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Iraq Provincial Reconstruction Team Handbook

Handbook 11-03
December 2010

CALL Handbook 11-03: Iraq Provincial Reconstruction Team Handbook

Appendix H - Best Practices

Best practices are actions that provincial reconstruction team (PRT) members have employed to overcome situation-specific obstacles and achieve a desired outcome. These actions should not be interpreted as "one-size-fits-all" solutions or doctrine. What works in one place and time may not work in another place and time. Rather, these are actions that have been effective in the past and that should be considered by future PRT members. Deployed personnel must use their own discretion to determine whether such actions or suggestions would be useful in their particular circumstances.

This appendix is separated into two sections: lessons learned and a summary of best practices.

Lessons Learned

This section covers the following lessons learned topic areas:

  • Developing, encouraging, and influencing local leaders.
  • Engaging government officials under difficult conditions.
  • Key leader engagements.
  • Dealing with corruption.
  • Assisting in building medical capacity.
  • Assisting in building a competent building contracting and labor force.
  • Communicating to the populace with local media.
  • PRT relations with the embassy.
  • Sharing information among the PRT staff.
  • Long-term planning.
  • Managing projects.
  • Coordinating capacity building with other units/organizations in the province.
  • Extending PRT reach to outlying/remote districts.
  • PRT security.

Lesson Learned: It is difficult for the PRT to develop/influence/encourage leaders at the provincial government to practice good governance and to accelerate capacity building and development.

Observations and Insights:

The challenges faced by the provinces are complex; multifaceted; and varied due to religious, historical, political, and geographical contexts. A PRT strategy to address these challenges and support the provinces to the path of development should be diverse. What works in one province does not necessarily work in another, though there are some governance principles and key elements the PRT will find in common:

  • Legitimacy of and trust in state institutions.
  • Political will and committed leadership.
  • Security.
  • Delivering basic services.
  • Rule of law.
  • Transparency and accountability.
  • Civil society.

Provinces often lack enough qualified people to fill positions in the provincial government. The basic executive, managerial, and technical skills required for provincial ministerial director positions often need to be developed on the job. As a result, the PRT must build the needed institutional capacity within the existing provincial government.

PRTs can address this problem by emphasizing the mentorship program in the Local Governance Program (LGP), phase III. Program managers can be selected from both the PRT and provincial government staffs to shape the LGP III mentorship program and scope the main objectives. The PRT must conduct an assessment to link the lessons learned with new, long-term objectives.


Develop the scope of the program, select your team, and gain provincial government buy-in:

  • Select a program manager. Select a program manager early within the PRT to shape the program and guide its initial launch. Although the PRT leader should provide his intent and shaping guidance, he should not take the lead on this project.
    • Launching and running a successful program will require significant effort that will likely conflict with the PRT leader's other activities. Ideally, the PRT leader will have a staff of advisers who are subject-matter experts and who will work directly with the relevant directors general and provincial council members to effect change and capacity building.
    • A counterpart within the provincial government should co-lead the program. This could be the governor, the chief of administration, or one of the governors or provincial council deputies.
  • Assess internal resources (talent inventory). Assess internal resources to determine available skill sets. Consider personnel outside the PRT organization by expanding the screening process to collocated maneuver and support units or nearby forward operating bases. Rely on local hires when access to local leaders is difficult. "The hardest part for us was interacting with Iraqis on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes getting out was difficult. The amount of time you had with them was limited. Sometimes what they would tell you was limited, so you depended a lot on these locally hired Iraqis who worked for us to fill in the gaps and help explain things to us." (U.S. Agency for International Development [USAID], Basra, Fall 2009)
  • Gain provincial government buy-in. This program requires "top-down" support from the provincial governor and key ministry directors. However, the program manager and PRT leader should understand their available resources and skill sets before approaching the provincial governor with this program. Using output from the skills inventory, a detailed understanding of available PRT and maneuver unit staff, will allow the PRT to set realistic expectations and help guide the subsequent matching of mentors with appropriate provincial staff. This initial analysis supports the first discussions and manages expectations of the governor and key provincial government staff on the scope of the mentoring program and level of expertise available at the PRT and nearby military units.
  • Assess provincial government and key staff. When making this assessment, the program manager should consider both the available staff and the province's critical needs. Assessing the critical needs of the province includes key directors general and their respective capacities.
  • Launching the program. Once the provincial government agrees with the scope, approach, and goals of the program, implementation of the mentorship program can begin.
  • Kick-off meeting. Launching the program with clear direction and a robust plan increases the likelihood of success. It is important to ensure the program objectives are clear and shared, roles are defined, and both mentors and counterparts understand the processes for interaction.
  • Initial meetings. Matching mentors with the appropriate counterparts is a key initial task. As the host country has a specific type of society, culture, and education level, consideration should be given to matching mentors with appropriate counterparts. Matching a younger Soldier or staff with a much older counterpart is unlikely to be effective. Key relationships would be better positioned from the outset as supporting or technical-skills-transfer relationships rather than as management-mentor relationships.
  • Coordination with the governor. Throughout the entire process, the PRT coordinates all efforts with the provincial government to ensure unity of effort. Additionally, the PRT can use this event as a teaching and mentoring tool to show the provincial government that local leaders can solve key issues of importance to the provincial government and the local people.
  • Ongoing collaboration. One approach is to focus the collaboration around a specific project. However, the mentor should resist the urge to take over doing the work. The mentor should help his counterpart develop and consider options for solving problems.
  • Program evaluation and internal reviews. The program manager should set out a system to evaluate progress against established and agreed-to criteria. Effectiveness of the mentor-counterpart relationship is assessed by the provincial governor, PRT leader, provincial government, and PRT program manager.
  • Transition plan. Ideally, mentor-counterpart relationships should be transitioned to incoming PRT and maneuver units based on an internal assessment of the people on the new team (see "Assess internal resources" above). Priority should be to cover the key positions in the provincial government, as significant benefits come from continuity in coaching provincial government members to be better managers. Specific technical subject-matter expertise for mentoring line ministry skills may not be available in the next PRT. The PRT should maintain awareness of other experts within the wider community (other PRT staffs, U.S. Forces-Iraq, and personnel in the interagency community). However, the main focus of the mentoring program involves the transfer of basic management skills. As this basic mentoring does not require specific subject-matter expertise, it should be possible to match incoming staff with current provincial government staff counterparts for continuity of key relationships.

Lesson Learned: It is difficult for the PRT to advance its long-term mission of enhancing good governance when the current key leaders are corrupt and/or ineffective. The PRT must influence better behavior and performance.

Observations and Insights:

The reality on the ground is that some provincial officials will not act in the people's best interest due to corruption, incompetence, or both and, at times, may be uncooperative. The goal is to enhance good governance and encourage transparency. Although the PRT would prefer to avoid associating with corrupt, ineffective government leaders, in the short term the PRT is required to maintain a professional level of engagement with the existing government. A principal PRT mission is to influence good governance, assist in building institutional governance capacity, and support strategic reconstruction in its area of responsibility (AOR). To accomplish this mission, the PRT needs to engage continually with the provincial leadership and increase access to other ministry directors to build institutional capacity.

Provincial leaders must be determined to fight corruption to free resources for economic and political development. PRTs must emphasize the importance of fighting corrupted institutions that negatively impact growth and development. Corruption can have the following negative effects:

  • Reduce public revenue and increase government spending, hence contributing to large fiscal deficits and making it more difficult for a government to run a sound fiscal policy.
  • Reduce investment and the productivity of public investment and infrastructure.
  • Increase income inequality by allowing those in influential positions to take advantage of government activities at the expense of the rest of the population.
  • Distort markets and the allocation of resources. Corruption interferes with the government's ability to impose necessary regulatory controls and inspections to correct market failures, thereby reducing the fundamental role of government (i.e., the provincial government cannot enforce payment of taxes on property).

One way to address this problem is by maintaining a working relationship with the governor and Provincial Council Head of the Security Committee while simultaneously engaging the provincial government at multiple levels across key provincial line ministries. Regardless of the quality of key provincial leaders, PRTs need to continually engage with key leaders while expanding knowledge and relationships across the government. The PRT must employ practical techniques to build government capacity:

  • Use access to wider provincial government contacts to communicate (re-emphasize) coalition policy on corruption and counter narcotics; deliver similar messages in public forums.
  • Diplomatically deliver consistent messages in private forums, reminding government officials of their duty to uphold the rule of law and govern in the interest of the people.
  • Always maintain a dialogue for information-sharing on security matters and reconstruction planning. Avoid reconstruction support unless controls are in place. (See "Life cycle project management" below.)
  • Provide assessments of key leaders through command channels to influence the central government to make changes in the key provincial leaders.


