General David Petraeus warned in Washington, Wednesday, that any progress made in Iraq could be lost in the months ahead.
During a 70-minute review of United States operations in Iraq, he said, "Progress does remain fragile and does remain reversible."
In particular, Petraeus stated enemies in Iraq like al Qaeda are still formidable. As the head of the U.S. Central Command put it, "This is an enemy who may be barbaric, who may carry out absolutely heinous activities, but a very, very savvy enemy, a very lethal and determined and learning enemy. And we have to continue to learn, we have to continue to assess the situation on the ground."
Other formidable challenges in the months ahead: violence that could break out around provincial elections likely to be held in January, nearly two million refugees flooding back into the country or homes they fled, and disputes that continue among Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites who would all like to control the oil rich territory around Kirkuk in northern Iraq.
On the positive side, Petraeus reported the surge has knocked down the incidents of violence in Iraq 80 percent -- from about 180 a day back in June 2007 to 20 to 30 a day for the last four months.