NR: "American forces here are simply ill-equipped"

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BETTY NGUYEN: Well, it is a hotbed of al-Qaeda activity and home to the man who replaced Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Next to Baghdad, Ramadi may be Iraq's most dangerous city.

CNN's Michael Ware was embedded with U.S. troops there, and today he's back in Baghdad with more on the mission.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: While President Bush has highlighted Iraq as the centerpiece of the global war on terror, the realities here on the ground have revealed a gaping black hole in the president's worldwide campaign.

President Bush referred specifically to the western Iraqi province of al-Anbar and its capital, Ramadi, where he says recent al-Qaeda documents and the statements of Osama bin Laden himself show al-Qaeda's plan to use that part of Iraq to form the toehold from which to build their broader international Islamic caliphate state. However, we see that in Ramadi the battle with al-Qaeda, the true front line here in Iraq, continues as much as it ever has.

In fact, U.S. military intelligence and American commanders on the ground can point to al-Qaeda in Iraq's key headquarters, transiting areas, logistics and staging bases, and planning centers, yet they do not have the troops to go in and disrupt that al-Qaeda base.

So what we are seeing here in Iraq is that whilst it remains at the heart of the battle against al-Qaeda, American forces here are simply ill equipped to strike at the heart of the organization led by Osama bin Laden.

This is Michael Ware, CNN, Baghdad.


NGUYEN: And Ramadi is part of what's been called Iraq's wild west, Anbar Province. It's one of the war's fiercest and deadliest fronts, and it's only getting worse.