On February 2, Bush referred to this political development in Afghanistan:
As a new Congress gathers, all of us in the elected branches of government share a great privilege: We’ve been placed in office by the votes of the people we serve. And tonight that is a privilege we share with newly elected leaders of Afghanistan, the Palestinian Territories, Ukraine, and a free and sovereign Iraq.
He also noted that “an international force is helping provide security” in the country.
The following year, as security deteriorated, the president declared America back “on the offensive.” In his State of the Union on January 31, Bush said:
We remain on the offensive in Afghanistan, where a fine president and a National Assembly are fighting terror while building the institutions of a new democracy. We're on the offensive in Iraq with a clear plan for victory.
By the end of that year, there were about 20,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
On January 23, Bush openly acknowledged the Taliban’s attempt at a comeback in his penultimate address to Congress.
In Afghanistan, Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters tried to regain power by regrouping and engaging Afghan and NATO forces.
We didn't drive al-Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq.
In Afghanistan, NATO has taken the lead in turning back the Taliban and al-Qaeda offensive, the first time the Alliance has deployed forces outside the North Atlantic area.
The number of U.S. troops rose to 25,000 by the end of that year.
Bush was reflective in his final State of the Union address on January 28, looking back on the campaign in Afghanistan and sounding some of the same hopeful themes he had in earlier addresses.
In Afghanistan, America, our 25 NATO allies, and 15 partner nations are helping the Afghan people defend their freedom and rebuild their country. Thanks to the courage of these military and civilian personnel, a nation that was once a safe haven for al-Qaeda is now a young democracy where boys and girls are going to school, new roads and hospitals are being built, and people are looking to the future with new hope. These successes must continue, so we're adding 3,200 marines to our forces in Afghanistan, where they will fight the terrorists and train the Afghan Army and police. Defeating the Taliban and Al Qaida is critical to our security, and I thank the Congress for supporting America's vital mission in Afghanistan.
Obama, who had campaigned to end the war in Afghanistan, won the presidential election held that November. By the time he delivered his first address to a joint session of Congress, on February 24, he was all but ready to declare his predecessor’s Afghanistan strategy null. What was needed, he said, was a “new and comprehensive” one.
And with our friends and allies, we will forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat Al Qaida and combat extremism, because I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens halfway around the world. We will not allow it.
Later that year, he ordered a surge of U.S. troops to Afghanistan. At one point, some 100,000 U.S. troops were in the country.