  • Assess the provincial government (line directors and staff). In most cases, some line ministry directors are ready to work with the PRT. Department of State (DOS) representatives can help maintain the relationship map of provincial officials. Use available resources (e.g., time, Commander's Emergency Response Program [CERP] funding, quick response funding, and associations) to influence and reinforce good behavior:
    • CERP/Quick response funding projects. Work with provincial government line ministry staff to address projects that can provide timely impacts and be visible to the people. Provincial government directors who are ready to work transparently and to the benefit of their constituents are rewarded with follow-on funding for projects of similar merit. Look for opportunities to engage with less-effective provincial government staffs during the process. Encourage the provincial government staff to participate in the progress. Closely manage possible obstacles to progress. The long wait on CERP approval can negatively impact the PRT's commitment in economic development. If CERP is mentioned, the caveats of CERP approval should be mentioned as well.
    • Developing institutional capacity. Collaborating on a specific project or program with a line ministry director and staff can be an effective vehicle for building capacity. Mentoring programs can help build skills with other provincial government members after gaining buy-in from the governor and line directors to work with their staffs.
    • Consider phased development/investment to control funds. Phased project execution allows the PRT to invest in projects that are being managed with transparency and effectiveness. Involving local leaders in shaping projects and creating local work crews can yield the optimum economic benefits while putting in place good project controls for CERP funds. This phased approach also allows adequate time for teaching.
  • Update assessment of provincial government staff and progress. As the PRT continues to engage the provincial government, subsequent assessments should be made periodically. These assessments should be based on the criteria established in the original assessment of the province.

Lesson Learned: Not all personnel assigned to the PRT possess the tools and skills necessary to successfully engage the people, tribal leaders, local government officials, or the provincial governor.

Observations and Insights:

The PRT leader constantly stresses the importance of being security conscious while still being aware of properly interacting with the local population. Although no formal training process has been established, keeping the purpose of the mission at the forefront of most discussions makes Soldiers take this into consideration during mission planning and execution. Ensuring that everyone on the mission knows what they are going to be doing helps all to understand their parts. Force protection Soldiers should be rotated through the tactical operations center (TOC) and missions outside of the wire to get a better appreciation for what the PRT is doing and to gain an understanding of the nation's people and culture.


  • Leader meeting. The PRT leader holds a leader meeting where the commander engagement concept is outlined. The PRT is to keep security on the forefront of all planning; however, adverse risk is not going to be an option. Steps are taken to ensure that a friendly appearance is presented when possible. Examples of this behavior are (1) reducing vehicle speeds when driving through town and waving to the people; and (2) taking off armored vests and helmets when meeting with local leaders in their homes or offices, or even at some venues, provided they are safe and secure locations. Additionally, the posture military PRT personnel take with their weapons when on patrols is dictated by the perceived anti-coalition militia threat in the area.
  • Conduct informal training. Because PRT operations are often new to many Soldiers, on-the-spot corrections are common; however, covering this during mission briefs keeps it on the forefront of their minds. Additionally, the PRT works to get everyone involved in local engagements on a routine basis. This means occasionally getting force protection personnel out of their vehicles during an engagement to attend a shura or a local meal as a participant rather than a security element. PRTs also rotate personnel through the TOC to gain a better understanding of mission planning.
  • Conduct formal training. The PRT intends to develop some formal periods of instruction that will put everyone on the same level of knowledge on the following areas:
    • PRT mission. This is more than just the standard mission. Each PRT member's mission should be covered in detail, including techniques for successfully interacting with the local populace. This instruction might even cover some of the common operational picture (COP) data the PRT is looking to collect while performing its everyday missions.
    • Risk avoidance versus risk mitigation. It is possible for a PRT to get into the habit of reducing the amount of time it leaves the wire because of risk avoidance. If PRT members do not leave the wire, they are not able to engage with the provincial government and the local people; therefore, they cannot conduct their mission. Risk mitigation is taking steps to reduce potential security hazards to continue to accomplish the mission.
    • Government structure. Lessons on how the government was formed, how provincial government officials are elected or selected for positions, and information on the background of the constitution are important. Understanding these subjects is critical to avoiding embarrassing errors.
    • Religious practices and the mullahs. Understanding the religious practices of host nationals helps Soldiers figure out why locals make certain decisions. Many people do not understand how mullahs can be so influential in the provincial government's decision-making process. Working with cultural experts, reading material about Islam, and talking with local citizens can help Soldiers gain a better appreciation of the local culture.
  • Adopting a local village. After getting to know the local people, some PRTs have adopted a local village. Donors from the United States send items that Soldiers can share with the local population. This is an effective way to create a bond with little effort or expense.
  • Sporting events. Because many of the local kids like to play soccer, one PRT set up a challenge against a local soccer team. The national police provided security for the event, which turned out to be a great success. Members of the provincial government may attend the event and present an award at the end.
  • Teaching culture. One PRT helped its local guards improve their English skills. The PRT had several of the guards talk about life in their country and their religion with Soldiers. Many of the local guards are close in age to the young PRT members. Because of the relationship the PRT members already have with these guards, hearing about the local life and culture from them will have more of an impact than from an instructor the PRT members do not know.
  • Transitioning practice to the next PRT. Members of the PRT should share their experiences with new arrivals to reduce their anxiety level. Ultimately, anything PRT members can do to help the next PRT understand the local population will help.

Lesson Learned: It is difficult to communicate the positive aspects of the PRT's work to influence and build relationships with the key communicators of a province.

Observations and Insights:

Focus on tribe leaders:

  • Tribal leaders are often respected members in the communities. In the Shiite province, the top Shiite cleric is respected, but his strength comes from tribal leaders. Depending on the region where a PRT is located, tribal leaders may have influence over policy decision making. Therefore, is important the PRT establishes a good relationship with the tribal leaders. Political gridlocks are becoming a norm in Iraq, and tribal leaders may assist in resolving political disputes. The PRT's role will be as a mediator on political reconciliation.
  • In Iraq, sheiks have greater influence than religious leaders. However, in some areas of the country, sheiks have been pushed out of the political process. There are tribes that do have influence, and it is important to sustain an engagement. The PRT has the best opportunities to build relationships with the sheiks. If a sheik is important in the PRT's area of operations (AO), then the sheik can be instrumental as a facilitator with the provincial government officials.

The PRT can engage key populace groups by using religious leaders. Religious leaders are key members of society and can influence the actions and opinions of the local population. The provincial government and the PRT need to engage this group in a forum to understand their perceptions, build trust, improve perceptions, and proactively respond to their concerns.

Religion is an important factor in the modern culture. Although religion is important to many in our society, it is usually quite separate from our government and educational systems. To truly understand some cultures, one must fully grasp the importance religion plays in almost every aspect of life. Religious leaders hold positions of power, are much respected, and have the ability to heavily influence their followers' lives. Building a good relationship with them in your province is essential for the coalition. The PRT is in the best position to establish this relationship in conjunction with the provincial government. Failure to understand and respect the religious culture could have serious repercussions (e.g., an act, intentional or not, that might be repugnant to Muslims could be mitigated if there is a good relationship with the mullahs in your province). By building relationships with religious leaders, the PRT can understand their perceptions, build their trust, positively influence their perceptions, and proactively respond to their issues. It is important to involve the provincial government when interacting with religious leaders. This involvement will encourage both the provincial government and religious leaders to participate in civil society by reaching out to the local population.

Building relationships with religious leaders can provide a variety of positive effects for the PRT. Including religious leaders in the reconstruction decision-making process can positively focus their energies and give legitimacy to the projects. Additionally, relationships will improve with the religious community and consequently with the populace. These relationships will increase the awareness of the PRT on sensitive religious issues. Once good relationships have been established with these leaders, the PRT's influence with those that wield the most power in the community will increase. Good relationships encourage all parties, the PRT, the religious leaders, and the provincial government to consider all the issues.

The provincial government needs to engage religious leaders and draw them into civil society activities:

  • Invite the religious community in the province to a meeting called by the governor. By having the provincial government invite them, religious leaders are protected from the perception that they are collaborating with the coalition. It is important to clearly identify your audience and where they come from regionally. Knowing your audience is important to any successful engagement.
  • Attend the meetings with a minimum number of military and U.S. government personnel. Use one scribe so the PRT leader can maintain maximum eye contact and gauge the crowd. Bring interpreters to the meetings to catch sidebar conversations. Do not have the interpreters or other PRT members take photographs, because religious leaders often think the U.S. military is taking pictures for intelligence-collection purposes.
  • Use the initial forum to explain coalition objectives and review reconstruction activities while reminding the group of the positive contributions the coalition reconstruction efforts are making.
  • Allow religious leaders to vent their grievances; at the same time use the forum to encourage them to act.
  • Maintain follow-up contact and begin to develop an actionable plan to address possible negative perceptions. For follow-on meetings, use an agenda that includes both the coalition's and mullahs' topics to help guide and control the length of the meeting.


