Afghanistan observers have been warning throughout the United States' war against the Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters that the conflict is unlikely to be resolved easily. Their words have new poignancy with the first American ground casualties almost five months after the conflict began. The eight deaths over the past few days in the Gardez region of eastern Afghanistan brought to light the extent of the US ground operation, which involves up to 1,000 troops. Judging by the American public's initial response to the casualties, the US Department of Defence may have to rethink its policy towards Afghanistan and subsequent stages of its war against terrorism. America's objectives - the capture of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and the leadership of al-Qaeda and the Taleban - have still to be attained. The Taleban has been toppled from power and an interim administration installed in Kabul, but this has, in effect, only turned the clock back a decade and allowed the re-emergence of warlords. Interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai's administration really only rules the capital and its suburbs. Calls are growing for stronger action and firmer resolve. If the Karzai administration and its successors are to succeed, they need peacekeepers throughout Afghanistan and the disarming of the warlords' private armies. All efforts must be made to ensure the Taleban and al-Qaeda are dismantled so as not to be destabilising influences. These efforts must be made to ensure Afghans are given their promised future.