Hopenchange fizzle: U.S. takes lead in Afghanistan as Obama-loving allies retreat

But the increasing U.S. dominance is both by default and by design. The United States has far more troops, equipment and money — and more willingness to use them — than the rest of NATO. Even before Obama took office, his holdover defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, had largely given up pressing the allies for more combat forces, with fewer restrictions on their activities…

The Netherlands plans to end its 1,700-troop combat mission in Afghanistan next year; Canada will bring its 2,800 troops home in 2011. With the arrival of new forces this year, U.S. troops will number more than 55,000.

“It’s great to have our allies here,” a U.S. commander in Afghanistan said. “But we recognize that when crunchtime comes — and that’s what we’re in right now — we have to be the ones to step up and get it done.”