PRT Tarin Kowt Provincial Reconstruction Team
In June 2004 the Army Provincial Reconstruction Team was attached to the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) for operations in Afghanistan's Oruzgan province. The primary conduit for civil military operations in the vicinity of Forward Operating Base Ripley, PRT Tarin Kowt also worked to shape the Afghani perception of the United States by showing and demonstrating concern about the welfare of the Afghan people. This is another way to strengthen reception to the central Afghanistan government too.
The Soldiers of civil affairs are the connection between U.S. Forces in Afghanistan and the Afghani people. They serve as the liaison between the Army and the civilian population. The PRT supports the population of Afghanistan in two major ways. The first is through infrastructure support. This includes helping find money for roads, schools, wells, and other major projects that would need to be contracted out.
The PRT also provides direct support to the Afghan people who have long suffered at the hands of oppressive regions. Capable of purchasing and distributing supplies for agriculture, education and construction, they are working hard to have an impact on the lives of the Afghan villagers, primarily in rural areas where anti-coaliton forces have long enjoyed support.
During Operation NIGHTINGALE, a joint MEU-Army civil affairs operation, the PRT delivered school supplies for over 400 Afghani children, as well as several hundred pounds of grain and vegetable seed. They also distributed shovels, picks, hammers and other construction materials to several villages. Soccer balls and crank-powered radios also serve to engender good will between coalition forces and the Afghan people.
While out in the villages, the soldiers in the PRT will meet with the village elders and leaders to find out what the needs of the village are and if they are able to help. If the PRT is able to help, it will either purchase the supplies directly or contract the work out.
The PRT attempts to keep as much of the money spent on contracts for construction and the purchase of supplies inside Afghanistan. For instance, instead of buying school chairs and tables pre-made from another country, the PRT will attempt to find an Afghan contractor to provide these items, thus infusing currency and jobs into local economies.
As with all missions, the PRT doesn't roll without a little muscle to deter troublemakers. The PRT also consists of a security team, which plays a crucial role in allowing the civil affairs Soldiers to conduct their business with the village elders undisturbed. They also conduct crowd control during medical support missions to keep order during these operations when all the villagers are clamoring for medical assistance.
Seeing the condition of the Afghani people is an eye opener for members of the security team. The PRT has its roots in the civil affairs missions conducted during the Vietnam War when the phrase "winning hearts and minds" became popular. The PRT will remain in Tarin Kowt and continue to conduct civil affairs missions long after the Marines have left Afghanistan.
Forward Operating Base Ripley / FOB Ripley
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