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Cablegate: Prt Team Leaders Conference - Lessons Learned From The

VZCZCXRO0533
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #0856/01 0801505
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201505Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6359
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 000856

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O.12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREZ IZ

SUBJECT: PRT TEAM LEADERS CONFERENCE - LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE
TEAM LEADER PERSPECTIVE

1. On March 3 and 4, the embassy's Office of Provincial Affairs
(OPA) hosted the second quarterly Provincial Reconstruction Team
(PRT) Team Leaders Conference in Baghdad. The conference details
are found in SEPTEL. Within the body of the conference, however, a
separate closed-door session was held in an environment where team
leaders could freely discuss lessons learned in their respective
provinces, and to share their recommendations on how the increase
the opportunities of success for PRTs during the rest of 2008. This
cable covers the most salient points and discussions of this special
session.

--------------------------------------------- ----
SOFT POWER SOLUTIONS, MILITARY, AND TEAM DYNAMICS
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. The Team Leader for PRT Muthanna opened the session by describing
his province, about the size of Maine, as one of the largest in
Iraq, but with one of the smallest population bases of about 700,000
inhabitants. Characterized as heavily tribal influenced and one of
the poorest provinces, the Team Leader discussed his quote Soft
Power Solution unquote along with the team mantra, Waging Peace
Together. The key to PRT success: setting up the PRT in Working
Groups in order to arrive to collective solutions and courses of
actions, and making wide use of QRF for targeted projects that would
have the most impact, such as water distribution and veterinarian
services. The response from civil society, especially from the
sheikhs and even from children, has been overwhelming and has
validated the approach by this team.

3. The Team Leader for PRT Diyala offered a similar team dynamic but
in a vastly different operating environment. He described the
province dominated by the Sunnis with a population of about 1.6
million inhabitants. Most recently, the province experienced
significant kinetic operations by MNF-I and Iraqi forces. The
governor, as explained by the Team Leader, has been the target of at
least eight attempts on his life during the past year, further
underscoring the special challenges faced in Diyala. Despite these
security issues, the PRT has managed to set up temporary operations
in the government center, staying there at least five nights per
week to work as closely as possible to their Iraqi counterparts.
This presence, the team leader pointed out, is possible only through
the support of the US military that is responsible for all their
ground movements.

4. Similar to the working groups for Muthanna, PRT Diyala has formed
themselves into six subgroups covering areas such as governance,
infrastructure, economics, and public health. Teamwork at the
brigade level, the team leader explained, is the only way the team
can function in the province, and a solid working relationship
between the team and the military is absolutely essential. The
province was further described as Iowa cornfields to the north, with
ghost towns dominating the south. This environment creates its own
set of challenges as the PRT pushes to extend its reach away from
the government center and to the province outskirts through the
formation of small, temporary satellite offices. This concept has
proven to be the only viable means to reach local government and
sub-provincial population centers, and can be replicated in other
provinces as a force multiplier to reach beyond the government
center. Again, this success is possible only through the
coordination and cooperation of the US military.

5. The last team leader, from ePRT Baghdad 2, offered yet another
perspective of the PRT world. Centered in a densely populated
section of Baghdad, with a population of about 2 million persons,
the team leader described his zone as the land of CERP, with QRF
serving as a vital follow-on fund source. His typical programs
covered education, health, youth and sports, agriculture, and trash
mitigation. Other key activities in this ePRT zone included small
business training, trade shows, a farming cooperative, and conflict
mitigation. An example of the latter included an Iftar event
sponsored by the ePRT for local leaders and civil society.

6. The team leader found that micro purchases were both an
invaluable resources as well as one of his biggest challenges, as
the requisite documentation and oversight procedures required
significant team attention. Nevertheless, the above programs, with
additional emphasis on employment generation and job placement, kept
the ePRT fully occupied in areas that are essential to that section
of Baghdad. Additional discussion on budget execution showed that
although the municipal staffs have received training and are trying
to spend their funds, many skill gaps still exist that need to be
filled in order for the system to properly function. The team
leader also stated that the system must remain fully transparent in
order for his section of Baghdad to progress to a higher level of
competency and efficiency.

-------------------------------------
SEEKING SOLUTION THAT CROSS PROVINCES
-------------------------------------

7. The open forum that followed the presentations revealed some keen

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insights as well as supported the theme for State and military
mutual support. Part of the discussion centered on the lengthy
common boarder that Iraq shares with its neighbors, and
understanding the reality that traditional trade partners will
likely continue despite past or current political tensions. Given
that reality, the capacity to conduct legitimate trade remains a
valid concern and should be supported. In some areas, the aftermath
of kinetic operations was followed by the realization that some
areas lacked a history of U.S.-funded governance programs, leaving
such places at a disadvantage. Diyala, for example, was impacted in
this manner, yet the team has strived to establish a strong
relationship with the provincial government, and sought inventive
ways to make up for lost time. Finally, the advantages of working
directly with the U.S. military battalions, and the military
reliance in some cases on the ePRT to support their strategic
planning process, provided yet another example of the mutual
coexistence between State and US military units.

-------
COMMENT
-------

8. Despite packing three days worth of meetings into two, OPA
decided that the team leaders needed time together to discuss common
issues, learn about successes and mistakes, and forge new alliances
needed in this unique working environment. This special session was
worth the effort, and will certainly be repeated in the next Team
Leaders conference.
CROCKER

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