Lack of progress in Afghanistan looms large in Obama's presidency

09:53, October 08, 2010      

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The Afghanistan War enters its tenth year Thursday. Already America's longest, the war is looming increasingly large in Barack Obama's presidency as the administration is faced with grim prospects in achieving its goals in that country, and dwindling public support for the endeavor both at home and abroad.

Neither the White House nor the Pentagon publicly commemorated the anniversary. President Barack Obama met with senior advisors Thursday and went on to Maryland and Illinois to campaign for Democrats. The Pentagon, on the other hand, used the day to induct Staff Sgt. Robert Miller, who was killed in Afghanistan trying to save fellow soldiers, into the Hall of Heroes as an honor to his bravery. Miller was awarded Medal of Honor by Obama Wednesday.

Although praised by the U.S. government for his gallantry, Miller is a reminder of the deaths the military is suffering in Afghanistan.

According to the Pentagon, a total of 1,309 members of the U.S. military have died in Afghanistan since 2001. Independent counts have put the figure at about 1,320, and a total of over 2,000 foreign soldiers have perished in that country, including over 500 this year alone.

The spike in casualty is coupled with lack of progress on the ground. Gilles Dorronsoro, an Afghanistan expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, observed that "the current counterinsurgency campaign shows little signs of accomplishing its mission," as the deployment of 30,000 additional soldiers, announced by the Obama last December and carried out this year, didn't "reverse the Taliban's gains, or the quick decline of the Karzai government."

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