Gen. David Petraeus is meeting with Iraqis in the small town of Jadidah, Iraq, just north of Baghdad in Diyala province, hoping to win their support literally one family at a time.
"The Iraqis are very hospitable and warm and friendly and it's just good to get to know them a tiny bit and hear what their problems are," Petraeus said.
Some may say Petraeus' actions have the look and feel of an American political campaign, with the top U.S. general in Iraq shaking hands and kissing Iraqis in an attempt to build on the momentum of the surge in an area where some of the toughest fighting is taking place.
"There are certainly some great challenges in this area from al Qaeda and from some militia extremists, but they've made quite a bit of progress here," Petraeus said.
Securing the area is an important part of the planned surge in Iraq, according to the general.
"It is the northern belt around Baghdad," he said. "Baqoubah [is] just up the road here. The capital of Diyala had become an al Qaeda stronghold. It took some very stiff fighting in there to clear that."
There's been an active effort to keep that clear," he added, "to now start to build and to reconstruct some of those areas that were damaged. The markets are [now] open there."
Petraeus also met with Iraqi police who are working with the United States. These police, some of which seem to be teenagers, are new recruits drafted to fight against al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents who are still warring in the area.
The general said this police force, along with the government, will play an integral part in securing and uniting the Iraqi nation.
"There's a local reconciliation," he said. "This area has Sunni as well as Shia.
"The police force is about a third Sunni and two thirds Shia ... and national leaders have to connect the top-down effort with what is an important bottom-up effort," he added.
The general said that despite an uptick in violence in the last few days, the number of attacks nationwide are down to the lowest level since March 2006. Now, Petraeus said, it's just a matter of continuing to make progress -- big and small -- to keep up the momentum of the surge and hope that the Iraqis can figure out how to make their country secure and fully functional again.
"We all would like to draw down forces as quickly as we can," Petraeus said, "but we want to do it in a way that doesn't surrender or jeopardize the gains we have fought and sacrificed so hard to achieve."