Adm. William Fallon, commander of the U.S. Central Command in Iraq and Afghanistan, told ABC News that he has seen progress in some areas of the country, especially in Nangahar Province in recent months.
But the admiral also acknowledged that "After 2002, the Taliban were vanquished and everyone was pretty happy with the way things went. We hit 2003. Iraq pops up -- that's been the focus of the effort. This place -- kind of, a little bit of neglect." Fallon said.
In the last year, there has been a 40 percent increase in overall attacks and a 20 percent increase in suicide bombings to at least 170.
It is one reason Fallon is advocating sending in 3,200 Marines in April to augment the 26,000 U.S. troops already here and to help train Afghan forces.
"We know we've been undermanned in this regard here for some time, and as the Afghan security forces grow -- the army and the police -- we want to make sure we can keep pace with them and stay ahead of them and get them moving," Fallon said. "So that's really my priority.
"This country isn't going to be up and running until governance picks up and development really takes off," he said.
There are different ways to read the rise in the number attacks. Commander of forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Dan McNeil insisted that the increase in violence is a sign of success, because it shows the insurgents are losing and they are desperate.
"The increase in suicide bombers is a response from insurgents that clearly shows they know they cannot go toe-to-toe with us on the battlefield," he said.
"In more conventional techniques, they will stay in the asymmetric dimension. I expect to see IEDs continue. I expect suicide bombers to continue. They could even go up a little this year." he said.
"We had a wonderful year. Wonderful to me -- some people might not appreciate that term when you talk about combat -- but we dominated the battlefield," McNeil said.
The general's statements seem to echo those of commanders in Iraq in 2004, just before the insurgency began to spin out of control.
And Iraq has proved that winning territory or conventional battles is not the goal of insurgents.
"There is a different threat. There is terrorist dispute, there is threat of war between nations," the Afghan minister of defense said. "There is terrorism, there is fundamentalism, there is smuggling of arms and even nuke technology in the region, which makes it one of the most volatile regions in the world."
And many now fear that Afghanistan is reverting to the failed state that harbored the terrorists responsible for the most horrendous attacks on U.S. soil in history.