As early as 2002, the U.S. established Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) that gave the military a lead role in reconstruction assistance in insecure areas and somewhat expanded civilian presence but without setting any standards for where and when they should shift from military to civilian lead and when they should phase out entirely. The 2009 U.S. troop surge, aimed at urgently countering an expanding insurgency, was accompanied by a similar increase in U.S. civilian personnel – attempting to deliver quick results in the same areas as the military surge, but without rigorous monitoring and accountability. In their haste to demonstrate progress, donors have pegged much aid to short-term military objectives and timeframes. As the drawdown begins, donor funding and civilian personnel presence, mirroring the military’s withdrawal schedule, may rapidly decline, undermining oversight and the sustainability of whatever reconstruction and development achievements there have been.
Kabul/Brussels, 4 August 2011