Security Forces Improve in Baghdad, Politics Founder

First report after troop surge finds mixed progress in Iraq.

July 11, 2007 — -- An eagerly awaited White House report on Iraq will be released tomorrow, which will claim that the Iraqi government has made satisfactory progress on eight of the 18 benchmarks set by Congress.

This is the first assessment of the Iraqi government's success rate since President Bush ordered the troop surge last January. White House officials tell ABC News' Jonathan Karl the report will cite encouraging signs that should eventually lead to a reduction of U.S. forces in Iraq.

The report notes that progress is "satisfactory" on eight of the benchmark criteria, the criteria that deals mostly with the Iraqi security forces.

In one case of a "satisfactory" benchmark, the Iraqi army sent three brigades to help secure Baghdad, as promised.

But a senior White House official told ABC News the report would also show disappointments, as progress on eight other benchmarks is described as "not satisfactory" — that includes most of the benchmarks on political reconciliation.

Progress on the remaining two benchmarks is labeled "mixed."

Overall, the report points to an eventual draw down of U.S. troops and claims "some encouraging signs that, over time, should point to a more normal and sustainable level of U.S. engagement in Iraq."

New Strategy 'Succeeding'

In advance of the expected White House report, Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham — who both recently returned from Iraq — gave their own assessment in a briefing with Bush today.

"We adopted a new strategy, and this strategy is succeeding and should be given a chance to succeed," McCain said.

But ABC News has also learned of a recent military intelligence assessment that offers a more mixed picture.

This report notes a decline in attacks on civilians and a near miraculous turnaround in Anbar Province, which, just last year, was considered the most dangerous in Iraq.

At the same time, the intelligence assessment said attacks on U.S. forces are way up, with the overall number of violent incidents in June reaching a record high in Iraq with an average of 178 attacks a day — the overwhelming majority against U.S. forces.

Still, the surge of additional forces in Iraq has only been fully in place for about three weeks, and military officials indicate it's simply too early to say whether it is working .

Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, said again today that fighting a counterinsurgency war takes time — and in his assessment, that is about 10 years.