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Embeded Provincial Reconstruction Teams (update)
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I learned something new today in a conference call from Baghdad with Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team (EPRT) Leader for North Babil, Thomas Timberman. I learned that at EPRT is not the same as a PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team).

An EPRT is embedded, as the name implies, with a combat brigade and works hand-in-glove with the brigade and it civil affairs units at a local level. The PRT works at a provincial level. The obvious intent is to meet in the middle through this development process. Of course the EPRT is completely dependent on the BCT for transportation, security and logistics. They develop a plan with the BCT called a "Joint Common Plan" which outlines their work and how it will be accomplished.

This particular EPRT, which Mr. Timberman heads, is located in Northern Babil, which is actually 63 miles south of Baghdad and a strategic area as it is where the major land routes headed south out of Iraq converge.

This particular EPRT is composed of a team leader, Mr. Timberman, a lawyer, but with more than 25 years as a Political Military Affairs Officer in the Foreign Service. IOW, he's done this sort of work before. He has with him on the team a USAID officer who is an economics PhD, a US Army Major who is a veterinarian, a US Army Civil Affairs captain who acts as their operations officer and a US Army senior NCO whose background is medical, an Iraqi/American with a PhD in economics and agriculture and an interpreter (with other skill sets valuable to the effort besides just interpreting).

Mr. Timberman said the EPRT's structure isn't fixed and is more or less tailored to the area and job assigned. He also expressed a preference for a smaller and more flexible team than those which have up to 20 or 30 members.

Working with the battalions within the brigade, the EPRT identify what they call "model communities", Iraqi towns, villages and cities, in which the leaders show both an interest and a capacity to work with the Americans. One of the key aspects of this is they must be approachable, meaning they must be relatively secure. At this point in time, the Babil EPRT has identified and is working with 7 model communities. In addition it is working with 4 municipal councils and 3 agricultural unions or associations.

The mission, as I understand it, is to make the Iraqis they work with self-sufficient. They work with these groups to teach them administration, budgeting, lobbying (or how to write and present a proposal to higher government) and how to prioritize their activities. As Timberman said, they want to transfer skills so that these local communities can do such things a get the help they need from international NGOs, or other sources (than American) in order to put them on the road to self-sufficiency.

As mentioned they work closely with the BCT's civil affairs units in this endeavor. Those CA units are also engaged in essential infrastructure improvement. They too aim their assistance toward helping the locals build up their capability to solve their own problems.

One of the reasons this is important in that particular area is because it is a minority Sunni population with a majority Shia central government. But, as Timberman pointed out, even when that wasn't the case, and Saddam was in control, the region's tradition and history had them eschewing close contact with the central government. Or said another way, they've always tried to be self-sufficient. The EPRT is trying to enable that again under the reality of this new paradigm. The hope, of course, is the central government, at some point, will become responsive to Sunnis as well as Shia. Part of that effort will be the job of the PRTs which I mentioned earlier.

A question near the end was how would an early withdrawal effect the work that's now going on with the EPRTs? Timberman said that at the earliest, such a withdrawal probably wouldn't take place for 12 months. They're already planning to embed the EPRT with a much smaller unit in a central location such as Hila (phonetic) which is the provincial capital if that becomes a reality.

Timberman also said that his tour of 12 months wasn't going to be sufficient to get done all that he'd like to see accomplished, so he's asked that his tour be extended by 6 months. Note that not every dedicated and courageous person in Iraq wears a military uniform.

UPDATE: TallDave points me to this about Anbar Province and in particular, Ramadi:
We now have our Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team (EPRT) and they are working hard to help build the municipal government in Ramadi. The EPRT is composed of personnel from the U.S. State Department, USAID, and other experts in various areas of government. We have partnered the EPRT with officials from the municipal government in much the same way that we partner Soldiers and Marines with Iraqi police. The EPRT works every day with the city government helping them with budgeting, planning, and delivering services to the public. The EPRT is a critical capability that we never had before, and I’m confident that it is going to make a big difference in building stability here in Ramadi.
 
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We now have our Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team (EPRT) and they are working hard to help build the municipal government in Ramadi. The EPRT is composed of personnel from the U.S. State Department, USAID, and other experts in various areas of government. We have partnered the EPRT with officials from the municipal government in much the same way that we partner Soldiers and Marines with Iraqi police. The EPRT works every day with the city government helping them with budgeting, planning, and delivering services to the public. The EPRT is a critical capability that we never had before, and I’m confident that it is going to make a big difference in building stability here in Ramadi.
 
Written By: TallDave
URL: http://www.deanesmay.com

Maybe this will work.
 
Written By: TallDave
URL: http://www.deanesmay.com

 
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