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Zabul PRT building a foundation for a better Afghanistan

A village elder, left, representing the population of a village speaks with Omar Gul, the Zabul Provincial Line Director of Irrigation, during a Shura meeting May 22, 2010, in Omarkhel, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

A village elder, left, representing the population of a village speaks with Omar Gul, the Zabul Provincial Line Director of Irrigation, during a Shura meeting May 22, 2010, in Omarkhel, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Army Sergeant Robert Crosier, right, a truck commander assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, briefs his gunner and driver before heading out on a Shura mission in a local village May 22, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Army Sergeant Robert Crosier, right, a truck commander assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, briefs his gunner and driver before heading out on a Shura mission in a local village May 22, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Army Sgt. Robert Crosier, a combat engineer assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, dismounts and secures the area around an AMTV, prior to allowing fellow PRT members to dismount May 22, 2010, in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Army Sgt. Robert Crosier, a combat engineer assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, dismounts and secures the area around an AMTV, prior to allowing fellow PRT members to dismount May 22, 2010, in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Airmen and Soldiers assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, carry boxes of coloring books that will be handed out to village children during a Shura mission in the Omarkhel village May 22, 2010, in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul members are working side-by-side with provincial government officials to bring reconstruction, regional development, credible governance and security to Zabul. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Airmen and Soldiers assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, carry boxes of coloring books that will be handed out to village children during a Shura mission in the Omarkhel village May 22, 2010, in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul members are working side-by-side with provincial government officials to bring reconstruction, regional development, credible governance and security to Zabul. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

?Craft," an interpreter working with Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, crosses a creek on the way to Omarkhel village for a Shura May 22, 2010, in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

"Craft," an interpreter working with Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, crosses a creek on the way to Omarkhel village for a Shura May 22, 2010, in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Afghan National Police meet up with Airmen and Soldiers assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, for a Shura mission in Omarkhel village May 22, 2010, in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Afghan National Police meet up with Airmen and Soldiers assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, for a Shura mission in Omarkhel village May 22, 2010, in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

First Lieutenant Rebecca Heyse, an information officer assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, puts on her burka prior to entering Omarkhel village for a Shura May 22, 2010, in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

First Lieutenant Rebecca Heyse, an information officer assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, puts on her burka prior to entering Omarkhel village for a Shura May 22, 2010, in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

An Afghan man walks thru a dust storm May 22, 2010, near Omarkhel Village, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

An Afghan man walks thru a dust storm May 22, 2010, near Omarkhel Village, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Army Corporal Cal Sharff, an infantry soldier assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, grabs a quick bite before heading out on a Shura mission to a local village May 22, 2010. The purpose of a Shura is connecting Afghan villagers and their needs with their government officials. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Army Corporal Cal Sharff, an infantry soldier assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, grabs a quick bite before heading out on a Shura mission to a local village May 22, 2010. A Shura connects Afghan villagers and their needs with their government officials. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

A village elder speaks with Omar Gul, the Zabul Provincial Line Director of Irrigation, and Airmen assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, about the needs of the village and its people, during a Shura meeting May 22, 2010, in Omarkhel, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)
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A village elder speaks with Omar Gul, the Zabul Provincial Line Director of Irrigation, and Airmen assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, about the needs of the village and its people, during a Shura meeting May 22, 2010, in Omarkhel, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Villagers speak with Omar Gul front, Zabul Provincial Line Director of Irrigation, and Tech. Sgt. Jason Logan, intelligence NCOIC assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, about the needs of the village, during a Shura meeting May 22, 2010, in Omarkhel, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)
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Villagers speak with Omar Gul front, Zabul Provincial Line Director of Irrigation, and Tech. Sgt. Jason Logan, intelligence NCOIC assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, about the needs of the village, during a Shura meeting May 22, 2010, in Omarkhel, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

An Afghan National Police officer hands out coloring books to village children at the conclusion of a Shura May 22, 2010, Omarkhel, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)
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An Afghan National Police officer hands out coloring books to village children at the conclusion of a Shura May 22, 2010, Omarkhel, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Airmen and Soldiers assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul and Afghan National Police head back to their vehicles after a Shura meeting in Omarkhel village May 22, 2010, in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)
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Airmen and Soldiers assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul and Afghan National Police head back to their vehicles after a Shura meeting in Omarkhel village May 22, 2010, in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Afghan National Police and Afghan civilians wait for Airmen and Soldiers assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul,  to arrive at a village for a Shura meeting in the Omarkhel village May 22, 2010,in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)
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Afghan National Police and Afghan civilians wait for Airmen and Soldiers assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, to arrive at a village for a Shura meeting in the Omarkhel village May 22, 2010,in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

