Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Nov. 7, 2008 - Using a method called "district mapping," the provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province helps to make the decisions on how to spend money allocated for construction and infrastructure improvements.
PRT officials plot construction plans on a map that shows projects that have been completed, those in progress and those that are scheduled to begin. Once that step is done, that map is laid over another map that shows existing infrastructure in the district.
Officials at the Nangarhar PRT and PRTs in 13 other provinces throughout Regional Command East, are focusing on mapping all of their districts.
Army Maj. Robert Minton and Army Capt. Tim O'Donnel, both civil affairs team leaders for the Nangarhar PRT, were among the three PRT members who developed the district mapping methodology.
One of the main goals in developing this process was to identify gaps in development, said Army Capt. Oliver Karp, civil information manager for Regional Command East.
"It helps us when we go out to districts," O'Donnel explained. "We don't get bombarded with the same old requests for seemingly unimportant things as much." And district mapping twice has revealed that planned projects would have overlapped, Minton noted.
Before district mapping, construction efforts were slower and, at times, overlapped, Minton said. This wasted time, effort and money, and made long-term construction plans impossible, he said.
"For instance, we have a plan called Nangarhar Incorporated," Karp said. "We knew where we wanted to be as far as goals go, but without all of the [district mapping] information, we didn't know where we stood. We didn't know what was required of us or what our baseline for this plan was."
Once the mapping process is complete, the map that is produced will aid all of Regional Command East, maximizing efforts and increasing communication among PRTs, district governors and nongovernment organizations, officials said.
"I would feel comfortable with saying its going to end up saving us millions in the long run," Minton said.
(Army Spc. Scott Davis serves in the Combined Joint Task Force 101 Public Affairs Office.)