Austin Bay

More NATO countries are operating Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). Originally, these PRTs focused on humanitarian projects (for example, medical aid or food distribution). Afghanistan has advanced, albeit slowly, past the stage of meeting urgent humanitarian needs. "We would like for the PRTs to be involved in development with a more lasting impact," Jawad said. "For example, capacity-building so the government can deliver more services. And capacity-building of security forces, the police in particular."

PRTs are positioned to address some of the more subtle, nettlesome but politically vital development issues. "One of the major issues is lack of human capital, lack of trained people to provide services," Jawad said. Afghanistan needs embedded trainers with local police but also "guidance or assistance for state institutions. We need training in bookkeeping, accounting and administration skills, to enhance (the skills of) our civil servants."

Afghanis need help documenting business skills. "We have people who know business, (their families have been in business) for thousands of years. But this expertise is not reflected on the books. They want loans, but they don't look good on paper," Jawad said. A focused development program that helps document these skills "will benefit the private sector."

I asked the ambassador what Afghanistan will look like in 2021, 20 years after 9-11.

"In 2021, Afghanistan will be much more stable," Jawad replied, "because of the investment we make now in education. Six million Afghan children are going back to school. By then, the ANA will be fully capable to counter the threat of the terrorists and other elements who benefit from destabilizing Afghanistan. By then, the national institutions such as parliament and the judicial system will be better capable of delivering services."

"This certainly will be a victory not only for Americans, but for humanity."


Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
 
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