One icy night in mid-October, a U.S. military advisor who called himself "Baba John" rounded up villagers in this guerrilla fighters' paradise and asked them what they wanted when the war was over.
A school. A clinic. Roads that wouldn't turn to mud when it rained. Pens. Pencils. Grain.
"Baba John offered so many things," recalls Azim Naim Zada, a community elder. "He told us that if we fought hard against the Taliban, we'd get so much food we'd grow fat, like him."
The villagers did fight hard, and helped drive the Taliban out of this rocky canyon about 75 miles south of Mazar-i-Sharif. It was a key battle in the ground war leading to the capture of the strategic northern city, and it triggered a Taliban retreat across the country.
But five months later, the people here are still hungry. Waiting.
. . . "I'd imagine Special Forces would say whatever they needed to, to win cooperation from locals," said Maj. Martin Rose, an Army civil affairs officer based in Mazar-i-Sharif. "That doesn't mean we're going down there."
::Jeffrey Gettleman, LA Times: Empty American Promises Embitter an Afghan Village