"Operation Iraqi Freedom overthrew Saddam Hussein's regime, but much of Iraq became violent because of Sunni Arab resentment and a related insurgency, compounded by Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence, competition among Shiite groups, and the failure of Iraq's government to equitably deliver services. Mounting U.S. casualties and financial costs -- without clear movement toward national political reconciliation among Iraq's major communities -- have intensified a debate within the United States over whether to reduce U.S. involvement without completely accomplishing initial U.S. goals. The Administration is claiming relative success in reversing the deterioration in security in 2006, attributing the gains to the strategy announced by President Bush on January 10, 2007 ('New Way Forward'). Some commanders say that violence has now dropped to levels not seen since 2004. The centerpiece of the strategy was the deployment of an additional 28,500 U.S. forces ('troop surge') to help stabilize Baghdad and to take advantage of growing tribal support for U.S. policy in Anbar Province. However, critics say that the strategy was primarily intended to promote Iraqi government action on a series of key reconciliation initiatives that are viewed as ' benchmarks' of political progress. According to congressionally mandated White House reports in July and September 2007, as well as subsequent events, overall national political reconciliation has not progressed substantially, and U.S. officials are looking for more modest signs of political 'accommodation' rather than broad, sweeping reconciliation."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31339