News: Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah 13-16 nears completion of pre-deployment training
Story by Lt.j.g. Matthew Stroup
CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - The soldiers and sailors of Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah 13-16 are nearing completion of pre-deployment training at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in Edinburgh, Ind. The team will wrap up its training with a culminating training exercise in conjunction with representatives from the Department of State, the Department of Justice, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, sponsored by the Foreign Service Institute and supported by the 4th Cavalry Brigade.
PRT Farah 13-16’s CTE will put all of the skills learned over the course of their summer-long training cycle to the test as the civil-military team operates together as to accomplish their mission. The team will conduct patrols and key leader engagements, demonstrate weapons and security tactics proficiency, and perform key staff functions while working through a District Stability Framework platform to identify and mitigate sources of instability during the scenarios within the exercise. The PRT is preparing for a late 2012 deployment to Farah province in western Afghanistan where their civil-military team will train, advise, and assist provincial leaders to use existing Afghan national processes and resources to build credible institutions, services, and infrastructure for their districts.
So what is a Provincial Reconstruction Team, and what capabilities does it bring to the effort in Afghanistan? Despite what the name implies, PRTs are much more than teams that build buildings, dig wells, or oversee infrastructure development. While those tasks are a component of their efforts, they are complex teams made of three basic military components – a PRT staff, a civil affairs team, and a security force detachment – all falling under the leadership of the PRT commander. Additionally, the civilian portion of the team is comprised of Dept. of State and USAID reps who integrate fully into the team’s efforts. The PRT’s goal is to promote stability within Farah by assisting leadership to strengthen existing resilience in the province.
U.S. Navy Cmdr. Lou McCray will lead PRT Farah 13-16 into Afghanistan. He looks forward to the opportunity to work with a diverse group of individuals from varied backgrounds. “Our team is made up with sailors and soldiers from a variety of backgrounds and experience. In many cases, this is the first boots-on-ground, expeditionary mission for our soldiers and sailors alike. But despite that fact, they have proven themselves to be a capable and well-trained team that is prepared to support our mission, and our nation’s interests in Afghanistan.”
For many of the sailors on the team, who make up the PRT’s staff, training began months ago, and not all at Camp Atterbury. Sailors in job specialties including medical support, intelligence and security traveled to training commands throughout the U.S. in order to prepare for their mission. When team members finally arrived at Camp Atterbury to meet their teammates, they were ready.
One such sailor is Hospital Corpsman Aaron Maczuga, a Navy individual augmentee (IA) whose home station is Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va. “I wasn’t expecting this deployment, but after training with our team, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve trained hard with our medical team and I’ve learned a lot about field medicine and the green-side of the Navy since being here,” he said.
The civil affairs component of the PRT is primarily comprised of U.S. Army civil affairs officers and soldiers from the 412th Civil Affairs Battalion (A)(T) from Columbus, OH. Their main effort in Farah will be to learn about and understand the people and culture and to identify sources of instability in the province. Once identified, they can address those issues with leadership at the district and provincial level to plot a course of action to affect change.
Security, of course, is a key concern in Afghanistan, and leading the charge for the PRTs security force is U.S. Army Capt. Jacob Estrada, commander, Bravo Battery, 2-12 Field Artillery Regiment. The security force team recently joined the PRT staff and civil affairs team having left their home duty station at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. Despite their traditional fire support mission, the team will focus on PRT security efforts throughout this deployment. According to Estrada, the team looks forward to the challenges this deployment will bring.
“We’re looking forward to working with the team on our mission in Afghanistan. None of us sees us as one of three teams, but rather an important component in a team of teams. We’re ready for this deployment and we look forward to setting the conditions with providing security in order to allow the Provincial Reconstruction Team to partner with Afghan leadership,” said Estrada.
Once the CTE is complete, PRT Farah will take a pause before relieving the team currently working in Farah. The PRT is prepared to take the reigns, and to continue and build upon the work accomplished by their counterparts currently serving in western Afghanistan.
“The sailors and soldiers on our team have worked hard to prepare for this deployment, and we’re ready to take the watch in Afghanistan,” said McCray. “All of us [Navy commanders] have been asked to be prepared, to put warfighting first, and to operate forward. Our team is trained and prepared. We’ve put warfighting first through five key tasks – shooting, moving, communicating, patching yourself up, and talking to Afghans. Now it’s time for us to operate forward. We couldn’t ask for a better team, and we’re ready to go.”
To view training photos from PRT Farah 13-16 or to view photos from the team currently in Farah, please check out the PRT Farah page on Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) site at http://www.dvidshub.net/unit/PRTF.
This work, Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah 13-16 nears completion of pre-deployment training, by LT Matthew Stroup, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.