News: Kandahar provincial government takes over as KPRT successfully closes
Story by Staff Sgt. Kristen Duus
CAMP NATHAN SMITH, Afghanistan- The Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team has made their presence known by helping the local populous. Now the KPRT has cased its colors, signifying the end to their mission in Afghanistan.
The future is bright for the people of Kandahar and the government,” said Cmdr. Robert Ashburn, KPRT commanding officer, and a native of Durango, Colo. “The closing of the PRT signifies that we are no longer needed.”
Through Ashburn’s eight months in the KPRT, he has noticed tremendous gains in the governance and development capacity of the province, he said. The provincial leadership is ready to shoulder the burden, and Afghans are ready to transform their country and develop their future.
The KPRT, which held their closing ceremony April 13, was started by the Canadian military in 2005. The U.S. government assumed responsibilities of the mission in 2010. Their focus has been to increase the capacity of the provincial government, bolster the local economy, increase access to healthcare, power, clean water, education, and support Afghan cultural initiatives.
“Today is a historic day,” said Brig. Gen. Pat White, deputy commanding general for support, Regional Command-South in his ceremonial speech. “It marks the transition between us, the coalition, doing what we felt we should be doing, and the Afghan government, doing what they think they should be doing.”
One of the most noteworthy accomplishments of the KPRT has been the near eradication of polio, said Ashburn. Because of their medical efforts, there have been no reported cases of polio this year.
The KPRT has involved themselves in more than 120 projects, investing $16 million in the reconstruction of Kandahar province. The projects have additionally contributed to improving medical clinics, roads, drainage systems, district centers, expanding access to clean water and reliable power throughout Kandahar province.
Most recently, the KPRT has assisted in the power infrastructure, where the government was able to provide 72 hours of consecutive power, which is not typical, said Ashburn.
“We can all take pride in our efforts in partnering with the Kandahar people,” said Brian Bachman, KPRT director in his speech during the ceremony. “In the end, the people of Kandahar will write the end of their own story, just as the people of Afghanistan have. But we’ll know that we took a part in that- that we have a part in that story.”
“I absolutely think it’s successful,” concluded Ashburn. “Every time that I have seen us step aside and let the Afghans step forward, they succeed famously.”