The Muleskinner Report Mo Agri-Business Development Team IV V O L U M E
DRIVING THE TEAM Commander Col. Fortune Deputy Commander Lt. Col. Charles Senior Enlisted Senior Master Sgt. Blankenship
INSIDE THIS ISSUE: Transition into the Mission
The Muleskinner Team
ADT IV Coming Through
One Under the Belt
Meet the Team
Pictures from the field
Resources and contacts
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A U G U S T
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Commander’s Corner Working toward an end state
lthough we have only been on the ground in Afghanistan for about three weeks now, the fourth iteration of the Missouri A g r i - B u s i n e s s D e ve l o p me n t T ea m i s already immersing itself in its mission. Initially, we are continuing to pursue the projects that ADT III left behind, but we are also aggr essi vel y gathering information and assessing the situation here to determine what direction we should take to maximize our impact during our tour. In simple terms, we feel that our contribution to the counterinsurgency effort here in Afghanistan will depend on our ability to accurately assess how the agriculture community in Nangarhar is functioning n o w , h o w w e t hi n k i t should function when the MO ADT mission is complete, and what actions we need to take to quickly and effectively get us from the current situation to the end-state.
But we must also consider the context in which we operate. The political situation in Afghanistan is complex, continually evolving, and varies from province to province. In a handbook developed specifically for the U.S. military by International Government Ser vices, aut hor Chris Corsten sums up the current political situation in Nangarhar very succinctly:
w ar f ar e . G o ver n me nt records associated with land ownership have been destroyed, the physical infrastructure is in ruins, public lands have been largely deforested, and symbiotic relationships that once existed between and among government and other organizations have been severed. At the same time, the population has continued to increase with time.
“Nangarharis have been supportive of the central government. However … Nangarhar is a province caught in the middle, between insurgents and the government and international community … Frustration with authorities over corruption and the [slow] pace of development has led to mistrust and a lack of cooperation. The government’s strong antipoppy stance has alienated many farmers who are struggling for a better life, while watching corrupt government officials become rich.”
Still, if we are to be successful here, we must force ourselves to envision a future that is peaceful , sustainable, and achievable. For t he agricultural sector to function acceptably after we have left, we believe the MO ADTs – currently there are a total of six planned – must provide a legacy that looks something like this:
Like the other provinces within Afghanistan, Nangarhar has been devastated by 30 years of
Each of the 22 districts has at least one effective A gr i cul t ur e Ext ensi on Agent (AEA) with a f ac i l i t y a nd r es o ur c es capabl e of conduct i ng agriculture training and soil testing.
Working toward an end state • AEAs have the resources (e.g. means of transportation, visual aids, lab equipment, training support packages, etc.), leadership skills, teaching skills, dependability, and dedication they need to effectively serve the farmers in their districts. • AEAs are able to effectively and transparently manage projects and administer their programs. • Each AEA actively maintains or manages a small demonstration farm and utilizes it to show local farmers new technologies that will gradually increase their productivity over time. • Local farmers know, trust, and appreciate the contributions and importance of their district AEA and attend regularly scheduled classes at the district Agriculture Extension Center • Classes teach farmers how to increase the productivity and quality of their agricultural products, and also how to better store, preserve, transport, and market those products; eventually, farmers learn a process by which they can improve their own agriculture without the continuous help of the AEA
them, and holds them accountable for their performance. • The DAIL's staff is fully manned, trained, and resourced to support the AEAs, and there is a process in place to allow the staff to effectively and transparently administer the DAIL‘s program • The DAIL leverages the media to regularly communicate with and help educate farmers across Nangarhar • Nangarhar University and local Agricultural High Schools continue to graduate increasingly competent Ag professionals who are dedicated to serving their community. • Nangarhar University actively conducts agricultural and market research and feeds the results of that research to the DAIL, his staff, and the AEAs.
• Agricultural entrepreneurs have access to credit. • The Director of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (DAIL) has a comprehensive training plan for his AEAs, actively trains
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Nangarhar University and the DAIL as needed. • Local government manages tribal, clan, and familial relationships to ensure equitable distribution of support and services We believe that if we can help the government reach this level of functionality, the farmers of Nangarhar will be increasingly satisfied with the services provided by their government, will experience continuous improvements in prosperity, and will therefore be unwilling to join, support, or even tolerate the insurgency. In next month‘s edition of the newsletter, I plan to address the issue of corruption in Afghanistan and how the ADT plans to combat it at our level.
• Missouri strategic partners (Lincoln University, the University of Missouri, the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the Missouri Farm Bureau, and the Missouri Co-op Association) provide "reach back" capability to
• Farmers and local government maintain accurate agricultural records, to include production yields, to facilitate improvements in agri-business management and administration.
Lt. Col. North Charles takes notes during a key leader engagement in the key terrain district of Rodat.
The counterinsurgency effort in Nangarhar takes the Team leadership to the Governor’s Palace as well as district centers in primitive and remote locations in order to build the lines of communication and support between the people and the government. Above: Sgt. 1st Class Ralph Travis, members of the Provincial Reconstruction Team and others enter a wing of the Governor’s Palace to discuss business and then enjoy a large banquet style Afghan dinner.
Transition into the mission By Lt. Col. North Charles
The ADT III member, Master Sgt. Lilliman, Dr. Gary Hart, USDA, and Staff Sgt. Robert Pharris, an agriculture specialist with ADT IV, meet with community leaders from Rodat District to discuss a solar well project that was completed by ADT III, as part of the Advance Party “right seat ride” conducted in Nangarhar Province.
United States has been rotating armed forces in and out of the current overseas contingency operations since 2002. Over these eight years, the Army has developed a fairly robust set of procedures for preparing and transitioning units. Previous editions of The Muleskinner discussed the preparation – the PreDeployment Site Survey, Pre-Mobilization Training and PostMobilization Training – required to prepare a unit for operations overseas.
T hr ee separ at e and distinct elements make up the transition phase. The first component is an Advance Detachment. The second element is a Relief-In-Place. The final phase is a Transfer Of Authority. All Army units – Active
Component, Reserve and National Guard – follow these same procedures. T h e Ad va n c e Detachment‘s task is to prepare for the arrival of the main body. Lt. Col. North Charles, Capt.Ken Huenink, Sgt.1st Class Damon Gates, Sgt. 1st Class Dean Travis, Staff Sgt. Keith Reynolds and Staff Sgt. Bob Pharris s e r ve d a s A DT IV ‘ s Advance Detachment. ADT IV‘s Advance Detachment departed Camp Atterbury on July 19 at 2 a.m. EST. On July 25, following stops in Louisville, Ky.; Dallas; Germany; Kuwait; and Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan; the Advance Detachment eventually arri ved at Forward Operating Base Finley-Shields. The Advance Detachment worked alongside ADT III to inventory property, learn the most current Tactics, Techniques and Procedures and, by way of video teleconference, share these up-to-date lessons with the Main Body, which was still participating in training at Camp Atterbury. The next phase in a typical unit transition is the Relief In Place. During a RIP, the incoming unit
accompanies the outgoing unit on missions. This is frequently referred to as t he ―r i ght seat r i de‖ meaning the incoming unit rides in the passenger seat while the outgoing unit drives. As the RIP progresses the outgoing unit t r ansit i ons mor e and more responsibility for the mission to the incoming unit. This is sometimes called the ―left seat ride‖ as the incoming unit takes over driving responsibilities, figuratively speaking. A typical RIP overlap can be as short as five days and as long as ten days, depending on the complexity of the mission, capability of the FOB to handle surge h o u s i n g , a n d transportation of incoming and outgoing troops. Due to transportation scheduling issues, ADT IV had no RIP with ADT III. To mitigate this shortfall, ADT III formed a Rear Detachment of 11 Soldiers and Airmen to remain at FOB FinleyShields to conduct an abbreviated RIP. Additonally, the commander, senior enlisted advisor and the (Continued on page 4)
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agriculture team chief were able to arrive four days earlier than the main body to Finley-Shields to begin the RIP process. As soon as the main body of ADT IV arrived, the unit began organizing and preparing for their first mission. ADT III‘s Rear Detachment accompanied ADT IV on the first several convoys, but within just a few days ADT IV was prepared to assume the Nangarhar ADT mission. This success was due, in large part, to the intense coordination that had taken place between the two units in the months leading up to the RIP. The final phase of mission transition is the Transfer Of Authority ceremony. Similar to a Change Of Command ceremony, a TOA provides a visual, defined moment when a Task Force Commander relieves an outgoing commander of responsibility and charges the incoming commander with responsibility for the mission. On Aug. 10 at 10 a.m., ADT IV‘s TOA was conducted on the stage of the old outdoor theater on FOB Finley -Shields. This theater was built by the Sovi ets when the Soviet Ar my quartered troops here. The building currently houses the Security Forces Platoon of the Provincial Reconstruction Team - another unit assigned to Finley-Shields - and serves as an Observation Post helping to protect the FOB. Lt. Col. Randy Harris, the Deputy Commander of Task Force Bastogne, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, officiated at the ceremony. Fortune‘s remarks highlighted ADT IV‘s focus on building the capacity of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, specifically by enabling the Agriculture Extension Agents. He
