His assignment was Mosul, 400 kilometers north of Baghdad, where Iraqi security forces were struggling to hold the city. It was there that Askew first learned the human cost of war: His executive officer was killed in a roadside bomb, leaving him briefly in charge while awaiting a replacement.
"I grew up on my first deployment," said Askew, who lives in Tampa, Florida. "It made me appreciate my family more. It made me appreciate politically what we have."
Askew returned to Iraq in 2011 with a military police unit. He was charged with securing U.S. troops at bases in the southern Shiite heartland where they were routinely targeted by Iranian-backed insurgents.
Even as he left Iraq, he wondered about the country's future: Will Iraq be stable? Will its government align itself with Iran?
The same questions have been asked by a number of Americans, from lawmakers to soldiers, as reports emerge that the United States has warned Iraq against allowing Iran to use its airspace to ship weapons to Syria, its ally.
"We're all kind of watching Iraq right now, and trying to figure out if it was worth it," he said.
'I see no good future for Iraq'
Last year, on "Iraq Day," Mahdi Auda Ghanam's family celebrated.
This year, the 25-year-old's family is in mourning. Ghanam was killed by a car bomb as he walked to a small repair shop he operated in the Shula district. It was the same November attack that wounded Adel.
"We were happy, and I distributed candies to neighbors when the Americans left Iraq last year. We thought the war was over and there would be no more killing and destruction," Ghanam's mother, Mahdiya, said. "I don't know who to blame. They said al Qaeda, but where is al Qaeda? I blame those who don't fear God."
In the months and days before Ghanam's death, he worried the deteriorating security situation, his family said.
Still, he was making plans for the future. He had fallen in love and was going to get married, his mother said. He still played in the neighborhood soccer league, and he was looking for a permanent job with the government.
But with the rise in car bombings, he took precautions.
"So many times, Mahdi canceled a planned trip to go to the ... market to buy stuff for his store never knowing that instead one day he would die inside his store," Ghanam's brother, Ali, said.
The family won't participate in the upcoming elections because they don't believe it will make a difference, he said.
"If you ask me if I am optimistic about the future of Iraq, I really don't have an answer. Maybe a year ago, I would have said I am maybe optimistic. But now I'm just not sure," Ali Ghanam said.
"I see no good future for Iraq if this continues."