From left, Al-Haj Gulab Shah Alikhel, Deputy Governor of Zabul province, revered former Mujahideen commander Rasoulyak, Brig. Gen. Guy Walsh, 451st AEW commander and Brig. Gen. Abdul Rahman Sarjang, Zabul Provincial Chief of Police attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the boy’s school in Qalat, Zabul, Feb. 25. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nancy Hooks/Released)
Tom Baltazar, deputy senior civilian for Regional Platform-South, Al-Haj Mohammed Ashraf Naseri, Governor of Zabul, Al-Haj Gulab Shah Alikhel, Deputy Governor, Zabul, Brig. Gen. Guy Walsh, 451st AEW commander, and Major General Jamal Uddin, commander, 2nd Brigade of the 205th Corps, Afghan National Army built strong relationships through interaction with PRT Zabul. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nancy Hooks/Released)
PRT Zabul introduced the solar cooking concept to the community, offering new ideas and technology for food preparation. Each woman received one of these solar cookers in September 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Elizabeth Erickson/Released)
Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul also facilitated medical programs that brought clean drinking water to remote villages with high rates of intestinal disease, fed malnourished children attacking a leading cause of death in children under the age of six, and offered veterinary care to an agrarian society where more than 10 thousand animals were cared for. Here, sheep are immunized by Capt. Michael McCarter member of PRT Zabul.
Members of PRT Zabul confer with local Afghan leaders and contractors as they assess the deterioration of one of the roads in Qalat. This road was repaired as one of the 40 Commanders Emergency Response Program projects. The partnership has enabled projects totaling more than $40 million throughout Zabul province. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Greg Orbino/Released)
by Tech. Sgt. Renni Thornton
451 Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
3/9/2010 - Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan -- After many months of hard work, some of the military members of Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul prepare to travel back to their duty stations with a sense of satisfaction, knowing their efforts have helped their Afghan partners make definite improvements in Zabul province communities.
PRTs in Afghanistan use relatively small joint civil-military units developed to achieve three objectives--improve security, extend the authority of the Afghan central government and facilitate reconstruction.
For PRT Zabul, they did just that and then some.
Over the course of 10 months, the collective staff boasts more than 65 projects, totaling more than $40 million throughout Zabul province.
Of those projects, most addressed medical education and awareness, road reconstruction, and quality of life initiatives.
The ones most notable and most significant are hard to select because each brought with it huge milestones and progress, said Lt. Col. Andy Veres, PRT Zabul commander.
"We focused on the three most populous districts along Highway 1, not only because of Commander (Gen. Stanley McChrystal), International Security Assistance Force's stated population centric approach, but also freedom of movement between Afghanistan's two principal cities (Kabul and Kandahar) was RC-South's number one priority.
"We nested our goals within this guidance and focused principally on education and health care," he said. "The former because Zabul's 11 percent literacy rate is its most crushing and debilitating stumbling block to progress and development, and health care, because it is consistently one of the most valued government services that the population expects from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
"This geographic region and these focus areas accounted for 75 percent of the PRT's accomplishments in the last 9 months," Colonel Veres said.
To that end, the team installed more than 600 culvert covers worth $1 million to protect the highway from insurgents placing improvised explosive devices, mechanisms that all too often destroy the roads, property and lives.
In addition, they worked with the contractors to properly install 29 permanent bridge bypasses contracted at $3.84 million and the installation of over $422,000 worth of solar lights to provide better bridge and culvert security and visibility.
Additionally, they instituted emergency repair projects for bridges, culverts and roadways, resulting in the timely repair and construction of over 13 sites damaged by IED explosions.
In response to the Commander's Emergency Response Program in RC-South, 450 quality assurance/quality control missions were conducted in Zabul province. The PRT showcased their construction expertise through project inspections and mentoring of local contractors on better building techniques to provide stronger and longer lasting facilities.
Their efforts were instrumental for the success of 40 Commander's Emergency Response Program projects worth over $14 million.
The PRT developed, designed and managed nine school projects in five districts, benefiting more than 10,000 Afghan children. Among them was the construction and opening of both a girl's school and a boy's school and dormitory. This will improve Zabul's provincial literacy rate by providing more opportunities for students, both boys and girls, to learn to read and write, according to Colonel Veres.
Under the team's watch, construction began on two basic health clinics in the cities of Qalat and Surri.
PRT Zabul is the only American-led PRT in RC-South.