If you really want to know what’s going on in the war you read Michael Yon. In this recent Washington Times op-ed he lays it out clearly.
Along with the more strategic questions (for example, should war be pursued?) are those closer to the shop floor: Are we gaining or losing popular support? Is the enemy gaining or losing strength? Is the coalition gaining or losing strength?
The first answer is a common denominator for the rest.
We are losing popular support. Confidence in the Afghan and coalition governments is plummeting. Loss of human terrain is evident. Conditions are building for an avalanche. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the military commander in Afghanistan, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates are aware of the rumbling, and so today we are bound by rules of engagement that appear insensible.
We must curb civilian losses at expense to ourselves. I believe the reasoning is sound and will share those increased dangers. Erosion of popular support seems reversible. There still is considerable good will from the Afghan population, but bomb by bomb we can blow it. We have breathing room if we work with wise alacrity. I sense a favorable shift in our operations occurring under Gen. McChrystal.
Enemies are strengthening. Attacks are dramatically increasing in frequency and efficacy. We are being out-governed by tribes and historical social structures. These structures are – and will be for the foreseeable future – the most powerful influence upon and within the political terrain. “Democracy” does not grow on land where most people don’t vote. The most remarkable item I saw during the Aug. 20 elections was the machine-gun ambush we walked into.
You should read the whole thing.