Farah is an area where the crops rely mainly on irrigation for their water source. In early 2001 many of the fields had not been planted, and those that were may not be productive. Water use for crops is not the only concern in that region, though. Also potable water for household use is becoming critical, as villagers have reported dry wells.
Strong winds can blow any time of the year, spawning blinding dust storms in the summer and raging blizzards in the winter. During the period 1961-1983, wind gusts were clocked as high as 98 mph in February at Farah, in western Afghanistan.
Iran supplies electricity to Afghanistan, in some areas directly adjacent to the Afghan-Iranian border in Herat, Farah, and Nimroz provinces. Reportedly, Iran plans to increase power supplies to Afghanistan's Herat province from Khorasan.
Northern Afghanistan has proved, probable and possible natural gas reserves of about 5 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). Outside of the North Afghan Platform, very limited oil and gas exploration has occurred. Geological, aeromagnetic, and gravimetric studies were conducted in the 1970s over parts of the Katawaz Fault Block (eastern Afghanistan - along the Pak border) and in the Helmand and Farah provinces. The hydrocarbon potential in these areas is thought to be very limited as compared to that in the north.
Farah Provincial Reconstruction Team [PRT]
Leadership from the coalition, the U.S. Embassy, the Afghan national government and Farah province gathered at the site of the Farah provincial reconstruction team for its official opening 15 September 2005. With an increased coalition presence and the help of their security forces, the PRT hopes to develop a secure environment to actively pursue reconstruction projects. The PRT's compound is about 170 square meters and is often referred to as "Fort Apache" by its soldiers. Located near the Iranian border, the relative low intensity of the war in Farah allows the PRT to focus on ambitious development projects.
In the province of Farah in western Afghanistan a group of American Soldiers live in a football-field-sized compound to make a better world for the people of this arid and war-torn land. The men and women are part of the Farah Provincial Reconstruction Team. It opened in September 2004 with a mission of reconstructing the province's infrastructure, including water supplies, schools, medical facilities and governmental buildings. The PRT covers an 18,000-square mile area, which is 50 percent larger than the state of Maryland.
The PRT has six showers with hot running water and six indoor toilets for more than 100 people. The living quarters consist of a combination of dormitories and tents. Soldiers wait for the monthly "rodeo" so they can cash a check or mail a package home. The rodeo is a traveling post office, finance and personnel office all in one that travels to remote locations to provide Soldiers with the basic support they need in western Afghanistan.
Force Protection is the blood that runs through the PRT, carrying all the vital information, protecting us from the outside viruses that might try to infuse damage to the strongest aid element working for the reconstruction of this province. More than half of the reconstruction team works in Force Protection; security is paramount to the mission of the PRT. The Force Protection team guards the compound with a mortar section, provides for safe convoy operations with armored vehicles, and gauges the pulse of the surrounding community while out on daily missions. Civil Affairs assess what infrastructure needs to be built and on what scale to have the greatest impact on the future of the province. To make assessments and funding proposals, the staff must have access to the villages in question; Force Protection ensures that access.
Villagers come to the PRT to raise their concerns and make requests to the Civil-Military Operations Center. The CMOC staff weighs requests against the capabilities of the PRT and the good of the overall province, to ensure efforts are made where they can have the greatest impact. They strive to help the whole village, not the individual. That can be difficult sometimes, but if they help individuals they hinder the mission. Once a request is received, the six-person civil affairs team goes out to the village to make an on-site evaluation and recommendation for reconstruction.
There are various sections to the PRT, with the nucleus being the CMOC. The command staff ensures logistics and life support are provided to get the job done. The force protection element ensures security of the Soldiers on and off the compound. Other support sections include: the medical staff and dining facility staff, interpreters, engineers, refuelers, intelligence gatherers and military police.
In addition, the compound provides creature comforts for an extended family comprised of "embedded tactical trainers," the American Soldiers who work with and train Afghan National Army units, and a local cook and his son. The cook, Agha, lost his family to the Soviet invasion; he is an integral part of the PRT and has become family, according to the Soldiers. Other transients who have become part of the Farah PRT family include the Green Platoon scouts of the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, who help ensure the stability of western Afghanistan by policing the western provinces.
There are two accomplishments this PRT leave a lasting impression and changed the people of Farah's lives forever: three all-girl schools, housing 1,500 students, were built in Farah; and the support given to the local government to ensure that the governor has the resources he needs to make improvements for his people.
NATO took command of two more provincial reconstruction teams and a forward support base in Afghanistan 31 May 2005, expanding the alliance's security and reconstruction mission in the western part of the country. The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force assumed command of provincial reconstruction teams in Herat and Farah and a logistics hub in Herat during a formal transfer-of-authority ceremony at Camp Vianini. Italy took the lead at PRT Herat, and U.S. forces operating under ISAF command are leading the PRT in Farah.
In late June 2005 NATO's International Security Assistance Force deployed its Quick Reaction Force to the area of the Farah provincial reconstruction team in western Afghanistan. The deployment was designed to increase ISAF visibility and awareness in the area. These patrols were seen as successful in terms of presenting an increased and deterring military presence in the area of the PRT. During this deployment, joint patrols were conducted with the Afghan National Army. It was the QRF's first deployment to the western area since ISAF took operational command of the area almost two months earlier. ISAF conducted a number of patrols in its ongoing efforts to defeat the insurgency.
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