also praised ADT III f or t heir assistance and expressed ADT IV‘s commitment to support TF Bastogne‘s counterinsurgency operations. H a r r i s r e co u nt ed AD T I I I‘ s successes and charged ADT IV to assume the mission. At 10:30 a.m. ADT IV officially began operations as the Nangarhar ADT. In an Aug. 1, 2010 memo, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the Commander of International Security Assistance Force, specifically highlighted the challenges we face as an Army as we constantly transition units in and out of the fight. He urged all ISAF leaders to ―maintain continuity through unit transitions.‖
Solid transitions are one of the strongest arguments for National Guard units from the same state deploying back-to-back as ADTs into the same province. One of the greatest strengths of the National Guard is our internal coordination and ability to work with follow-on forces. Transitioning into a challenging mission in combat is not an easy task. T he Ar my‘ s cur rent thr ee -st ep process of Advance Detachment, RIP and TOA achieves continuity of effort. National Guard units are especially well-suited to missions such as ADTs which require a high level of continuity from one team to the next.
“ The final phase of mission transition is the Transfer of Authority ceremony.”
Left: Col. Michael Fortune takes the MONG ADT guidon from Lt. Col. Randy Harris, formally accepting the Nangarhar ADT mission.
Civilian Partnerships By Lt. Col. Raymond Legg
Dr. Gary Hart, veterinarian, USDA, catches a ride in an MRAP next to Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Wendelin, Security Force Platoon, to attend a Provincial Development Council meeting at the governor’s palace. The ADT provides transportation and security while he conducts business for USDA, usually working alongside the ADT.
he work to help the people of Nangarhar Province re-establish their agricultural economy requires the concentrated and coordinated efforts of multiple U.S. agencies and nongovernmental organizations working together. Previous issues of the Muleskinner Report have discussed the importance of ADT IV‘s strategic partners in Missouri. In addition to our strategic partners, ADT IV is also privileged to work with two U.S. government agencies in Afghanistan — the U.S. Agency for
International Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. THE
By working with these U.S. government agencies ADT IV can increase its reach and effectiveness. USAID is represented at Forward Operating Base Finley-Shields, by three reliable and expert agents, Bob Smith, George Roemer and Rodney Stubina. Each of them have extensive experience in agricultural development and possess invaluable knowledge of development and governance issues. The Agriculture Section works closely with USAID to provide ADT IV with detailed information regarding province-wide project planning efforts in Afghanistan. USAID works through four primary implementing partners, IDEA-NEW; Afghanistan Water and Technology Transfer; Accelerating Agricultural Program; Commercial Horticulture and Agricultural Marketing Program; and the International Foundation for Hope. Each of these programs supports key initiatives in Nangarhar province. Consistent with ADT IV‘s vision of developing agricultural extension and education throughout the province, we will work
closely with all four USAID programs in supporting and developing agricultural extension in Nangarhar. ADT IV works with AWATT in efforts to restore watersheds throughout Nangarhar Province. AWATT‘s goal is to break the deforestation cycle endemic to many areas of Afghanistan through two primary programs. One program will create examples of sustainable farming through demonstration projects. Those demonstration projects include revitalizing depleted soil by intercropping to include nitrogen fixing forage. AWATT is also working to alter the downward spiral of deforestation caused by years of intensive grazing on the hillsides which allows valuable top soil to be washed into the watershed. ADT IV will be partnering with AWATT to support both of these important programs. The USDA is represented at FOB FinleyShields by Dr. Gary Hart, a veterinarian from New Mexico. Hart assists the team with animal husbandry issues throughout the province and works closely with Staff Sgt. Robert Pharris, the (Continued on page 6)
Partnerships (Continued from page 5)
team‘s small ruminant specialist. One of the key roles that these two U.S. government agencies provide the team is ensuring that we do not duplicate the efforts of other U.S. development agencies and NGOs working in Nangarhar. They also provide insight based on their experience and expertise into the realities of working in agricultural development and help identify key individuals and available resources to ensure all our projects are successful. As previously mentioned, one of ADT IV‘s main efforts will be to facilitate the development of agriculture extension in Afghanistan. ADT IV is also working to complete two agriculture extension centers and planning to build additional agricultural extension centers in what our higher headquarters has termed ―key terrain districts‖. Those agriculture extension centers will be used by agriculture extension agents to provide training to local Afghan farmers. The technical and professional expertise USAID and USDA provide will enable the Nangarhar Director of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock and his agriculture extension agents to provide sustainable and dynamic agriculture training to farmers throughout Nangarhar province. The U.S. effort to assist the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to reinvigorate its historically vibrant agricultural economy can only be accomplished through the mutually supported efforts of USAID, USDA and ADTs. By working together toward a shared vision, these organizations can provide development programs that directly benefit individual Afghan farmers and support the United State‘s counterinsurgency mission in Afghanistan.
