There is an almost universal feeling among those in uniform that this surge is the United States' last chance to turn around what is increasingly seen as a failing war.
But how can the United States turn the war around?
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, believes the way forward is to implement what the military calls its counterinsurgency strategy or "COIN" for short. COIN has become an almost sacrosanct buzzword among military thinkers and strategists, but it is relatively unknown to most Americans.
Now that more Americans troops are going to war, perhaps the public should take a look for itself at what exactly the United States is getting into in Afghanistan. What is the strategy? How do the most senior commanders plan to "get it right" in Afghanistan?
According to an unclassified military document from the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff obtained by NBC News, the COIN strategy has a basic goal. The document says to successfully conduct a counterinsurgency, U.S. and NATO forces "must accomplish three tasks simultaneously":
"Influence insurgent-minded individuals to adopt a neutral disposition."
"Influence neutral-minded individuals to adopt a supportive disposition."
"Retain supportive individuals."
In other words, COIN's goal is to convince militants to stop fighting and to persuade Afghans sitting on the fence - those unsure whether to back the Taliban or President Hamid Karzai's government - to throw their support behind the U.S.-backed government and its security forces.
Sounds simple ...
It sounds simple. But an attempt to visualize the strategy reveals how immensely complicated it is for U.S. forces to accomplish.
Below is the military's schematic, a map of the counter insurgency strategy, that shows what U.S. troops hope to accomplish in Afghanistan.