Another slide summarizes how in the past week the public has turned in 670 rocket-propelled grenades, 23 surface-to-air missiles, 1185 grenades, 100 mortar rounds, 2 mortar tubes, 6 anti-tank missiles, and 105 rockets.
The briefing becomes seductive. There's a sense of enormous coordination, energy, and accomplishment. As General Petraeus speeds through slide after slide, I am truly impressed. A report on the status of the military intranet communications network. Air and ground movements of troops and their machines. How many people called "The Hotline" in the last 24 hours providing tips and leads. What's the press up to? There's a slide on our crew's movements throughout the day, and relevant reports from the international press on 101st activities.
A few times Petraeus will stop to read more closely and with his pointer circle a sentence, paragraph, pie chart, or graph, and exhort better performance or suggest changes. "Who's going out to photograph this project?" he asks. The officer names someone. Petraeus pauses. "You're breaking my heart." A long pause. Then the officer: "I will see what I can do." The general had someone else in mind.
Petraeus: "Why aren't we digging more wells?"
Officer: "Because we're out of money."
"Are you not willing to take a risk?"
"Not if we're out of funds."
The message is clear. The general doesn't tolerate this. Dig anyway, he is saying. The money will come.
The final slide says: "We are in a race to win over the people. What have you and your element done today?"
The whole briefing takes a breathtaking 30 minutes. But in the waning minutes I am too aware of being seduced. Petraeus clearly is on top and by all accounts commands enormous respect from his people. No doubt he is a success story.
But I think back to the soldier at the front gate shouting at the locals and the mounting numbers of attacks on U.S. troops here in Mosul. The reality is messy -- and uncertain.
Then, as we prepare to leave, bad news arrives.
Petraeus is on the daily conference call with General Sanchez in Baghdad, joined by his counterparts from the other major units deployed around Iraq -- the 82nd Airborne, the Fourth Infantry Division, the British Battalion in Basra, and others -- when soldiers begin running from the palace. There's a look on their faces. Two Black Hawk helicopters have collided over Mosul.
Seventeen American soldiers were dead. A visit by U.S. congressmen scheduled for the next day is cancelled.