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News | May 1, 2012

PRT Laghman closes, Afghan district ready to stand on own

By Staff Sgt. Sara Csurilla , U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs

METHAR LAM, Afghanistan (April 30, 2012) — After nearly seven years of working with the local community in the Laghman Province of Afghanistan, Provincial Reconstruction Team Laghman is closing up shop and handing the reins over to the Afghan people in the district.

The PRT was stood up in 2005 and made up of a number of Airmen and Soldiers that filled a variety of positions to help complete their mission, while continuing to be a self-sustaining unit.

PRT Laghman’s mission was to help build governance and stability in the Laghman Province by working with government officials to facilitate better lines of communication and working relationships within the Afghanistan government, said 1st Lt. Timothy Ramig, Public Affairs officer for PRT Laghman.

The PRT was able to run as a self-sustaining unit while still being effective in the local community due to the variety of positions being filled by Airmen and Soldiers.

Some of the positions filled included communication specialists, engineers, civil affairs officers, a physician’s assistant, supply, intelligence operations, personnelists, vehicle maintainers, members of the Department of State and a team of Soldiers that act as security when anybody from the team traveled outside the wire. 

During the seven years spent in the area, many people have come through and gave months of their lives in an effort to help the Afghan people in any way that they could. PRT Laghman’s commander feels there have been a number of successes, but now it’s time to go.

“PRT Laghman has had numerous successes in supporting the governance, security and economy of Laghman Province,” said Lt. Col. Antonio Castillo, PRT Laghman commander. 

“This year alone, more than 93 kilometers of roads were built by the PRT that allows people to travel freely to and from markets, hospitals and government buildings. This example shows how the PRT was successful in not only improving the economy through accessibility, but also demonstrates how these critical roads connect the people to the government. These roads also allow for timely responses to emergencies from Afghan National Security Forces throughout the province.” 

Although the PRT is leaving the area, certain responsibilities will be handed off to other U.S. Forces at FOB Methar Lam, but overall, the villages and their governments now have the tools and skills to build a better community.

“I think they are ready to do this on their own,” said Ramig. “They know how to succeed, we just helped them with the framework and now they will do things the way it works for them.”

The commander agreed with Ramig. He also feels the people within the Laghman Province are ready to be on their own.

“PRTs were designed to operate in post-conflict environments where little or no effective government existed,” Castillo said. “Laghman Province by definition is not in need of a PRT. Laghman Province sets the example to all of Afghanistan for success in multiple areas including governance and the reintegration of former insurgents.”

“The Province has one of the most forward-thinking leaders in Afghanistan in Governor Azizi who has not only gained the trust and support of the people, but the of the government officials who serve with him as well. Although there’s still room for improvement in the area of security, Laghman Province is more than ready to stand on its own without the PRT.”