October 29, 2006


In Iraqi Villages, Troops See Strides and a Big Challenge (Josh White, October 29, 2006, Washington Post)

The smell of baking bread wafted over the dusty central square as children clamored to get closer to the U.S. troops and their hulking armored vehicles. Lt. John Sirhal tried fruitlessly to keep order among a group of boys waiting for M&Ms, while Capt. Adam Sawyer calmly walked up to businessmen hawking their wares.

Samir Hassan, a 53-year-old shopkeeper, said he was happy with the U.S. forces who have maintained peace around his home. But the Iraqi police who have set up a checkpoint at the entrance to Mustafar have made the residents uneasy, he said, as have the Shiite militias that operate just miles away.

"We feel safe here," Hassan said, waving his arm at the throngs of people in the streets on a recent day. "But now we can't go to Baghdad. We need to have security in Iraq. The government has no control, and I don't trust the Iraqi forces."

It is in small villages like these that U.S. soldiers say they are making their biggest strides but also face their biggest challenges. Commanders in Iraq say they can win any battle against armed insurgents and conduct any military operation successfully, but persuading Iraqis to believe in Iraq could end up being the most difficult battle in this war.

You can't leave the Ba'ath in power for thirty years and not expect it to take a toll.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 29, 2006 9:05 AM
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