By Capt Marie Orlando
Known as a white beard, or ―spinghiray‖, an elder, George Roemer is flattered that when he speaks, people now pay attention, both Afghans and U.S. military members. However, few people in Nangarhar from either country have the background and experience that is so well suited to meet the challenges of agricultural development in the province of Nangarhar.
By Capt. Marie Orlando
The United States Department of Agriculture is represented in Nangarhar by Dr. Gary Hart. Dr. Hart is on loan to the Foreign Agriculture Service from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service-Veterinary Services branch of USDA where he works in Albuquerque, N.M., as an epidemiologist. Hart has completed seven months of his one-year obligation to serve in Nangarhar. ―I despise the term ‗expert‘. The USDA calls me an agriculture expert but I refer to myself as an agriculture advisor,‖, he said right up front. He maintains that sense of humbleness in all that he does. It takes some prodding from his USAID counter-part, George Roemer, to have him admit that his background includes more than veterinary medicine; Hart has a bachelor‘s degree in Agronomy from Ohio State, a master‘s and Ph.D. in Soil Physics, as well as a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ironically, both Roemer of USAID and Hart attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but they hadn‘t met prior to coming to Afghanistan. ―It‘s what I thought it would be– it‘s what I expected‖, he said. Early in his tour, Hart attended a (Continued on page 10)
Roemer is a Field Program Officer assigned to administer, monitor and suggest programs associated with development funding appropriated by Congress. He also works as a mentor to the four Afghan deputy field program officers in Nangarhar. Furthermore, he serves as an agriculture development subject matter expert to the Agri-Business Development Team. Roemer came to Afghanistan from the town of Rubicon, Wis. where he lives with his wife of 39 years, Susan. He is a third generation dairy and crop farmer and he worked his own 300 acre farm for 30 years. He has degrees from the University of Wisconsin(Continued on page 13)
The Muleskinner Team Mo Agri-business Development Team IV V O L U M E
Ramadan, proundounced “Ramazan”, began at sundown on August 10 and lasts until sunset on Sep 9
On the evening between the 26 and 27th days of Ramamdan, Muslims celebrate Laylat-ul-Qadr, The Night of Power, which is approximately Sep 5
Three days after Ramadan, they continue to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, Sep 10-12
INSIDE THIS SECTION: ADT IV Coming Through
One Under the Belt
Meet the Team
Pictures from the Field
Back at the homestead
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A U G U S T
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was a long and arduous journey but the Airmen and Soldiers of ADT IV finally arrived here in Nangarhar province on August 10 after seven days of travel and immediately began to take over where ADT III left off.
Rodat, Shinwar, and Nazyan. We also visited the Governor's palace, Nangarhar University, an olive orchard, and numerous small villages. For the most part, we were very well received at Although the bulk of each of these ADT III was gone by the time the ADT IV main body locations. arrived, several key ADT III Since leaders stayed behind to arriving at assist in the transition and Finleywere a tremendous help. I Shields FOB, would especially like to all three thank 1LT Stokes, MSG components of ADT IV Lilleman, and MAJ Elfrink the SECFOR (SECurity of ADT III for sharing their FORces) platoon, the "lessons learned" and doing Agriculture section, and the everything they could to set Headquarters section - have the ADT IV team up for worked very hard to become success during their short familiar with their responsibilities and to time with us. develop a good "battle Within the first few rhythm" for their operations days of our arrival here, here. ADT IV was already
Initially, the ADT IV Agriculture section is focusing on closing out legacy projects left behind by ADT III while gathering information to assess the situation here.
conducting missions to District Centers across the Nangarhar province to meet with district sub-governors and Agriculture Extension Agents.
