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New Provincial Reconstruction Team Broadens Coalition's Efforts

By Sgt. Stephanie L. Carl, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

FARAH PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Oct. 1, 2004 – 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 Sept. 15.

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Lt. Col. Andy Santer-Pinter (left), Farah provincial recunstruction team commander, Maj. Gen. Eric T. Olson (center), Combined Joint Task Force 76 commander, and Asadullah Fallah, Farah provincial governor, use ceremonial scissors to cut the ribbon signifying the opening of the Farah PRT in western Afghanistan. Photo by Sgt. Stephanie L. Carl, USA

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

For about three weeks, members of the PRT have been working not only to establish their home in the province, but also to establish a solid working relationship with the province's residents and leaders.

"Just a few days ago, there was a ditch under where your feet now are," said Army Lt. Col. Andy Santer-Pinter, Farah PRT commander. "Looking around, you can see the buildings that have been erected, built by the skill of many laborers of Farah."

This statement is symbolic of just one of the roles the PRT will play in the province. "With funding and the help of military engineers, security forces and others, we will help address the concerns of the people," he said.

Members of the national government were anxious to lend their support to the new PRT.

"This is an important step," said a health ministry representative. "I hope this PRT will give the support to Farah province like other PRTs do."

The members of the PRT have been focusing on the kind of support that is most needed in the area of western Afghanistan -- security.

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 two go hand-in-hand, Army Maj. Gen. Eric T. Olson, Combined Joint Task Force 76 commander, pointed out.

"There's an important link between security and reconstruction," he said. "The more security there is, the more reconstruction efforts can develop. And the more reconstruction we have in progress, the more security there will be."

These efforts, combined with a strong relationship with the people of Farah, will be the keys to helping the province progress. This is a goal that the PRT is determined to accomplish.

"I truly believe Farah is on the right path to success," said Santer-Pinter. "We can do it together. We will do it together!"

(Army Sgt. Stephanie L. Carl is a member of the 17th Public Affairs Detachment.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA group of schoolboys from Farah province sings a song to welcome the members of the Farah provincial reconstruction team during the official opening Sept. 15. Photo by Sgt. Stephanie L. Carl, USA  
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