News: Mississippi native deploys, conducts counterinsurgency, stability operations in Afghanistan
KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Air Force Capt. Scott Kelley, a Clinton, Miss., native, is deployed to Afghanistan with a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kapisa province.
Kelley is stationed with the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., but will serve a six-month tour with the PRT.
The Kapisa PRT covers an area of approximately 1,840 square kilometers of mountainous terrain, home to nearly 365,000 Afghans. Located just north of Kabul, Kapisa is the smallest province in the country, but has the one of the highest populations per capita spread throughout seven districts.
The PRT has been conducting counterinsurgency and stability operations in the province for more than six years. Kelley, PRT lead engineer, and the team will be the last PRT in Kapisa.
Kelley and other mentors on the team have been working with leaders of Kapisa, at the provincial and district level, to bolster the capacity and credibility of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, or GIRoA.
With the help of an Army security force, PRT Kapisa traverses not only its own province but also the surrounding provinces of Parwan and Kabul participating in key leader engagements, scouting areas for new projects and performing quality checks and site visits on existing projects. They work closely with the Afghans, mentoring them on how GIRoA can work for them.
Kelley is the subject matter expert for all construction projects in the province. He has worked on roads, bridges, construction of schools and also improvements to power capabilities on existing infrastructure. He says the process for the projects is similar to that in the U.S.
“The provincial government will identify a need somewhere and it will come to us. I create a project package and send it out to Afghan contractors who will submit bids,” Kelley said. “We are working more closely with the provincial government, so I get the Afghan engineers’ input before we send it out to the contractors.”
The Afghans get a chance to weigh in and make suggestions on the projects in their districts. Kelley sees this as an ideal way for him and the other PRT engineer to mentor their counterparts.
“It used to be that the PRT would go out and do a quality check, take a look and say hey that wall’s not high enough or that wiring is not right,“ he said. “Now, it’s more about getting our counterparts out there with us, doing the assessments and helping us find solutions to the problems.”
Throughout the years, the PRT has helped to develop a network of trusted contractors in the province. Kelley said it’s easier now to get projects done, so they can focus more on utilizing the work force they’ve created over the years.
“We’ve built hundreds of miles of roads here. In the states, we’ve got budgets and plans in place for repairs and upkeep. Here, the plan is run it to failure,” he said. “After a few years of heavy traffic, even the roads that are built well are starting to fail.”
The PRT vision has always been to foster a stable and secure environment that is ready for transition to GIRoA control and administration, but now the last team in Kapisa is focusing on sustainment.
“The biggest goal for me is to get them out to the site, teach them what I know about sustainment and how to use their system to get funding for what they need,” Kelley continued.
The PRT has many success stories, but one stands out to Kelly as an example of success and a glimmer of hope for the future of Afghanistan, a girl’s school being built by a contractor named Mohammad Ashraf. Mohammad was in the Afghan National Army, but got out to become a contractor in Kapisa. He’s worked a lot with the PRT in the past and has proven himself time and time again.
Kelley is a fan.
“Mohammad cares about this country. Yeah, he’s getting paid to build that school, but he’s doing it because of what it will bring to the country and what it will be used for,” he said.
According to Kelley, Mohammed was overpaid once and he brought it to the team’s attention before being asked about it, behavior not typical in the war-torn country.
The future of the province will reflect the legacy that the current team leaves and only time will tell. One thing that is for sure is that success stories such as these reflect the hard work that has been done by Kelley and the PRT throughout the years.
Date Posted:05.24.2012 08:45
Location:KAPISA PROVINCE, AF
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