Reconstruction Teams Help Iraqis Connect With Central Government
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 25, 2007 The 25 provincial reconstruction teams operating across Iraq are showing local authorities how to work with the country’s central government to obtain needed services, a senior U.S. State Department official said today.
This situation is far different from Saddam Hussein’s rule, when dispensation of coveted goods and essential services was the sole province of his Stalinist-styled regime that tended to favor only those communities that were unquestionably loyal, Philip T. Reeker, a U.S. State Department spokesman assigned in Baghdad, said during a teleconference with reporters.
Today, PRTs are helping Iraq’s provincial governments deliver essential services to their citizens, and they also serve as “a bridge between central government and these more local authorities,” Reeker explained.
There is at least one PRT in each of Iraq’s 18 provinces, Reeker said, noting that Baghdad has several PRTs. Many PRT specialists come from the National Guard or reserves. These organizations help establish stability in Iraq by building capacity in areas such as government, economics, rule of law, services, infrastructure and public diplomacy.
The 25 PRTs in Iraq have more than doubled in number from the 10 that existed in April, as part of the president’s new way-forward strategy, Reeker said. The PRT effort is a joint coalition endeavor, he pointed out, noting that British-, Italian- and Korean-led PRTs also are working in Iraq.
American-led PRTs receive technical support from U.S. military experts, various U.S. government agencies, and the private sector. Help comes from agencies including the U.S. Agency for International Development and the departments of Justice and Agriculture.
Smaller PRTs designed to be embedded within U.S. military units also are being established, Reeker reported. These embedded PRTs “will move with that military unit as it moves,” he said.
PRT personnel represent the military and civilian realms and possess expertise in areas such as electricity, health care, water and sewage treatment, animal husbandry, and more, Reeker said. “You really see this unique linkage of civilians and military,” he said.