectively under the tactical control of the 2nd Marine Division.

Photo by Cpl. Christopher S. Vega

Operation Koa Canyon: Marines, Iraqi soldiers sweep for insurgents

31 Jan 2006 | Cpl. Christopher S. Vega

Recently, Marines with B Company, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Bn., 2nd Marine Regiment, and Iraqi soldiers completed their part of Operation Koa Canyon in the Al Anbar province.The purpose of the 10-day operation was to clear local towns and villages of weapons caches and insurgent activity along the Euphrates River as other elements of the BLT and Iraqi Army worked the other side of the river. Starting in the Jubbah-Baghdadi region Jan. 16, Marines turned south and searched every palm grove, village and shack they encountered. The Marines and their coalition counterparts patrolled the eastern side of the Euphrates, covering every inch of ground for approximately 43 miles alongside the twisting and turning river. “This operation consisted of a lot of walking and even more of clearing, but it needed to be done,” said Cpl. Thomas Adams, of Warwick, N.Y., a squad leader in B Co. With the Iraqi soldiers working with B Co., the force was able to uncover thousands of small-arms ammunition, mortar rounds and improvised explosive devices. Also assisting the company were motorized forces from the Combined Anti-Armor Team, Light Armored Reconnaissance Platoon, an explosive ordnance disposal team and combat engineers.“All of our attachments did a great job and each of them played a vital role in the mission accomplishment,” said First Lt. Chris Richardella, of Washington, B Co.’s executive officer. “The Engineers from [MEU Service Support Group 22] did a great job; most of the caches we found were due to their work.”While CAAT and LAR maintained security over the riflemen during the day, EOD and the engineers worked together with the infantrymen to find the weapons caches and dispose of them.Around 45 weapons caches were uncovered during the operation.“I couldn’t be prouder of these Marines,” said Lt. Col. Drew Smith, BLT 1/2 commander. “These young guys did exactly what the mission required, and they did it well.”In addition to BLT 1/2, the 22nd MEU (SOC) consists of its Command Element, MEU Service Support Group 22 and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced). The MEU is currently conducting counterinsurgency operations with an Iraqi Army battalion under the tactical control of the 2nd Marine Division in Iraq’s Al Anbar province.For more information on the 22nd MEU (SOC)’s role in Operation Iraqi Freedom, visit the unit’s web site at
22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit