Story by Navy Cmdr. Louis McCray, Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah
“America’s Navy—A Global Force for Good,” is the Navy’s current call to arms. It pretty accurately explains the contribution Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah’s Navy individual augmentees make to the counterinsurgency fight every day.
Like other PRTs, ours is responsible for training, advising and assisting Afghan leaders to provide good governance and socioeconomic development for their people. Although security operations are critical to stability in Afghanistan, they must be followed by civil services, responsive systems and effective government. Essentially, this is what the governance and development lines of operation entail and the PRTs are charged to help build and enable. The Farah judicial sector was a shining example of how a poor, rural Afghan community can come together and make social progress with a little bit of training and mentoring from a provincial reconstruction team.
On the morning of Apr. 3, this progress in Farah came to a violent halt. Farahis were going about their daily lives. The provincial courthouse was settling into the business of the day. Everyday people were bustling around the courthouse, working with the government to resolve their issues. During this peaceful weekday scene, a massive suicide car bomb ripped through the judicial complex and nine armed terrorist stormed the courthouse and a nearby prosecutorial building. The rest is a tragic affair that is all too common in Afghanistan. By the day’s end, the terrorists indiscriminately killed 36 civilians and 10 Afghan National Security Force soldiers who had fought to subdue them. All the Taliban terrorists left in their wake was death and pain.
What isn’t so readily reported was the response to this tragedy. The attack was obviously meant to shake the fragile gains Farah’s judicial sector had made but the perpetrators clearly underestimated the community’s resolve. A total of 104 patients were effectively treated at the Farah City hospital that day. Five critically injured patients were stabilized and evacuated by Army and Navy medical personnel on Forward Operating Base Farah. And most importantly, we now see a slow and painful, albeit hopeful recovery effort from Farah citizens.
PRT Farah has committed to help the people of Farah in whatever way we can during the recovery. Currently, our Navy Seabees and Army Civil Affairs Team are working jointly to support infrastructure projects to repair the justice and prosecutorial buildings damaged in the attack. They are also assisting the Farah provincial council to organize a volunteer day in Farah City, which is intended to involve the entire community in recovery efforts and to empower Farahis to continue to invest in their social institutions.
The road to recovery for Farah’s judicial sector is long. We will support our Farahi partners to rebuild, refit and reinforce the progress they have achieved. Although the Navy’s involvement in Afghanistan is scaling down as part of the 2014 security transition, PRT Farah’s sailors and soldiers remain at the tip of the spear in the counterinsurgency fight. In tangible and meaningful ways, we continue to embody the spirit of America’s Global Force for Good.