The PRT should enlist the help of provincial government members (e.g., the provincial governor and the director from the Ministry of Religious Affairs) to convene the meeting. Encourage participation of all key religious leaders in the province. Work with the provincial director of religious affairs to plan the event and agenda format. Ensure the agenda is circulated among invitees prior to the event. Remember that meetings often get off track and will go longer than anticipated if you do not have someone controlling the meeting. Select a secure venue, preferably a local government site and not the PRT or U.S. military site. It is polite to serve refreshments or lunch for all attendees. To transition this to the next PRT, set up a meeting of the primary attendees and introduce the new PRT during the relief-in-place (RIP) process. It is important to relay as much information as possible about the religious leaders to the incoming PRT members.

PRTs should introduce incoming commanders and/or civil-military operations center chiefs to the provincial government. Provide background on the provincial government (can use DOS profile). It is important to transition working relationships to the incoming team.

Lesson Learned: Given the prevalence of corruption, PRT personnel must recognize this challenge and determine - on a case-by-case basis - the appropriate incentives and practical techniques to influence the local leaders to mitigate the overall problem and encourage greater levels of transparency.

Observations and Insights:

Corruption is deeply rooted in Iraq and Afghanistan. PRT members often encountered corrupt officials in the course of their duties. One interviewee stated, "In many cases people's complaints about corruption are really, 'His corruption is interfering with my corruption.'" Even local officials who wanted to improve conditions in their communities had to work within an environment that viewed patronage as acceptable. One interviewee stated, "They're working in an atmosphere where corruption is part and parcel of how things get done." A DOS employee who has worked in both Afghanistan and Iraq relayed, "If the tribes are on board with this idea of building a provincial government that can provide patronage, because it is essentially a patronage society, you are going to succeed. But if they oppose you, you are going to fail."

  • Several interviewees observed that corruption undermined the legitimacy of local and national governments. Often the contact that most locals had with the government was negative: "The closest contact they have with their government is the police: the poorly paid, untrained policemen, whose job it is to just take bribes from them; that's their daily contact with their government." Working with local officials who are perceived as corrupt also undermines U.S. or coalition credibility. Said another interviewee, "The longer we are linked with corrupt officials, the more we are thought to be corrupt as well, because it is incomprehensible to [locals] who understand all of the stuff that we don't, that we don't understand all of the stuff that they do about who these officials are." Interviewees also noted it is difficult to remove corrupt officials. Even when PRT members made efforts to report corrupt officials to American and coalition leaders and remove the officials, "Nothing ever came of it. It was never engaged with the [host] government; it was never made an issue with the people who make the appointments. Only a handful of sub-governors were removed or replaced for ineptitude or corruption."
  • Over the last eight years, the United States and the international community have made a significant investment in fighting corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan, but progress remains limited at best. Iraq's ranking in the 2009 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index was 176 out of 180 countries. Efforts to fight corruption include proposed strengthening of anti-corruption laws by the government of Iraq and recent attempts to hold senior government officials accountable for corruption.
  • Despite these efforts, corruption remains a very serious problem in Iraq. The government of Iraq's efforts to address corruption issues are ongoing but not yet sufficiently effective. The U.S. rule of law coordinator in Iraq has supported a series of efforts to combat corruption and promote transparency. Nevertheless, according to most of the interviewees, these programs have been largely ineffective.


The following suggestions were discussed by interviewees as possible mechanisms to address the problem of corruption:

  • Identify and mentor local "credible" officials. Find official or unofficial leaders who are well respected in their local community, and advocate to the relevant U.S. and host government officials for these individuals to fill official roles. Provide more funding, and increase mentorship of these leaders.
  • Withhold funding and remove local corrupt officials. PRT leaders and members in the field should have a greater say in the assessment of local officials. If local officials are corrupt or incompetent, designated PRT personnel should be able to withhold funding and then recommend removal if necessary.
  • Increase and improve oversight of funding. Local officials often lack the capacity to prevent corruption on their own. The international community must assist with oversight of international funding to ensure that it is not wasted.

Lesson Learned: PRTs can assist the provincial government in building sustainable medical capacity in the province.

Observations and Insights:

Everything from the way the PRT conducts its medical and public health outreach program to the sourcing of medical supplies can have a positive or negative effect on how quickly medical capacity is built in the province. Two areas that have a particular impact are:

  • Sub-practice 1: How the PRT works with provincial health officials and existing host-nation facilities to build in-situation capacity.
  • Sub-practice 2: How the PRT plans, sources, and purchases medical supplies, equipment, facilities, rehabilitation, and training to support its medical capacity building in the province.

The PRT needs to assess the need to use quick response funds to purchase medical supplies that provide support to host-nation clinics and augment collaborative medical outreach events. Medical supplies are hard to source through U.S. channels. However, hasty local sourcing of medical supplies presents a number of risks and could lead to negative effects. Negative effects include temporary shortages of medicine and/or increases in prices at local pharmacies. Other risks include sourcing of poor quality products (e.g., not meeting required quality specifications or medicine past the expiration date).

One PRT addressed this problem by developing a process to mitigate risks and successfully source frequently demanded medical supplies/products through local distribution channels. Its process included the following steps:

  • Plan projects well in advance and aggregate the purchasing volume into one sourcing event. The sourcing process could take up to 45 days.
  • Build requirements based on input from multiple sources.
  • Assess input from demand from previous events.
  • Develop the technical specifications for required products.
  • Develop a "request-for-quote" process that includes the quantities, service level (e.g., delivery time), and packaging requirements.
  • Screen and qualify potential vendors from approved vendor lists compiled by the Joint Contracting Command.
  • Inspect the product thoroughly upon receipt, preferably by qualified or trained personnel.
  • Properly store all medicines.


Implement the following steps to build sustainable medical capacity in the province:

  • Determine requirements. Assess current and future demand for medical supplies. The PRT should estimate the number of village/township medical outreaches and collaborations with clinics or medical civic action programs that are planned over a longer time horizon and summarize the intermediate requirements for three to six months.
  • Develop a list of potential suppliers. Screen potential suppliers in the province and beyond. Develop a long list of suppliers/distributors capable of supplying products and services of the required quality in the quantities needed.
  • Screen for potential suppliers/distributors in the province and beyond. Use available contacts in the province to identify sources of supply. These contacts include provincial directors, USAID, and other aid agencies working in the province. Make it clear that you are just certifying the suppliers. Develop information profiles for potential vendors for future purchases. Collect this information in a standard format.
  • Refine criteria selection requirements. Refine requirements, supplier market coverage, distribution range, and order lead time.
  • Prepare a request for proposal. Develop a clear request for proposal that sets out the plan.

Lesson Learned: The PRT can help create and encourage a viable workforce in the province to overcome a shortage of building trade skills and competent contractors.

Observations and Insights:

  • Contractors need to be trained as a team outside a formal classroom setting. More trained and qualified contractors will accelerate the pace of quality construction and build a foundation for the provincial construction trades industry. Skilled training is needed to meet long-term reconstruction goals and maintenance standards and provide quality construction. The provincial government needs to train host-nation workers to build reconstruction and development projects to improve building capacity and help meet current and future demands for skilled labor.
  • The way a PRT can address the shortage of competent contractors is by creating a workshop devoted to training its regular contractors on good construction techniques. U.S. Army engineers can train national army engineers on quality building trade practices appropriate for a developing country. The national army engineers will then instruct the contractors.
  • The course of instruction is the same course work given to the national army engineers. The contractors may bring along up to three workers each to receive the instruction. A set of good tools should be provided to students upon graduation. Graduates would receive a certificate of completion and a wallet-sized identification card saying they have completed the course. The provincial government can be represented by the Ministry of Rural Reconstruction and Development and the provincial engineer.
  • The next step is to conduct the class again and upgrade the skills taught to returning attendees. The end result of implementing these practices is to create a small pool of trained employees who will be able to find local jobs. Having trained builders will increase the quality of construction in the province as the provincial government works towards self-sustaining systems.


