Commentary: Afghanistan still a difficult challenge for U.S.

This editorial appeared in The Kansas City Star.

While violence in Iraq has diminished to levels comparable to early 2004, violence in Afghanistan has intensified.

Given the considerable challenges involved, the Pentagon is right to plan on beefing up U.S. forces in Afghanistan in response to a request from the top ground commander, Gen. David McKiernan. But it’s far too early to attempt talks with the Taliban, as some have suggested.

Under the Pentagon plan, more than 20,000 troops will be deployed to Afghanistan over the next year to 18 months. The additional forces will include four combat brigades and attack helicopter units, along with support and reconnaissance troops. More trainers will be deployed to help strengthen Afghan forces.

Currently, there are about 34,000 U.S. troops and 30,000 other foreign troops in Afghanistan.

This may be a less controversial war than the conflict in Iraq. But while the counterinsurgency goal is the same — protect the population — the job in Afghanistan is in many ways even more imposing.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Kansas City Star.