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New Playbook Aims to Help Reconstruction Teams in Iraq, Afghanistan

By David Mays
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2007 – Coalition teams working to rebuild communities in Iraq and Afghanistan have a new resource. The Provincial Reconstruction Team Playbook, a first-of-its-kind guide, has just been published by the Army’s Center for Lessons Learned, at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Two of the center’s top leaders spoke about the document during a conference call today with online journalists and “bloggers.”

“Guys were going out, putting together PRTs and operating,” said Army Col. Steve Mains, the center’s director. “But there wasn’t a whole lot of instruction for them on how to do that.”

“Our PRTs that exist out there are out there with virtually no supporting mechanism,” said retired Air Force Col. Mike McCoy, lead analyst on the project. “They have to rely on the people they are with.”

To get a first-hand look at how team members were conducting missions with local citizens, CALL embedded 15 staffers with PRTs throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. Embedded personnel relayed what they observed to a team of analysts at Fort Leavenworth and staff at U.S. military schools and headquarters.

“We’re in the business of collecting what’s really working in theater,” Mains said. “The idea is that we would collect information from theater and get it very quickly back to the schools and back to the units.”

The playbook offers information such as the concept, intent and principles of PRTs. It also delves into specific and unique challenges faced in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We’ve got to get this playbook out in the field,” McCoy said. “We’ve got enough content here that people need to start working on it and training on it.”

CALL has written guides in the past on such topics as sniper operations, base defense, and “how to stay alive in the first 100 days of combat.”

“If we see a gap in doctrine, then we will step in and fill that gap with our handbooks,” Mains said.

Much of the information published in the playbook had already been assembled by U.S. State Department and Agency for International Development staffers who work side by side with military members on PRTs, the colonel explained. But an indexed guide compiling all that information in one place was nonexistent, he added.

“We were able to jumpstart it a little bit because of our ability here at Leavenworth,” Mains said. “I think we’ll see more folks in the interagency community wanting to get their name on these sorts of products in the future.”

An immediate effect of the playback’s publication is increased dialog among agency staffers who make up the reconstruction teams, the CALL leaders explained.

“At the grassroots level, the worker level, they have been very eager to provide their input,” Mains said. “We’re building this interagency cooperation from the ground up.”

“You have to work together,” McCoy said. “You have a common mission.”

(David Mays works for the New Media branch of American Forces Information Service.)

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Related Sites:
Center for Army Lessons Learned
Defense Department Bloggers Roundtable

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