FORWARD OPERATING BASE CHAPMAN, Afghanistan (NNS) -- Despite the good-hearted rivalry sometimes shared between the U.S. Army and Navy service members, Khost Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) members -- both Navy and Army alike -- have put their differences aside to complete their mission.
Made up of uniformed personnel from both services, the Khost PRT plays a key role in the development of Khost Province by funding and contracting projects including building schools, roads and hospitals.
This mission would not be possible without the complete and total teamwork of all its members, both Army and Navy.
"This is the first time I've ever been in a joint environment," said Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Jeffrey Caffey, Khost PRT. "I've never experienced the 'Army thing' before and, at first, it was a total culture shock."
The "culture shock" was best exemplified by his pre-deployment training at Fort Bragg, N.C.
"I think the biggest thing for the Navy guys was the ruck marches we went on," said Army Staff Sgt. Michael Sheets, civil affairs noncommissioned officer in charge,
Khost PRT. "I think it was difficult for the [Navy] guys, not because they couldn't handle it, but because they were so used to being on a ship. It was fun teaching the guys about marching formations, what way to point their weapon and things like that. They were completely cooperative the whole time and I don't think I've ever seen anyone group of guys more eager and willing to learn."
Caffey laughed at the recollection of the ruck marches, mentioning that, although he "walked" a lot during his Navy basic training, he had never before donned full
"battle-rattle" and walked for miles in formation.
Caffey and Sheets work together as a team in the district center in Tani, a small district in Khost. They live among the Afghan people, helping to rebuild the area through funding and reconstruction projects.
"We work with the local government officials and police officers to ensure the continued stability of the district," Caffey said. "They are an all-around good group and I feel proud that they are doing what's
best for their citizens."
Straddling the halfway mark of their deployment, the good-hearted rivalry has disappeared.
"I don't even see a difference anymore, it's just one big team," Caffey said.
Before their deployment to Afghanistan, neither Caffey nor Sheets worked in a joint environment. Despite the lack of previous joint assignments, both Caffey and Sheets, along with their entire unit bonded so quickly that they believe any type of initial rivalry was trivial and "elementary."
"I'm completely shocked at how everyone left their egos at the door and came together to be the best possible unit," Sheets said. "We have a good government to work with in this province, and because we work so well as a team, I feel good about the future of our district."
For more news from Provincial Reconstruction Team, Khost Afghanistan, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/PRTKhost/.