BAGHDAD, Iraq – Editor's note: FOX News anchor Bill Hemmer is reporting from Iraq. His broadcasts can be seen at 12 p.m. ET, 9 a.m. PT.
Camp Fallujah is enormous. Nearly 20,000 Marines, soldiers and airmen make their home here or at any of the numerous, but smaller forward-operating bases. They live in the most volatile and critical part of Iraq: the guts of the Sunni Triangle.
On our third day, it’s impossible to understand the complexities of this country in such a short period of time. Anyone who talks, acts or believes otherwise is kidding themselves.
"This is like three-level chess," explains a Marine Brigadier General. "It’s complicated."
Short of unraveling the nuances at the political, military, social and religious level, suffice to say, the Iraqi onion is shrouded in layers.
Morale appears to be outstanding. That's not to say these Marine men and women prefer being here rather than home, but repeated conversations with Marines at every level leads you to one conclusion: they are committed to the job. And what a job it is.
For three days we have talked their ears off trying to grasp the reality of Iraq today, but our tour has taken us to only three locations: Baghdad, Fallujah and the small town of Garmah, nearly six miles from base. Clearly, we can't speak to the entire country, but everyone here talks of progress.
The persistent question is how you measure that progress and on whose time frame. These Marines believe they can help Iraq, but they need time, support, and patience from every side (the Iraqis, the American people, the politicians in Washington, DC and the Iraqi government) to make decisions and chart a course of direction and leadership.
But in the end, nearly every discussion here takes you back to the same point and central theme: the decision to transform this country into a stable and peaceful society lies in the hands of the Iraqi people. If they don't have the will, they won't get there.
Not since the beginning of humankind have two — often vastly different societies — tried to merge their common interests for a better future.
Did I mention it’s complicated? You bet.
Bill Hemmer currently serves as co-anchor of FOX News Channel’s (FNC) America's Newsroom (weekdays 9-11AM/ET) alongside Sandra Smith. Hemmer joined the network in 2005 and is based in New York. Click here for more information on Bill Hemmer.