Implement the following steps to establish a builder's workshop and improve building trade skills:

  • Coordinate the concept:
    • Select a program manager. To ensure that a coordinated effort is possible, the PRT should select a volunteer to lead the program. The program manager can be a civil affairs team (CAT) leader who works directly with U.S. engineers.
    • Provincial government interest. The PRT leader and the program lead should meet with the provincial engineer and the national army leadership to get buy-in on the concept. The meeting should be a basic concept discussion.
  • Conduct a provincial assessment:
    • Construction quality. Assessments of provincial construction projects may not always be up to the quality standards required for projects to last. It has been suggested that projects constructed by host nationals are often of a lower quality than those built by workers from another country because of the skills gap. Sometimes all of the contractors may come from outside the province. For the training to be truly effective, the PRT should require that at least 75 percent of workers hired for projects come from the local district.
    • Existing vocational trade schools. There may not be any trade schools existing in the province to teach proper construction techniques.
    • Job opportunities. Each contractor should bring three attendees with him. The thought behind this is that the attendees who are not contractors may be able to start their own construction business as a result of this training.
  • Create the workshop:
    • School location. This can be treated much like a U.S. conference. The PRT is going to provide the attendees with lodging and food to ensure as much as possible that students attend the entire six days of instruction.
    • Develop a curriculum. The CAT/PRT can choose to utilize the Inter-Service Builder Apprentice Training (A-710-0010) and Inter-Service Building Apprentice Training Phases A, B, and C (A-710-033 Army). Using these curricula will ensure that host-nation army trainers and contractors will have a good base of instruction.
    • Equip the school. The PRT/CAT can order quality tools from vendors. Part of the problem with local construction is that the tools often break and are not of good quality. Some of the contractors may be interested in becoming tool distributors.
    • Coordinate with the provincial government. Throughout the entire process, PRT members should coordinate all efforts with the provincial government to ensure unity of effort. The provincial engineer should be heavily involved in developing the plan. The provincial engineer could be a guest instructor during the workshop. He will provide the continuity necessary to continue the program.
  • Transition the school to the provincial government:
    • The provincial government provides classroom location.
    • The provincial government provides all classroom equipment.
    • The provincial government provides the graduation basic tool kits.
    • The provincial government provides local instructors and pays them.

Lesson Learned: The PRT must reach the populace in the province with targeted messages that build awareness and support local government and U.S. government efforts.

Observations and Insights:

  • The challenge is that there may be little in the way of established communications systems and media. It is important to engage with local government officials and allow them to deliver a message of progress to the people.
  • The PRT leader and others should be able to engage the local media in their field of expertise along with the guidance of the public diplomacy officer. Roundtable discussions and joint sessions with military leadership work well.
  • Although information operations may attempt to reach multiple audiences (e.g., U.S. citizens, the international community, deployed coalition forces, and locals), the PRT's primary audience is the provincial populace. However, there are limited resources provided to the PRT to reach that audience effectively. A local newspaper that focuses mostly on stories of national-level interest and stories that promote coalition efforts should be engaged.
  • Some regional content can be introduced to provide news and targeted public information in the province. There may be a dearth of local language content available for public information. In the end, the people may have little information about their local government at a time when the government needs to build awareness and engage its people in the civil processes of a democracy. The PRT leader needs to reach out to the local audience. He can do this by contacting the state-run television station operating in the provincial capital.
  • Take a state television station's camera crew to an event to have local media document the engagements and provide commentary for the event. This practice shows the people of the province that their local government is working toward providing better services for its people and explains how the government is accomplishing this enormous task. The coverage should be balanced and fact-based when discussing the challenges the country faces. If the government is not doing a good job, the news report should show that as well. Because the engagements involve the local government and do not revolve around the direct actions of the PRT, this practice helps to dispel many of the myths about coalition forces.
  • A videotaping of a governor's meeting with religious figures where the PRT leader is also in attendance can receive a lot of attention. The PRT should continue to work with the local government on the concept of providing public service messages. The end result of implementing this practice is the creation of media coverage that will promote the provincial government's activities and provide public service information.


Implement the following steps to use the local media to communicate with the population:

  • Coordinate the concept:
    • Select a program manager. To ensure that a coordinated effort is possible, the PRT should select its CAT leader to monitor this program.
    • Provincial government interest. The PRT leader and the program manager should meet with the governor and the director of communications to propose, refine, and agree upon the idea being proposed. At the meeting, present the basic concept and review the media capabilities in the province. The provincial government should agree that the people have a great interest in what goes on in the province and that a more aggressive plan on managing the message could help the people understand how their government is supporting them. The communications plan could also help in the area of public service messages by addressing such issues as health.
  • Conduct a provincial media assessment:
    • Types and location of media assets. The program manager should work with the director of communications to agree upon a basic coverage concept of the current media facilities and develop a broad vision of where the provincial government wants to expand its current resources. The PRT AOR may have state-run television and radio as well as private television stations that reach a large part of the populace due to high population densities in several key areas. Every type of media is usually represented in the province and can be part of a medial engagement plan.
    • Capabilities of the local television station. The PRT can approach state-run television stations and invite them to cover and record events, such as project groundbreakings, grand openings, village medical outreaches, and provincial government-sponsored religious meetings. The television station may be interested in covering these events but lack basic audio/video equipment. The PRT can purchase a small portable video camera and basic video equipment and give it to the station. The station can then send a cameraman out with the PRT to cover key events occurring in the province.
  • Work with the state-run television station:
    • Basic media training. The program manager should work with the local media to help improve their presentation techniques for taped segments. The PRT can encourage the television station to interview members of the provincial government as part of the film clip introduction. The cameraman can also interview people attending key events to capture their impressions of the event or efforts of the provincial government. Covering these events leads to more provincial government involvement and brings a local perspective to the events.
    • Preparing the message for radio and print. Another benefit of helping the television station create content is that the same content can be used for radio (audio) scripts and played on the radio across the province. The scripts can also be used for print media.
  • Involve the provincial government:
    • Public service messages. The PRT should work with the director of communications and/or the state-run television station to help it package ideas and promote positive public service messages to the province. One planned campaign idea could be sponsored by the director of health to combat a local epidemic that is a common cause of mortality (e.g., the public service message could help dispel the myth that giving more water to infants with dysentery results in their death due to dehydration). The PRT can also help the communication director or television station make radio and TV spots.
    • Expand media coverage. Current coverage may be limited. The provincial government has a plan to increase coverage but needs assistance in financing the hardware upgrades. The station could consider selling airtime to businesses for advertising or to nongovernmental organizations to air information and outreach programming (e.g., farm extension programs and teacher training). The PRT could consider buying airtime for public information campaigns highlighting public health and safety issues or for promoting events such as village medical outreach events.
    • Radio distribution. The PRT should have money to distribute radios to areas the signal covers but where people do not have radios. This will maximize the efforts of getting information to the people.
    • Transition practice to the next PRT. The PRT must understand that the provincial government controls many of the media resources. The PRT should monitor the provincial government's usage of the systems and suggest modifications to the process when it identifies areas where the provincial government could benefit.
  • Transition practice to the provincial government. The director of communications should develop a media campaign to keep the people informed by having the PRT maintain a good relationship with the director of communications and assist in getting the governor to understand the importance of this communication tool.

Lesson Learned: Greater coordination, communication, and logistical support is still needed between PRTs, the embassy, and the Office of Provincial Affairs (OPA).

Observations and Insights:

  • Several PRT members commented about the lack of coordination and communication about long-term goals between the embassy, OPA, and PRTs operating in the field. Comments suggested that while OPA and the military have been great at communicating short- to medium-term goals, they fall short communicating larger strategic goals.
  • One Baghdad PRT member voiced frustration, stating: "I think overall. . .the PRTs, even the Baghdad PRT - where we lived with embassy people but did not work with them - are so separated from the embassy and the mission as a whole. Across the board almost every single person you can talk to - foreign service officer, contractor, team leader, Iraqi local hire - will tell you the biggest problem is there is not enough communication between the mission and the PRTs...even under the worst of times, there was really no excuse for the complete lack of broader communication coming from the top down to us."
  • Without such communication and coordination, the PRTs often took it upon themselves to learn and share what other PRTs in country were doing. Many interviewees describe how PRT staffers chose to share among themselves because they feared their efforts would fall on deaf ears in the embassy: "And a lot of times there were e-mails going back and forth across PRTs. I would be e-mailing Kirkuk, Kirkuk would be e-mailing Najaf, Najaf would be e-mailing Salah ad-Din and asking, 'Hey, do you think that the embassy's interested in X, Y, Z?' We were asking each other because when we would ask the embassy, it just went into this never-never land, and you never got an answer. So, we would collectively come up with an answer, but that's not much of a way to do it..."
  • Finally, several interviewees commented about the systemic problem of a high level of disconnect between those in the embassy who logistically support PRTs and the PRT members. The dynamic that flows from the interviews is that those operating in the embassy are convinced they are doing quite a bit to support the logistical side of PRTs. But PRT members disagree, pointing out that embassy staff have rarely (if ever) traveled and communicated directly with the PRTs in the field. Most interviewees felt the support mechanisms were not sufficient and communication with support elements was lacking. They cited lack of BlackBerry phones, functioning Internet systems, and other basic logistical elements: "I was disappointed that the State Department did not take more care in making sure that we had office supplies, communications, and the living conditions. . .there should be a minimum standard for living and working conditions."

