Amerikanerne planlegger en «surge» i Afghanistan, maken til den som bidro til å snu utviklingen i Irak. Det er snakk om en kraftig økning av den internasjonale innsatsen. Men målet er å gjøre det til en afghansk-ledet krig, ikke en amerikansk eller NATO-ledet, sier USAs forsvarsminister Robert Gates.

USA vil øke sitt engasjement, og NATO-allierte vil bli bedt om å bidra. Men den største økningen blir i den afghanske hæren.

For to måneder siden ble USA og Kharzai-regjeringen enig om å øke den afghanske hæren fra 70.000 til 134.000 soldater. Men nå er det snakk om en enda større økning.

Commanders in Afghanistan have complained that a lack of troops is undermining attempts to halt the insurgency against the Western-backed government in which an estimated 4,000 have died this year alone.

The coalition has more than 50,000 troops in the country, with the Afghan National Army providing nearly 70,000 more. But in June General Dan McNeill, the outgoing Nato commander, suggested that the counter-insurgency effort would require a total force of 400,000 to quell the Taliban threat.
While thinly stretched coalition forces have been able to defeat insurgent fighters during individual skirmishes and assisted by Nato’s warplanes, the difficult, remote terrain and shortage of soldiers have seen their opponents repeatedly move and regroup.

«Look at the map, we can’t be everywhere at once,» one US officer told The Daily Telegraph.

Mr Obama has said he will send up to three more US combat brigades, numbering around 15,000 men, to the country as he withdraws troops from Iraq, but officials believe Afghans must lead the effort.

US seeks surge in Afghan troop numbers