July 16, 2007 — -- More than 30,000 U.S. troops are trying to tame the violence in Baghdad as part of President Bush's troop surge.
American soldiers describe the constant stress of living in a war zone, voice their frustrations over the politics with the war strategy in Washington, and are seen as they watch an armored vehicle burn with six of their fellow troops trapped inside, in a rare and raw look at what American troops are experiencing on the front lines in Baghdad.
ABC News has an exclusive look at that campaign, a portion of which was filmed by British photographer Sean Smith of the Guardian newspaper, who was embedded with the U.S. Army's Second Infantry Division. (Click on the video in the player on the right to see a clip of what Smith filmed in Iraq.)
Smith spent two weeks with members of Apache Company and filmed them as they went on daily routine investigations, including one of a bomb making factory hidden in a private home. Soon after they arrived an explosion hit and an Iraqi soldier and several neighbors, including children, were hit.
The U.S. soldiers set up a first aid station and provided medical assistance in what was a typical day for the troops.
"I challenge anybody in Congress to do my rotation," said Spc. Michael Vassell of Apache Company. "They don't have to do anything, they just come hang out with me and go home at the times I go home, and come stay here 15 months with me."
Apache Company was sent to Iraq in June 2006 for a 12-month rotation which has since been extended to a 15-month tour.
"It's a joke. We will have spent 14 months in contact, basically fighting all 14 months," said Cpl. Joshua Lake. "Our battalion got right to Baghdad … first week we were in Baghdad we lost two guys in our battalion … it hasn't stopped since."
In another instance of Smith's reporting, Lake's platoon responded to a Bradley armored vehicle being hit by a roadside bomb, leaving six American soldiers and an Iraqi translator burning to death inside.