"This has been an exhausting day- emotionally and physically. But then again, it's that way for the troops pretty much every day here. Bottom line: Iraq is a complicated, difficult, hard-to-understand place. But we need to make this work. There is hope and success amidst the sadness and suffering here. I smile when I remember the 34 year-old Iraqi businesswoman who ditched her car and took four busses to get to our interview to avoid being noticed by the terrorists. She owns her own engineering company with 14 employees and urged the American people not to leave Iraq . 'Please help us defeat these men,' she said. "And:
"I then observed CPT Mike Tess and LT Emily Siegert in a meeting with the local mayor about ongoing infrasture projects-a new water tower, secondary school, and sewage pipes. This village doesn't look so hot by our standards-shabby buildings and bad drainage-but it it's very liveable by Iraqi standards. Mayor Abdul Hyder told me that the life now, compared to life three years ago, was "like a dream" for most Iraqis. "Yes, there are problems," he said," but there is also freedom." His gratitude for all that Coalition forces have done for Iraq seemed heartfelt. At the same time, he told the patrol leaders that villagers were sometimes afraid when troops they didn't yet know well entered the village on foot patrol, rather than in vehicles. (This particular unit had recently moved from a very dangerous region in Iraq and were still getting to know the locals.) This sort of one-on-one diplomacy is critical to the long-term success of the mission here."And:
"You wouldn't know it by reading the New York Times, but IED attacks are actually down since December. I headed over to the Iraqi side of the base, where I saw the Iraqi troops being trained, with interpreters on site, of course. The men-about 30 of them-were friendly and seemed dedicated. They also risk their lives just by being part of the new Iraqi security forces-so most didn't want their pictures taken. Their American counterparts seem genuinely fond of these men-and not happy that the whole story is not being told by the "major media." More of the battlefield control is being turned over to the Iraqis later in the spring. "When the Iraqis see one of their own on top of a tank, they seem really proud," said one of the military trainers. "We need that to be the norm, as quickly as possible," commented one of the smart young majors riding with us. . . ."