A village elder representing the village population speaks with Omar Gul, the Zabul Provincial Line Director of Irrigation, during a Shura May 22, 2010, in Omarkhel, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)
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A village elder representing the village population speaks with Omar Gul, the Zabul Provincial Line Director of Irrigation, during a Shura May 22, 2010, in Omarkhel, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

First Lieutenant Shane Futchko, a physician assistant assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, gears up for a foot patrol May 23, 2010, at Forward Operating Base Smart, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)
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First Lieutenant Shane Futchko, a physician assistant assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, gears up for a foot patrol May 23, 2010, at Forward Operating Base Smart, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Private First Class Scott Gaydos, security forces assigned to the Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, provides street security while other members of the PRT intermingle with the local people May 23, 2010, in Qalat City, Afghanistan.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)
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Private First Class Scott Gaydos, security forces assigned to the Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, provides street security while other members of the PRT intermingle with the local people May 23, 2010, in Qalat City, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Army Staff Sgt. Clarence Washington, security forces 3rd squad lead for Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, provides security during a foot patrol May 23, 2010, in Qalat City, Afghanistan. ?Our team is getting a chance to help build up Afghanistan and be a part of the projects and missions that benefit the people here in a different way,? Sergeant Washington said. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)
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Army Staff Sgt. Clarence Washington, security forces 3rd squad lead for Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, provides security during a foot patrol May 23, 2010, in Qalat City, Afghanistan. "Our team is getting a chance to help build up Afghanistan and be a part of the projects and missions that benefit the people here in a different way," Sergeant Washington said. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Afghan children pass Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul Airmen and Soldiers during a foot patrol, May 23, 2010, in Qalat City, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez)
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Afghan children pass Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul Airmen and Soldiers during a foot patrol, May 23, 2010, in Qalat City, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez)

Soldiers and Airmen assigned to the Zabul Provincial Reconstruction Team, head out of an entry control point for a foot patrol May 23, 2010, at Forward Operating Base Smart, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez)
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Soldiers and Airmen assigned to the Zabul Provincial Reconstruction Team, head out of an entry control point for a foot patrol May 23, 2010, at Forward Operating Base Smart, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez)

Dr. Jim Helton, U.S. Agency for International Development field program officer, working with Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, speaks with the Khalqdad Khan village elder during a meeting in the elder's home May 24, 2010, in Khaleqdad Khan, Afghanistan. ?As PRT Soldiers and Airmen funnel in and out they add to the reconstructive development and sustainability we build as a team," Dr. Helton said. "When we share the same vision and are well-integrated we are able to serve the people of Zabul as on single-minded unit focused on serving the Afghan people here.? (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)
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Dr. Jim Helton, U.S. Agency for International Development field program officer, working with Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, speaks with the Khalqdad Khan village elder during a meeting in the elder's home May 24, 2010, in Khaleqdad Khan, Afghanistan. "As PRT Soldiers and Airmen funnel in and out they add to the reconstructive development and sustainability we build as a team," Dr. Helton said. "When we share the same vision and are well-integrated we are able to serve the people of Zabul as on single-minded unit focused on serving the Afghan people here." (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Tech. Sgt. Eric Carter, a medic assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, speaks with a teammate during a requested medical check-up by the Khaleqdad Khan village elder after a Shura in his home May 24, 2010, in Khaleqdad Khan, Afghanistan. ?Getting to help people enjoy simple things like clean water, basic healthcare needs and freedom of movement is something I enjoy," Sergeant Carter said. "We have an opportunity to make a difference out here and I am glad to be a part of it.? (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)
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Tech. Sgt. Eric Carter, a medic assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, speaks with a teammate during a requested medical check-up by the Khaleqdad Khan village elder after a Shura in his home May 24, 2010, in Khaleqdad Khan, Afghanistan. "Getting to help people enjoy simple things like clean water, basic healthcare needs and freedom of movement is something I enjoy," Sergeant Carter said. "We have an opportunity to make a difference out here and I am glad to be a part of it." (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Afghan workers set the foundation for an indoor bathroom at the S.Malakhl Provincial Hospital, as First Lieutenant Keith Yelk, a civil engineer assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, checks the construction of a roof of an outpatient clinic during  a site visit May 27, 2010, in Qalat City, Afghanistan.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)
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Afghan workers set the foundation for an indoor bathroom at the S.Malakhl Provincial Hospital, as First Lieutenant Keith Yelk, a civil engineer assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, checks the construction of a roof of an outpatient clinic during a site visit May 27, 2010, in Qalat City, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Army Spc. Joshua Murphy, a security forces element member assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, relaxes at a fire pit, May 29, 2010, Forward Operating Base Smart, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)
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Army Spc. Joshua Murphy, a security forces element member assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, relaxes at a fire pit, May 29, 2010, Forward Operating Base Smart, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

