US defense chief: More US forces in Afghanistan

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday he would like to add significant US forces to the war in Afghanistan before national elections scheduled for next year, and that grim depictions of backsliding in the seven-year-old war are "far too pessimistic." Gates said the additional forces would give greater security for fall elections in Afghanistan, and predicted that security conditions will "be under enough control to allow the elections to take place." Secure successful elections are probably the most important goal for Afghanistan next year, Gates said. "Everyone knows we face significant challenges in Afghanistan, as does the Afghan government," Gates said. "By the same token, the Taliban do not hold any land," and lose every real engagement with NATO or US forces. "So the notion that things are out of control in Afghanistan or that we're sliding toward a disaster I think is far too pessimistic." President Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's US-backed leader, has said he intends to run again. Registration has begun but is spotty, and the Taliban is expected try to disrupt registration and voting.