Northern Afghanistan may now be on the Western radar, but the Taliban have been building up their forces there for more than a year and a half.
The northern supply route from Tajikistan is intended to supplement the main southern passage through Pakistan, which has come under increasing attack by militants. The deputy governor of Konduz, Hamdullah Danesh, told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan his region is an already well-established front line in the Afghan war.
By any measure, the US is losing in Afghanistan.
The only options now are a massive escalation in military troops (with a still very uncertain outcome from that decision), or leaving.