The word coming out of the Pentagon about Iraq is not good. A report says civil war remains a possibility... as the number of insurgent and sectarian attacks continue.
That as the Pentagon gets a new boss.
Tracie Strahan explains.
As Robert Gates steps into his new job as Defense Secretary.. the Pentagon is painting a bleak picture of the situation in Iraq.
A new report covering the months of August to November said "attack levels.. were the highest on record and that "the violence in Iraq poses a grave threat to political progress."
The report noted an increase in Iraqi civilian casualties and linked this to the rise of sectarian death squads.. it also said Iraqis have doubts about their future because of their government's failure to halt sectarian violence.
After his public swearing-in Gates spelled out the consequences of U-S failure.
"Failure in Iraq at this juncture would be a calamity that would haunt our nation, impair our credibility and endanger Americans for decades to come," said Secretary Gates.
The new Defense Secretary has not indicated what changes in Iraq policy he wants to see but he said he will travel to iraq soon to meet with military commanders.
"I look forward to hearing their honest assessments of the situation on the ground and to having the benefit of their advice- unvarnished and straight from the shoulder."
President Bush will be processing Gates' advice as he finalizes a new strategy for Iraq. The Commandant of the Marine Corps has confirmed one option on the table is a surge of about 20-thousand troops into Iraq.
A report in today's Washington Post says the Bush administration is spilt over a troop surge.. with the White House advocating the short-term increase.. and the Joint Chiefs of Staff against it.