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.
KHALIDIYAH, IRAQ: Raise your hand if you are familiar with the town of Khalidiyah?
It was news to me.
Khalidiyah is a rough town of nearly 20,000 people straddling the south shore of the Euphrates River, nearly equidistant between Fallujah and Ramadi. It is knee deep in the Sunni Triangle.
Why make mention of such a small and seemingly insignificant city? Because it's littered with insurgents and the war can't be won until places like Khalidiyah are brought under control.
Our convoy of four Humvees is using a four-lane road that cuts right through town en route to an Iraqi military outpost where the U.S. Marines advise Iraqi soldiers on literally everything.
An Iraqi Humvee — armed with an Iraqi gunner and three Iraqi soldiers — is the vehicle leading us. The U.S. military is keen on taking us to places which can display how Iraqis are progressing.
As we approach the off ramp that connects this town to the nearest highway, traffic gets jammed. The Iraqi gunner is waving his arm furiously at the vehicles approaching from the right, urging them to move past and not block our intended path.
Suicide vehicle bombers are too frequent and the military — along with the new Iraqi army — doesn't make assumptions about the safety of anything or anyone around them.
Minutes later we are moving again.
Our destination is the military outpost known as "Buckeye" where we plan on seeing firsthand how the U.S. military is using transition teams to train, advise and guide the new Iraqi military.
From a base in nearby Habbaniyah, we were warned, when this excursion began, of the inherent dangers when approaching the Euphrates River. There is only one bridge that crosses the biblical river at this point and locals have lined it repeatedly with roadside explosives for more than two years.
It's a thin, two-lane span which Coalition and Iraqi forces cross a dozen times every day. One way in. One way out.
When we arrive — snaking our way through a thick maze of security checkpoints — we are met by Major Bill MacCoullough, a youthful looking, blond haired, father of two from Minnesota. Standing in the courtyard which serves as a common area for troops from both countries, one feels the surrounding danger immediately. This is enemy territory. "We have to insert ourselves into the battlefield," he explains. "And that's why we are here. That's the reason for an outpost like this."
"They won't fight us straight up, so we need to find a way to find them."
And that's not easy.
The Marines use tips supplied by locals as they work the town, sometimes on foot patrol, in neighborhoods that will always be known better by those who grew up here.
Once securely inside the outpost, the mind wanders. What's to prevent 100 insurgents from climbing the man made berm and launching an all-out assault?
"We'd like nothing more," says MacCoullough. "That's a battle they can't win."
From across the river, we hear a boom in the distance. And then another.
"This is like cowboys and Indians," relays a Marine.
Indeed it is.
As our convoy readies to depart and make our return trip over the river, the radio crackles with a message from a U.S. Army team on foot patrol: there are casualties.
One of the explosions we heard was a bomb detonating just off the main road in Khalidiyah. One U.S. soldier was killed. Two others are wounded.
It takes several minutes to absorb the news.
A short time later we are climbing back into our body armour. Our convoy of Humvees is moving back toward that bridge.
Bill Hemmer currently serves as co-anchor of FOX News Channel's (FNC) America's Newsroom (weekdays 9-11AM/ET) and America's News HQ (weekdays 1-2PM/ET). Hemmer joined the network in 2005 and is based in New York. Click here for more information on Bill Hemmer.