By Phil C.

By Phil C.

Death Walkers

In April 2004, Colonel Kenneth F.

McKenzie arrived in southern

Afghanistan with 2,400 sailors and

Marines of the 22d Marine Expeditionary

Unit (MEU). Although only in

country for several months, they played

a critical role in Operation Enduring

Freedom by spearheading Central

Command’s annual spring offensive,

Operation Mountain Storm. Operating

in the mountainous region north of

Kandahar, their mission was to defeat

the anti-Coalition forces, secure the

major population centers, and support

civil-military operations to facilitate

United Nations-sponsored elections in


The 22d MEU accomplished its

objectives through a three-phased strategy:

it established Forward Operating

Base Ripley in Tarin Kowt, the capital

city of Oruzban Province; conducted

company-sized cordon and search

patrols along neighboring river valleys;

and engaged the enemy in mountainous

sanctuaries. The 22d MEU also registered

countless voters, initiated over

$300,000 worth of civil affairs projects,

killed more than 90 Taliban and al-

Qaeda fighters, detained an additional

131 persons of interest, and confiscated

multiple weapons and ammunition

caches. At the conclusion of the operation,

Lieutenant General David W.

Barno, USA, head of Combined Forces

Command-Afghanistan, remarked,

“Never in the history of Operation

Enduring Freedom has there been an

offensive operation like the one the 22d

MEU conducted. Never have we been

this successful.

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