At the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division headquarters in Baghdad this morning, Gen. Peter Chiarelli heard in detail what he already knew -- the level of violence has decreased in the last several days. Aggressive soldiering by the U.S. forces, insurgents possibly biding their time and the weather could all be contributing factors.
Today, a suicide bomber blew up a carload of explosives outside the headquarters of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's party offices in central Baghdad, wounding at least 10 people. After hearing word of the latest blast, Chiarelli said many explosive devices used by insurgents this month are less sophisticated than those seen in the past. The hope is that the U.S. military is putting put some of the better insurgent bomb makers out of business.
Traveling by chopper to the eastern side of the Tigris River -- mostly Shiite Muslim territory -- Peter Jennings and an ABC News crew went on patrol with American soldiers in the town of Obaidy.
Young children crowded the street. Some of the insurgents have turned out to be teenagers, only slightly older than these children. But Capt. Mathew Boddini says he feels completely comfortable on foot.
Americans are ready targets in many places, but today there is no apparent antagonism.
The U.S. military has fought running battles with Shiites since last summer. But the Shiites are expected to win power at the ballot box on Sunday, so they may be reluctant to fight the powerful Americans on the street today.
The town looks pretty bad, made to seem worse by a dreary day and recent rain. The United States is spending millions of dollars on the reconstruction of sewer pipes, sewage treatment, landfills for garbage and providing clean water. Some wonder if the U.S. efforts at improving Iraqi life will make a difference.
Every U.S. officer encountered today said the media has missed or under-reported the reconstruction aspect of the U.S. mission.
Iraq's election is surrounded by much fear because the insurgency has intimidated millions of people. The polling places are still secret, and some electoral workers have already been assassinated.
At one point of entry in Baghdad's International Zone -- where international embassies are housed -- the U.S. method for keeping suicide bombers at bay is evident. The concrete barriers get higher and deeper.
The process to gain access to the area is more sophisticated and demanding, since 10,000 Iraqis come and go to work in the fortified zone every day.
When asked what the rest of the week before the election will hold, Chiarelli will not make any predictions.
Peter Jennings filed this report for "World News Tonight."