Military ends 'hearts and minds' projects in Afghanistan
A US Army soldier from a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) walks through a market on January 20, 2010 in Orgune, Afghanistan.
As the U.S. military continues its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, it is also ending a special program aimed at building up the country's infrastructure and winning over Afghan hearts and minds. Since 2004, Provincial Reconstruction Teams, or PRTs, have allocated millions of dollars to the building of roads and schools across Afghanistan.
Over the years, PRT's have spread to every province in Afghanistan. Most are run by the U.S. military and representatives from the U.S. State Department, but others are organized by coalition forces. While PRT's have been met with success on many levels, they have also been controversial at times. Critics say, in some cases, the projects have undermined Afghan local government institutions.
As PRT projects come to an end, there is a sense of uncertainty in some areas. In Bamyan, a town in the center of Afghanistan, officials from New Zealand are planning to close their PRT by the end of the year. The news has some locals concerned about what might happen to the jobs that have been created. Others are worried a leadership vacuum will develop and that local Afghan governmental and administrative bodies won't be able to fill the gap.