Defense Secretary Robert Gates landed in Afghanistan today to size up areas where attacks have recently doubled and suicide bombings spiked 30%, Reuters reports. He was upbeat despite a Pentagon admission that al-Qaeda is helping Taliban forces to recover. "I'm not worried about a back slide as much as I am how we continue the momentum going forward," he said.
Gates plans to discuss funding for Afghan troops and police on the trip; he will also consider arming local militia to combat the Taliban, a strategy similar to one used to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq. Later this month, Gates will fly to Scotland and meet officials from countries that have soldiers in Afghanistan's south, the most war-torn region in the country.