Afghan War Anniversary Marked by Debate Over More Troops

On the eighth anniversary of the Afghan war, the once-defeated Taliban are surging across the battered country while the Obama administration is hunkered down in Washington debating what strategy to deploy.

The Washington debate centers around Gen. Stanley McChrystal's request for as many as 40,000 more troops, as Americans grow weary of a war that seemingly has no end. A new Associated Press poll put public support for the war at 40 percent.

VIDEO: 8 Years in, Obama Weighs Afghanistan Options
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That debate was mirrored on "Good Morning America" today as retired generals Wesley Clark and Jack Keane disagreed on whether Obama should urgently approve the troop request or risk losing the war, or whether Afghanistan if another Vietnam.

It's been eight years since U.S. forces stormed into Afghanistan just weeks after Osama bin Laden orchestrated the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks from his Afghan hideout. The Taliban were quickly chased out of the country, and Afghans rejoiced at the lifting of the Taliban's joyless regime.

But the Bush administration shifted its focus to war in Iraq and an inept and corrupt Afghan government has allowed the Taliban to regain first a foothold in the country and then grow to threaten the current regime. Presidential elections this fall were tainted by widespread charges of fraud, leaving the U.S. with an unpopular ally in the capital of Kabul.

In 2007 the Taliban presence was limited to about half the country. Today, the insurgents occupy about 80 percent of Afghanistan. U.S. casualties have also spiked in recent weeks -- eight killed over the last weekend alone -- adding to a death toll that nears 800.

Anniversary Debate on Afghan War

A surge of 21,000 U.S. troops earlier this year, bringing the U.S. deployment to 65,000, has failed to blunt the Taliban offensive. Insurgents are carrying out more coordinated attacks with better weapons and making greater use of roadside bombs.

McChrystal's assessment says that more American combat soldiers are needed within the year, or the war will be become unwinnable.

"It's true that after eight years -- after a lot of tremendous efforts, a lot of expenditures, loss of good people -- many indicators, many things are worse," McChrystal said recently in London.

At the other extreme is the recommendation by Vice President Bident to reject any troop increase to fight the Taliban and focus instead on going after Al Qaeda, using drones and special forces.

A concern among U.S. troops in Afghanistan is that Washington will come up with a compromise, and that a compromise will be dangerous for Americans deployed in the country in which they are exposed, but lack enough punch to win the war.

Keane and Clark disagreed today on "GMA" on whether Obama should urgently approve the troop request or take more time to determine what the mission in Afghanistan should be.

"We need to stabilize Afghanistan," retired general and ABC News consultant Jack Keane told "GMA" today. "We have a deteriorating situation right now because we have never applied a sufficient amount of resources since the priority became Iraq."

Keane, a driving force behind the military surge in Iraq, is backing McChrystal's recommendation for an immediate troop increase, saying the U.S. military risks failure otherwise.

More troops in Afghanistan would mean more training for Afghan troops, which he said should be doubled in size before U.S. troops would be able to begin pulling out.

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