In the deadliest violence since the US formally ended its combat role in Iraq, 37 people were killed on Sunday in Baghdad and Fallujah.
Far from merely 'advising and assisting' Iraqi forces, as the Obama administration has described their new role, US troops are still needed to battle insurgents, as evidenced in three recent incidents in different parts of Iraq.
After seven years of war, Iraqis are freer but feel embittered by the loss of life and halting progress in turning on the lights.
A suicide bomber on Sunday killed at least 43 in an attack on members of the Sunni Awakening, which helped turned the tide against Al Qaeda in Iraq. Iraqis are concerned Al Qaeda could regain ground as the US pulls out its combat troops next month.
Despite attacks, triumphant moments unfolded across the country as Iraqis dipped their fingers in purple ink and cast ballots in the Iraq election. Results and voter turnout are not expected for at least another day.
Though several more bombs underscored the persistent insurgent threat to the Iraq election, the attitude among security forces – many of whom couldn't safely wear their uniform in public three years ago – was light-hearted.
Iraqi election officials are scrambling to address the complaints of security officials in the mostly Sunni Anbar province, who said that the names of thousands of police and military personnel were missing from polling stations or were registered at voting sites up to 250 miles away.