War effort requires farmers, engineers, lawyers to share expertise.
A negotiated release was possible says Red Cross, but released New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell said the conditions of their captivity were growing "menacing."
The US has pledged more than $300 million in development over the next year in Helmand Province. Success could sway farmers at the center of both the insurgency and the opium trade.
The top commander in Afghanistan reportedly likens the US military to a bull charging at a matador and getting weaker with each cut.
About 11 percent fewer polling places opened than Afghanistan estimated it needed. Provinces expected to vote for President Hamid Karzai had the most problems. Could it tip the election?
Presidential contenders are meeting with women's leaders ahead of the Aug. 20 vote. US forces targeted a Taliban stronghold Wednesday in bid to shore up security for the election.
They want to ensure that as many Afghans as possible can vote in next week's presidential polls.
A new code of conduct had urged fighters to avoid civilian deaths.