Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Operation Agriculture


Agricultural Development Teams deploy farming experts to help rebuild Afghanistan's wartorn food system.

When most National Guard units prepare to deploy to Afghanistan, they focus on tactical training—land navigation, weapons skills, working with interpreters, counter-IED techniques, basic first aid.

But Colonel Eric Ahlness, commander of the Minnesota National Guard’s Zabul Agribusiness Development Team, or ADT, brought his unit to an Amish farm.

The goal? To wrap their minds around the constraints of farming without modern mechanizations. “I wanted us to begin thinking in a different way,” Ahlness explained.

After all, when Ahlness and his team arrived in the Zabul province of Afghanistan in the fall of 2011, they were there on a unique mission: to work with local government and the local farmers, the majority of whom had no access to modern amenities of any kind. Their task—to help rebuild a sustainable agricultural economy in a country long torn apart by war—bridged the gap between hope and conflict.

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