US base in Paktika
KABUL: The US-led coalition has opened a new civil-military base in troubled southeast Afghanistan, as NATO expanded its command of such teams in the north ahead of autumn elections, officials said on Wednesday.
The provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) combine lightly armed soldiers with civilian experts and assist in extending the central government’s influence into the provinces. The coalition’s latest team opened in troubled Paktika province which borders Pakistan on June 30, bringing the number of American-run bases to 14, military spokesman Major Jon Siepmann told reporters in Kabul.
“Less than a year ago, there were only four PRTs,” he said. “The coalition has aggressively pursued the establishment of PRTs to facilitate reconstruction and security across the country.”
So far three PRTs, in northeastern Kunduz, northern Mazar-i-Sharif and northwestern Meymaneh are under the control of NATO-led peacekeepers, said a spokesman for the alliance’s International Security Assistance Force.
Most of the PRTs are based in southern and southeastern Afghanistan, areas hard hit by Taliban insurgency, while the northern teams are aimed at controlling factional fighting and local warlords who have ignored Kabul’s orders. An additional 12,000-plus Afghan National Army soldiers are being trained by foreign instructors to eventually take over military operations in the country. afp