American military officials leading the NATO mission in Afghanistan told the Obama administration they need more troops to do their job, compounding Washington's headaches in the wake of an allegedly fraudulent presidential election. Support for the Afghan war is diving among Americans, and several US senators said this weekend that they had lost patience with Afghanistan, accused of dragging its feet on battling the Taliban and ending the drug trade.
The commanders cited the south, a Taliban stronghold, and the east, controlled largely by a militant network, as flash points with insufficient troop coverage. Their reports to Richard Holbrooke, the State Department envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, came just as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told an interviewer that the situation there was "serious and deteriorating." Currently 57,000 soldiers and Marines serve in Afghanistan alongside NATO allies.