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Iraq Provincial Reconstruction Team Handbook

Newsletter 11-03
December 2010

CALL Handbook 11-03: Iraq Provincial Reconstruction Team Handbook

Chapter 1 - Introduction

A provincial reconstruction team (PRT) is an interim civil-military organization designed to operate in semi-permissive environments usually following open hostilities. The PRT is intended to improve stability in a given area by helping build the government of Iraq's capacity and reinforcing legitimacy, effectiveness, and confidence in providing security to its citizens and delivering essential government services. The PRT assists provincial-level governments in meeting the expectations of their citizens. In the post-surge environment of Iraq, there is a synergistic, whole of government approach that encompasses the following objectives for Iraq:

  • Sovereign, stable, and self-reliant.
  • Committed to just, representative, and accountable governance.
  • Neither safe haven for nor sponsor terrorism.
  • Integrated into the global economy.
  • A partner contributing to regional peace and security.

U.S. national policy focuses on transitioning from military to civilian lead. The relationship with Iraq is becoming one of partnership, enshrined in the Strategic Framework Agreement. The focus of the whole of government approach is to diminish the means and motivations for conflict while developing local institutions so they can take the lead role in national governance (e.g., provide basic services, foster economic development, and enforce the rule of law). Success depends ultimately on the host nation and on the interrelationship and interdependence of the ensuing dynamics:

  • The legitimacy of the government and its effectiveness as perceived by the local population and the international community.
  • The perceived legitimacy of the freedoms and constraints placed on the force supporting the government.
  • The degree to which factions, the local population, and other actors accede to the authority of the government and those forces supporting the government.

The U.S. strategy for Iraq identifies the following policy priorities for PRTs:

  • Mitigate the risk of a post-election vacuum, military drawdown, budget deficits, authoritarian control, and foreign interference:
    • Help strengthen the capacity of Iraqi governmental and civil society institutions to protect the rule of law, confront corruption, and deliver basic services.
    • Operate under the Provincial Powers Law.
    • Encourage checks and balances, including legislative oversight and an independent judiciary.
    • Encourage government responsiveness to an independent media and civil society.
    • Ensure provincial officials are accountable to the rule of law.
  • Serve as an "honest broker" to help contain and mediate ethnic and religious tensions.
  • Support elections and referenda.
  • Provide a platform for the United Nations and other organizations seeking access to provinces to provide assistance.
  • Support efforts on behalf of displaced persons.
  • Continue the counterinsurgency effort where necessary through political accommodation and enfranchisement.
  • Encourage investment and economic diversification by supporting regulatory frameworks and investment promotion.
  • Report the ground truth and provide accurate assessments.

A PRT stabilizes an area through its integrated civilian-military focus. It combines the diplomatic, military, and developmental components of the various agencies involved in the stabilization and reconstruction effort. The PRT is designed to help improve stability by building up the capacity of local governments to govern; enhance economic viability; and deliver public services such as security, law and order, justice, health care, and education. Once the stability objectives have been fulfilled, PRTs can begin to dismantle, and the traditional diplomatic and developmental programs will operate in more conventional roles.

This handbook provides a knowledge base to individuals operating in, adjacent to, or in support of a PRT, enabling these individuals to work effectively as a team to achieve the purpose of the PRT. It also provides PRT members with shared operational guidelines and insights into PRT best practices.

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