The frustration of being just two credits shy of graduation and newly married is touched on briefly, but is an important fact that helps clarify his frustration. As he takes us on his journey into the horrors of war, we begin to see a pattern of disorganization from those in authority, and vague answers to the young men's questions about their return home. One incident underscores this disorganization clearly. On a mission to a local Iraqi bank, two soldiers are left standing guard outside. While the rest of the group is inside the bank enjoying a precious few moments in air conditioning, insurgents fire upon the two men outside. One of the men is shot very seriously in the neck. Trying to get medevac to the scene proves to be the most difficult part of the incident. It seems commanding officers and their staff, do not leave the compound. Tracking the exact location of the bank and dispatching the appropriate help becomes a source of frustration for the men on the scene. What is telling in this scene is not that the two men were fired upon, but the slow and disorganized response from their commanding officers.
The promise of going home is held in front of the men frequently throughout the story only to be withheld from them over and over again. They are told, 'just keep up the work a little longer. We'll be home soon.'(Crawford 19) The commanding officers seem unconcerned with the stress and fatigue that these men are facing, and only seem concerned with their own plans of glory and recognition.
The imagery that Crawford uses gives us a land that is as bleak and unwelcoming as his first descriptions of the storm. We see a country decimated by war and it's citizens living in squalor. "The building was full of rotting feces. Piles of it, along with MRE toilet paper, littered the floor. The heat had turned the building into an oven, and the smell was overpowering."(Crawford 32) The gritty descriptions of crumbling buildings and human waste flowing in the streets fill the pages and lend to the feeling of a complete breakdown of a society.
Interwoven through the stories of fear and exhaustion there are some moments of humor that remind the reader that these are ordinary men thrown into extraordinary circumstances. They are trying desperately to hang on to a sense of normalcy in an alien world. The story of Cum, a homeless Iraqi child, and his friendship with Crawford clearly display the overall feeling of desperation. While the story is told in a dispassionate way, the sense that the boy meant a great deal to Crawford is apparent based on his statement that they talked for hours without understanding each other's language. Without language to join them they manage to forge a friendship based on the child's innocent and eager nature. Eventually because of Iraqi attitudes toward Americans, something happens to the child. What that something is, is never made clear, but Crawford's guilt over the incident is palpable.
The frequent mention of drugs seems to be another desperate attempt to escape the situation that he finds himself. One incident has a medic injecting Crawford with morphine just for the sleep the drug will allow him. Crawford spends a day in bed after the morphine