"If the Afghan government and international forces do not demonstrate a level of winning this war and being on the winning side, then the population would become more reluctant to actively engage in supporting the government and the international forces because they are afraid what may happen to them after the forces leave," says Nader Nadery, a commissioner on the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.
Nadery and those who support the new U.S. strategy strongly object to one plan proposed by some members of the Obama administration to focus on international terrorists based in Afghanistan and Pakistan with drones and special operations missions – thereby reducing the need for a large number of traditional American troops to protect the population and help build a viable Afghan state.
"There is a clear link between the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda members and the Arabs and Chechnyans who are fighting alongside the Taliban," Nadery says. "What the Taliban would pursue is no different from what those Arabs [of al Qaeda] would pursue. They would pose a threat and they would again harbor more terrorists or more Osama bin Ladens and they would pursue the same goals as al Qaeda not only in the region but internationally... and that poses a national security threat to the United States."
On the other side of the argument are a large number of Afghans – the majority of those interviewed by ABC News – who see the American military as the latest in a long line of foreign invaders of Afghanistan.
"By bringing more forces it will not bring security. It will bring insecurity," says Abdul Jalil, a resident of the Nara district in Kunar Province. "Because all the people -- whether they are civilians, whether they are mujahedeen [religious fighters], or whether they are Taliban -- they all are hate foreign soldiers… If they come they can't succeed in the country because of the history. Foreigners were here in the past, and more of them will create more fighting."
Jalil lives in eastern Afghanistan, along the Pakistani border, where the U.S. has fought a slow and deadly war of attrition, often in lightly populated areas. Since McChrystal arrived, commanders have begun closing some of the more remote U.S. bases in an attempt to move U.S. troops to population centers. McChrystal has admitted the U.S. did not have the proper counterinsurgency strategy in place, and alongside major deficiencies in governance, that helps explain why the Taliban were able to expand in the last few years.
Local residents tend to agree.
"People have lost confidence with foreign forces," says Naseer Roshan, who lives in Khost City, the capital of Khost, also along the Pakistani border. "Under the command of NATO, whatever has been done by international forces has resulted in the losing of hope by Afghans."
Roshan said Afghans were fed up with both sides – the Taliban for causing violence and the foreign forces for failing to stop it.
"Seven years back when NATO forces, led by America, came here, people welcomed them. But unfortunately now we can see people have lost confidence in many areas of the country. People have joined the Taliban and are fighting back against the forces and people see them as occupiers."