The Foreign Service Journal, March 2007

recalls, “The PRTs were rolled out before they were ready for prime time. They didn’t know what we were sup- posed to do.” Since then, another nine teams have been established: Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan (the one Regional Recon- struction Team, led by a South Korean ambassador, covering the provinces of Dahuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah); Ramadi, Anbar province; Hilla, Babil province; Baqubah, Diyala province; Tikrit, Salah ad Din province; Kirkuk, Ta’mim province; Nasariya, Dhi Qar province (Italian-led); Basrah, Basrah province (British-led); and Baghdad. President Bush recently raised the profile of civilian service on such teams when he called for a “doubling” of the PRTs in his State of the Union address. At least eight more PRTs are planned, five of which will operate in the Baghdad area, two more in Anbar province, one in Balad and a possible 19th in Najaf. Duty at Iraq PRTs represents a new reality for the Foreign Service. Diplomats are accustomed to danger and hardship, but they are not soldiers. So it is not an unreasonable question to ask what role (if any) the Foreign Service should have in active war zones. The PRTs are the administration’s answer to that question. But how they operate, what they try to accomplish and what they actually can accomplish is an evolving story — and one that is not the same for each PRT. In trying to tease out the reality for the Foreign Service behind the rhetoric concerning the PRTs, the Journal cast a wide net. Over a dozen Foreign Service members serv- ing at PRTs in seven Iraqi provinces provided input for this report, some on the record and some on background. We spoke with State Department officials in the Office of the Iraq Coordinator. The Office of the Director General provided responses, with input from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Bureau of Near East Affairs, to additional personnel and security-related questions. A U.S. Army Brigade Combat Team commander currently serving in Anbar offered his own comments about work- ing with the State Department. And the Oct. 29, 2006, report, “Status of the Provincial Reconstruction Team Program in Iraq,” from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., was especially useful. The Iraq PRT Mission Iraq Provincial Reconstruction Teams, known as PRTs, are civilian- military organizations that are being created to support provincial government capacity devel- opment. The plan to establish PRTs in Iraq was intro- duced in a joint statement issued by Embassy Baghdad and the U.S.-led Multinational Force Iraq (known as MNF-I) in October 2005. The mission, as spelled out by National Coordination Team Chief of Staff Rob Tillery in an Oct. 9, 2006, Baghdad press briefing, is: “to assist Iraq’s provincial governments with developing a transparent and sustained capability to govern, promoting increased secu- rity and rule of law, promoting political and economic development, and providing provincial administration necessary to meet the basic needs of the population.” The idea was that “as the provincial governments demonstrate increased capability to govern and manage their security environment, thereby reducing the role of coalition forces in the provinces, then each PRT would transition to a tra- ditional USAID training program to develop local gover- nance capacity.” The PRTs are loosely modeled on the Afghanistan PRTs, though those are military-led, with a State compo- nent. The Iraq PRTs are civilian-led, and fall under the responsibility of the National Coordination Team in Baghdad, which is part of the Iraq Reconstruction and Management Office there. IRMOwas established in 2004 by executive order under 5 U.S.C. 3161 as a “temporary organization” with authority to hire temporary employees, called “3161s.” IRMO and the NCT are staffed primarily by 3161s, non-Foreign Service personnel. The PRTs are comprised of some 35 to 100 personnel, most of whom are from the military. In most cases the team leader is a State Department Foreign Service officer and the deputy team leader is a military officer. The teams, when fully staffed, also include personnel from USAID and its contractor for the Local Governance Program, RTI International; the Department of Justice; the Foreign Agricultural Service; civilian contractors; local employees; and military personnel, including civil affairs personnel. F O C U S 22 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / M A R C H 2 0 0 7 Shawn Dorman, a former Foreign Service officer, is asso- ciate editor of the Foreign Service Journal and editor of the AFSA book, Inside a U.S. Embassy. Diplomats are accustomed to danger and hardship, but they are not soldiers.