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Air Force Lt. Col. Gordon Phillips, commander, Provincial Reconstruction Team 7 (PRT-7) tours a mock-up of an Afghan village during the PRT's Army Training Evaluation Program (ARTEP) at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Air Force Lt. Col. Gordon Phillips, commander, Provincial Reconstruction Team 7 (PRT-7) tours a mock-up of an Afghan village during the PRT's Army Training Evaluation Program (ARTEP) at Fort Bragg, N.C. (Courtesy of U.S. Army)

For the first time, the 12 Provincial Reconstruction Teams slated to work in Afghanistan have undergone joint training at a military base in the United States.

The PRTs — made up of servicemembers and civilians — are designed to boost security, reconstruction, development and self-sustaining democratic programs in Afghanistan.

And for three months, they are at Fort Bragg, N.C., undergoing what the military calls “theater immersion training” conducted by the 189th Infantry Brigade, part of the First Army.

“Considering this training used to be one small lane of the larger deployment training objectives, having all the PRTs together and immersing them in the theater-specific environment they will encounter in Afghanistan before they get to Afghanistan is invaluable,” Col. Mark Fields, commander of the 158th Infantry Brigade, which is providing support for the training, said in an Army news release.

“At the Forward Operating Bases where we train the PRTs, we can throw any scenario at them, from sniper attacks and [roadside bombs] to babies being born and electricity being turned. … For added realism and to hone language and cultural skills, 50 Afghan policemen volunteered to come to Fort Bragg not only to enhance the troop training, but to improve their own police skills.”

Some 1,000 PRT members are undergoing the training, officials said.

In addition to the immersion training, commanders of each PRT have been to the areas of Afghanistan where they’ll serve.

“They’ve done a ‘right-seat ride’ in the province with the current PRT commanders; they’ve seen the daily interaction between the PRT members and the Afghan people; and they’ve met the local tribal and religious leaders they’ll work with,” Fields said.

The training scenarios include helping a village hit by an earthquake and fixing broken generators.

“From the very beginning, this has been the most relevant, logical training I have received before any deployment,” Air Force Lt. Col. Gordon Phillips, commander of PRT-7, said in the release. “I have already been to the area of Afghanistan where our PRT will work. I have already met with the religious and tribal leaders we will be helping, and, more importantly, they have met me. … Plus, having all members of the PRT together before deploying gets everyone on the same sheet of music. …”

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