America's Broken-Down Army

A TIME investigation into what the Iraq war has done to our fighting force — and what can be done to fix it

Yuri Kozyrev for TIME

An American Bradley (APV) that was hit by an IED in Ramadi.

For most Americans, the Iraq war is both distant and never-ending. For Private Matthew Zeimer, it was neither. Shortly after midnight on Feb. 2, Zeimer had his first taste of combat as he scrambled to the roof of the 3rd Infantry Division's Combat Outpost Grant in central Ramadi. Under cover of darkness, Sunni insurgents were attacking his new post from nearby buildings. Amid the smoke, noise and confusion, a blast suddenly ripped through the 3-ft. concrete wall shielding Zeimer and a fellow soldier, killing them both. Zeimer had been in Iraq for a week. He had been at his first combat...

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