We will also maintain what the Army calls a "running estimate" that will tell us if we need to change course at a later date. This process will help ensure we maximize our overall contribution to the counterinsurgency effort while we‘re here.
Between August 12 and 22, we visited the districts of Surkh Rod, Khogyani, Kuz Kunar, Dari Nor,
The SECFOR platoon, in particular, is already fully functional thanks to some excellent instruction by 1LT Stokes and some outstanding initiative and leadership by ADT IV NCOs, Soldiers, and Airmen.
At the same time, the ADT IV deputy commander, LTC North Charles, is working with the Agriculture section leader, LTC Ray Legg, to develop a campaign plan that will guide the MO ADT's actions through the next year and beyond. While previous ADTs focused on specific brick and mortar projects, our plan will put Agriculture Extension at the forefront.
ADT IV Coming Through By 1st Lt. Jeremy Berendzen
A After traveling through several sunrises, and stops in three countries, the team was happy to finally arrive at Forward Operating Base Finley– Shields in Nangarhar Province.
Catching up on sleep while waiting for a flight out of Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan.
fter two months of training, much anticipation, and about a week of travel, ADT IV‘s main body – the ―Muleskinners‖ – arrived at FOB FinleyShields in Jalalabad, Afghanistan on Aug 10. Prior to our departure, our final formation was at midnight on August 3rd. It was a dual purpose formation; first we checked for accountability of each other and our sensitive items and then the commander promoted 2nd Lt. Richard Wischmeyer to 1st lieutenant. We left Camp Atterbury immediately afterward and boarded our plane at Indianapolis Airport at 4:30 a.m. After a nine hour flight we touched down in Germany.
After palletizing the duffle bags several times, everyone was happy to unload them for the last time .
While there we were allowed to relax and shop for about two hours. Some team members bought souve-
nirs, some had a bratwurst with kraut and mustard, and others just sat quietly or chatted with comrades. During our stop, a few of the guys were lucky enough to hear an incredible story from our horticulture expert, Sgt. Guadalupe Rios. Rios was born in Mexico City and at the age of 17, crossed into the U.S. illegally through Tijuana. Since arriving here in 1995, he has learned to speak English, earned his G.E.D., become an American citizen, finished his four-year degree, gotten married, and joined the Missouri National Guard. Our next leg of the trip lasted about six hours and took us to Manas Airbase in Kyrgyzstan. Manas was a nice facility and very well organized. However, we were there for less than 24 hours before securing our flight to Afghanistan. Leaving Manas in the middle of the night, we arrived at Bagram
Airbase on August 6 in the early morning and were led out to Camp Warrior, the area we would stay for the next four days. Camp Warrior did provide us with some meager comforts such as bedding and food, but in hindsight, most of us would have rather stayed at Manas longer and Bagram less. Early in the morning of August 9, half of us flew out of Bagram to Jalalabad Airfield located on Forward Operating Base Fenty. It was only about a 20 minute flight. We were met at Fenty by members of ADTIII and our own advance party and were taken the mile that separates FOB Fenty from our new home, FOB FinleyShields, in a convoy of MRAP vehicles. Upon arrival, the first half of us started to settle in and receive our mandatory welcome briefings, but the second half of the main body was delayed at Bagram and did not ar(Continued on page 14)
One under the belt By 1st Lt. Jody McCall
n August 12 ADT-IV successfully conducted its first mission in Afghanistan after two months of pre- and post-deployment training at Camp Clark, Mo. and Camp Atterbury, Ind.
Spec. Ethan Coulson leads a convoy vehicle out the entry control point on its way to visit Surkh Rod District Center. The first mission was one of many others that followed over the next two weeks as part of the initial introduction of the agriculture team to the key leaders they will be interacting with during their stay in Nangarhar Province.
The mission to Surkh Rod District Center, southwest of Jalalabad, was led by Col. Michael Fortune in conjunction with members of the Security Force Platoon and Agriculture Section. The team members were able to speak with the area‘s police chief and conduct a market survey at a local market place. The team also visited one of the cold storage projects started by ADT III that was located a short walk down
the street from the District Center. Mr. Ghaur, the caretaker who has been employed by the District Center for over 30 years, led the team into the compound where the cold storage facility was located and served as our tour guide. He told the team that he volunteers his time because of his commitment to his people and his government. The Ag team members inspected the project which was nearly complete, and later prepared a report on the project to summarize their observations. During the team‘s visit, the local Afghans were very friendly. As they drove by, the children would give the Soldiers and Airmen a ―thumbs up‖ or a big wave, which made the team feel confident that
they are helping build a better life for the Afghan people. After inspecting the cold storage project, the team returned safely home - tired - but feeling a sense of accomplishment. At day‘s end, ADT IV had completed a successful first mission that exposed them to the complexity of travel and conducting business in Afghanistan. It was a very good start to what hopes be a safe, successful, and rewarding year.