Suggestion: Build personal relationships with OPA counterparts in the embassy. Keep open and clear communication channels to the OPA and other embassy sections.

Lesson Learned: The PRT must share information from many sources with its own staff and members.

Observations and Insights:

The PRT requires practical information collection and display tools to provide a common understanding of the situation in the province. Current information graphically displayed enables better operations planning and reconstruction and development. Lack of transition data by RIP units causes a need to collect data about the province. PRTs use different methods for collecting and displaying data:

  • Ensure the PRT has a weekly conference call with the desk officer to stay connected. Is important for OPA to provide the PRT staff updates on future plans and policy changes. If OPA provides the PRT with the opportunity to offer suggestions, the PRT staff will feel it is contributing to the program. Information from these staff calls should be made available to other PRT members for impact or situational awareness.
  • Another approach is for OPA to organize periodic conference calls among PRT staff and advisers on specific topic areas such as governance, rule of law, public diplomacy, agriculture, or public health to facilitate understanding of embassy direction, latest national-level information, and sharing best practices. Information from these staff calls should be made available to other PRT members for impact or situational awareness.
  • The PRT needs a system for collecting and storing data that makes the information available to different members of the team. The COP is the visual display that results from setting priority information requirements, developing workable processes for collection, and updating the graphic display to summarize information.


  • Select a program manager. The PRT civil affairs liaison team operations officer/planner is a good choice. The key to a successful COP is to include all members of the PRT.
  • Gain provincial government interest. Teaching the provincial governor about the usefulness of having a reconstruction and development COP would be beneficial; however, based on limitations in technology in the province, using maps and overlays is probably the best implementation method of this practice.
  • Develop the parameters of the COP:
    • Decide what data to collect. The PRT S-2 should hold a meeting with USAID, DOS, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Private Trans-Atlantic Telecommunications, and any other member of the PRT who has an interest in data collection. An assessment sheet should be developed from this meeting that synchronizes the collection efforts of all PRT members.
    • Determine what system to use to display the collected data. With today's technology it is possible to collect data in a database and display that information using graphical overlays on a basic set of maps. The old-school method of using a map with overlays can be effective; however, it is not as easy to query the data that is collected in reports created in Microsoft Word.
    • Use a shared drive and establish a standard naming convention. Rather than storing data under a personal logon, PRTs are setting up naming conventions for storing documents and keeping them on shared drives that can be backed up weekly. Standardizing this practice should be considered by higher headquarters. This standardization will help with retaining information that seems to be constantly lost as personnel depart the theater.
    • Use of Microsoft SharePoint. Through SharePoint, PRTs are able to use specific domains to manage PRT information while having the ability to collaborate with other PRTs and the mission. The centralized information technology services management ensures one-time investment in technology and effective manning of the service from one location. Connectivity to this service should be made available to all PRTs.
    • Visual techniques:
      • PRT website. Data can be put on this website for others to see. The data can be updated weekly or bi-weekly. It is difficult to collect data based on the available resources for each PRT. Some PRTs do not have a large expatriate or local staff to do this task.
      • Falcon View. This program allows the PRT to create multiple overlays and digitally lay them over a standard set of maps. The system requires each piece of data to get plugged in with a Global Positioning System (GPS) grid but does not allow the user to query the system to see trends.
      • ARC View. Similar to Falcon View, but this program allows for categorizing data, which enables the user to develop trend maps to see key relationships between events. One PRT is currently using this technique with great success. This system requires having users who know how to categorize the data make it useful to a decision maker. The key to success with this system is consistent data entry.
      • WebTAS. This system is currently under development. One PRT is serving as the test site for implementation. WebTAS allows the PRT to create standard assessment forms that store information and allows the user to create multiple overlays and digitally lay them over a standard set of maps. The system requires each piece of data to get plugged in with a GPS grid, but does not allow the user to query the system to see trends. Bandwidth is a limitation for using WebTAS.
      • Digital Battle Captain. This system is probably going to be the most useful COP program once it is fully developed. It includes daily event data collected from multiple sources across the operational area. However, the bandwidth at many locations will be a limitation.
      • Maps and overlays. Although this is a basic system, it gets the point across by using a limited number of overlays and color codes. In the absence of any other visual capability, this is a great option.
      • Microsoft PowerPoint. This is a low-tech way of displaying limited amounts of data. However, with the "build" feature, you can show what was done in the past, present, and future. You can also display information about key personalities and make personality cards that Soldiers can carry with them on patrols. Once the baseline charts are created, PowerPoint is easy to update. It does not have any query capability.
      • Microsoft Word documents. This is the most used but least preferred method because it only creates a large amount of text data that cannot be easily queried. It forces new arrivals to read through all the data to pick out what they think is useful, which takes a lot of time to gain operational knowledge of the province and tends to cause the loss of data over time.
    • Limitations:
      • External hard drives. The amount of storage space required is extremely large when using better types of software. External hard drives are also very useful for PRTs to backup their data rather than trying to do it on CDRs. Storing map sets on external hard drives can help with bandwidth issues.
      • Bandwidth. Many of these data systems require data to be maintained at locations with limited amounts of bandwidth. As a result, the practical use of these automated systems is reduced, if not totally diminished, because it takes too long to get the data.
      • Plotters. Currently, PRTs do not have the equipment needed to print large-scale copies of their COP, even if they have the software to create copies. Some PRTs have started requesting production of their large-scale products off-site; however, this is often very time consuming. One PRT has a Geospatial Information System (GIS) section working at the PRT with a plotter and appropriate software. They can produce almost any product within hours of a request. An investment in a GIS section and plotter would be a worthwhile investment.
      • Software. Based on the large number of software packages available and the cost involved in buying them, it would be extremely beneficial if the combined joint task force or geographic combatant commander would pick a standard package and purchase it for everyone. Training and technical support are required to support the system. Feedback from the field is necessary to keep the system relevant.
      • Operators. There are limited numbers of trained operators on the useful software packages described above. Without a dedicated trained operator, expectations of the actual usefulness of these systems are not realistic. Standardized data collection is the key to making these systems work. Without trained personnel, it is often better to just fall back on less technical methods of collecting and displaying data. However, the long-term usability and scalability of these low-tech methods is limited.
  • Involve the provincial government:
    • Collect data from the provincial government. It is essential that the PRT has a copy of the provincial development strategy. These data points should be put on a map to show how the province will progress in the future. Historical reconstruction and development data is important to allow the provincial government to see progress and for PRTs to see what has been accomplished in the past.
    • Share the COP with the provincial government. Developing a reconstruction and development COP and sharing it with the provincial government and other donors is essential because the military has the best map-making equipment in the country. Often, the lack of maps (or the use of different maps) causes the provincial government and donors to misunderstand each other because the actual location of a reconstruction and development project is not known.
  • Transition practice to the next PRT:
    • Ensure during the RIP that new PRT members are trained on the system used to develop the COP and they fully understand how to maintain the data and why it is important. This common reference is essential to keep things running smoothly as well as to ease future transitions. Good historical files should be built to assist new PRT members during their transition into their specific jobs.
    • The system can be shared during predeployment site surveys to allow incoming PRT elements to start training on the system and have relevant data before they arrive in theater. It also helps for new arrivals to have a basic understanding of their AO.

Lesson Learned: Coordinated long-term planning is critical to the success of PRTs, but most PRT metrics and performance evaluations do not credit planning.

