Chapter 5 - Management Structure
Lines of Authority
There are multiple lines of authority affecting provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) as noted in Figure 5-1. These multiple lines have the potential to cause operational and administrative impact on the way a PRT accomplishes its mission in regards to unity of effort, uniform measures of effectiveness, and sharing lessons and best practices. Therefore, it is prudent for members of a PRT to understand the various lines of authority. Though the discussion that follows is about lines of authority affecting U.S. PRTs, these same lines of authority exist in virtually every other nation's PRTs, with lines running from their defense, foreign affairs, and other participating ministries.
As complex as the lines are, the coordination between these lines is key to the successful completion of operations in Afghanistan. There are two key international coordination elements with which the U.S. government (USG) participates - the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the PRT Executive Steering Committee (ESC). Additionally important are the coordination elements within the USG which occur at the strategic level in Washington, DC, and the country-level coordination in Kabul.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization1
The USG is actively involved in discussions that occur at the North Atlantic Council (NAC), the highest decision-making body in NATO, and other civilian and military committees. The permanent representative from each of the member countries form the NAC, and they meet together at least once a week. The NAC also meets at higher-level meetings involving foreign ministers, defense ministers, or heads of state, and it is at these meetings that major decisions regarding NATO's policies are generally taken. However, it is worth noting that the NAC has the same authority and powers of decision making and its decisions have the same status and validity at whatever level it meets. The meetings of the NAC are chaired by the secretary general of NATO, and when decisions have to be made, action is agreed upon on the basis of unanimity and common accord. There is no voting or decision by majority. Each nation represented at the NAC or on any of its subordinate committees retains complete sovereignty and responsibility for its own decisions.
Figure 5-1. Lines of authority
The second pivotal coordination element within NATO is the Military Committee (MC). It comprises each country's delegation military representative, a senior officer from each country's armed forces, supported by the International Military Staff. The MC is a body responsible for recommending to NATO's political authorities those measures considered necessary for the common defense of the NATO area. The MC's principal role is to provide direction and advice on military policy and strategy. It provides guidance on military matters to NATO strategic commanders, whose representatives attend its meetings, and is responsible for the overall conduct of the military affairs of the alliance under the authority of the NAC.
Provincial Reconstruction Team Executive Steering Committee2
Another key coordinating structure is the PRT ESC. It is an ambassadorial-/ministerial-level body, co-chaired by the Afghanistan minister of interior (MOI) and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commander (COMISAF). The PRT ESC provides guidance for and oversight of all existing and proposed PRTs in the country. Its membership includes the ambassadors of all the PRT troop contributing nations (TCNs) and potential contributing nations; the Afghanistan Minister of Finance, Minister of Reconstruction, and Minister of Rural Development; United Nations (UN) Special Representative of the Secretary General; NATO Senior Civilian Representative; and the European Union Special Representative. The ESC meets as necessary and endorses policy notes that give specific guidance on PRT support for certain elements of security sector reform and reconstruction and development.
The PRT working group is a subordinate body of the ESC. Its role is to resolve operational issues, prepare the ESC agenda, and prepare issues for decision. It meets approximately once a month and consists of representatives from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA), UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), ISAF, and PRT TCN embassies. The working group is chaired by the head of the PRT section at MOI, with representatives from UNAMA and ISAF serving as co-chairs.
Interagency Strategic Coordination
Key to USG strategic coordination is the activities depicted in Figure 5-2 below.
Figure 5-2. Major U.S. interagency Afghan assistance coordination mechanisms3
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 Defense (DOD), Department of State (DOS), Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other participating departments and agencies.
Incountry Interagency Coordination
The national-level working group process is the mechanism used in Kabul to achieve interagency coordination. It is led by a principals group led by the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and the U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) commander. An executive working group provides the day-to-day management of the process and oversight of the following working groups: economic and finance policy; infrastructure; population security; illicit finance; gender policy; elections; anti-corruption; border issues; agriculture policy; information initiatives; reintegration; counternarcotics; governance; rule of law; and border coordination.
