As President Obama and U.S. military officials consider raising troop levels for the war in Afghanistan, troops in that country experienced the deadliest attacks in over a year.
At least 16 Americans have been killed by insurgents this month, eight of which died in attacks by Taliban insurgents in the Nuristan province of Afghanistan.
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal who has reportedly asked for 40,000 more troops received veiled criticism this weekend from both National Security Advisor James Jones and Defense Secretary Robert Gates; The two commented that U.S. military officials should refrain from making public their private counsel to the president.
In the first part of this video, NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman reports on the mounting debate over troops in Afghanistan. Then, Jim Lehrer talks to two military experts with differing views about how the U.S. should approach the war in Afghanistan.
"The situation is serious, and I choose that word very, very carefully. I also say that neither success or failure for our endeavor there in support of the Afghan people and the government can be taken for granted. My assessment, my best military judgment, as I term it, is that the situation is in some ways deteriorating." - General Stanley McChrystal, commander, International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan
"It is imperative that all of us taking part in these deliberations -- civilians and military alike -- provide our best advice to the president candidly but privately. And speaking for the Department of Defense, once the commander-in-chief makes his decisions, we will salute and execute those decisions faithfully and to the best of our ability." - Defense Secretary Robert Gates
"I think one of the failings of his assessment is that it seems to take for granted that the United States possesses the wherewithal and the will to undertake this project of armed nation-building, which almost necessarily will unfold over many years, will consume many hundreds of billions of dollars, and will take the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of American soldiers. And I, for one, think that it is appropriate for us to ask if we can afford to pay that bill and, more importantly, we should ask, are there not plausible alternatives?" - Colonel Andrew Bacevich, Boston University
1. Where is Afghanistan? Why is the U.S. fighting in Afghanistan?
2. As Defense Secretary, what does Robert Gates do? How does he work with the president? How do the National Security Advisor and commanders like General McChrystal fit into this picture?
1. How do you think that the U.S military should proceed in Afghanistan? How would you advise the president?
2. Both Secretary Gates and National Security Advisor James Jones have cautiously spoken out on McChrystal's remarks about Afghanistan, implying that it was imprudent to be so forward about U.S. strategy in the region.
3. Do you think that it is appropriate for military officials to talk openly about the development of strategy? Or do you believe that it is important to remain guarded? Explain your answer.
4. The U.S. has already been in Afghanistan for eight years and experts believe that the war will only get worse before it gets better. What do you think of this assessment? Do you think we should be focusing on adding more troops or pulling out?