Task Force Hurricane takes on agribusiness development mission

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Story by Spc. James Wilton

(republished from DVIDS – Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System)

Photo by Spc. James Wilton. The Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team III, Task Force Hurricane, stand in formation during a transfer of authority ceremony at Bagram Airfield, April 18. The KY ADT III replaced the KY ADT II in the Parwan, Panjshir and Kapisa area of operations.

PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Kentucky National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team II, Task Force Ironhorse, welcomed their replacements, the KY ADT III, Task Force Hurricane, during a transfer of authority ceremony at Bagram Air Field, April 18.

The ADT program began in 2008 and brings 10 to 12 agriculture and agribusiness experts to Afghanistan to teach and mentor local farmers. Supported by a headquarters and security element, the team uses their civilian skills to develop and improve the quality of life for the Afghan people across Regional Command-East, which has eight ADTs, and Regional Command-South, which has one team.

“This has been a long and productive deployment, but ADTs do not work in a vacuum,” said U.S. Army Col. Hunter J. Mathews, the KY ADT II commander from Lexington, Ky. “Everything we have been able to accomplish is due to the cooperation and assistance of our partners and friends.”

The ADT conducted more than 450 missions on 32 major development projects and 100 quick impact projects in Parwan, Panjshir and Kapisa Provinces. These projects restored irrigation canals, improved agricultural education and introduced beekeeping and poultry business skills to improvised women, along with many other projects. The team also worked to strengthen the competency, professionalism and effectiveness of the Afghan government’s agriculture officials, which they consider to be there greatest accomplishment.

“The most important thing we did was sitting down with the Director of Irrigation Agriculture and Livestock and working with him to use his staff more effectively, teaching him to get his district-level people out of the office and into the village, helping the local farmers,” said Mathews.

It is this focus and expertise, he said, that makes the ADTs so effective–allowing them to have a large impact on the lives and future of the Afghan people. That level of determination is also evident in the KY ADT III’s hope for their rotation through Afghanistan.

“We are going to continue along the same lines of operations that the ADT II has already set in stone, so that we can finish up some of the projects they have already started,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Neil T. Mullaney, the KY ADT III commander from Louisville, Ky. “But we want to further develop the youth education. After going to visit the Kapisa Agriculture Institute (KAI) we see a great opportunity there. By focusing more on the younger generations of Afghanistan we think that that will be more fruitful for the long term.”

Education is a very important part of ADT III’s plan for their deployment which includes projects in both KAI and the Alberoni University also in Kapisa, said Mullaney.

Continuity is also on the side of the ADT, the fact that the Afghan people see the same patch and hear the same accent when they deal with the Kentucky unit lets them know that they are dealing with the same family. Along with that many of the members from the both units have known each other for many years and have a strong working relationship, which transfers over to a consistent dissemination of information before and after the transfer.

“Additionally two people on his team, left just a year ago with KY ADT I, so he has two guys on his team that know where they’re going, know the DAIL and know our provinces,” said Mathews, when speaking about the continuity between the groups “I also have one guy from my team, the operations non-commissioned officer that is staying with him. He already knows the procedures and knows who to work with, so that also helps a lot.”

This consistency and focus on education means that the new ADT will build on the successes of the pervious unit, break new ground and create their own milestones as well as pave the way for their brothers in arms, KY ADT IV when they make their way here, in another year.

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