Coordination for PRTs issues is accomplished within the Office of Interagency Provincial Affairs (IPA). IPA was created in 2009 to provide strategy and policy guidance on sub-national governance, stabilization issues, Afghan capacity-building programs, and civil-military integration. For these issues, IPA facilitates exchanges on sub-national issues among offices in the embassy, senior U.S. military commanders, Afghan officials, and nongovernmental organizations. The IPA consists of the coordinator and one deputy from each agency: DOS, USAID, USDA, and DOD. IPA is also responsible for logistical and management support of embassy civilian staff deployed at PRTs across Afghanistan.4
NATO Lines of Authority5
NATO assumed responsibility from the UN for command, control, and coordination of ISAF in Afghanistan on 11 August 2003 following a NAC decision on 16 April 2003. The NAC also provides overall coordination and political direction for ISAF through the MC in close consultation with non-NATO ISAF TCNs. The MC in turn directs the two principal NATO military organizations - Allied Command Operations (ACO) and Allied Command Transformation. ACO in Mons, Belgium, has the overall military command of all the NATO-led operations, including ISAF operations.
ACO's subordinate headquarters, Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) headquarters (HQ) in Brunssum, Netherlands, runs the ISAF operation, which implies the planning and command of the force. It also provides a force commander. JFC serves as the operational-level HQ between ISAF HQ in Kabul and the strategic command at ACO.
The ISAF command structure consists of a higher strategic HQs, ISAF HQ, and two subordinate, intermediate HQ, - the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) and ISAF Joint Command (IJC). The three HQs are located in Kabul.
COMISAF focuses on the more strategic political-military aspects of the ISAF mission, synchronizing ISAF's operations with the work of Afghan and other international organizations in the country. COMISAF is dual-hatted as the commander, USFOR-A, thus coordinating and deconflicting ISAF operations and U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) operations.
The IJC commander is responsible for executing the full spectrum of tactical operations throughout the country on a day-to-day basis. Under his command are six subordinate regional commands (RCs): RC-North (RC[N]) in Mazar-e-Sharif, RC-West (RC[W]) in Herat, RC-South (RC[S]) in Kandahar, RC-Southwest (RC[SW]) in Helmand, RC-East (RC[E]) in Bagram and RC-Capital (RC[C]) in Kabul. The RCs act as tactical military headquarters providing military command and support to both PRTs and other military force elements.6 In addition, the IJC commander ensures the coordination of ISAF and Afghan National Security Force operations.
Each PRT, which covers one or more provinces, is established by a lead nation. In many instances, the lead nation is assisted by one or more partner nations who contribute assets and personnel.7 The following map and chart depict the location of the PRTs and which nations support them. It must be noted that the U.S. provides assistance in the form of a DOS and USAID representative to virtually all PRTs. In addition, the USDA provides assistance to a number of PRTs.
Figure 5-3. ISAF RCs, Major Units, and PRTs8
U.S. Military Operational and Administrative Authorities
Within the U.S. military the lines of authority are often blurred by trying to understand the operational control (OPCON), tactical control (TACON), and administrative control (ADCON) authorities. This book will not try to distinguish between the three and will treat OPCON and TACON as the same for simplicity.
Regardless of which control is discussed, the ultimate authority for the U.S. military rests with the National Command Authority (NCA). The NCA consists of only the president and the secretary of defense or their duly deputized alternates or successors.
Services retain ADCON of their personnel assigned to PRTs within Afghanistan to fulfill administration and support responsibilities identified in Title 10 of the U. S. Code. This control includes such actions that relate to discipline and personnel management (e.g. assignment, performance reports, and awards and decorations). However, by direction, administrative and support responsibilities pertaining to PRT operations (e.g., organizational alignment, resources, and logistics support responsibilities), which normally are retained by the individual services, are assigned to one service-the U.S. Army. This allows for ease of operations and removal of duplication of effort, as PRTs are manned by more than one service.
