While in the Baghdad bureau earlier today, "Good Morning America" anchor Chris Cuomo talked to ABC News about the state of Baghdad, the Sunni and Shiite conflict and answered some of your viewer e-mails.
Question: As you know, we've been getting a lot of viewer e-mails sending their best wishes to you and asking questions about the war and the region, and we wanted to see if you can answer a couple of them for us right now.
Cuomo: First, I just want to thank everyone for watching and sending their questions and comments in, it means a lot, and please continue to do so.
Question: A timely question comes from Susan Littlejohn-Miller, from Chesapeake, Va. Susan simply wants to know, "Are you safe?"
Cuomo: Everywhere is dangerous here, but we have former British Special Forces serving as private security. We also have to wear vests and cover anywhere we go in the city. Currently journalists are a major kidnapping target; the Mahdi army put threats out for journalists especially.
Question: On your day of reporting from Baghdad, you were traveling in a massive Stryker vehicle. Dianne Martin, from Lennox, S.D., was wondering: "How effective is the Stryker vehicle in protecting troops from IEDs and other explosives? Is the Stryker sufficiently armored? Mechanically and electronically, is it relatively trouble-free?"
Cuomo: The Stryker weighs approximately 38,000 pounds and can travel up to 80 mph! The soldiers say it is perfect for this theater because of its mobility and armor combination. A Stryker is kind of the best assets of Humvee and a tank combined.
They also can get the most soldiers on the ground, as many as nine dismounting and pulling triggers. The eight wheels have run-flat capability, and the front two on each side turn. Strykers also work as a team; if one gets stuck they have powerful winches and tow capabilities to help out. They are also outfitted for different purposes, weapons, surveillance, etc.
There are four gunners that pop out of openings, while a driver guides the powerful diesel with an automatic transmission. There is heat but no a/c. They guys also love to listen to music in them to get pumped up. It is one serious machine.
Question: From R.A. Sylvester of Cheshire, Conn.: "How do ordinary people go about their business? Is there any kind of normal life or do people go to work and school every day in fear?"
Cuomo: There is a lot of fear, and people spend a lot of time inside their homes. In general people here are poor and getting used to it, and that's not good. Poverty is stifling here, the sewage is broken, garbage is apparent everywhere. It's not good. This place will not be what it needs to be for a very long time.
Question: Matthew Steinle, from Titusville, Fla. asked, "What will it take for Iraqi forces to take control of the violence in Baghdad?"
Cuomo: A significant obstacle to progress here is that there is no consensus as to who is in charge, the obvious consequence of having an occupying army. As a result, each faction is vying for control.
The Sunni and Shia conflict is more tribal than religious, and it speaks volumes that in this "civil war" Sunni and Shias walk around in sandals and very dirty jogging suits, and I have to wear a vest and cover at all times.
Our soldiers are also now in a weird role, not doing what they do best but teaching others how to do it and that exposes them to peril. Patrolling the streets and not attacking is perilous. Witness the chopper recently shot down, or the IED attack on the convoy I was with the other day. Also, some serious thought has to be given as to whether a U.S.-style of democracy is the right fit here. Look at the region, there is no other like it.
Tune in to "Good Morning America" all week to see more of Cuomo's reporting from Iraq, and log on to ABCNEWS.com, where he will continue to answer your e-mails and give exclusive insight to the city of Baghdad, the people living there, and our troops stationed there.