"Instead of being the hunter, it's almost as if we're being hunted," says Pfc. Jeff Sappington of the 315th Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry.
The Army has sent about 1,500 reinforcements to Fallujah, but more troops means there are more targets.
"Seems like they're waiting for us because every time you see a patrol head out as soon as it leaves the gates the flares go up. The lights go out so they're just kind of waiting to ambush us as soon as we get in the town," says Sappington.
That – and the fact that most of the ambushes start with a rocket-propelled grenade launched at an American vehicle, which is then followed by machine gunfire from the opposite direction – has led the military to describe the ambushes as "coordinated attacks."
In the last two weeks, three U.S. soldiers have been killed in Fallujah and more than a dozen have been wounded. It's the center of resistance against the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. Fallujah never really surrendered.
"They can be waving at you one minute and the next minute they're shooting at you," said Pfc. Brian Wiley.
"For every American they kill, it's like a big thing for them. We've had several close calls," said Pfc. Lucas Tate. "Too many close calls, really."
It's safer on foot, say the soldiers of the 101st Airborne. Unlike humvees or armor, their path through Fallujah's narrow streets is unpredictable, making an ambush more difficult, but not impossible.
Private First Class Branden F. Oberleitner was two weeks short of his 21st birthday when he was killed in an ambush last week outside Fallujah's police station.
His war is over, but for the men who call themselves his band of brothers, there's still fighting to be done in Fallujah.