News: PRT Ghazni starts District Stability Team in Deh Yak
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – As the U.S. military draws down in Afghanistan, U.S. State Department personnel are stepping in to advise district governments.
The Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team met with Deh Yak leaders July 18 to position two U.S. State Dept. personnel at the Deh Yak Combat Outpost to stand up the first district support team in Ghazni.
“We are starting a district support team,” said Dominick Aponte, State Department team lead. “It is a smaller version of a PRT, but we are able to work more closely with the district governor. Where the main PRT can only get out [to the district center] once or twice a month, because I’m so close, I’ll be able to get [to the district center] once or twice a week.”
Though Aponte is the first to call the Deh Yak COP home, he is expecting two more State Department representatives to complete the team.
“Our mission is growing on the civilian side,” said Stetson Sanders, State Department PRT senior civilian representative. “He is the first of the civilian surge.”
Districts throughout Afghanistan have been identified for district support teams, but Deh Yak is the first district in Ghazni to get one. According to Aponte, it was selected for several reasons.
“First, it has a functioning government,” said Aponte. “Security, while not ideal, is better than a lot of places.”
It is also ideal because Deh Yak was also selected to be visited by the Independent Directorate of Local Governance. The IDLG will assess the local government and provide recommendations to improve service delivery. Both the IDLG and the district stability team will be able to work with the governor on the recommendations.
“This is another example of how the U.S. and international civilian presence is growing as the U.S. military is drawing down,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Tristan Rizzi, Ghazni PRT commander from St. Petersburg, Fla. “We are committed to the future of Afghanistan.”