The heads of the Senate and House intelligence committees said Sunday the Taliban was gaining ground, just days after President Barack Obama made a surprise trip to Afghanistan and touted the progress made in the war on terror.
"I think we'd both say that what we found is that the Taliban is stronger," said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein on CNN's "State of the Union," while sitting with Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan.
Discussing her recent trip to Afghanistan, Feinstein pointed to increased attacks and the geographical spread of the Taliban's influence. She also highlighted madrassas in Pakistan that "are fueling a new generation of fighters."
"[Afghan President Hamid] Karzai believes that the Taliban will not come back. I'm not so sure. The Taliban has a shadow system of governors in many provinces. They've gone up north. They've gone to the east. Attacks are up," she told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
Rogers, agreeing with her on the Taliban's impact, added other reasons for what he assessed as the group's increasing strength.
"This is a huge problem. And what we have found is maybe the policies, the announced date of withdrawal, the negotiations with the Taliban, have worked against what our endgame is here," Rogers said.
He added: "And we ought to have a hard discussion about saying, listen, war is when one side wins and one side loses."
Their comments came just days after Obama spoke of a slowing force within the Taliban.
"Over the last three years, the tide has turned. We broke the Taliban's momentum," Obama said. "We've built strong Afghan security forces. We devastated al Qaeda's leadership, taking out over 20 of their top 30 leaders."
The president added the administration was in "direct discussion" with the Taliban, saying the group can be a part of the country's future if "they break with al Qaeda, renounce violence, and abide by Afghan laws."
"Many members of the Taliban - from foot soldiers to leaders - have indicated an interest in reconciliation. A path to peace is now set before them," he said. "Those who refuse to walk it will face strong Afghan security forces, backed by the United States and our allies."