Soldiers and commanders who served in the long Iraq war are struggling to make sense of this week's stunning gains by insurgents in places they once fought to protect, such as Mosul and Fallujah.
The advances have left many U.S. veterans reflecting — with bitterness, frustration and sadness — on the sacrifices of a war that lasted for more than eight years and killed nearly 4,500 Americans and many more Iraqis.
Army Col. Barry Johnson is now retired and living in Potlatch, Idaho. He says the losses make the whole war feel like a waste of lives.
Marine Sgt. Colin Archipley fought in Fallujah almost a decade ago. He says Iraq's opportunity was squandered, and he isn't sure what else could have been done.