Okay, so it is worth remembering that events in the comic are about 10 or so years behind today. That would mean that for Joe, Juni, and others in the 213th Engineers Battalion, we are coming up on the year 2007. In 2007, the Big Deal was the “Troop Surge”.
The “Troop Surge” was, to me, always tacit admission that one of the biggest criticisms of the Iraq War had a lot of merit: namely, that the invasion, and immediate occupation afterwards, never had adequate numbers of troops for the task at hand. It is worth remembering that in the aftermath of the Iraqi government’s defeat, there was widespread lawlessness and looting that went uncontested for weeks. There were not enough personnel to contain the looting and guerrilla activity, and this had dogged the Administration for some time.
By the time the 2007 “Troop Surge” was planned and underway, the dis-organized guerrilla remnants of the Iraqi Army and various anti-Saddam militias had time to organize themselves and develop more effective ways of fighting. The “Troop Surge” was a response to that, but it meant that initiative had been lost and now we were looking for a way to re-gain some control over the situation. At the time, the “Surge” seemed like it might be a good idea, and for awhile afterwards it even seemed to have worked. The characters don’t know what the future holds, of course, and for them all they know is that their chances of being re-deployed have just increased dramatically.