17 February AP - U.S. Troops Mix Sweep, Sweetness in Iraq by Ryan Lenz.

First, American soldiers scoured the home for weapons as four veiled Iraqi women cowered on a dusty rug. Then a platoon sergeant politely wiped his muddy boots, came in and talked to the family about the violence suffocating their city.

Staff Sgt. Michael James of the Army's 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment came with his platoon on a search-and-seizure mission. But he was careful to follow up with expressions of respect and concern.

U.S. troops are working hard to strike a tricky balance between force and friendship in the opening days of a push to bring order to Iraq's capital.

They storm into neighborhoods with tons of U.S. armor, kicking through doors. They later return quietly on foot offering stickers and soccer balls decorated with doves and olive branches. During so-called "walk and talks," they meet Iraqis face to face to assure them peace is coming -- although past promises have turned out to be mirages.

"This mission is as much about information operations as it is anything else," said Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Olsen, 32, of Moab, Utah, who has spent hours designing pamphlets and stickers for Iraqis. "A vital part of it is to let them know why we're there."

Soldiers describe the approach as the "Mosul Model" -- named for the northern Iraqi city where U.S. forces became a kind of philanthropic foundation involved in everything from rebuilding political councils to fixing playgrounds. One of its pioneers three years ago, Gen. David Petraeus, is now the commander of all U.S. forces in Iraq.

"Winning the hearts and minds -- that's what it's all about," said James, 32, of Chillicothe, Mo...