War on Terrorism

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

In fields of Afghanistan, a diverse Kentucky Guard group comes together



By Sgt. Paul Evans
Kentucky National Guard

FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan - More than  halfway through their mission, Kentucky National Guard's Agribusiness Development Team 4 leaders seemed to agree that their diverse assembly of Soldiers, Airmen, and Civilian Agricultural Specialists from across Kentucky-and a few from outside the state-finally started to find its rhythm.

ADT 4 has worked in southern Afghanistan to help educate farmers on improved farming and business techniques since February 2012.

“Getting a diverse team, trying to find people that had experience with each other, it was a balancing act," Maj. Walter Leaumont said of the initial selection process. "You want to get a spread, but you’re looking for the same qualities in people. Are they willing to play as a team member? What kind of experience do they have? Do they have any agricultural experience?”

 “There were people who came on board that did not mobilize with us, that we realized shortly into the program they were not going to fit into the
 team,” he continued. “A lot of that, no matter how much you do pre-vetting, some of that’s just got to be whenever you hit the ground,” said ADT 4’s commander, Col. Tommy Barrier. “We certainly went through that.”

 “We formed together well,” said Barrier, of Versailles, Ky. “Everybody was excited and motivated to come here, and we explained to them that this was not a kinetic (fighting) mission. We explained to them that this was an Agribusiness Development Team, and that we would be doing more technical stuff than we would be doing kinetic stuff.”

 “I think some folks were a little disappointed in the beginning because you get hyped up, you go through the train-up, you go through Wendell H. Ford (Regional Training Center), and all they teach you is the kinetic piece of this,” Barrier said.

“So, it’s kind of when you get here, we’re not kicking doors, and we’re not doing combat patrols, but we are helping the Afghan government, the Afghan people, and the agricultural people,” Barrier said.

“I’ve seen deployments where it takes a little time, and I’ve seen deployments where it takes a little bit longer time (to get a unit working together),” Barrier continued. “This (ADT 4) one was one of those ones where it took a little bit longer to get everybody gelled together.”

 “One of the differences about this unit and the unit that’s normally mobilized, this unit was completely made up from different (units)…different backgrounds, different MOS’s (military occupational specialties). It wasn’t a unit that worked together prior to this,” Barrier added.

“Since we are a nonstandard mission…I didn’t want to hamper by taking too much out of one unit,” Leaumont explained about his recruiting strategy. “Although we did take a lot out of the 103rd (Brigade Support Battalion) and the 138th Fires Brigade in general, also out of the 63rd (Aviation Brigade), there were other units we looked at.”

Over halfway into the mission, Barrier and Leaumont both seemed to agree that ADT 4 had finally started to function as an effective team.“It took a little time to find everybody’s niche,” Barrier recalled. “Almost everybody in this organization has two or three talents that they can do, and that’s the kind of person we need.”

 “Honestly, I feel like it’s been a little slow, but we anticipated that at the beginning,” Sgt. Bobby Sizemore said.

“We’ve had snags here and there,” said Sizemore, of Lawrenceburg, Ky.  “Altogether, I think we’re working through them; that things are getting better.”

"The people that you’re with, you won’t ever really forget them,” Sizemore added. “You’ll always have that connection because you served time together.”

At the end of the day, Leaumont summed up ADT 4’s accomplishments so far with a simple observation.

“When you sit there and see people succeeding, it’s nice to know that we had a little bit of a part in that.”

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