TARIN KOT, Afghanistan - Provincial Reconstruction Team Uruzgan (PRT-U) members gathered to watch U.S. Navy Cmdr. Ronald Piret hand over responsibility of PRT-U to Cmdr. Steven Mathews during a transfer of authority ceremony June 20, 2013, at Multinational Base - Tarin Kot, Afghanistan.
PRT-U is a unique team made up of individuals from the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, Australian Army, and Australian civilians from AusAID and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Its role is to enhance stability across the province, build the capacity of the local Uruzgan administration, especially on delivery of essential services, and lay a foundation for further development by the government.
Outgoing commanding officer, Cmdr Piret, said the PRT's projects focused on education, health, and road infrastructure in an effort to address the communities' most pressing needs.
“When the team arrived, we realized the mission had evolved, but we were still focused on transition and building the capacity of provincial government," Piret said.
Cmdr. Piret's team executed $25 million in development projects which included two roads built in the West Dorafshan and Mirabad areas of the province, four development projects in the Tarin Kot area, and numerous smaller projects in the outlying districts of Deh Rawud, Chora, and Shahid-e-Hasas.
Complicating the PRT's mission was the need to prepare for the retirement of forces from the province at the end of the year.
"We had to take on a major mission of retrograde," Piret said. "We closed our detachments around the province and everything entailed in that. Moving $20 million of tactical equipment out of Tarin Kot was something the team hadn’t anticipated, but they executed above standard,” Piret said.
The incoming team, although slightly smaller, is similar in makeup and brings the same amount of enthusiasm and energy to achieve transition to sustainable Afghan independence. The new commanding officer, Cmdr. Steven Mathews, is excited and eager to continue the work left by Cmdr. Piret's team.
“I am honored to take command of such a fine group of soldiers, sailors, and civilians," Mathews said. "As a team, we have been training very hard for this mission. We are excited to have the opportunity to work with our Afghan partners to continue the efforts of the previous team. The bar has been set high, and I know we are up to the challenge. Cmdr. Piret and his team are to be commended for their outstanding performance and professionalism during their tour in Uruzgan,” Mathews said.
The transfer of authority ceremony followed the format of a traditional U.S. Navy change of command ceremony, involving the incoming and outgoing commanding officers stating their respective orders. Welcoming the new commanding officer, Colonel Douglas C. Cardinale, Commander 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, and Deputy Commander Combined Team Uruzgan (CTU), expressed his trust in the incoming team to accomplish the PRT mission.
“Cmdr. Mathews, I am confident that under your direction, this new complement to the PRT-U will carry on the outstanding reputation and track record for mission accomplishment and teamwork established by your predecessors. Your team will see the mission through to completion for our physical presence here in Uruzgan,” Cardinale said
Also attending the ceremony were Australian Ambassador to Afghanistan Jon Philp, Regional Platform Head of Mission Ambassador Jonathon Addleton, PRT Director David Windsor, and other guests from MNB-TK.