By Lt. Col. Keith Moore
Arkansas National Guard
Members of the Arkansas National Guard's Agriculture Development Team (ADT) destined for deployment to Afghanistan later this spring have begun their pre-mobilization training here this week. The training focuses on a myriad of Soldier skills the Army has outlined as common tasks that are required skills for all Soldiers and Airmen deploying into the Southwest Asia theater of operations. The Soldiers and Airmen of the ADT have been absorbing a series of briefings and conducting hands-on training in weapons maintenance and combative skills.
"We have an outstanding group of Soldiers and Airmen who have volunteered for this important mission, and they demonstrate daily the skill and motivation to exceed the Army's standards throughout this training period," said Col. Stephen Redman, the ADT commander.
The mission of the Arkansas ADT in Afghanistan is to assist the provincial and district director of agriculture irrigation and livestock with specialized expertise to develop programs and projects with Afghan farmers designed to increase agricultural production, generate jobs and reinvigorate their agricultural economic system.
Arkansas is one of 10 states whose National Guard is fielding teams of agricultural specialists to Afghanistan to carry out this important mission to rebuild the agriculture system there.
The Soldiers and Airmen of the Arkansas Army and Air National Guard which have volunteered for this mission not only bring their "Soldiering" skills to this mission, many also have civilian expertise or experience in row crop farming, cattle and poultry production, medicine and marketing.
These civilian-acquired skills provide the Guardsmen an exceptional foundation from which to convey practical solutions to farming issues for Afghan farmers. The Guardsmen have also received up-to-date agricultural training from the Division of Agriculture at the University of Arkansas and the Cooperative Extension Service.
The members of the Arkansas ADT will continue training here throughout the month of January and are projected to move to their mobilization station in Indiana in early February with a projected deployment to Afghanistan some time in March.