Today (13 December), the command of the German Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Feyzabad was passed on to a German diplomat during a handover ceremony. Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle issued the following statement on the occasion:
“Putting the Feyzabad PRT under civilian command is another step towards implementing our Afghanistan strategy.
We are now embarking upon the process of placing responsibility for our PRTs in civilian hands. This forms part of the changing nature of international commitments in Afghanistan. They are increasingly taking on a civilian face, as is the case with the incremental transfer of responsibility for security to Afghan authorities and the reduction in international troop numbers.
We know that the road to peace in Afghanistan is a long one and that we have to continue to be prepared for major challenges and setbacks.”
Almost half of Germany’s area of responsibility in the north of the country, including major parts of Badakhshan Province and its capital Feyzabad, will soon be included in the process of transferring responsibility for security.
Beginning with the Feyzabad PRT, the German Provincial Reconstruction Teams will one by one be put under civilian command, thus becoming even more clearly advisory and support missions. This process will make the transfer of responsibility more tangible for the Afghan population.
The new PRT Head will be Mr Helmut Landes, a seasoned German diplomat with experience of the region. He has been on the ground for a few months now, preparing himself thoroughly for his new task.