December 10th, 2009
08:15 PM ET

The cost of war

Even as Gen. Stanley McChrystal wrapped up his week of Congressional testimony on Thursday, questions are still swirling about the cost. Why is it so expensive to send U.S. troops to Afghanistan? The White House estimates the cost to be about $1 million per deployed troop.

The overall Pentagon budget for fiscal 2010 is some $660 billion. Many, though, estimate the intensified war in Afghanistan will drive costs even higher. Former assistant defense secretary Lawrence Korb notes thousands of extra troops were deployed to Afghanistan earlier this year.

"So, this is another 30,000," says Korb, now with the Center for American Progress. "Neither of those were anticipated. Defense spending for fiscal year 2010 will be close to $750 billion, which is about the same size as the stimulus package."

But when will the final figure be released and how will President Obama approach Congress to approve the money? Watch's report: Afghanistan's high price tag

Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan
December 10th, 2009
04:01 PM ET

A boy, a bike, some bread

An Afghan boy brightens his bike - and the dusty brown and muted tones of an Afghan market - with colorful plastic flowers while carrying 'nanay khushk' - a piece of long flat bread.

December 10th, 2009
03:43 PM ET

Overlooking Sorubi

A French soldier looks out from Camp Tora, a French military camp of approximately 700 troops in the Sorubi district of Kabul province. France has about 3,300 troops in Afghanistan, and although officials say they welcome Obama's strategy, they will not adjust France's troop levels yet.

Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan • Troops
December 10th, 2009
03:24 PM ET

Photo Spotlight: Bird cages

Mohammad Jabar Khil, 75 and a father of six, has been making bird cages for more than 20 years. Keeping birds is a popular hobby in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan)

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Filed under: Life and Culture • Photo Spotlight
December 10th, 2009
11:54 AM ET

Around the Web: Petraeus' turn before Congress

It was U.S. Gen. David Petraeus’ turn before Congressional leaders on Wednesday and the head of U.S. Central Command said U.S. officials should wait until December 2010 before they can measure the progress of the troop surge.

He predicted the surge will be met by an increase in violence in spring 2010 and a rise in "security incidents" in the summer.

"While certainly different and in some ways tougher than Iraq, Afghanistan is no more hopeless than Iraq was when I took command there in February 2007," Petraeus told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"Indeed the level of violence and number of violent civilian deaths in Iraq were vastly higher than we have seen in Afghanistan, but achieving progress in Afghanistan will be hard and the progress there likely will be slower in developing than progress was achieved in Iraq."

A round-up of coverage about Petraeus' appearance: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal.

December 10th, 2009
10:36 AM ET

Obama acknowledges war in peace prize speech

President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway on Thursday but acknowledged the questions surrounding the award. "Perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the commander in chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars," he said.

His trip to Norway comes nine days after he announced plans to deploy additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, one of two countries where the United States is fighting a war.

In his Nobel speech, Obama expounded on the concept of "just war" and the necessity of the use of force. "I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war," Obama said. "What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace."

Read more about the Nobel Peace Prize coverage

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Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan • Obama