[Update 3 p.m. ET] The Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday approved the nomination of Gen. David Petraeus to be the top commander in Afghanistan. The nomination now heads to the full Senate.
(CNN) - The planned withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in 2011, along with with concerns over the progress of the counterinsurgency plan in a country described as a place "where empires go to die," will be front and center at Gen. David Petraeus' confirmation hearings Tuesday. FULL POST
Afghan President Hamid Karzai plans a peace "jirga" with tribal leaders later this month to discuss a reintegration plan for Taliban members who renounce violence and lay down their arms.
But persuading the Taliban to do that - and the process with which to accomplish it - raises more questions than answers, experts said.
"It's not clear whether there's a serious common ground between Karzai and his enemies," said Paul Staniland, who studies international security and insurgent groups at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "All of the reconciliation plans have been somewhat vague about what the ultimate end state is." FULL POST
"You don't do it alone," Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday to a crowd gathered at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. "You do it with phenomenal family support. And we could not be the Marine Corps we are, the military we are without extraordinary family support." Mullen's pep talk - along with a question and answer session - was geared to the new 30,000-troop surge to Afghanistan that President Obama laid out last week. He also thanked those in the audience - many of whom will soon be deployed to Afghanistan. Military families struggle when their loved ones are serving in the war theater - both economically and emotionally.
Thirty thousand more troops by the summer. It's a daunting challenge laid out by President Obama, and it's now having the U.S. military scrambling to get it done.
Obama said Tuesday night the additional 30,000 troops would begin deploying early next year at "the fastest pace possible."
But before Obama's address, military leaders said it would be all but impossible to rush new troops to Afghanistan as quickly as they did Iraq.
A lot of it is going to be dictated by conditions on the ground: Can they build the new bases, the new roads, new infrastructure to handle this influx of troops?
In March, Afghanistan will become America's longest war, surpassing the one in Vietnam, which cost more than 58,000 American lives. Comparisons to the war in Vietnam are often invoked. But experts say while there are similarities between the two conflicts, there are more differences.