War on Terrorism

Monday, August 17, 2009

Reconstruction Team Helps Develop Afghanistan's Future

By Army Sgt. Warren W. Wright Jr.
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 17, 2009 - The provincial reconstruction team here is working to build a better future for Afghans. The team's mission is to assist Afghans with various projects, including the construction of hospitals, schools and roads, to better their living conditions, team leader Army Sgt. Terry B. Cochran said.

Along with their construction mission, the team also ensures that facilities continue operating long after they're built.

"We're not focusing on the number of projects as much as we used to anymore; those days are changing," said Army Lt. Col. Robert Cooley, the team's deputy commanding officer. "We're really trying to build the capacity and sustainability on the inside by making sure they have the doctors and teachers necessary to sustain those facilities."

The reconstruction team is made up of Army security forces and civil affairs specialists, State Department representatives and Navy engineers. They work closely with Khost government officials on a routine basis to make sure the Afghan people's needs are being met.

With a mix of active and reserve sailors and soldiers with various backgrounds and expertise, the team has a range of experience and information that members can tap into to help fix any problem that may arise, Cochran said.
"We interact with them, we help them, we give them the supplies they need," said Army Spc. Gilbert R. Smook, who provides dismount security for the team.

Team members work with the Afghan government to help Afghans implement ways to help themselves, said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class David E. Skagen, master at arms for the team.

"I think we're going to make a big difference within the time frame that we're going to be here," Skagen said.

(Army Sgt. Warren W. Wright Jr. serves with the 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

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