Participants of the first mission receive a mission brief prior to departure.
Continued from page 6 roundtable meeting each field representative was asked about their goals. He said most had grandiose ideas about what they expected to achieve. ―I said I would be satisfied if I helped maybe two, three, or half dozen farmers.‖ ―Progress is going to be slow; it‘s going to take two to three generations to get Afghanistan back as a modern civilization. The Americans need to be told the truth.‖ Hart said maybe in the beginning he was expected to do more veterinary work. But the emphasis shifted from doing that type of work to enabling the Afghans to do the work themselves. Instead, he focuses his efforts on building relationships to connect the Director of Irrigation, Agriculture and Livestock with the extension agents that work for the DAIL‘s department, and the University of Nangarhar. In many respects, his work parallels that of the ADT, and he often accompanies the ADT on missions. ―The best we can hope for to defeat the insurgency in
the short term, is to work for stability, and getting the farmer to connect with the government.‖ He points out that we have the same problem in the U.S., which is largely ignored, with the opinions of the rural population varying widely from those of urban populations, as reflected in the voting poles. But in Afghanistan the disparity is orders of magnitudes greater. ―It goes back to counterinsurgency. If we can get the farmer to use the government representative, the agriculture extension agent in this case, for advice and assistance, then the farmer is going to trust the government; maybe not the central government in Kabul, but at least his district government.‖ ―That‘s how to fight the insurgency and get the people to accept the district level government.‖ ―And then you have the Kuchi,‖ he says. The Kuchi are nomadic pastoralists that sweep across the countryside with their flocks of sheep, goats, and camels, traveling from winter grazing areas in the lower
valleys to summer forage in the mountains. In addition to the impacts of drought and over-grazing, land and property rights have become hot topics with the influx of refugees returning to Afghanistan. All of these factors adversely effect range use by the Kuchi. ―The Kuchi are much like the Native Americans of 200 years ago. I would hate to see their culture destroyed,‖ Hart says. ―If we could get this portion of Afghan agriculture functioning again, with good rangeland and watershed management, and linkages back to the local government, I think we could really strike a blow to the insurgency.‖ Hart says that he comes to Nangarhar ―with no money, no projects, and no implementing partners.‖ He works alongside the ADT almost exclusively, since they work directly with the agriculture programs in Nangarhar. Dr. Gary Hart is watched by village boys in Dari Nor during an agriculture meeting.
“The best we can hope for to defeat the insurgency ,in the short term, is to work for stability, and getting the farmer to connect with the government.”
Blankenship By Capt. Marie Orlando
Air Guard leads the team for the first time in MONG ADT history
or the first time in the four years of the Missouri National Guard A g r i - B u s i n e s s Development Team‘s history, the team‘s senior enlisted advisor is a member of the Air National Guard. Senior Master Sergeant Jerry Blankenship has been in the MONG for 25 years and when his active duty and Air Reserve time are included, he has served a total of 32 years. He is currently assigned to the 131st Bomb Wing, Lam b ert Int ernat i on al Airport, St. Louis as a Weapons Safety Manager. Blankenship has also worked for Boeing Company in St. Louis the past 25 years and is currently a Supplier Program Manager. He has a Master‘s in Procurement and Acquisition Management from Webster University.
This is Blankenship‘s fourth deployment. He previously served twice at Balad in Iraq and later in Kandahar in Afghanistan. At Balad, he was a Weapon‘s Safety Manager on his first tour and Chief of the Munitions Storage Area on his second rotation. He also served as a Weapon‘s Safety Manager in Kandahar. Blankenship said, ―I think this will be a very interesting deployment. I like seeing the Army and Air Force working t o get he r. I t hi nk t he Airmen are more challenged in this joint environment than the Soldiers because this is primarily an Army deployment. The Airmen have to learn to adapt to the Army standards. We are more free to make independent decisions in the Air Force, and the Army is more regimented. But I am very optimistic about our team and have high expectations of all our Airmen and Soldiers.‖ Blankenship has challenged everyone to set a goal to accomplish during this deployment; take a class, learn a language, anything to stay focused on and make the time pass as well as having something to show for the
time spent here. His personal goal is to score a perfect 300 on the Army physical fitness test. He is also continuing work on a book about his mother, titled ―Cowbell Mary‖, and intends to write at least 50 additional pages before he leaves. He said his mom was an avid Cardinal fan and she gained notoriety and became close friends with St. Louis baseball legends such as Lou Brock and Ozzie Smith. When she died, Blankenship said Channel 11 in St. Louis even did a news story on her. The book involves the entire family and their experiences of attending the games with her. Blankenship and his wife Donna live in St. Peters and they have two boys, Chris and Caleb. He i s a m arathon runner, exercises, plays softball, and bowls on his time off.
