BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (Oct. 16, 2008) – A new flag was hoisted over the Provincial Reconstruction Team headquarters this morning as a new unit accepted responsibility for the PRT mission in Bamyan province.
New Zealand Defence Force Task Group Crib 13 assumed from TG Crib 12, marking the end of a successful six-month tour for TG Crib 12.
“New Zealand is a small nation with a small military force, but we’ve seen that a New Zealand soldier can operate very successfully in this environment,” said outgoing PRT commander Col. Daryl Tracy. During this final farewell, he quoted an old Afghan proverb, saying “We came as friends, but we leave as brothers and sisters.”
PRT’s are the military contribution to the international development effort in Afghanistan. They work closely with local government leaders to tailor development programs for each area, and over the past six months the Bamyan PRT has focused on agriculture, housing improvements, and educational facilities.
Tracy said the PRT mission had benefitted greatly from the strong leadership of Bamyan Gov. Habibi Sorabi, who attended the ceremony and expressed her appreciation for the work done by TG Crib 12. Sorabi is the only female governor in the country of Afghanistan.
There are more than a dozen PRTs throughout Regional Command-East, run by a variety of nations including New Zealand, Poland, Turkey, the Czech Republic and the US.
Col. Scott Spellmon, who serves as Task Force Warrior commander and oversees the PRT, participated in the ceremonial passing of an oar between the two units. The New Zealand PRT is made up of more than 140 members from the New Zealand Defence Force.
TG Crib 13 commander Col. Rich Hall was enthusiastic about the mission his unit is inheriting. “We are raring and ready to go and continue their work,” he said to the small audience.
Combined Joint Task Force 101 Deputy Commanding General – Support Brig. Gen James McConville also spoke to the two units and emphasized their impact in the region.
“You have made a difference here, working with the governor and the Afghan Government,” McConville said. “Because of what you have done here and what you will do, the children of Bamyan will have a much brighter future.”