Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Research- Smoke and Mirrors- PRTs and What the State Department is not accomplishing in Iraq

Robert Kaplan has an graet piece entitled, 'What the State Department is not accomplishing in Iraq' that digs in to what PRTs are- and mostly are not- accomplishing in reality.

Focussing on a State Department officer called out of retirement to lead a PRT in Iraq, the article describes the diplomat's arrival:
'When she arrived in Baquba, Diyala’s regional capital, a year ago this month, Munshi’s PRT consisted of two Department of State employees, “an absolutely new and raw” Army civil affairs team, a few interpreters, and 18 guys from a private military company called Blackwater USA whose mission was primarily to protect her. There were six Internet connections for all these people, no desks or chairs, no operating funds, and no office supplies. “If it isn’t nailed down, take it,” she told them all.'

The short piece is a quick read, and in its brevity is fills the void of critical views on what PRTs have become over the last years. Beyond debates on 'which nation does the best PRTs', there are little first-hand accounts that provide any clear indication of whether the experiment has been successful, or even what success should look like. We posted earlier (and here) on the rise of PRTs in parallel to the surge in Iraq, but again, have heard little since.

On the same theme, Jane's has an in-depth look at the PRT debate, in an article entitled 'Blurring the line - Involving the military in humanitarian affairs'- it is unfortunately available to subscribers only.