“I think the Airmen are more challenged in this joint environment than the Soldiers because this is primarily an Army deployment. The Airmen have to learn to adapt to the Army Standards.”
Force Protection Squad Leader S
taff Sergeant Keith H. Reynolds doesn‘t have a lot to say but his quiet way carries a lot of weight with the Soldiers and Airmen in the Security Force Platoon. Reynolds is squad leader for the ―Devil‘s Rejects‖ as they affectionately call themselves. This is Reynolds's second tour to Afghanistan as a force protection squad leader and he is looked to for advice and guidance in shaping the security force platoon.
―My goal is to go home with everyone we brought,‖ he says. Reynolds volunteered for the ADT mission and came to the unit from D Battery, 1/129th Field Artillery, Independence, where he is a Howitzer section chief. He has been in the Army for 12 years, including time on active duty status prior to joining the Guard. Reynolds works for Belger Cartage Service, Inc. as a driver and rigger and has been with the company
10 years. He graduated high school from Lee‘s Summit and currently lives in Raymore. His parents also live in the area. Keith Reynolds, Jr. lives in Grandview and his mother Janice Maurer lives in Kansas City. Reynolds is married to Tiffany and they have five children. Reynolds says he likes to golf and looks forward to spending time with his family during his mid-tour leave.
W i s c h m e ye r P r o m o t e d D
uring a midnight formation on ADT IV‘s last night in the U.S., and in full combat gear, Col. Michael Fortune called 2nd Lt. Richard Wischmeyer to the front of the formation and promoted him to first lieutenant.
“My goal is to see projects from beginning to end and see that what I did made a difference”
The event occurred just before Wischmeyer, Fortune and the rest of the team left the safety of Camp Atterbury to enter a combat zone in Afghanistan. The setting seemed perfectly suited to this young infantry officer.
officer with the Kirksville Police Department. A Missouri native, he graduated from Francis Howell High School and attended college at Truman State, graduating with a degree in business and administration management. His parents, Rick and Sharon Wischmeyer live in St. Charles.
―I feel great. I‘m taking a very active role in helping the Afghan people. My goal is to see projects from beginning to Wischmeyer, an agriculture specialist end and see that what I did made a differand project purchasing officer, has been in ence,‖ he said. the National Guard two years. Wischmeyer likes to go hunting, shootHe is assigned to company B, 1/138th ing and fishing on his time off. He plans Infantry Regiment, St. Louis as an infan- on going to Muenich, Germany with 1st try platoon leader. Lt. Pyatt during mid-tour leave. In civilian life, Wischmeyer is a patrol
Bringing respect and pride By Capt. Marie Orlando
istan want is help producing enough food to give their families a better life.
gt. Eric Fizer is the human resource sergeant in the headquarters section for the ADT.
He works full time for the Missouri National Guard at company A, 1/138th Inf. Regt., Boonville, as the unit supply sergeant. He has served in the military for ten years and seven of those have been in the Active Guard and Reserves (AGR) program. This is Fizer‘s first deployment and he says, ―It‘s scary to think how this will affect my wife and kids. They are used to dad always being there and now I‘m not.‖
―These people live simple lives and just need a little help from us to get them back on their feet.‖ He goes on to say that On the other hand, he be- ―We are filling a need that lieves strongly in the mission doesn‘t happen with bullets or even bombs- we bring rehe is supporting. spect and pride.‖ ―Two of my friends were He lives in Fayette with on the pioneer ADT mission and it‘s going to be reward- his wife, Kim, and their four children; Tyler and Jason ing to go over and look at some of the projects that they Fizer, and Brandon and Haley White. The newest addistarted for the Nangarhar tion to the family is due Province,‖ he said. soon. Fizer notes that the AfFizer is a graduate of Slatghans do not have hundreds er High School and his parof acres of farm land; they just have enough to provide ents, Ervin and Santa Fizer live in Slater. for their families. He feels that all the people of Afghan-
marketing cooperative board and later served as a representative to the National Council of (Continued from page 6) Farmer Cooperatives allowing him to speak to Madison in Dairy Congressional committees on farming issues. Science, Agriculture, Roemer says he is awed, but not Journalism, and Secondary and Vocational overwhelmed, by the amount of responsibility Agriculture Education. he has here in Nangarhar. Roemer has worked as a vocational agriculture instructor at both the high school and technical college level for five years. Afghanistan isn‘t the first place Roemer has traveled to share his experience; he also served with the Peace Corps in Africa for three years as an animal and agriculture extension agent. He was also a member of a livestock
―I supervise millions of dollars in projects. A significant amount of all USAID funds come to Nangarhar Province and four of us are responsible for the administration of those funds,‖ he said. He smiles as he says, ―The ADT keeps me sane. Working with Gary [Dr. Hart, USDA] and the ADT has been one of the finest thing I‘ve done in Afghanistan.‖
“These people live simple lives and just need a little help from us to get them back on their feet.”
