Germany and Italy have responded to a US request to send more troops to Afghanistan.The decision came at a NATO meeting in Krakow, Poland which was besieged 500 anti-war protesters. Now an extra 600 German and 500 Italians will join NATO’s rapid response force. And there is general overall disappointment in Washington over the muted response from allies who appear not to heed the NATO chiefs’ reasons for beefing up the military presence. 2009 is yet another critical year for Afghanistan. America is sending 17,000 more troops in addition to the 55,000 it has already there. Fighting against Taliban insurgents will intensify as the weather improves. Meanwhile the Taliban are also stepping up their efforts to control vast swathes of the country with tensions high especially in the sensitive southern border zone with Pakistan.