Afghan War Anniversary Marked by Debate Over More Troops

Retired military leaders debate neccessity of more troops in war-torn country.

ByABC News via GMA logo
October 6, 2009, 8:26 PM

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan Oct. 7, 2009— -- 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.

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.