UNAMA/ISAF PRT Conference
Thirty international delegates this week attended a five-day course in Afghanistan run by The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on the role of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) in improving stability and security in Afghanistan.
PRTs help the Government of Afghanistan extend its authority in the provinces, facilitate the development of a secure environment and provide a visible international presence that deters terrorist and criminal activities, especially in remote areas.
Afghanistan has 23 PRTs, nine in the north and west in the ISAF Area of Operation, and fourteen in the south and east, the area where the Coalition currently has primary security responsibilities. PRTs are structured as civil-military partnerships and the course focused on the need for civilian and military elements to work closely together to build strong relationships with local authorities, supporting all sectors of security sector reform and shaping the environment for reconstruction and development.
The course which began on Sunday 23 April with an opening address by Tom Koenigs, the United Nations Special Representative for Afghanistan, included presentations on the political and security challenges of Afghanistan, international support to the Government of Afghanistan (GOA), GOA development strategies and the development of best practices between PRTs.
The military elements of PRTs are integrated into ISAF and on the second day of the course the delegates visited the Headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul where they were welcomed by the Minister Hikmet Cetin the NATO Senior Civilian Representative and Commanding Officer of the ISAF operation in Afghanistan, General Mauro Del Vecchio. As part of the military day they also received presentations on Operation Enduring Freedom given by Major General Chris Wilson, Deputy Commanding General Combined Forces Command Afghanistan and Major General Benjamin Freakley of the Combined Joint Task Force 76 mission.
The course culminated in a visit to PRT HERAT on 27 April where the delegates met with the Governor and Provincial Council of Herat and were able to see at first hand the special relationship between ISFA, UNAMA and the military and civilian personnel working in the PRT.
The course included an opening reception at the Serena Hotel in Kabul attended by Dr Zalmai Rassoul, the National Security Advisor, Minister Zarar Moqbil from the Ministry of Interior, Farouq Wardak, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Governor Arman, the Governor of Zabul, Gulab Mangal, the Governor of Lagman and Eng. Haji Mohammad Omar, Governor of Kunduz province.
Speaking after the conference COMISAF, General Del Vecchio said, "It has been a very successful conference and the participants have had some extremely productive discussions. PRTs are the cornerstone of post-conflict development. They embody a joint military and civilian approach to stabilizing Afghanistan and this course organized by ISAF - the military command - and UNAMA - the civilian assistance mission - has provided a most informative insight into the unique and valuable relationship between the two and the PRTs in the field."