But as the White House faces calls to revisit its Iraq policy, U.S. forces in Ramadi insist their strategy here – taking ground and holding it – is proving effective.
“You have to occupy ground and stay there,” said Capt. Greg Pavlichko, commander of a company involved in “Squeeze Play.” “You have to live where you’re fighting and let the people see you’re committed to an area.”
Commanders also say that any progress in Ramadi will evaporate almost overnight if U.S. forces pull out of the city. There is speculation the U.S. may scale back its operations here and throughout Anbar to focus on the violence and chaos in Baghdad.
“I think to give up on Anbar would be to give up on Iraq,” Hart said. “It would be giving up all that we’ve worked very hard, sacrificed a lot of lives, to gain.”