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Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs)

Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are aimed at promoting the emergence of a strong and credible central government able to extend its influence nation-wide. The PRT program was launched in November 2002, and the first three pilot offices were established in Gardez, Bamiyan and Konduz. The success of those offices led to the construction of three more in Mazar-e-Sharif, Parwan and Herat.

PRTs were not intended to function as peacekeeping entities. They were relatively small, inter-disciplinary groups formed to assist local authorities, the national government, nongovernmental organizations, and United Nations agencies, in their efforts to rebuild Afghanistan, reform its security sector and disarm, demobilize and reintegrate its armed members. Given their relatively small size, the military component of PRTs were intended to provide local security only. Combat operations, should they be required, would be conducted by other forces.

While the military components of some PRTs undertook some engineering work, reconstruction was but one aspect of the PRT mission. Rather than implement change, the PRT's emphasis was to enable change. By providing security and basic support, PRTs facilitated the exchange of information among various groups, thereby stimulating reconstruction and contributing to the process of normalization. Chain of Command PRTs initially reported to the HQ Coalition Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force (CJCMOTF) within HQ Combined Forces Coalition Afghanistan (CFC-A).

PRTs focused on supporting change to a wide variety of areas, among them education, customs, infrastructure, agriculture, police, the judiciary, and public health. As capabilities improved over time, PRT duties were to gradually be transferred to the government or the commercial sector. With the expansion of the NATO led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), allowed under a revised UN mandate in 2003, control of the PRT program was shifted from CJCMOTF and the CFC-A to ISAF.

Regional Development Zones (RDZs)

Regional Development Zones (RDZs) were established to complement the work of the PRTs by maintaining a sustained presence in specific areas of the country. This allowed government and coalition forces to integrate security and development assets in those areas "and thus gain a synergistic local effect."

This combination of PRTs, RDZs, and sustained presence in areas by combat forces would present terrorist organizations with an impossible situation, one where it was hoped they could not demonstrate any viable alternative of value to the Afghan people. The pilot RDZ was established in Kandahar in 2004.

PRTs and ISAF

Following the establishment of a NATO pilot PRT in Kunduz led by German forces, ISAF established permanent PRT presences in Mazar-E Sharif (UK), Meymana (UK), Feyzabad (Germany) and Baghlan (Netherlands). Together with a Forward Support Base (a logistics hub) near Mazar-E- Sharif and temporary satellite presences in Sar-e-Pol, Samangan, Sherberghan, ISAF was thus able to influence security in 9 northern provinces of the country. Only the military elements of PRTs are integrated in the ISAF chain of command.

NATO then began the process of filling the requirements for expansion of ISAF to the West, with a view to establish new PRTs, as well as to incorporate existing PRTs, currently under the command of the US-led Coalition (Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan). ISAF had taken over command of PRTs from the United States following the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1510 authorizing ISAF to extend its mission beyond Kabul. Under ISAF's management, Afghanistan was split into five commands: Regional Command Capital, Regional Command North, Regional Command South, Regional Command East, and Regional Command West. Within each of these commands were the various PRTs, Camps, Forward Operating Bases, and Fire Bases that were responsible for securing and developing the nation.

PRTs had become the public face of ISAF as military-civilian efforts to secure and rebuild Afghanistan. For the most part, they were not tasked with offensive operations. Rather, they acted as facilitators of local government empowerment, synergy creation, conflict mediation. Their most important task was the creation of Afghan solutions for Afghan problems. There were some 25 PRTs throughout Afghanistan by 2007, all of them (including those led by the United States) under NATO command. 26 were in operation by July 2008.

The following breakdown of Regional Commands and PRTs was as of 2 January 2007:




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