At least 52 NATO troops - 34 of them Americans - killed this month plus many more Afghans
Rising death tolls, military timetables slowed. Infighting in the partner government. War-weary allies packing up to leave - and others eyeing an exit.
Events this spring - from the battlefields of Helmand and Kandahar to the halls of Congress - have served as a reality check on the Afghan war, a grueling fight in a remote, inhospitable land that once harbored the masterminds of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.
The Taliban have proven resilient and won't be easily routed. Good Afghan government won't blossom any faster than flowers in the bleak Afghan deserts. Phrases like "transition to Afghan control" mask the enormous challenge ahead to make those words reality.