Observations and Insights:

  • Civilian-military strategic planning appears not to be taken seriously: "There was this formal process that was supposed to be done as civil-military planning. But I'll tell you that the PRT and everyone in the province regarded this as a box to check to get the people above them off their backs and then we were going to go about our daily business."
  • Metrics value performance over planning: "Every time a new commander comes in, he's got to have his fitness report, and he's going to do a lot of things to drive the numbers. He can't just say, 'I made this governor a better governor.' He's got to say, 'I built this many schools, I built this many miles of roads.' Metrics, metrics, metrics."
  • Civilian-military planning cells only work well if they feed directly into operational planning.
  • Civilian-military planning must be balanced between civilians and military, otherwise the "civilian voice [is] drowned out."
  • Civilian-military planning is a challenge for two main reasons. First, it is difficult to coordinate strategies of civilian and military personnel. Second, planning for medium- and long-term projects is difficult when personnel regularly are rotating out and on different timelines.
  • Although there are civil-military planning cells, some interviewees regarded these as impractical activities that did not result in true coordinated or long-term planning and did not drive resource or funding allocation. Instead, most projects are short-term projects that can be completed within single deployments and have measurable effects (e.g., miles of roads and number of schools), even if these are not the most critical programs needed.
  • This situation is largely due to the quick personnel turnover (9- to 12-month deployments), incentive mechanisms to show measurable improvements within individuals' deployments, inability to access funding and logistic support on a long-term basis to support long-term projects, and the inability to maintain oversight of the long-term projects that are recommended by the local population within a particular AO.
  • The lack of long-term planning is part and parcel of the criticism that PRTs are fighting "one-year wars" instead of having a sustained, continuous effort to build capacity in their AOs.

Suggestion: Combining country agency offices related to PRTs (e.g., DOS, Department of Defense, USAID, Department of Justice, and USDA) under one roof may help alleviate some of the problems associated with planning and resourcing.

Lesson Learned: The task of managing multiple projects to support capacity building and development in its AOR is challenging for a PRT.

Observations and Insights:

  • CERP will not play an important role in Iraq as we enter a new fiscal year and the anticipated drawdown of U.S. troops. The provinces are moving towards a liberal market-oriented economy whereby provinces are requesting foreign direct investment. In Diwaniyah, the Provincial Investment Commission is the local entity in charge of private investment. Many provinces do not have actual data to collect that will support the proper development of economic projects. PRT experts can assist with the data collection. It is important that Iraqis are involved up front and the PRT monitors the process of private investment that will lead to economic growth.
  • The PRT's effort should focus primarily on capacity building and ensuring the Iraqis take ownership of their tasks and have all the support to complete processes end to end.
  • The PRT staff must efficiently and effectively manage available resources, including delivering projects at the desired quality levels, building project management capacity on the provincial government staff, and building capacity in host-country enterprises.
  • One PRT addressed this problem by viewing CERP project management as an end-to-end process, from the project formation/generation phase through project closeout and post-delivery monitoring. PRTs are to consider other sources of funding besides CERP, such as quick response funds. It would be best to incorporate similar methodology, although funding sources may be different. USAID's International Road Assistance Program proved to be of great resource, as the PRT could utilize the Defense Agency Initiative to manage and monitor complex projects that required frequent visits to the sites.
  • The PRT has organized a project delivery cell with defined roles and a mix of technical project management and control skills.

Key supporting processes:

  • Project generation and nomination process. (See "Collaborative reconstruction planning with provincial and local governments" below.)
  • Standard design for projects. USAID and the United Nations Office for Project Services have standard designs that use simple construction techniques and local materials. One PRT keeps an archive of all standard designs for a range of possible projects (e.g., schools, basic health care clinics, and micro-hydroelectric plants).
  • Pre-bid supplier conference. Use the conference to describe the project, the expected skills required to deliver, and quality expectations. Set expectations and describe the way PRTs work, progress payments, and the quality dispute process.
  • Bidders' conference. One PRT expands the pre-bid conference into a training session. The PRT developed a training manual that is distributed at the pre-tender bidders' conference. Attendance at the course qualifies the contractor to bid on CERP projects. The certification course aims to orient potential contractors, set their expectations, and prepare them for successful performance on CERP projects.
  • Supplier information management. Provide a contractor/supplier profile with a picture for positive identification. Maintain records on each supplier to include previous work performed and references from other work. Assess and record the previous level of performance and capabilities (e.g., trades covered and geographic scope of operations).
  • Build a detailed request for a proposal/quote. State quality expectations in bid documents so the cost of quality can be reflected in the contractors' pricing. Communicate the quality expectations in the request-for-proposal/quote document. Reinforce the message again during the certification course.


Implement the following techniques to manage multiple projects:

  • Organize the project delivery cell:
    • Develop project documents. Plan project documents in adequate detail to support clear communication with potential bidders (i.e., provide contractors with the scope and requirements for the project). These documents can be used to support the bidders' conference and the core of the bid package.
    • Plan and hold a bidders' conference. Organize and hold the conference. Rehearse the presentation of the bid documents with the interpreters to ensure requirements are clearly communicated. Leave enough time for clarifying questions from the contractors. Answer all contractor questions in public, allowing the entire group to hear all questions and the same answers. Explain the ground rules for bids and who is on the selection committee.
    • Gather and manage project and supplier information. In most provinces, some line ministry directors are able to work effectively with the PRT. Assess the provincial government line directors and their staffs to determine their willingness to work transparently with the PRT. Use DOS representatives to help assess the current provincial government staff and maintain the influence-relationship map of key provincial officials.
  • Use available resources (e.g., time, CERP/quick response funding, and associations) to influence and reinforce good behavior:
    • CERP/Quick response funds projects. Work with provincial line ministry directors to assess the province's needs and develop a prioritized development plan that emphasizes primary needs first (e.g., electricity and water). Encourage provincial line ministry directors and other provincial government officials to follow their prioritized development plans. Build sustainable systems by thinking through the resources for construction as well as the operating costs to maintain the system. Lack of focus on the sustainability and operations capacity of the host nation may result in the development of assets, which while undoubtedly sorely needed, cannot be staffed, equipped, or utilized.
    • Develop institutional capacity. Collaborative project work and mentoring programs can help build skills with other provincial government members. After gaining buy-in with staff collaborations from the governor and key line ministry directors, form the appropriate working team to develop and manage projects. Ensure the governor and key line ministry directors are kept informed through open progress meetings. By inviting larger participation from the line ministries, the provincial government can develop greater knowledge and experience in project development and management.
    • Consider phased development/investment to control funds. Phased project execution allows the PRT to invest in projects that are being managed with required transparency and effectiveness. Involving local leaders in shaping projects and creating local work crews can yield the optimum economic benefit while allowing good project controls of CERP/quick response funds. This phased approach also allows adequate time for teaching.

Lesson Learned: To maximize all available assets and capabilities that exist in a province, the PRT coordinates capacity building and development activities with other units.

Observations and Insights:

  • PRTs require practical information collection and display tools to provide a common understanding of the situation in a particular province. Graphically displaying current information enables better operations planning and reconstruction and development. Lack of transition data by the RIP unit causes a need to collect data about the province.
  • Within the combined joint operational area, maneuver units own the entire PRT operational environment. Lines of command can become blurred without higher headquarters clearly defining who is in charge. In instances where the PRT and a maneuver unit are collocated, the maneuver commander is the senior commander. In most of these instances, the PRT operates at a reduced level of manpower because it is collocated with a maneuver element.
  • The difference in missions between the two units can make both parties ineffective without properly coordinating operations. If the PRT is not collocated with a maneuver element and has its full complement of force protection, it is still essential to know what other operational elements are doing in the province.


Ensure the maneuver element S-3 hosts a weekly meeting that includes the PRT and any maneuver elements in the AO. The meeting is essential because it allows all elements to deconflict their operations over the next week as well as provide support when something happens that requires emergency assistance. The meeting also allows all parties to share information that others might find irrelevant; however, since attendees may be working in different parts of the province and/or working with different people, they ultimately will have information to share that all will find important. The meeting also allows units to find gaps and seams that can be mitigated to help share limited resources. Some future steps in this process would be to include the host government security force so it can learn how to conduct such a meeting and synchronize data sharing. This can all be integrated back into the emergency operations center.

Coordinating the concept:

  • Selecting a program lead. The PRT S-3 is the best person to be the program lead. The CAT-A team leader might want to attend to gather information firsthand from the meeting.
  • Provincial government interest. This meeting has no primary use to the provincial government; however, information from it could be used by the maneuver element and the PRT to assist them at the provincial security coordination body.
  • Conducting the meeting. The maneuver S-3 hosts the meeting at his location and sets the weekly agenda. Attendees include the maneuver S-3, PRT S-3, embedded training team, and any other coalition force representatives in the province. All invitees must be able to review their missions and patrols for the next two weeks so a COP of events can be determined and deconflicted. When the maneuver element and the PRT are collocated, more time should be spent coordinating missions and patrols because the maneuver element must provide force protection for the PRT to accomplish its mission. This requirement for force protection can be greatly impacted if the maneuver commander has a different plan and is relying on these same limited resources.
  • Transitioning practice to the next PRT. Review the meeting agenda with the new personnel and cover the due-outs for the next meeting. Also, provide historical meeting notes to show the intent of the meeting and its usefulness.

Lesson Learned: The PRT must reach to outlying or remote districts within its province.

