From the blog Registan by Joshua Foust Opium Season, by Joel Hafvenstein

Probably the most interesting portion of the beginning passages of the book, aside from the sinking feeling that accompanies the “I was clueless but willing, so they sent me” meme, is Hafvenstein’s discussion of how USAID and their contractors operate. It is a realm measured not by sustainable development projects, but by how much money gets churned through these companies. The project he is to lead in Lashkar Gah is not meant to be a sustainable development program, but merely a crash course in flooding the local markets with cash in the hopes that it is enough to keep people out of the poppy fields long enough for the eradication teams to bulldoze them out of existence. Buried into this, and it is not unique to his company Chemonics by any stretch, is the silly arrogance of all-purpose consulting firms. Chemonics can throw together a proposal to: “clean up air pollution in Cairo, train Russian judges, help Ugandans export cut flowers,” and so on, all on a few hours’ notice. The defense industry is much the same way: companies bid on so many things they couldn’t possibly be qualified for, merely because they have the resources to hire (one hopes) the right people for the job.
From the blog Registan by Joshua Foust Learning from PRTs

In my last look at Provincial Reconstruction Teams, I made a plea of sorts to critically examine the effectiveness of PRTs (which has indeed been oversold), but not to abandon the concept entirely. The relative paucity of research on PRT methods, effectiveness, and theory is rather surprising, given that the military is in the midst of a vast transformation toward a civilian-positive focused model of warfighting (for lack of a better phrase), and the PRTs constitute a major component of this. (The recent SWJ post by Dave Kilcullen on road building in Afghanistan is a perfect example: the PRT in Kunar is coordinating, funding, and sometimes directly constructing the roads there.)
For perhaps understandable reasons, very little comes from PRTs in the public sphere, save press release-style reports about how wonderful they are. Better interfacing with both civilian aid agencies, as well as analysts and reporters who cover the area and may have a much deeper knowledge of local and regional events and problems, could pay tremendous dividends in PRT effectiveness. The CSIS report mentions a much more liberal attitude toward freeing information and generating community than the PRTs have seen in either theatre—these, too, could be effective ways of adding multipliers to the PRTs’ efforts.

Despite these many challenges, there remains a tremendous value to the PRTs in Afghanistan. In many places, they are one of the only agencies there to fund large scale development projects, such as roads, micro hydro power plants, and government building construction. These criticisms and suggestions should be seen in that context—taking a generally good idea and increasing its potential to sow good.
From the blog Registan by Joshua Foust The Problem with PRTs

When Medicins Sans Frontières abandoned Afghanistan in 2004, its primary complaint was that the U.S. had, in effect, “militarized” aid by embedding aid workers in military units—the Provincial Reconstruction Teams—and ruining the supposed neutrality of purely civilian aid groups. After five of their workers were murdered, the group declared the situation had become intolerable and closed up shop.