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Pressure is building on the Afghanistan battleground and in Washington
as President Obama considers whether to meet a request for tens of
thousands more troops to fight the Taliban insurgency and convince
Afghans militants are not winning.
U.S. Marines in Afghanistan are focusing on the strongholds of the Taliban in the southern part of the country.
Monday, they worked with local Afghan villagers to gain ground in the Helmand province.
took 200 Marines two days to advance just 4 kilometers to Barcha in the
face of insurgent attacks and a string of roadside explosive traps.
Sergeant Thomas Whorl described part of the mission, saying "Search the area, make sure there are no [weapons] caches, and look for any bad guys."
is also mounting in Washington, where President Obama has been
consulting with security advisers about a request by the U.S. Afghan
commander, General Stanley McChrystal, for 40,000 additional troops.
general has told President Obama he needs the troops to push back a
resurgent Taliban and convince the population that insurgents will not
President Obama is under pressure from some
Democrats to pull back from the war, and from some prominent
Republicans to meet military requests.
"I'm very convinced that General McChrystal's analysis is not only correct but should be employed as quickly as possible," said Republican Senator John McCain.
are also needed to secure areas and allow for the work of American
civilians sent to Afghanistan by the State Department, to help develop
poor regions and gain the confidence of the Afghan people.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained the mission on Sunday in London. "So
our challenge has been to take what we inherited, including an
immediate request for troops that the president had to act on shortly
after taking office, understanding that we wanted to integrate our
civilian and our military approaches," said Clinton.
of fraud in the August 20 presidential election in Afghanistan, and
the delay in declaring the final result, have added to the complexity
of the situation.
President Hamid Karzai expressed his concern Monday, saying that "as a result of the delay, Afghanistan is facing security challenges day by day."
results released last month showed President Karzai winning the polls
with about 54 percent of the vote. But a recount, expected to be
completed this month, could force a runoff with the second-place
finisher Abdullah Abdullah, if Karzai's total falls short of 50