Senior Airman Joshua Valind, a security forces Airman assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, grabs his cloths out of the laundry faculties May 29, 2010, Forward Operating Base Smart, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)
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Senior Airman Joshua Valind, a security forces Airman assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, grabs his clothes May 29, 2010, at Forward Operating Base Smart, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

"John," an interpreter working with Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, walks goats used for lawn care, May 29, 2010, at Forward Operating Base Smart, Afghanistan.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)
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"John," an interpreter working with Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, walks goats used for lawn care, May 29, 2010, at Forward Operating Base Smart, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/released)

ZABUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Total-Force Airmen and Soldiers with the Zabul Provincial Reconstruction Team are hoping to create a foundation Afghans can build upon for a better future.

"When our team arrived we adopted the call sign, Buynyad, which means 'foundation' in Afghanistan's Pashtu language," said Lt. Col. Erik Goepner, Zaburl PRT commander, deployed from Langley Air Force Base, Va. "Our goal is to help the Afghans build a solid foundation that they can build upon to benefit the people of Zabul for years to come."

Approximately 100 Airmen and Soldiers, working with representatives from the U.S. State Department, U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Agency of International Development work hand-in-hand with the Zabul Provincial Governor Mohommad Asraf Naseri to developed projects focused on assisting and meeting Afghan citizen's needs throughout 11 Districts in the region.

"Our representatives from the U.S. departments are here for the long-term," said Dr. Jim Helton, U.S. AID field program officer, who retired as a lieutenant colonel after 25 years in the U.S. Air Force. "As PRT Soldiers and Airmen funnel in and out they add to the reconstructive development and sustainability we build as a team. When we share the same vision and are well-intergraded we're able to serve the people of Zabul as one single-minded unit focused on serving the Afghan people here."

Currently the Zabul team has 14 PRT-led projects including reconstructing a bridge, hospital improvements, perimeter wall repairs, school construction and improvement, emergency road repairs, trash services, nursery security upgrades, and digging irrigation wells. These projects, coupled with several other operations led by Afghan government officials, are organized and prioritized for the best benefit to the people here.

"We have helped facilitate project coordination meetings developed by Afghan leadership in the region to improve communication and prioritize the best projects for Afghan citizens," said 1st Lt. Keith Yelk, PRT Zabul engineer, deployed from Nellis AFB, Nev. "It allows to better fulfill reconstruction needs in the region and builds credibility with the Afghan citizens and their government to meet their region's expectations."

The PRT also focuses on health and social issues affecting the local community. Projects like Smart Foods, a program for malnourished children; Clean Water, a program that provides Afghan families chlorine to kill bacteria in local water; working with with Zabul Province Women's Affairs, a program that addresses maternal needs; and Village Medical Outreach, a program that helps Afghan doctors address health concerns in local villages, gives servicemembers a chance to help with all aspects of Afghan society.

"Working out here really makes you realize what we take for granted in America," said Tech. Sgt. Eric Carter, PRT Zabul medical technician deployed from Shaw AFB, S.C. "Getting to help people enjoy simple things like clean water, basic healthcare needs and freedom of movement is something I enjoy. We have an opportunity to make a difference out here and I am glad to be a part of it."

For some service-members, projects here offer them unique perspective on Operation Enduring Freedom.

"Usually, when my unit is deployed it's strictly for kinetic purposes only," said Army Staff Sgt. Clarence Washington, PRT Zabul third-squad security forces lead deployed from the Pennsylvania National Guard's 110th Infantry Battalion in Connellsville, Pa. "Our team is getting a chance to help build up Afghanistan and be a part of the projects and missions that benefit the people here in a different way."

Stood up in 2004, the Zabul PRT shows no signs of stopping and is looking to build a brighter future for Afghanistan and its people.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of something unique," said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Loar, Zabul PRT information operations NCOIC, deployed from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. "We have a chance to help government officials make real change in the region and this is something I will never forget. I hope we can make a difference and most of all I hope the positive changes we make last."