(NBC) - As President Obama met Wednesday with top advisors working on a new strategy for Afghanistan, the war is passing a milestone. It's 8 years old and the nation where the 9/11 attacks were launched is still largely in anti American hands.
In eastern Afghanistan Wednesday, Taliban forces claim they've raised their flag. The Taliban not only killed 8 U.S. soldiers in last weekend's fire fight, they drove coalition forces out of their region, for now.It's a symbol of the setbacks the U.S. has suffered in the past 8 years.
Just after 9/11 in 2001, U.S. forces were raining bombs on Al Qaeda camps and Taliban forces. Osama Bin Laden soon fled so did Taliban leadership, but the U.S. backed government has proved weak and corrupt and the Taliban is back.
For U.S. forces, the war is deadlier than ever. 255 Americans were killed in the first 5 years. 239 already killed this year alone. In part because the commitment of U.S. forces has increased dramatically, from just over 1,000 in 2001 to 34,000 by 2008, 65,000 this year, and up to 100,000 next year, if the U.S. commander gets the new troops he wants.
Give General Stan McChrystal 40,000 more say republicans. "We believe very strongly that is best way we can succeed in that region," said Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor.
"That there has to be a surge, there has to be a significant increase in troops on the ground," Arizona Senator John McCain said.
Many democrats disagree "I think there needs to be a surge and the surge that we need is of afghan forces before we commit to additional American combat forces," said Michigan Senator Carl Levin.
President Obama met again Wednesday with top advisors. He says he will not pull out, but will re-define the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, then decide if he'll send more troops.