Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs)

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Overview

 

Provincial Reconstruction Teams originated in Afghanistan in early 2002, with a program called Coalition Humanitarian Liaison Cells.1  These cells were made up of five to ten Army Civil Affairs Officers who manned small outposts in the provinces of Afghanistan where Coalition Forces were present.2  Their mission was to assess humanitarian needs and implement small-scale reconstruction projects as an extension of security and stability operations.3 These cells fell under the authority of the Coalition Joint Civil Military Task Force and the Department of Defense funded their operations through the Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster and Civic Aid Fund.4  These cells evolved rapidly throughout 2002, and by the end of the year they were expanded to include security forces and representatives of U.S. Government. At that point, they were renamed Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT).5 

The United States defines the PRT mission as providing security through development and reconstruction and extending the reach and influence of both the Coalition Forces and the Afghan Government.  Initially, PRTs were U.S.-funded and directed; however, as the PRT program evolved, countries other than the United States took ownership of some teams.  In late 2003, New Zealand, Britain and Germany assumed ownership of PRTs in Bamiyan, Mazar-e Sharif  and Kunduz Provinces, respectively.  There were sixteen PRT lead nations as of March 2009.

The variance in lead-country funding and guidance, and the permissiveness of the PRT’s operational environment has created inconsistent PRT missions and measures of success.  Many nations disagree over the role the military should play on PRTs and whether civilian reconstruction and aid organizations can work in coordination with the military.  Some ISAF PRTs are subject to “national caveats” enforced by the host nation’s government, which limit the PRTs operational capabilities.  For example, some lead nations have restricted their PRTs from venturing beyond certain distances of their bases, while others forbid operating after dark.6

Depending on the lead nation, PRTs also vary in the size, structure and manning of the teams. The U.S. PRT model has a staff of 50 to 100 people, is led by a military officer (typically a lieutenant colonel), and stresses force protection and small, quick impact reconstruction and assistance operations. The civilian staff includes specialists from the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Justice, and other civilian agencies.7  The British PRT model is similar to the U.S. model in personnel size, but stresses “Afghan security sector reform” and the resolution of conflicts between competing warlords.8 German PRTs have a staff of more than 300 people and are led by a senior foreign ministry official.  The German model strictly separates the military and civilian functions of the teams. German PRTs have established satellite German Assistance Agency posts separate from the military base; these separate stations serve as the PRT’s central location.9 

There are 26 PRTs currently operating in Afghanistan.  The location (city, province) and lead country (given in parentheses) for each PRT are presented below by command region:

 

Regional Command South:

Kandahar, Kandahar (Canada)
Lashkar-Gah, Helmand (Britain)
Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan (Netherlands)
Qalat, Zabol (Romania, USA)

Regional Command North:

Kunduz, Kunduz Province (Germany)
Mazar-e Sharif, Balkh (Sweden)
Feyzabad, Badakhshan (Germany)
Pol-e Khomri, Baghlan (Hungary)
Meymaneh, Faryab (Norway)

Regional Command West:

Herat, Herat (Italy)
Farah, Farah (USA)
Qala-e Naw, Badghis (Spain)
Chaghcharan, Gowr (Lithuania)

Regional Command East:

Bamyan, Bamyan (New Zealand)
Bagram, Parwan (USA)
Nurestan, Nurestan (USA)
Panjshir, Panjshir (USA)
Gardez, Paktia (USA)
Ghazni, Ghazni (Poland, USA)
Khowst, Khowst (USA)
Sharan, Paktika (USA)
Jalalabad, Nangarhar (USA)
Asadabad, Kunar (USA)
Mihtarlam, Laghman (USA)
Wardak, Wardak (Turkey)
Logar, Logar (Czech Republic)

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 Endnotes

1  William J. Durch, Twenty-First-Century Peace Operations, US Institute of Peace Press, 2006.
2  Robert M. Perito, “The U.S. Experience with Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan: Lessons Identified,” Special Report No. 152, US Institute of Peace, October 2005.
3  Robert M. Perito, “The U.S. Experience with Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan: Lessons Identified,” Special Report No. 152, US Institute of Peace, October 2005.
4  William J. Durch, Twenty-First-Century Peace Operations, US Institute of Peace Press, 2006.
5  Afghanistan Provincial Reconstruction Teams, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.
6  Robert M. Perito, “The U.S. Experience with Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan: Lessons Identified,” Special Report No. 152, US Institute of Peace, October 2005.
7  Robert M. Perito, “The U.S. Experience with Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan: Lessons Identified,” Special Report No. 152, US Institute of Peace, October 2005.
8  United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, “Security,” U.K. in Afghanistan.
9  William J. Durch, Twenty-First-Century Peace Operations, US Institute of Peace Press, 2006.

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