At this time last year, Pres. Obama was debating war strategy, finally announcing on Dec. 1, 2009, that he would send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan under Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then International Security Assistance Force Commander (ISAF).
But today, there is uncertainty over whether the strategy is working. Since 2001, over 2,000 NATO troops have died, including more than 1,300 Americans -- almost 500 of them in the last year alone. Two major operations have been launched in southern Afghanistan, but military leaders are not ready to say the Taliban's momentum has been reversed. And, despite efforts at closer cooperation, U.S.-Pakistani tensions have heightened.
"Obviously the President wants to evaluate, as we do each month, where we are, decide whether or not there are any adjustments or changes to make," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today about the president's upcoming strategy review in December.
"This will give us a chance to evaluate several months of a full complement of those resources in the country. It's hard to say whether -- what we expect ultimately out of the review. I think obviously the President wants to take stock of where we are and see if there are any minor adjustments. I don't expect any major adjustments," he said.
Gibbs said he did not expect the process to be as extensive the review last year.
Gen. David Petraeus, now in charge of ISAF operations, recently told ABC News the ingredients of a successful military strategy are just now in place, and agreed that a successful counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan could take up to ten years. But American support for the war is waning.
According to an August Gallup poll, 43 percent say it was a mistake to send U.S. troops to Afghanistan. Last September, 37 percent said it was a mistake. This contrasts with just 9 percent in November 2001 after troops first went in.
Taliban Issues a Statement Marking Ninth Anniversary of Afghan War
The Taliban issued a statement today marking the anniversary and offering its own assessment of the war.
"The strongholds of Jihad and resistance against the invading Americans and their allies are as strong as ever," the statement read. "The invading Americans spent hundreds of billions of dollars in order to continue this illegitimate war, lost thousands of soldiers — with tens of thousands of them being injured — and faced heavy losses in terms of military hardware."
As the Washington clock ticks down to July 2011 – when U.S. troops are scheduled to begin pulling out of Kabul and other more secure places in Afghanistan, a solution is being sought on another front – through Afghan talks with the Taliban.
Petraeus says the next strategy review comes not in December, but in mid-November, when nations meet at a summit in Lisbon with NATO and other nations that have sent troops to Afghanistan. So far, the word is that no major changes will be made to the strategy, and NATO military officials say progress is being made, slowly.