Lt-Gen Jonathon Riley 2008



The following excerpt is taken from the DCOM ISAF PRT REVIEW and is available on request, strictly for research purposes only.


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Chapter One: Introduction and General Principles

Section 1 – Introduction and Aim

1.1 COMISAF’s Mission Statement, drawn from SACEUR’s and JFC-Brunssum’s directives which are themselves mandated by the UN Security Council and the North Atlantic Council, tells his command to “Conduct military operations in the assigned Area of Operations (AOO) to assist GOA in the establishment of a safe and secure environment with full engagement of ANSF, in order to extend GOA authority and influence, thereby facilitating reconstruction and enabling the GOA to control the country.” The key tasks, supporting tasks and commander’s intent that follow this are all clear that ISAF’s mandate is directed first and foremost towards security; and that involvement in other lines of operation is in a supporting role.

1.2 In this context, COMISAF directed a review, to address what PRTs are doing, assess whether this was in line with the mandate, and advise how the process of transition to Afghan control of security would be supported by a transition of PRT roles and functions. The review originally set out to do this by addressing four key questions:

  • Which PRTs should continue with their current functions and structures for the time being?
  • Which PRTs should be redirected or refocused as civilian-led Provincial Support Teams or Provincial Assistance Teams/Provincial Stability Teams, and how?
  • Which PRTs, if any, should be wound up?
  • What additional coordinating mechanisms should be set in place, either centrally from HQ ISAF or through the Regional Commands, to supplement national resource chains, to take account of available common funding (i.e. from Japan, USAID, DFID and the EC, among others)?

1.3 Further context has been provided by the NATO Comprehensive Strategic Political-Military Plan for Achieving Enduring Progress in Afghanistan which will direct NATO to develop with GIRoA an evolutionary plan for the phased transfer of PRT responsibilities to Afghan authorities, assisted by those international development actors who have been active in Afghanistan for many years and will continue to be so, in support of the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS), in accordance with local conditions.

1.4 Since then, three major developments have occurred. First, the Bucharest Conference, which stressed enhancing Afghan leadership, enhanced coordination, and gave specific direction to the SCR to develop PRT-related principles and best practices in cooperation with lead nations. It also directed the SCR to develop a more proactive role in effective cooperation, coordination and liaison with the UN SRSG in order to assist him in fulfilling his role as the lead for non-security related assistance in Afghanistan. This guidance is contained in the Policy Implementation Guidance of 28 May 2008.

1.5 Secondly, the ANDS has been revised and published at the Paris Conference. The overriding objective of this strategy is to reduce poverty, improve the lives of the Afghan people, and create the conditions for a stable and secure country. It establishes the government’s strategy over the next five years and defines its policies, programmes and projects. It is the framework through which Provincial Development Plans (PDPs) are formed, prioritised, sequenced and allocated resources. It is therefore essential that PRT activities are aligned closely with ANDS implementation.

1.6 Thirdly, the Independent Department of Local Governance (IDLG) has published its Social Outreach Programme and its Five Year Strategic Work Plan. Both of these require participation by PRTs in their implementation.

1.7 The aim of this Review is therefore to provide specific recommendations to achieve the development and transition of PRTs in accordance with direction given in the above documents, in order to translate their requirements into action.

1.8 The Review is about transition in the context of an avowed international long-term commitment to Afghanistan. It is not an exit strategy.


Section 2 – Underpinning Principles

2.1 The lead for coordinating international support to delivering governance and development in Afghanistan lies with UNAMA; it is critical that PRTs are guided by UNAMA wherever it is present. ISAF is not a development agency and there are development actors working closely with Afghan ministries to address long-term development needs. Everything in this Review is predicated on UNAMA developing its own internal capacity so as to be able to fulfil that role, although it is acknowledged that this may take up to a year from now to realise.

2.2 The process of transition as applied to PRTs is distinct from the process of military force generation for COIN operations by the Alliance and contributing nations. Force generation relates to NATO’s lead role in security assistance, whereas PRTs, while they undertake activities in support of security, are also concerned with NATO’s supporting role in delivering governance and R&D.

2.3 The current PRT mission statement states that “PRTs will assist the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to extend its authority, in order to facilitate the development of a stable and secure environment in the identified area of operations, and enable Security Sector Reform and reconstruction efforts”. They do this within the framework of the ANDS and within the national budget, with all the coordination that this implies. The PRT handbook emphasizes that “PRTs play a vital role in occupying the vacuum caused by a weak government presence and hence deterring agents of instability.” In other words, a PRT is “a civil-military institution that is able to penetrate the more unstable and insecure areas because of its military component and is able to stabilize these areas because of the combined capabilities of its diplomacy, military and economic components.” PRTs are not, therefore, development or even reconstruction agencies, despite their name. To underpin this, PRTs contribute by various estimates between 5% and 9% of the reconstruction effort in the country: significant, but not decisive.

2.4 There are certain enduring functions at Provincial level which are essential to the mission, and must be carried out by ISAF, whether the body responsible is called a PRT or not. These include the provision of a command and control node; QRF capabilities; a secure location from which to sustain support activities to Provinces, as well as safe haven in times of emergency; reassurance to the local population of international support and deterrence to enemies; a forward operating base for surge security operations; the provision of intelligence and information to international actors; assistance to the UN and other actors engaged in humanitarian relief; and a base for activities that support the development of law and order.

2.5 PRTs will support nation-building at the sub national level within the framework of the ANDS: security, governance and development; they do this in the context of a centralised state, as mandated by the Afghan constitution. Local services are provided by the local departments of line ministries – health, education, power and water, rural development and so on. The role of provincial government is to help central ministries plan local service delivery; to coordinate that delivery; and to ensure accountability

Section 3 – Priorities

3.1 ...

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Article Copyright © 2008 Lt-Gen Jonathon Riley