A Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) is a civil-military organization, task-organized to a geographical province, whose purpose is to extend the reach and legitimacy of the Central Government of Afghanistan by developing a self-sustaining, peaceful, civil-society. It is a tactical organization with strategic impact. The ratio of military to other governmental, United Nations (UN), and non-governmental organizations depends heavily on the degree to which the area is pacified. The success of a PRT is measured by its ability to increase Central Government capacity and good governance as well as to, “Seize the human terrain and defeat the enemy.” One important element of this is to identify and mentor key Afghan personnel in democratic governance and leadership.
Afghanistan’s government structure is designed around a strong, democratic national government. At the national level, the three branches (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial) form the foundation of the government, but other entities, such as ministries, the Afghan National Security Forces (military and police), and commissions also carry out government obligations. Below the national level, the public sector consists of provincial-level governments, municipalities, and finally district-level government. However, unlike the U.S. government, each of the 34 provinces does not operate independently of the national government. Kabul, the capital, is the seat of power. Each province answers to the national government.
All of the PRTs in Afghanistan have been under one theater military command (ISAF) since October 5, 2006, when ISAF completed its four-stage geographic expansion throughout the country by assuming responsibility of Region East. Until then, there were two separate military commands – Combined Forces Command Afghanistan (CFC-A) and ISAF – each commanding PRTs in its own separate area of operation. Bringing all the PRTs under one theater commander constituted a major step forward in achieving unity of effort. But even with a single command, achieving coherence among all 26 PRTs remains a challenge, if for no other reason than, as of March 2008, there are 14 different nations leading PRTs.
Kirkuk Provincial Reconstruction Team Overview, May 10, 2008.
Provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) were established as a result of the need to develop the infrastructure necessary for the Afghan and Iraqi people to succeed in a post-conflict environment. The efforts of PRTs take place every day during a time when major conflict is commonplace in both countries. PRTs have become an integral part of the long-term strategy to transition the lines of security, governance, and economics to the indigenous people. Integrated appropriately, PRTs serve as combat multipliers for maneuver commanders engaged in governance and economics, as well as other critical lines of operation. In addition, PRTs serve as force multipliers for U.S. Government (USG) development agencies engaged across the stability and reconstruction sectors.