Amid ongoing sectarian violence, the catch phrase for the U.S. military in Iraq today is "neighborhood reconciliation."
The daily death toll reveals what a challenge that is. On Monday, a suicide car bombing outside a park in Baghdad killed four people and wounded about two dozen. Near Balad, about 50 miles to the north, another car bomb killed six members of a tribal police unit.
But there is some success to report in the communities where U.S. army units are based, as company commanders try to get Sunnis and Shiites to talk to each other.
In some Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad, changes on the ground suggest that radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is trying to exert greater control over his followers in the Mahdi army, which has been widely accused of sectarian killings in the past two years.
In Amil, which has been one of the worst areas, the Mahdi army commander and a local Sunni leader have met repeatedly during the past three days and worked out a plan to stop the violence. Both have agreed to expel outsiders who have been working in the area, and to bring back displaced residents.
Pressure from the U.S. forces in the area might have contributed to their actions.