"It's like talking to Americans for dummies," says Carter, with the 1-8 infantry regiment. "They're just telling us what they think we want to hear."
Lieut. Kirk Bailey knows they have to show who's in charge. But after a year in Iraq, they are experienced enough to show their humanity, too.
Bailey says Iraqis know keeping quiet is their best option.
"Dude, there was a round in the chamber and it was hot. C'mon, dude leaned right up against the window sill right next to your bed, how do you explain it?," Bailey asks a suspect.
Since the gunmen have fled and none of these men show up on the U.S. wanted list, the U.S. soldiers have to let them go.
For a change, it's not the Americans under fire in Balad. During last week's outbreak of all-out war, it was the city's two main ethnic groups who were killing each other, says Lieut. Col. Jeffrey Martindale.
That conflict, between Sunnis and Shiites, is simmering — and Martindale says that with U.S. troop cuts in Balad, it's going to get worse.
"If the government doesn't do anything to prevent it, they'll have a civil war," Martindale says.
Stopping that is a hard job for the Iraqi police captain whose mainly Shiite town is completely surrounded by Sunni neighborhoods.
"If the Americans leave, it will be all-out war again," he says through a translator.
Ironically, that captain's natural enemy, the area's most powerful Sunni sheik, agrees.
"The difficult part is extracting ourselves from what we've helped create," Martindale says.
Martindale and his men are leaving. Their replacements are facing a town on the edge, with Iraqi security forces no one trusts.