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Handbook 07-34
September 2007

Appendix D

Best Practices

This annex is the U.S. complement to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Handbook. Except as noted below and where situations dictate otherwise, the ISAF Handbook should be the primary source of information, policies, and practices used by U.S. PRTs and members assigned to a PRT, U.S., or coalition in Afghanistan. 

PRT Management and Structure 

Key interagency components from Washington, D.C., to Kabul, Afghanistan Graphic - Major U.S. interagency Afghan assistance coordination mechanisms
Figure B-1: Major U.S. interagency

Afghan assistance coordination mechanisms12

Key interagency decisions for U.S. PRTs within Afghanistan are coordinated primarily through daily meetings of the Afghanistan Interagency Operations Group.  The group includes representatives from the Department of State (DOS), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Department of Defense (DOD), and other agencies delivering assistance. This formal interagency committee provides a uniform process for making and informing the President of policy-level decisions and for sharing information among agencies. In Afghanistan, U.S. assistance is coordinated through the U.S. embassy country team, although certain funding processes, such as CERP, may be executed at the discretion of the commander. (See Figure B-1.) 

DOS and DOD created the Afghanistan Reconstruction Group (ARG) in fiscal year (FY) 2004. This group is based in the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, and is a nontraditional solution to a nontraditional challenge. The ARG consists of a specially recruited group of senior advisors drawn from the highest levels of the private and public sectors, who bring their expertise in reconstruction-related skills, drive, and accountability to the reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. The group reports directly to the U.S. ambassador and coordinates with and assists officials at the highest levels of the Afghan government. Senior advisors provide a critically important strategic and private-sector perspective on the assistance and reconstruction efforts for Afghanistan. Identification and expansion of opportunities for private sector development are given high priority. 

Key military components from Tampa, FL, to Bagram, Afghanistan (See Figure B-2; see the ISAF PRT handbook for a description of ISAF structure.) 

Graphic - Key military components from Tampa, FL, to Bagram, Afghanistan
Figure B-2

The United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) is the combatant command authority for military personnel. Its areas of responsibility (AORs) include the Middle East, East Africa, and Central Asia. Its mission is “to conduct operations to attack, disrupt, and defeat terrorism; to deter and defeat adversaries; to deny access to WMD; to assure regional access; to strengthen regional stability; to build the self-reliance of partner nations’ security forces; and to protect the vital interests of the United States within the AOR.”13 

USCENTCOM has a forward headquarters located in Qatar to serve American strategic interests of the Iraq and Afghanistan region. 

Combined Joint Task Force 82 (CJTF-82) was formed in June 2002 as CJTF-180 as the forward headquarters in Afghanistan to serve as the single joint command responsible to USCENTCOM and to the Secretary of Defense for all military functions in the country. CJTF-180 changed in mid-April 2004 to CJTF-76 and in mid-February 2007 became CJTF-82. The mission of CJTF-82 is to conduct full-spectrum operations to prevent the re-emergence of terror organizations and to establish an environment sufficiently stable to facilitate reconstruction, development, and growth of governmental and security institutions in Afghanistan. 

The Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A), in partnership with the Government of Afghanistan (GoA) and the international community, plans, programs, and implements reform of the Afghan Police and defense sectors to develop a stable Afghanistan, strengthen the rule of law, and deter and defeat terrorism within its borders.14 

PRT structure 

Initial guidance on the structure and functions of U.S.-led PRTs within Afghanistan was agreed to by senior civilian and military leadership in Afghanistan and approved by the U.S. Deputies Committee in June 2003. The guidance envisioned that civilian representatives and military officers in the PRT would work as a team to assess the environment and develop strategies to achieve the three primary objectives. 

Graphic - PRT core task organization
Figure B-3: PRT core task organization 

DOD was assigned responsibility for improving security in the PRT’s area of operation, as well as providing all logistical support and providing force protection for all PRT members, including civilians. USAID was given the lead on reconstruction and DOS was responsible for political oversight, coordination, and reporting. All members of the PRT leadership structure—military and civilian—are required to approve reconstruction projects and coordinate with local government offices and national ministries. The concept anticipated that as PRTs matured and conditions changed, additional capacity would be available through reach-back to additional military and civilian assets. 

