Iraq PRTs to Double in Number by Year’s End, Official Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 9, 2007 Plans are under way to double the number of provincial reconstruction teams now operating in Iraq by the end of the year, a senior U.S. official said during a news conference in Iraq today.
“We will both double the number of PRTs and we will double the number of individuals who are working in the PRTs,” said Rick Olson, chief of the national coordination team in charge of provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq.
According to plans, the number of PRTs will increase from 10 to 20, Olson noted, while numbers of PRT personnel will expand from 300 to 600 individuals.
“We expect to be at that level by the end of the year,” he said. Core members of the new teams are undergoing training now, he said. Afterward, the new teams will be embedded into brigade-level combat units.
Six of the new PRTs will be established in Baghdad province, three in Anbar and one in northern Babil province, he said.
The 10 PRTs now operating in Iraq serve as a conduit between the Iraqi government and its people, Olson said. Of these, seven are U.S.-led, he said, while coalition partners South Korea, Italy and the United Kingdom manage the other three.
“We do projects and reconstruction, but that’s not our primary purpose,” Olson said of the PRTs’ activities in Iraq. “We do primarily capacity building and institution building in the area of government, economics, rule of law, infrastructure and public diplomacy.”
American-led PRTs receive technical support from experts with the U.S. military, various U.S. government agencies, and the private sector, to include the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. departments of Justice and Agriculture, and others.
“PRTs are important in achieving our counterinsurgency strategy,” Olson said. “They’re also critical in terms of the long-term future of Iraq, building institutions, (and) enabling Iraq to become master of its own destiny and able to rise to the level that they once were able to achieve.”