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Reference Guide 11-39
August 2011

Environment and Missions


  • Mission/Campaign statement of higher headquarters:
    • "The U.S. Mission and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, in partnership with ISAF and the international community, enable the Afghan Government and its people to: counter the insurgency and prevent the use of Afghan territory by international terrorists, build a state that is accountable and responsive to its people, and establish the foundation for longer-term development." (U.S. Government Integrated Civilian-Military Campaign Plan for Support to Afghanistan, Feb 2011)
  • Mission of the provincial reconstruction team (PRT) (example):
    • "Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) will assist¬†The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to extend its authority in order to facilitate the development¬†of a stable and secure environment in the identified area of operations and enable Security Sector Reform (SSR)¬†and reconstruction efforts." (ISAF PRT Handbook [ed. 4] [Mar 2009])
  • Mission and tasks of the brigade combat team (BCT) (example):
    • "Their core mission is to close with the enemy by means of fire and maneuver to destroy or capture enemy forces, or to repel enemy attacks by fire, close combat, and counterattack. The BCT can fight without augmentation, but it also can be tailored to meet the precise needs of its missions. BCTs conduct expeditionary deployment and integrate the efforts of the Army with military and civilian, joint, and multinational partners.
  • Stability operations leverage the coercive and constructive capabilities of the BCT to establish a safe and secure environment.
  • Stability operations consist of five primary tasks the BCT may be assigned to perform or support:
    • Establish civil security.
    • Establish civil control.
    • Restore essential services.
    • Provide support to governance.
    • Provide support to economic and infrastructure development." (Field Manual [FM] 3-90.6, Brigade Combat Team [Sep 2010]).
  • There will likely be established missions for each BCT, each subordinate battalion (BN), and each PRT. Missions and execution parameters will vary from BCT to BCT.
  • Likewise, there will be established mission-related roles and responsibilities for military and civilian unit members. (See Chapter 4, "Roles and Responsibilities.")
  • Despite what may be established, situational/environmental context changes may necessitate changes in mission-related roles and relationships - particularly for BNs and PRTs. "Supported" roles and relationships may transition to "supporting," and vice versa. BN and PRT leaders should agree to an ongoing conversation - to review conditions and requirements for change.


  • It is prudent for BCT and PRT leaders/staffs to understand the various lines of authority. Who has authority to do what?
    • U.S. military operational and service-related administrative authorities.
    • U.S. Department of State authorities.
    • Other Department/Agency authorities.
    • Embedded training teams and police mentor teams.
    • Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) authorities.
  • What authorities are in place with regard to the activities of the United Nations (UN), nongovernmental organizations, and international organizations within the battle space?

Predeployment Site Survey (PDSS) - Precontact Information - Familiarization:

PDSS Checklist

  • Meet counterparts (BCT, PRT, and civilian) (plus regional platform points of contact [POCs]).
  • Discuss BCT and PRT structure and capabilities.
  • Provide assessments of BCT and PRT lines of effort (LOEs) and "way ahead" (i.e., projects, objectives, Afghan contributions, expectations, sustainment plans, issues, etc.).
    • Completed projects/programs.
    • Current projects/programs.
    • Proposed projects/programs.
  • Share stability plans: BCT/higher headquarters (HQ)/regional platform/PRT/agency; review associated strategy-to-task trees.
  • Receive lists and assessments of all provincial and district Afghan officials and other key players (local Afghan civilians).
  • Discuss proposed spheres of influence (BCT/PRT/agency).
  • Receive list of contractors being used across the area of operation (AO); review how they are monitored.
  • Receive staff contact information/e-mail addresses.
  • Receive access to portal pages and applicable databases.
  • Discuss expectations and limitations: What can BCT (or battle space owner) provide PRT? What can PRT (and civilians) provide BCT?
  • Share key documents (Afghan reports, district stability framework data, assessments, etc.).

Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, and Integration (RSOI) - Handover - Education - Relief in Place/Transfer of Authority (RIP/TOA) - Continuity:

RSOI Checklist

  • Conduct unit/staff introductions and information exchange.
    • Update/confirm roles, responsibilities, and LOEs.
    • Provide BCT staff process brief to the PRT.
    • Provide PRT staff process brief to the BCT.
    • Review reporting requirements and formats; determine shared reports.
    • Provide/receive current operations brief.
    • Provide/receive updates to contact lists.
    • Provide/receive district stability framework updates.
  • Confirm communication architecture (primary network for each HQ).
  • Identify communication gaps/challenges and discuss mitigation plan.
  • Confirm engagement strategy and spheres of influence.
  • Review/refine battle drills and consequence management plans.
  • Set follow-on meeting with Afghan partners (military and civilian) to conduct personal introductions (during handover).

Afghan Society/Local Community:

  • What is the "threshold" knowledge base (political, military, economic, social/societal, infrastructure, and information) I need to have in order to be effective as soon as possible?
  • What are the Afghan plans for my area? (provincial and district plans)
  • What are the sources of instability (SOI) affecting the AO?
  • What ongoing activities are already addressing SOI? Who is responsible for those activities?
  • What is "our" role (BCT and PRT collectively) in addressing the SOI?
  • What are the GIRoA's roles, responsibilities, and capabilities for addressing the SOI?
  • Who are the positive influencers at the provincial and district levels?
  • Who are the negative influencers at the provincial and district levels?

Priorities - Mission Objectives:

  • The PRT commander must have a complete understanding of the brigade commander's intent and priorities for all lines of operation.
  • Mission objectives - for both the BCT (brigade task force [BTF]) and the PRT - will often require synchronization and teamwork across multidisciplinary programs and across other elements of the force structure (battalions, district support teams, etc.):
    • Engagement and partnership with Afghan government leaders (provincial and district).
    • Responsible project management and oversight of economic/development efforts.
    • Integration and partnership with Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to meet security objectives.
    • Engagement of the population with strategic communication.

Capacity-Building vs. Counterinsurgency (COIN) vs. Stability:

The problem-sets, objectives, and effects of capacity-building, COIN, and other stability operations are often intertwined. Arriving at a consensus on the complex issues that emerge from these efforts - where multiple equities (military, civilian, and LOE-specific) are involved - should not be a product of "strong-arming" (i.e., forcing one side's solution on the others) nor should it be a product of "group-think" (i.e., minimizing conflict and coming to agreement without a critical evaluation of the various positions/viewpoints). Instead, consensus and a common vision should be reached through cooperative analysis and critical evaluation of the various cross-cutting issues and ideas.


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