US President Barack Obama already is testing whether Europe will match its enthusiastic words about his administration with concrete actions. After seeking help shutting the Guantanamo Bay prison, Obama now has a potentially more contentious request: He wants more European troops fighting in Afghanistan.
Obama has promised to escalate the fight against the Taliban and bolster US forces. European leaders, who face greater public skepticism about the war, will have a harder time matching Obama, even if they should want to.
NATO is preparing for its 60th anniversary summit at the beginning of April, and US officials are making clear that Obama wants new European commitments there.
"Europeans are still hoping they won't be asked" about Afghanistan, said Julianne Smith, director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "But Obama ran on the message `the urgency of now' and he seems to consider Afghanistan urgent."