The buzz about Shoo-fly Vietnam as a helicopter pilot and is the original ―Shoo-fly‖. Saufley describes his job as ―taking care of the guys to my left and right. Period.‖ He knows what he‘s talking about; he also served in Kosovo during the period when they gained their independence. ―I feel good about this mission. We‘ve worked hard over the last couple months and we‘ve come together as a team; both officers and enlisted,‖ he says.
pec. James K. Saufley Jr., most often referred to as ―Shoo-fly‖, is a security force protection gunner with the Security Force Platoon.
He is from Fillmore and serves with the 1/138th Infantry Regiment as an infantryman. He has been in the service 15 years following in the path of his father and hero, James K. Saufley Sr., who served in
Saufley is passionate about his children and his hobbies. He is married to Amy and has five children ranging in ages from 10 to 18. The oldest, Korey, recently graduated Basic Training at Ft. Jackson, S.C. Saufley says, ―I am very proud of the man he has become.‖ He says he rides a Harley, chases women, or at least he did before he got married, and drinks beer. ―Outlaw to the end,‖ is his motto, saying with a laugh that ―I‘m the one your mother warned you about.‖
ADT IV coming through (Continued from page 8)
rive at FOB Finley-Shields until the next morning. It was a long trip but finally we are all here and neck deep in learning our jobs. We look forward to an interesting and rewarding ten months here in Nangarhar.
Master Sgt. Bob Weber, along with others from the Iowa and MONG ADTs traveling to Fenty Air Field are wide awake during the Team’s last flight in a C-17, despite five endless days and nights of travel.
Photo by Capt. Pete Shinn, Iowa ADT Public Affairs Officer
d l e i f e h t m o r f s Picture In an unconventional role, Spec. Courtney Armour, security force platoon, finds herself coloring with girls from the nearby village as a volunteer in a weekly girlsâ€™ meeting.
The advance party arrived just in time to experience rains that caused flooding around the Nangarhar Province as well as on the military bases. The team joined ADT III in visits to leaders and project areas of the District Centers within Nangarhar Province. A visit to the Governorâ€™s Palace reflects the dramatic difference from the rest of the region. Dari Nor hold distant villages that seem to age as slowly as the moun-
tains that surround them. by recent floods.
The village elders show the Team a check dam site washed out
For more photographs of our activities and some video clips, visit us on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MONG.ADTIV
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Celebrating Birthdays in Sep.
● 1LT Wischmeyer promoted in August
● Sgt. Garcia and Jennifer celebrate an anniversary on 30 Aug.
● John and Brenda Larsen celebrated an anniversary on 18 Aug. ● Jody and Jennifer McCall celebrate in Sep.
all m c . . . e m l l Ca
Who do I call? Where do I go?
Back at the homestead • Family Readiness Group Leader Paula Ann Maloney
417.250.1703 or 417.683.3711
• 139th Fighter Air Lift Wing Coord. 816.236.3511 • Military Family Life Consultants
• ArmyOne Source 800.342.9647
- Child/Youth (Amy Bledsoe) 573.418.3588
• Family Program Office 800.299.9603
- Adult (Phil Pringle) 573.418.3588
• Family Assistance Center 877.236.4168 • Deployed Pay Issues 877.276.4729 • Employer Support of Guard and Reserve 573.638.9500 ext. 7730 • 131st Fighter Wing Coord. 314.527.6362
• Chaplain Gilmore 573.638.9618