War on Terrorism

Monday, May 21, 2012

Wisconsin Guard ADT conducts last agribusiness mission, prepares for change

By Air National Guard 2nd Lt. Stephen Montgomery
Wisconsin National Guard

KUNAR PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN -- The Wisconsin National Guard’s 82nd Agribusiness Development Team conducted its final mission as an ADT in Asadabad’s Agriculture Compound May 9, but the Soldiers and Airmen will remain in country to serve in other capacities.

Approximately 25 of the 58 Soldiers and Airmen will head to Kunar Province to join a provincial reconstruction team - which aids Afghani leaders and civilians improve security, rebuild infrastructure and bolster efficiency of the Afghan central government.

Nearly all of the remaining ADT members will join a task force in Kabul to serve a variety of roles with a police advisory team there.

“We are ready for what is next,” said Army Col. Darrel Feucht, commander of the Wisconsin-based unit. “The Soldiers and Airmen of this unit are some of the best Wisconsin has to offer.”

The 82nd ADT has been in-country for about two months and has conducted a variety of missions including providing guidance to a Key Leader Engagement with the Department of Women’s Affairs (DOWA).

There are limited opportunities for women to work outside the home in Kunar, according to Wisconsin Army National Guard Capt. Sarah Bammel, who served as the ADT’s hydrologist.

In one of the ADT’s final missions, the team helped DOWA to find ways that woman can work in the home and still help to provide for their families.

“[They have] a whole department for this,” Bammel said. “They are moving in the right direction.”

While larger cities, such as Jalalabad and Kabul, are fairly progressive by Afghan standards, Asadabad and Kunar Province are still very much traditional -- a big part of this being the rural culture of the region, she said.

The National Guard has successfully used the agribusiness development team concept in Central America for the past two decades, drawing on the rich farming experience of many Guard members. The Guard brought the concept to Afghanistan in 2007. The initiative capitalizes on the skills of its Citizen Soldiers to give a developing democracy a safer and more productive way to feed its people.

The Wisconsin National Guard began forming its team in 2010, and the unit trained for 12 months before reporting for active duty in February and completing mobilization training at Camp Atterbury, Ind.

Their preparation and training will continue to be of use as they serve with the PRT, as well as in other capacities.

“We have been able to reap the rewards of having conducted ourselves as the 82nd ADT for a time in Kunar Province and can now be proud that we are part of Afghan and Wisconsin history,” Feucht said.

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