The size and composition of U.S. PRTs vary depending on maturity, local circumstances, and the availability of personnel from civilian agencies. Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan did establish a model, which U.S. PRTs still generally emulate. According to the model, lieutenant colonels/commanders command the U.S. PRTs, which have a complement of military and civilian personnel. There is also an Afghan Ministry of the Interior representative and three to four local interpreters. The model’s civilian component includes representatives from the DOS, USAID, and U.S. Department of Agriculture. (See Figure B-3.) 

USAID in Afghanistan15


USAID is working with the GoA to build a safe, free, and prosperous future, a country at peace with its neighbors, and a friend to freedom around the world. 

USAID assistance (See <> for a list of current projects.) 


USAID is funding the construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure critical for further economic development and national integration.  The primary focus is roads, including a major portion of the Kabul-Kandahar-Herat highway and approximately 1,000 kilometers of provincial, district, and rural roads. USAID is also investing in the construction and rehabilitation of power plants; transmission lines; dams, irrigation, and flood control systems; industrial parks; bridges; and universities, schools, and clinics. 

Economic growth 

USAID helped create a more attractive environment for economic growth by providing assistance to the GoA to design and implement sound, sustainable, transparent, and predictable economic policy. This included strengthening fiscal and monetary policy; enhancing revenue and expenditure management; and improving banking supervision and the legal framework for the financial, commercial, and trade sectors. USAID also works directly with the private sector to strengthen competitiveness in domestic and international markets. 

Democracy and governance 

USAID is supporting Afghanistan’s commitment to a representative, broadly accepted national government, capable of promoting national unity and curtailing the role of extremists. USAID is providing logistical and technical support for free and fair elections; helping institutionalize the rule of law; establishing the National Assembly and strengthening the core offices of the presidency, as well as local government; and fostering the development of a viable civil society, including a professionally trained free press and an independent media. 

Support for GoA and other cross-cutting initiatives 

USAID directly supports GoA and a number of cross-cutting activities such as gender programs, training, PRTs, and the development of information technology. 

Alternative livelihoods program (ALP) 

ALP provides Afghans with opportunities to participate in the licit economy in key poppy-growing areas. In meeting immediate needs to provide economic opportunity, ALP supports labor-intensive cash-for-work projects to build or rehabilitate productive infrastructure and funds income generating and training efforts for vulnerable households as part of Afghanistan’s counter-narcotics strategy. 


USAID supports basic health services, especially in rural and under-served areas. Over 660 clinics have been built or refurbished, and the number of people served in the clinics has increased. In coordination with the Ministry of Public Health, USAID has also supported the training of health workers, including doctors, midwives, and nurses, and has supported national tuberculosis, malaria, and avian influenza immunization programs. 


Following the defeat of the Taliban, USAID responded to the urgent need for schools, textbooks, trained teachers, and accelerated literacy courses for young women formerly denied an education. In the intervening years, USAID has expanded support to education in Afghanistan to include radio-based teacher training, primary school teacher training, higher education programs, and community-based and remedial literacy training. With the Ministry of Education and communities, over 650 schools have been built or renovated and over-aged students are enrolled in accelerated learning classes and have the opportunity to obtain an education. 


USAID supports the development of a market-based licit rural economy that reduces poverty by developing Afghanistan’s competitive advantages in agriculture production and diversifying its rural economy. Projects are designed to improve food security, increase agricultural productivity and rural employment, improve the management of natural resources and conserve biodiversity, and increase private sector investment in the agriculture sector. 


PRTs are civil-military organizations that are designed to improve security, extend the reach of the Afghan government, and facilitate reconstruction in priority provinces. Their core objective is to implement projects that will improve stability so that more traditional forms of development assistance can resume. USAID’s programs work with PRTs to deliver services in less secure or under-served areas of Afghanistan. As USAID’s primary representative in the provinces, field program officers monitor all U.S. reconstruction and development efforts in the area of responsibility of the PRT and implement PRT-specific programming. The officers work to build relationships with local leaders, identify local needs, and report on significant developments. 

Reintegrating former combatants 

USAID is working to ensure that reintegration assistance provided to 66,000 former combatants is effective and sustainable. 

United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in Afghanistan16


USACE provides quality responsive engineering and construction services to a variety of customers through its Afghanistan Engineer District (AED). AED performs a crucial role in the international efforts to facilitate establishing a secure and stable environment in Afghanistan, while promoting reconstruction and infrastructure development. 

More than 200 U.S. civilian and military personnel are assigned to AED. They manage programs and projects that support a full spectrum of regional activities for the ISAF, CSTC-A and CJTF-82, USAID, and other organizations operating in Afghanistan. 

USACE assistance (See <> for a list of current projects.) 

These efforts generally fall into four major program areas: 

  • Afghan National Security Forces Program: CSTC-A acts in partnership with the GoA and the international community to plan, program, and implement reform of the Afghan police and defense sectors to strength the rule of law and deter terrorism within the borders. USACE contributes to the Afghanistan Security Forces Program by designing and constructing facilities for the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and other defense sectors. Typical facilities consist of barracks, dining, administration, maintenance, utility systems, and other associated structures to meet mission requirements. To date, AED has completed or has under construction facilities that accommodate more than 50,000 Afghan Army soldiers, and AED has completed more than 100 facilities for the police program, while working toward an end state of nearly 700 facilities. 
  • U.S./Coalition Forces Power Projection Program: Under this program, USACE provides engineering and technical support to DOD and its military construction requirements in Afghanistan. These requirements include runways, airfield facilities, ammunition supply points, military housing, operations centers, and associated infrastructure and utility systems. 
  • Counter-Narcotics/Border Management Initiative: This program oversees the construction of forward operating bases and border crossings, as well as other projects such as the National Investigative Unit, the Judicial Center, and joint aviation facilities in Afghanistan. 
  • Strategic Reconstruction Program: Through this program, the AED staff works with CSTC-A, USAID, donor nations, and agencies to identify areas where projects have an immediate effect in building alternative livelihoods, creating ownership, and eroding enemy support. Some of the projects are funded by the Commander’s Emergency Relief Program and include projects such as water management studies, alternative power initiatives, and construction of national and provincial roads and micro-hydro power stations. Construction is complete on more than 884 kilometers of roads with another 1,434 kilometers projected for FY 2007. Road projects are critical for two primary reasons. First, they provide improved access for coalition, Afghan National Army, and Afghan National Police forces to ensure security throughout the country. Second, road projects improve access for Afghan people to participate in governance, education, health, trade, and other development projects. In addition, the Afghanistan and Tajikistan governments have commissioned the construction of a 673-meter weathering steel girder bridge. The bridge will support two lanes of commercial traffic, plus pedestrian and cart traffic, and open up a landlocked country to more commercial trade. 

Building Afghanistan’s national capacity 

AED is committed to doing its part to help build Afghanistan’s national capacity.  On any given day, as many as 14,000 Afghans are at work on corps projects scattered around the country. The number of workers is expected to increase to 20,000 by the summer of 2007 as a result of the AED’s increased workload and the initiatives to place more work with Afghan nationals and firms. The number of Afghan construction firms submitting proposals on AED’s projects has significantly increased. As of December 2006, 70 percent of AED contract awards went to Afghan or Afghan-American firms. 

In addition, more than 120 Afghans work directly for AED; 49 of the 120 are in engineer/supervisory positions. AED engineers also partner and support Afghan facility engineers at various project sites. 

AED will continue to provide valuable engineering and construction services to support the development and execution of U.S. and international efforts to establish a secure and stable environment in Afghanistan. USACE estimates that it will manage approximately $2.07 billion in program funds in FY 2007, a significant increase over FY 2006. 


12 “Afghanistan Reconstruction: Despite Some Progress, Deteriorating Security and Other Obstacles Continue to Threaten Achievement of U.S. Goals,” Report 05-742, U.S. Government Accountability Office, July 2005. 

13 USCENTCOM mission statement, <
/Misc/Mission2.aspx>, accessed on July 29, 2007. 

14 CSTC-A mission statement, <>, accessed on July 29, 2007. 

15 USAID/Afghanistan Strategy, <
.CountryOverview.aspx>, accessed on July 31, 2007. 

16 <>.



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