Observations and Insights:

  • By design, PRTs are located close to the provincial capital. As security improves, the PRTs are able to travel to villages more frequently. It is important the PRT focus its new strategy on the local villages and most vulnerable outside the provincial capital. The PRT will play a key role in bringing the local issues from the bottom to the top.
  • One PRT established three remote patrol bases within the province to help project the presence and impact of the PRT. The patrol bases are located in safe houses and guarded full time by hired security forces or collocated on a national police compound. The patrol is commanded by a major with approximately a 20-person organization that is staffed with other PRT skill sets as required. The patrol leader constantly engages the local population and collects information for the PRT.
  • The remote patrol base concept allows relationships to form and grow with the local population. It also allows the PRT to make regular assessments and conduct quality control checks on remote projects. Patrols stay out for about three weeks at a time and then return to the PRT site for resupply. The same people return to their remote patrol base to ensure relationships are maintained with the locals. Because many of the remote locations are snowed in during the winter, the PRT shuts down the patrol bases except for the local security force. The PRT also reduces its staff in the winter months when the location of the remote bases is not trafficable.

Suggestion: The selection of remote patrol base locations should be based on where the base can have the most impact on the local population.

Lesson Learned: A dangerous security environment is a key impediment to the success of a PRT. It prevents PRT members from regularly meeting with local officials and overseeing projects. A poor/deteriorating security environment also reduces the population's confidence in the effectiveness of its central and local government institutions.

Observations and Insights:

  • A majority of interviewees commented that the security situation often made movement difficult for civilian members of the PRT. One USDA PRT member operating in Iraq said, "Movement was the one thing that was most difficult. [There was] competition for security among the PRTs. On ground moves, I had four MRAPS [mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles] with up to 16 armed guards."
  • Another theme resonating in the interviews was that a poor security situation limits improvements in governance and development and damages the local community's connection with the government. One Navy PRT commander in Afghanistan stated, "The worsening security situation hampered development efforts and efforts to advance governance. The decrease in security was causing the government to lose its connection with the people of the province, and this was a significant concern."
  • A PRT member in Iraq noted similarly that, "Unless there is a secure environment, improvements in governance are going to be limited. And how can you have true economic development? Security will remain the top issue. On the other hand, heavy security and military presence may lead to less flexibility and less ability to interact with the local officials."
  • It is also critical that PRT members are viewed to be sharing the same risks as the population they are supporting. A PRT member in Iraq stated, "Part of the problem for PRTs like us that were wholly dependent on the military for security is that the military has just about zero flexibility to deviate from their template. And a number of Iraqis in Karbala would say, 'Why do you do this? Karbala's safe now. You don't have to do this anymore.' Our military guys would agree with us, but we can't make an exception, even if we wanted to."
  • According to the most recent DOD report on stability and security in Iraq, security incidents remain at the lowest levels in more than five years, and progress in the security environment remains generally steady but uncertain.


  • Civilians should participate in all stages of mission planning to ensure civilian missions are viewed as a priority. All members of the PRT must recognize that interacting with local officials in the field is the primary PRT mission. "I was at virtually every meeting that we had with the commander. Usually I sat in the command center and that's what I would recommend for people like me going out: sit in the command center."
  • Clearly communicate mission and requirements to security personnel: "We actually did owe these young soldiers much more information, better briefings about what exactly we were doing, because I think it helped. And they appreciated when we would take the time to say, 'We're going to a meeting with the governor, we're going to a meeting with the head of this nongovernmental organization, and this is what it's about, this is what's at stake.'"
  • Reduce the visible security footprint: When the security situation permits, PRT members must be prepared to share risk with the local population they are working with. When appropriate, risk can be mitigated with unmarked vehicles, perhaps utilizing private security.

Summary of Best Practices

This section covers the following areas of best practices:

  • Interaction with locals.
  • Planning.
  • Funding.
  • Civil-military relations.
  • Continuity of effort.

Summary of Interaction with Locals Best Practices

  • Rely on local hires when access to local leaders is difficult. "The hardest part for us was interacting with Iraqis on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes getting out was difficult. The amount of time you had with them was limited. Sometimes what they would tell you was limited, so you depended on a lot of these locally hired Iraqis who worked for us to fill in the gaps and help to explain things to us." (USAID, Basra, Fall 2009)
  • Develop local community groups to build buy-in. "I would form farmers' associations, a loosely knit group of farmers who wanted to work with us, and just followed up with them. I would start out with five or six in this group, and those groups would multiply to 50 members. We used these associations to provide training on how to use greenhouses, tractors, etc. Then I gave each farmer's association five greenhouses, and what we did as a group, we put names in a hat and we picked out five names, and they got the first five greenhouses, and then they in turn paid back a percentage of their profit to the farmer's association, who would buy more greenhouses for other farmers. So it was an ongoing process." (USDA, Ninevah, Winter 2009)
  • Mentor and support Iraqis, but do not do it for them. "The number one lesson that I would say is to observe before you act. An American answer for an Iraqi problem is not an answer. We have to develop Iraqi solutions for Iraqi problems. Mentor and guide and support them. Don't do the job for them. One of the things that I endorse a lot is that it is better for an Iraqi to do a job halfway and learn than for you to step in and do it perfectly, because the Iraqi will let you work yourself to a frazzle." (USDA, Ninevah, Winter 2009)
  • Get a letter of consent, a substantial agreement, from Iraqis to sustain projects initiated by Americans. "Actually we used to make sure before we even started any project to get a letter of consent, a buy-in letter, and a promise that they would sustain the project and man it. If we were building schools, the school wouldn't function if they didn't put teachers in it." (DOS, Muthanna, Winter 2009)
  • Hire Iraqi-Americans to work for the United States in Iraq. "My relationship was perfect, because I was born in Iraq. Actually they still write me e-mails now, all of them, from the governor to the investment commissioners, and I respond to them. It was absolutely incredible. I had a different approach and knew how to deal with the issues." (DOS, Muthanna, Winter 2009)
  • Contract locally-engaged staff to facilitate PRT interactions with the community. "[We] had the ability to contract locally engaged staff, $1,500 a month for someone who's living in the community, and the amount of work that we got out of them was absolutely phenomenal, because they could go out and do everything for us - arrange meetings, give us grid coordinates for buildings, transact deals for us, etc. . . One committed local person is worth 10 or 15 well-meaning, well-motivated but ultimately not as effective Americans or folks from other parts of the world who are trying to negotiate the system." (DOS, Karbala, Fall 2009)
  • Bring U.S. personnel of some status to meetings to show respect for Iraqi counterparts. "We would have a fair number of, not really high-level VIPs, the division commander or brigade commander, come in, or somebody from Baghdad - such as the ambassador's special representative for southern Iraq - and we would take them on a normal round of appointments with the governor and Provincial Council chairman and others." (DOS, Karbala, Fall 2009)
  • Make formal appointments to see the governor instead of barging in unannounced. "They started to require that we have appointments, which I thought was a brilliant thing, because we used to just go marching into the governor's office and monopolize the space and use up his time. It just seemed more respectful that if we wanted to meet with the governor, we should have an appointment. So things became more formalized over time, less so with members of the council, but at least with the governor." (USAID, Anbar, Fall 2009)

Summary of Planning Best Practices

  • Train Iraqis in strategic planning. "We were pretty quick to train the Iraqis in strategic planning. Some of that strategic planning that we trained the Iraqis on actually stuck and made a difference. Iraqis tend to be mathematicians and engineers, not great planners. But they were intrigued with the idea of setting objectives, trying to be honest in terms of what they thought they could influence at their level, and then trying to measure in some way what they had achieved. That all made a lot of sense to them. That was a discipline that they seemed to appreciate." (USAID, Anbar, Fall 2009)
  • Use good ideas from other provinces and modify them to work in your area. "My main focus during the whole year was to build an agriculture board - we call it the Maysan Ag Advisory Committee. I got the idea from our agriculture adviser in Hillah at the Babil PRT. . .I used what they did in Babil as a template and modified it." (USDA, Maysan, Winter 2009)
  • Focus on systematic and process reforms instead of merely building and infrastructure projects. "We had several systems projects in which we helped them install a project tracking system that tied together their financial department, their engineering department, and political leadership so they could all track them. USAID had a contract where they developed a database written explicitly for the provincial level where you could simply enter information about the contractor, status of the contract, the payments, the budget - stuff that, for us, you wouldn't even dream of going forward without, but at a lot of provincial levels it didn't exist at all. That was one thing that we consider a success, if they ever in fact use it, because it takes them from this ad hoc 'Let's just build something' to a much more systematic approach. 'How are these projects doing? What contractors are working out? What contractors aren't?' Really, just financial and management controls that didn't exist. We found that going after systems ultimately had a bigger potential payoff than just simply going in and building a school or a particular project without addressing the systemic ways of staffing and budgeting, etc." (DOS, Karbala, Fall 2009)
  • In general, avoid big-ticket "legacy" projects without appropriate planning. "The Iraqi officials would tend to get irritated with the PRT, because we were trying to move toward much smaller projects, looking at systems and so on, and then they would say, 'But where's the new electric power plant? Where's the new canal? What you guys really need to do is build a huge school or a big factory, a legacy project, just like the British did.' And we actually did a lot of those projects in 2004 and 2005 and which right now are sitting empty or half-completed, because again, no planning went into them and no thought of how to maintain or finish them or how they're going to fit in. And we can't afford those legacy projects." (DOS, Karbala, Fall 2009)