U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), located at MacDill Air Force Base, FL, has OPCON over all military personnel within Afghanistan. Its areas of responsibility (AORs) include the Middle East and Central Asia. Its mission, with national and international partners, is to promote cooperation among nations, respond to crises, deter or defeat state and non-state aggression, and support development and, when necessary, reconstruction in order to establish the conditions for regional security, stability, and prosperity.10 The component commands of USCENTOM include Air Forces Central (AFCENT), U.S. Army Central (ARCENT), Marine Corps Forces Central Command (MARCENT), and U.S. Navy Forces Central Command (NAVCENT). Each of these components exercises their respective service's ADCON in the AOR. In 2008 USCENTOM established USFOR-A to be the operational headquarters for the Afghanistan AOR.
USFOR-A, located at Kabul, Afghanistan, serves as a "functioning command and control headquarters for U.S. forces operating in Afghanistan" that operates independently of ISAF.11 The mission of USFOR-A, in coordination with ISAF, is conducting operations to defeat terrorist networks and insurgents by developing effective governance; building the Afghan National Security Force for effective security throughout Afghanistan and continued regional stability; and increasing economic development for the people of Afghanistan.12 USFOR-A has OPCON/TACON authority over an array of Air Force, Army, Marine, and Navy units as well as several joint commands, to include Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A). CSTC-A serves as the U.S. military's component of NTM-A providing training support for the Afghan National Army, the Afghan National Police, and their respective departments.
All U.S. PRTs report to their respective RC aligned U.S. division with the exception of the Farah PRT that reports to the division aligned with RC(SW). As of January 2011, these divisions were the 101st Airborne Division in RC(E), 10th Mountain Division in RC(S), and 1st Marine Division in RC(SW). The divisions serve as the single joint command responsible to USFOR-A for all military functions with their region.
U.S. Department of State Authority
As with all ambassadors, the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan was nominated by the president, confirmed by the senate, and answers to the secretary of state. The secretary further delegates oversight and day-to-day operations to the under secretary of state for political affairs and the regional bureaus; for Afghanistan it is the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.
The ambassador is responsible for the direction, coordination, and supervision of all USG executive branch employees in Afghanistan except those under the command of USFOR-A. As the president's direct representative, he is also responsible for providing the GIRoA the official United States' position on matters and provides the in-country interface between the president and the president of Afghanistan. To ensure all U.S. PRT efforts are synchronized, the ambassador established the PRT Sub-National Government Office, which in August 2009 became the IPA. The new name increased the emphasis on unity of effort among USG agencies and to indicate that the scope would be beyond just PRTs.13
The IPA's organizational structure parallels military command and control structure. It has regional platforms that mirror the RCs, each with a senior civilian representative (SCR), who is the counterpart to the military commander in the RC. The SCR's main task is to foster civil-military integration through the civilians working under them at the task force, PRT, and district support team (DST) levels.14
Other Department/Agency Authorities
Other departments and agencies mirror the DOS line of authority but will normally have a functional versus regional bureau providing guidance to their mission chiefs and onward to their field representatives assigned to assist PRTs.
PRT Structure and Functions
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.
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.
Figure 5-4. PRT Structure
The size and composition of U.S. PRTs are relatively constant depending on the availability of personnel from civilian agencies. Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan did establish a model, which U.S. PRTs still generally emulate (see Figure 5-4). According to the model, there is a military complement normally commanded by a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel or U.S. Navy commander. This complement, with members from the commander's service or the U.S. Army, provides the administrative, operations, support, and force protection for the PRT. The complement also includes a number of enablers - civil affairs, engineers, and military police. The model also provides for a civilian component of advisers, which generally includes representatives from the DOS, USAID, and USDA. Each of these representatives in conjunction with the military commander form what is known as the integrated command group, which provides guidance to the overall operations of the PRT. There is also an Afghan MOI representative and a liaison officer from the Afghanistan Engineering District (AED) who works with the PRT.
