Gen. Raymond Odierno outlines the challenges facing US forces as they continue to tamp down violence while working toward a June deadline to withdraw from Iraqi cities.
Combat outposts – some 75 small bases credited with playing a crucial role in turning the tide of the war – are being shut down.
The top commander of ground forces in Iraq says that US troops may stay longer than the June deadline in Baquba and Mosul.
Most of Iraq's internally displaced people are unable to return to their houses. The lack of basic services and an inability to rebuild their war-damaged homes keeps them away.
The two combat brigades that would have replaced them will go to Afghanistan instead.
As violence falls in Baghdad, Al Qaeda in Iraq is taking its fight to desert outposts and rural villages.
Violence has plummeted and US forces are pulling back, but the year ahead will test the staying power of gains throughout the country.
US forces may stay in the volatile northern city beyond the June deadline for Americans to pull back to bases.
While President Bush traveled to Baghdad Sunday to hail progress, the war is far from over in places like Mosul where US and Iraqi forces still battle insurgents linked to Al Qaeda in Iraq.