BARWANAH, Iraq -- Iraqi Army soldiers and U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment began their second operation in a month to continue disrupting insurgent operations in the area, Jan. 18.
Operation Red Bull II, a battalion-sized operation, continues the mission of clearing all insurgent operations out of the “Triad” area, which includes the cities of Barwanah, Haditha and Haqlaniyah. The first Operation Red Bull pushed the insurgents to the outskirts of the cities and made it harder for them to operate by finding and destroying 75 of their weapons caches.
“After Red Bull, the insurgents were operating on the outskirts of the cities in the Triad,” said 2nd Lt. Geoff V. Meno, 2nd Platoon commander for Company L. “Now we are going to the outskirts of the cities to show them we will go anywhere to find them.”
The main mission of the Marines is to sweep down the shorelines of the Euphrates River searching target houses and looking for weapons caches. In the first 24 hours, the Marines of Company L found 15 caches with numerous artillery rounds and bags of propellant used in making improvised explosive devices.
“Historically, the weapons caches we have found are hidden along the shoreline,” commented Meno, a Seattle native.
Just days before the start of Operation Red Bull II, Company L’s 2nd Platoon unearthed a massive weapons cache when they started searching more areas near main roads. The cache contained more explosive weapons and propellant than any other unearthed by the battalion so far.
“It was a really good find for the company and the battalion,” said Cpl. Bradley S. Adams, a squad leader from 2nd Platoon. “When you find something like that, it gives the Marines a feeling of accomplishment. It shows their hard work pays off.”
In a similar type of location, Adams’ squad found another big cache containing more than 38 artillery rounds. Without the help of a metal detector, the Marines went off of gut instinct and indicators on the ground to find the cache.
“We find most of our caches using an e-tool and a little elbow grease,” commented Adams, a 2002 Arapahoe High School graduate. “We have the idea around here that if we can’t take his life, then we will take his weapons.”
The company plans to sweep over kilometers of the eastern shoreline of the river before the end of the operation. Working with them on the opposite shoreline is another company in the battalion conducting the same operation.
“Having them on the other side is good so we can watch each other’s backs,” Meno added. “If we get attacked, they can help us out, and if they get attacked, we can help them out.”
During this operation, Company L is sweeping into areas they have not been before. Operating in a new area breaks the monotony for the Marines and provides new scenery.
“The thing I like most about Red Bull II is how we are going places we have never been before,” commented Adams, a Littleton, Colo., native.