News: PRT Farah transfers Forward Operating Base Farah to Afghanistan
Story by Lt. Chad Dulac
FOB FARAH, Afghanistan - Today members from Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Farah, Italian led Transition Support Unit South (TSU South), Regional Command West (RC West) and local Afghan Provincial leaders met officially transferring ownership of Forward Operating Base (FOB) Farah, Afghanistan over to the Afghan Government.
In a ceremony held on the FOB, Commanders from PRT Farah, TSU South, RC West and Farah Provincial Governor Mohammad Omer Sherzad all spoke before signing documentation releasing control of the nine-year old base to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA).
Established in September 2004, PRT Farah was the first United States led PRT to come under International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) command May 31, 2005. During that time its enduring mission has been to support economic development and effective governance at the municipal, district and provincial level in Farah Province to enhance GIRoA’s legitimacy and its ability to provide basic services to the people of Farah.
During their tenure in Farah, the PRT has been host to every United States military service in the Department of Defense including both Active and Reserve component soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen. Over its lifespan the PRT has seen 17 transfers of authority with the final incarnation, led by U.S. Navy Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Jeremy Fogt.
“Over the many years the PRT has been here interacting with the Farahi people we have done tremendous things together and have both grown together in size and prosperity,” said Fogt. “We worked hand in hand with many governors and line directors to help Farah province build their strength through the projects we’ve completed in a spirit of cooperation.”
The PRT’s reach of projects touched seven of Farah Province’s 11 districts totalling over $30 million in USAID, foreign aid and commander emergency funds. Some of the most noteworthy projects included the building of roads and highways, 15 boys and girls schools, seven health care centers, several government buildings, agricultural structures, orphanages, repairs to mosques and small business micro-grant support. By itself the road repair and construction program totaled more than $12.5 million and was instrumental in connecting the various outlying farming districts to Farah City as well as fixing roadways and culverts damaged by insurgent attacks.
Working under direct control of RC West, PRT Farah has had a positive long standing relationship with their Italian partners stationed at FOB Dimonios within FOB Farah. Under the command of TSU South, the Italians provided additional security and provincial reconstruction, both on base and in Farah Province. TSU South was directly involved with the arduous task of transitioning security from coalition force led operations to Afghan led security via the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.
“Ceasing activities of TSU South and consequently handing over this base represents one further step ahead made by the Afghan Army towards their full autonomy,” said Col. Mauro Sindoni, TSU South commander. “From Italians leaving today, may Afghanistan have the best that it surely deserves in the future.”
Though the ceremony was bittersweet, it was also with great pride that the United States and Italian military partners transferred control of the FOB to GIRoA.
“As Governor, I’d like to thank the soldiers for their sacrifice and wish them the best,” said Sherzad. “As ISAF leaves, know you accomplished great things working shoulder-to-shoulder with Afghans to stand up and make a better future for Farah and Afghanistan.”
The event culminated with closing remarks by RC West Commander, Brig. Gen. Michele Pellegrino and a simultaneous, lowering of the American and Italian national flags leaving the Afghan flag flying to symbolize their sovereignty of the base.
“As we mark the successful completion of this phase of our mission, I thank every one of you for the outstanding service during this very important period. Your commitment set an example of partnership at its finest,” Pellegrino said. “Coalition Forces, Italian and US comrades, you have to be proud of the history you have written here, and especially of the role you have played for the Afghanistan and NATO mission.
With their mission ended and the FOB transferred with all vehicles, equipment and personnel successfully retrograded from Farah, PRT personnel have transferred to Kandahar and Shindand Provinces in anticipation of redeployment back to the United States in November.
PROVIDED BY PRT FARAH and RELEASED BY RCW PAO CHIEF.