Fort Bragg East: Rebuilding Afghanistan

Across Afghanistan suicide attacks are on the rise and in much of the country U.S.-allied forces confront a revived Taliban. A surprising exception is the eastern province of Khost, a hotbed of insurgent activity and al-Qaida ties since before 9-11 but today an unlikely oasis of hope in a troubled land. With the help of security and aid money from American soldiers based in Khost, Afghans and the Khost governor have managed to bring hope to a region once known as the most volatile area in Afghanistan.

Paved roads now stretch on for miles, markets are bustling, and the smell of raw sewage no longer hangs in the air. Many of the U.S. troops in Khost come from the 82nd Airborne Division, which has deployed to the central Asian country five times, including earlier this year. Some of them are skeptical as to whether Khost will long escape the instability of other Afghan provinces. Others view Khost as a harbinger of hope, proof that forging real alliances between U.S. military forces and Afghan civil authorities can produce lasting peace.

Reporter Kevin Maurer and photographer Andrew Craft traveled in Khost with a Pulitzer Center grant on behalf of their newspaper, the Fayetteville Observer, which serves the Fort Bragg community where the 82nd Airborne Division is based.

Afghanistan: Lucky Charms

Like baseball players, Maj. Michele Curtis-Jackson, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade physician's assistant, says all medics fly with luck charms... she carries seven.

1) Heart Shaped D-rings -- the rings in all colors are used to hang up IV bags and secure other things in the helicopter. Curtis-Jackson says they represent the heart of the soldier.

Afghanistan: Dustoff

Company C, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, is the only medevac company in Afghanistan. Divided into four platoons, the "All American Dustoff" company is based at forward operations bases in the eastern and southern portions of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan: Bazaar

Bazaar Noorullah makes about $2,000 a month selling antiques and Afghan crafts to soldiers at Forward Operating Base Salerno.