Provincial Reconstruction Team Sharana
The Sharana Provincial Reconstruction Team held an opening ceremony 21 November 2004 at its new facility, Camp Kearney, which is named in honor of a fallen comrade in arms. The compound, located near Sharana, the capital of Paktika province, is named for Spc. James Kearney, who died Nov. 1 from injuries he sustained when his convoy was attacked by enemy forces. Kearney, 22, was a member Company B, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment of the Iowa National Guard, and was attached to the Sharana PRT. He was a native of Emerson, Iowa, and deployed to Afghanistan in May. The Sharana PRT actually began operating in June 2004 from a different facility, while its permanent facility was being built from the ground up. The opening of the Sharana PRT brought the number of Coalition PRTs operating in Afghanistan to 13. Two more were scheduled to open soon thereafter, one each in Lashkar Gar and Tarin Kowt.
From Our Man in Afghanistan
Here are a few pictures of me and the Afghan country side that I took today during an inspection of a dam project, mind you that was a dam project not a damn project. The Yousufkhel dam which was initially built by the locals by themselves about 20 years ago is beginning to fail. The dam has been expanded twice over the years and they are currently working on a third expansion. Yousufkhel is the district (similar to a county but smaller) and is directly south of Sharana in Paktika province. We strongly support any project that the locals take on themselves because they truly take ownership of the project and do their best to protect and maintain the project if they have invested the elbow grease in it. The project is critical because it also allows for expanded farming in the area and farms make up 80% of the employment in Paktika province, so if we want to make long lasting effects on the economy and provide long term jobs, projects like this are key to our eventual withdrawal from Afghanistan. The dam is empty right now because the upper dam which feeds it blew out two years ago because of poor construction materials and it is late in the season. There is an awful lot of snow melt and winter rains to be captured and this dam project is a series of three dams linked together that are supposed to provide irrigation throughout the year. We will not do enough in my time here for the US to pull out, but this is a major project that will have lon-term lasting effects. It is expected to be the crowning accomplishment of our time here. Add this on to about 35 deep wells for clean and safe water, 15 schools, a vocational agriculture school and the countless interactions with government officials teaching them how to govern more efficiently and this is shaping up to be a very good experience even with the set-backs in security and the loss of our friends through injury and death. There is an awful lot to be proud of over here.
October Care Packages to PRT Sharana
Thanks to the
dedication of the crew of J.C.
Butler Chapter, DESA, who brought in enough items to fill
26 Flat Rate Boxes
for shipment to
signed "Skipper" Tom Alexander
More From Chief Rockwell, PRT Sharana
I wanted to let you know that we had received the last massive shipment of packages. I was out on a five day mission along the Pakistani border again so I can't say for sure how many actually arrived. That being said, there was appreciation from most of the unit members. The small exchange here on the FOB has had trouble keeping soap and shampoo in stock so those items were especially welcomed. We have just under three weeks left until we rotate out and leave Sharana for the last time. The advanced party for the incoming team arrived while I was out. We are all very happy to see that they are here even if it is only three so far. Unfortunately I will cut this e-mail short as I have a lot of work to catch up on after being out in the field for five days. Thanks again to everyone who has given so much for us.
The Redwood Bulletin
About Provisional Reconstruction Teams
Sharana is the capital of Paktika Province. Sharana's population was estimated to be 2,200 in 2006. As one of the most remote provinces in Afghanistan, and in an area that saw much devastation in previous years, Paktika suffers from a severe lack of critical infrastructure. Reconstruction in the province after the fall of the Taliban has been slow in comparison to that in nearby provinces such as Khost and Zabul. This is primarily due to the remoteness of the region and repeated attacks on aid workers. In June 2004, members of the Utah and Iowa National Guard helped Army Reserve Civil Affairs Soldiers from Oregon establish a Provincial Reconstruction Team base in Sharana, capital of the province, to lead the development effort. The first full contingent of eight Civil Affairs Soldiers, from Maryland, arrived in September 2004.
While the province hasn't witnessed the outright fighting in the last few years that has affected provinces like Helmand, there is a constant low level of tribal violence accompanied by criminal and Taliban activity. The last serious fighting in the province took place in 2004, amid reports that then-Governor Muhammad Ali Jalali was collaborating with Taliban forces, and that the Taliban had effectively annexed eastern portions of the province. Jalali, and many of his allied officials, were replaced, U.S. Special Forces were dispatched to fight the Taliban while the Pakistan forces fought with the Taliban's allies in neighbouring South Waziristan .
On 1 November 2004, a civil affairs convoy was ambushed near Sarobi, between Shkin firebase and Orgun-E. U.S. Army Spc. James Kearney, a turret gunner, died of a head shot from a sniper, which initiated the ambush. After countless RPGs, PKM rounds and an IED, two vehicles were destroyed and three other Soldiers were wounded. The Provincial Reconstruction Team base was named Camp Kearney on 21 November 2004 to honor the sacrifice of Spc. James Kearney.
Kearney Base became the nucleus of what was to become Forward Operating Base Sharana, now the major U.S. military base in the region.
PRT Sharana has Broadband Internet
Paktika-Sharana Computer Vocational Education Project
U.S. Senator Sam Brownback Visits PRT Sharana
Each PRT consists of U.S. soldiers, Afghan government officials and U.S. officials from the State Department and other agencies. These teams improve security, facilitate local projects and work to enhance the capacity of local Afghan officials.
I visited PRT Sharana, south of Kabul and not far from the volatile border. The team I visited has made a number of
strides, building roads and schools and expanding the reach of the Afghan government to areas that have, for the most part, never been governed before.
Beanie Baby Ambassador