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Reconstruction Team Developing Ties With Afghan Province

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

QALAT, Afghanistan, July 11, 2006 – When the coalition began using provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan, officials were constantly evaluating their work to see if they were worth the time and money put into them, Rumsfeld said after meeting with Zabul province Governor Del Bar Jan Arman. After seeing the team here at work today, Rumsfeld said he's convinced they're well worth the effort they require.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (right) meets with Del Bar Jan Arman (left), governor of Afghanisan's Zabul province, during a visit to the Qalat Provincial Reconstruction Team July 11. Photo by Staff Sgt. Gary Hilliard, USA

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

"The relationship is intimate; the confidence is established; the priorities are jointly arrived at; and the people of the province benefit greatly," Rumsfeld said of the relationship between the Qalat PRT and the local government.

PRTs are small groups of military members and civilian representatives from the U.S. State Department and non-governmental organizations who work with local communities to support reconstruction and aid projects. The Qalat PRT includes 91 servicemembers, two civilian representatives and a group of translators.

Qalat PRT leaders attributed their team's success in a large part to Arman, the governor. They praised him as an active, enthusiastic leader who has implemented a strong plan to improve the province. Rumsfeld also was impressed with Arman, calling him a talented and serious leader.

"This country suffered a civil war, an occupation by the Soviet Union, an occupation by the brutal Taliban government, drought, the destruction of much of its infrastructure and institutions," Rumsfeld said. "It's not an easy task to rebuild after this. It takes time; it takes leadership; it takes courage; and it takes the cooperation of leaders such as the governor working with the international community to find ways that are appropriate to assist the people of Afghanistan."

Arman said Rumsfeld's visit gives his people hope, because it lets them know they are not alone in the fight against terrorism. "With (U.S.) help, we will be able to resolve a lot of issues and also fight the terrorists until our last blood," he said through a translator.

While visiting the PRT, Rumsfeld presented two soldiers with Purple Heart Medals, one soldier with a Combat Infantryman Badge and one soldier with a Combat Action Badge. He also administered the oath of reenlistment to a soldier.

During the visit, the secretary praised the PRT's soldiers for volunteering to serve their country and carry out dangerous duty.

"All of you decided that this was important to serve your country," he told the soldiers. "You're here doing it, and you're doing it successfully. You can all be darn proud that you're doing it, for the rest of your lives."

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