Washington: As the debate intensifies over the next steps for the US in the Afghan war, a poll on Thursday said that Americans are about evenly divided over whether the US should increase its troop presence there.
The poll conducted by USA Today Gallup suggested that while 48 percent say they would favour a decision by President Barack Obama to send more troops, 45 percent said they would oppose it.
Two weeks ago, the public leaned against a troop increase, the Gallup said.
The poll indicates that the majority of Americans support a US military presence in Afghanistan in general. In addition to the 48 percent who favour an increase in the number of US troops there, another five percent oppose it but believe the US should maintain its current troop level.
Thirty-eight percent of Americans - including half of Democrats - think the United States should begin to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Republicans solidly back a troop increase, with 7 in 10 in favour, the polls revealed.
The poll finds 80 percent of Americans saying that weakening terrorists` ability to stage attacks against the US is an important reason to keep US troops stationed there.
Fewer (69 percent) believe keeping the Taliban from taking control of Afghanistan is an important reason to have US troops in that country.
Americans are least likely to think that building a stable democratic government in the country is an important reason to keep US troops in Afghanistan, but a majority (51 percent) still do, the poll results said.
Gallup said Americans, are far from convinced that the US is currently making progress toward these goals. Slim majorities think the US is making progress toward weakening terrorist operations and keeping the Taliban from power. Less than one-third see progress toward building a stable democratic government.
"This might be understandable because nearly two months after the Afghan presidential election, an official winner has not been announced as allegations of fraud are investigate," Gallup said.