Summary of Funding Best Practices

  • Use alternative sources of funding beyond CERP and quick response funds. "One of the big things I was trying to get them (PRTs) to draw upon more was the Japanese common fund for PRTs. To level the playing field, any PRT can apply for funds from this fund and it's quite extensive, $10 million or something, and I helped a lot of the Americans, an even in one case a non-American, on the PRTs to gain access to this." (DOS, Baghdad, Fall 2009)
  • Promote more micro-development projects that are typically easier to fund. "If you are really looking at trying to do meaningful projects like business development, they could use micro-purchases. What I was trying to do with civil society development was trying to find a worthwhile project that you could do for under $25,000...anything above the $25,000 was a grant. There was one that I tried to do, but I wasn't successful." (3161, Baghdad, Fall 2009)
  • CERP is only useful if it is accompanied by properly trained PRT members who can provide project management and oversight. "We said, 'Absent that, if you don't have that capability, we can't turn this amount of money over to the Iraqis and think that they can do that themselves, because they're not at that level yet. We're just going to be building a lot of crappy, empty buildings.' And there was a lot of pushback and eventually it ended up, at least for our PRT, that the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to provide us with a qualified engineer for much longer than they had planned, because we said we didn't want any of this CERP money otherwise. Without the professional ability to manage it, we're violating our trust with the American taxpayer if we put all these projects in the pipeline that we know no U.S. government eyes will be able to supervise." (DOS, Karbala, Fall 2009)

Summary of Civil-Military Relations Best Practices

  • Work your travel schedule into the military's patrol schedule. "We still asked to go to lots of places, but we tried to say, 'Here's where we'd like to go. You tell us when you've got your regular patrol going in that direction, here's what we want to do.' And so they worked it into their patrol schedule, and that was pretty much how we did it." (DOS, Salah ad Din, Fall 2009)
  • Be resourceful to solve problems, such as assisting the military to find location coordinates. "Sometimes [military counterparts would] say, 'We can't go there; we don't have the grid coordinates or something.' You have to say, 'Well, actually, you do have the grid coordinates.' There were many missions where I would get Google Earth out, and I would go to Karbala and guide them down the street: 'This is where we're going.' And then we'd print out the Google maps and they'd convert that to a military grid. That's how you did business." (DOS, Karbala, Fall 2009)
  • Communicate with officers and even enlisted personnel about what you are doing and why you are doing it. "We did realize we had been falling down on this; we actually did owe these young soldiers much more information, better briefings about what exactly we were doing, because I think it helped. And they appreciated when we would take the time to say, 'We're going to a meeting with the governor, we're going to a meeting with the head of this NGO and this is what it's about, this is what's at stake.' As opposed to their just driving us to a building where we went into the building for a meeting and came out, and they had no idea what the meeting was about, why we were there, or anything. I think they appreciated the extra couple of minutes. . .We did try to do a briefing for the young officers, like the lieutenants and the captains and the senior noncommissioned officers - who had what portfolio, what our overall objectives were, what we were trying to accomplish in the province - just so they could tell their soldiers." (DOS, Karbala, Fall 2009)
  • Learn from the military and let them learn from you. "I think we learned something from each other. We [civilians] learned the value of trying to do some strategic planning so that you have some vision and some way forward that you can be held accountable for and can try to manage. They [the military] learned the futility of trying to do that in an absolutely blueprint way from us. There was mutual learning going on between us civilians and the Marines. I think it was frustrating for both of us because of those very different worldviews...They are not used to building democratic institutions. They don't do it... They started to learn about that from us, and we started to learn about the intricacies of fuel distribution and things like moving money from the banks. There was a little bit of cooperation there." (USAID, Anbar, Fall 2009)
  • Be thankful for the support you get from the military. "Thankfully, we had the military as an anchor. At the end of the day, the basics were taken care of. We had a place to sleep. We had security. We had food and water. If left to our own devices, a lot of us would have died of thirst in the desert, I am sure. Having the military to fall back on, to be our guarantor, made it all possible. As you are probably aware, this drawdown of the troops now brings into question the ability to continue to support the PRTs in Iraq, because we are 100 percent dependent upon them. That's just the reality." (USAID, Anbar, Fall 2009)
  • A good relationship between civilian and military leaders results in better civil-military cooperation at the staff level. "As for the ambassador and the commanding general, you really couldn't see a point of daylight between had the two people at the top, they were together. I assume that the ambassador didn't like everything the military was doing, and I assume the military didn't like everything the State Department was doing, but you never knew. At the top, you didn't know there was any discontent between the two of them. So that made everybody below behave better." (3161, Baghdad, Fall 2009)
  • Establish good relations with the PRT commander. "When I got down to Hawijah, I got really a great deal of military support and I felt very integrated. It was a function of putting in the time with them, to go to their briefings, figuring out what they're going to be doing, as well as being a resource for them in the room." (3161, Kirkuk, Fall 2009)

Summary of Continuity of Effort Best Practices

  • Try to ensure overlap with replacement personnel so that the incumbent can introduce the replacement to local leaders.
    • "Fortunately, I had sufficient overlap with the political officer who was there. Even though she focused mostly on reporting and I worked on programs, we're both political officers. She had already been there three, four months when I left, so she'll take my replacement under her wing and introduce him to all the main contacts." (DOS, Karbala, Fall 2009)
    • "I was blessed to have my predecessor there, the guy whose portfolio I took; we had an overlap of about seven weeks. Since strictly speaking I wasn't really filling his position, he didn't have to go when I came, although informally I took over the position. . . [He] had a wide range of contacts and a very large portfolio. We were out five, six days a week, every single day, sometimes twice a day, and that was really the best way to get integrated very quickly, to know who's who. So by the time he left, I knew all the key players, almost all of the key issues, so as new PRT members came aboard I felt I could give them a much better brief, because it doesn't take long until you're the senior guy on the block, the expert." (DOS, Karbala, Fall 2009)
  • Advise the new person but then step back and get out of the way as he asserts himself in the job."With these changing positions, you usually have about a week or so of overlap. At the end of the day, we all have different backgrounds, different training, and different views of the world. You don't want to tell your successor what to do or what to expect. You lay out the portfolio. You lay out the issues that you are working on. You make the introductions. Then you step away and say, 'Call me if you have any questions or problems.' It usually works out." (USAID, Anbar, Fall 2009)
  • Maintain clear files and contact information to enable a sudden or speedy replacement. "I went through all the projects. By this time my partner and I had developed a list of contacts. There was actually something in the file cabinet, there were files and things that I walked him through: 'Here are people you can call. Here's a list of phone numbers.' When I started, there wasn't even a scrap of paper with a phone number." (DOS, Salah ad Din, Fall 2009)
  • In cases where direct overlap is not possible, send copious notes in advance to the next person. "What I did was, knowing that we weren't going to see each other, long before he arrived, we started sending him the weekly situation report, which was a rollup of everything we did as a PRT. I wrote him a couple of long memos telling him where we were on certain projects, who to turn to, that sort of thing, at the embassy in Baghdad, and who our primary contacts were. So I think he was happy with the amount of information he got." (DOS, Karbala, Fall 2009)
  • Talk to longer-serving U.S. personnel and locals to get up to speed. "What I would do is spend a lot of time talking to the people who had been there longer than I was and understood what was going on, reading the cable traffic going back to Washington, and then talking to a lot to Iraqis." (USAID, Anbar, Fall 2009)
  • Learn from foreign nationals working in the embassy. "In Baghdad, we hire Iraqi citizens to work with us at USAID. So we have mostly young Iraqi men and women who are university educated, bilingual obviously, who live in the city, either in Baghdad or Ramadi, and are plugged into what is going on. I would spend a lot of time talking to them to understand the politics." (USAID, Anbar, Fall 2009)

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias