Friday, May 11, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 11 May 2007

From US CENTCOM, Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Southern Iraq - Progress Toward Independence.

“We’re very focused on the need to return control to Baghdad. But we’re also very focused on the need to build capacity in the local and provincial governments and to be able to deliver economic and reconstruction assistance there.”

Those words were from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a statement January, 2007, explaining the need to build up Iraq and provide its people with independence.

For some provinces of the country, that independence has been achieved. Setting a milestone on July 13, 2006, Muthanna became the first province to transition its security to Provincial Iraqi Control (PIC). The second province to transfer authority was Dhi Qar on September 21 and An Najaf on December 20. Most recently, Maysan transferred authority on April 18.

But the government in these areas is still in its fledgling stages. Having spent so much time under the Saddam-controlled central government, many officials in provinces such as Dhi Qar and Muthanna are learning how to manage and provide essential services for the people in their areas.

That’s where the Provincial Reconstruction Teams come in. The PRTs exist as a civil-military effort, which in many places become the number one interface between U.S. and Coalition allies and Iraqi provincial governments.

In June 2005, Iraq’s Prime Minister announced a joint decision to systematically hand over security authority in all 18 of Iraq’s provinces to the Provincial Civil Authorities under the control of each province’s governor. The security responsibility will then fall under the authority of the Provincial Governor, the Provincial Council and the Iraqi Police.

A fact sheet provided by the PRTs stated the Joint Committee to Transfer Security Responsibility was formed to determine when a province was ready to be transferred. The JCTSR looks to four conditions when determining whether or not a province is ready for its security responsibility to be transferred. Those conditions are threat assessment, readiness of the Iraqi Security Forces, the governance capabilities of the province and Multi National Forces Iraq force posture.

The fact sheet also highlighted as part of the President’s plan, the number of PRT personnel will double to 600 team members countrywide. In conjunction with the added staff, the capacity of the PRT program is being doubled with ten new “embedded” PRTs. These teams will work hand-and-glove in Brigade Combat Teams in synch with the military surge in Anbar and the Baghdad area.

. . .