Roles and Responsibilities
Though the actual numbers of people assigned and the positions filled may change from PRT to PRT, the responsibilities should remain the same as delineated below.
Integrated Command Group15
A PRT has an integrated command group composed of senior military and civilian officials. Ideally the integrated command group should have a highly consensual and considered approach to decision making. There should be regularly scheduled meetings involving all members of the integrated command group. The integrated command group is responsible for taking ISAF top-level direction and, in combination with U.S. national priorities (with those of other contributing nations' priorities on non-U.S. PRTs), determining the PRT strategy to include approach, objectives, planned activities, and monitoring and evaluation systems. It is the integrated command group that must write a plan for the PRT consisting of an end-state, objectives, and coordination between lines of operation. Without an integrated command group, a PRT will be unable to harmonize the diplomatic, economic, and military lines of operation and will fail to act with unity of effort. To succeed, PRTs must become truly integrated civil-military structures and not just military organizations with "embedded" civilian advisers or bifurcated organizations with two separate components (military and civilian) that operate separately from one another.
Commander responsibilities include:
DOS representative responsibilities include:
USAID and USDA representatives responsibilities include:
District Support Teams
DSTs were formed to keep PRTs from being stretched too thin over large amounts of territory. They operate at the district level of government. They are similar to PRTs in that each DST normally contains three civilians - one each from DOS, USDA, and USAID. These civilians will remain at the district center for a year or longer to establish long-term relationships with district-level officials. Typically, they interface with a company-sized maneuver element and together work with district government leadership and Afghan security forces. The DST supports activities such as creating workable district development plans and forming representative community councils. DSTs seek to strengthen the district government's links with provincial authorities ensuring the needs of the district are conveyed and that appropriate ministries in Kabul address their needs.16
PRT noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) responsibilities include:
Public affairs responsibilities include:
Deputy commander/executive officer responsibilities include:
This position only exists at PRTs where the Navy has the lead. The Air Force-led PRTs have an executive officer who is normally the senior civil affairs officer and holds this position as an additional duty. Both of these individuals perform the following duties:
Support services responsibilities include:
PRTs in Afghanistan have a broad mandate that covers the following areas:
Examples of PRT Activities
The following is a list of the types of activities a PRT may accomplish. This is by no means all inclusive and is meant to provide an indication of the type of activities that might be performed to meet the mandate.
1. NATO website, "www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/index.htm", accessed 9 July 2010.
2. ISAF PRT Handbook, Edition 4, 2009, page 21.
3. 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.
4. "Inspection of Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan," ODS OIG Rpt. No. ISP-I-10-32A, February 2010
5. "ISAF Command Structure", "http://www.isaf.nato.int/en/isaf-command-structure.html", 6 July 2010.
6. ISAF PRT Handbook, 21.
8. ISAF Placemat, 1 February 2011, ISAF website, "http://www.isaf.nato.int/troop-numbers-and-contributions/index.php", accessed 10 February 2011.
9. ISAF Subordinate Commands website, "http://www.isaf.nato.int/news/5.html", accessed 10 February 2011.
10. "Our Mission", "http://www.centcom.mil/en/about-centcom/our-mission/", 14 July 2010.
11. "Defense Department Activates U.S. Forces-Afghanistan," Department of Defense, 6 October 2008.
12. "USFOR-A's Channel", "http:// www.dodlive.mil/index.php/tag/usfor-a/", 14 July 2010.
13 ."Portal: Afghanistan Provincial Reconstruction Teams", "https://www.intelink.gov/wiki/Portal:Afghanistan_Provincial_Reconstruction_Teams", 7 July 2010.
15. ISAF PRT Handbook, pages 22-23.
16. "The Meaning of Marjah: Developments in Security and Stability in Afghansitan", prepared statement of Frank Ruggiero, U.S. Senior Civilian Representative, Regional Command-South, U.S. Department Of State, Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 6 May 2010.
Last Reviewed: May 18, 2012