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The Muleskinner Report Mo Agri-Business Development Team IV V O L U M E





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Commander’s Corner Sergeant First Class Pharris shows us the way

Commander Col. Fortune Deputy Commander Lt. Col. Charles Senior Enlisted Advisor Senior Master Sgt. Blankenship MONG.ADTIV

INSIDE THIS ISSUE: Transitioning Agri-Business Development Teams from Military-Led to Civilian-Led

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Opportunities 5 and Challenges in Mentoring the DAIL

Interpreters, 7 Translators and Cultural Advisors


or Coalition Forces to be successful in Afghanistan military service members from private grade E -1 and up, and military units of every type, must have a sincere respect for the Afghan people, their culture and their religion. It is the Afghan people who will decide who wins this war, and unless we demonstrate respect and empathy for them in everything we do, they are unlikely to support us or o ur ca use . U se of force and inti midation may make units safer for the moment, but as a r esul t , t hese uni t s are likely to be much less safe over the long term. T hi s i s not t o s a y CFs should not be ready to fight at any second – they absolutely must be ready to do this – but they should pursue a balance between near-term, tactical security on one hand, and a general attitude of respect and empathy for the Afghans on the other.

Unfortunately, training military service members to respect a culture much different from their own is a difficult task, especially for younger Airmen, Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers. It is not enough for commanders to merely tell their troops to “respect the Afghans.” C h a n gi n g b e h a vi o r a t such a fundamental level requires constant emphasis and leadership by example from officers and especially noncommissioned officers throughout the chain of command. For Sgt. 1st Class Robert Pharris, a member of the Missouri/ Nangarhar Agri-Business Development Team who was killed by an i mprovised explosi ve device in early January of 2011, respect, empathy, and an appreciation for the Afghans came nat ur al l y. Pha r r i s h ad waited his whole life to participate in a reconstruction mission like this and, as the ADT’s liaison to Task

Force Panther in western Nangarhar province, he was determined to make as big an impact as he possibly could in their area of operations. His commitment to helping the Afghans was evident in ever yt hi n g he di d, an d s e r ve d a s a n e x ce l l en t example, not just to other members of the ADT, but to all those with whom he worked – both military and civilian. Pharris was an outstanding Soldier in (Continued on page 2)

Always eager to help the people of Afghanistan, Pharris explains a project to the local leaders at a district center.







Sergeant First Class Pharris Shows us the Way (Continued from page 1)

many ways, and a look back at his personal qualities can be instructive for two reasons. First, i t can h el p i nf or m an d gui de leaders in their selection of Soldiers and Airmen for this type of mission. Second, it can allow us all to reexamine ourselves and determine how we might modify our own behavior – and perhaps even our own outlook – to increase our contribution to the counterinsurgency effort here in Afghanistan. E ve n b e f o r e h i s a r r i va l i n Afghanistan, Pharris began studying the Pashto language and culture. He learned about Islam and read countless articles on agr i cul t ur al r econst r uct i on i n Afghanistan. Because he was so enthusiastic about the ADT mission, he was selected to be on t he uni t’ s advance par t y and, along with a handful of other key personnel, departed Camp Atterbury, Ind. a couple weeks before the rest of the unit. When he f inall y arri ved at Forward Operating Base FinleyShields in July 2010, he began spending much of his free time conversing with the local nationals on the FOB. He felt that to be t r ul y e f f e ct i ve , he n ee d e d t o understand every aspect of Afghan society. While most of us think of our FOB as a safe haven, Robert saw it as overly confining – it was keeping him from learning about and fully experiencing the Afghan way of life. In addition to his respect and enthusiasm, Pharris had other attributes that made him an ideal

An expert in small ruminants, Pharris paid special attention to the goats and sheep the ADT encountered while on missions throughout Nangarhar province.

choice for participation in the ADT mission. He was extremely intelligent and physically fit to be sure, but he was also technically and tactically proficient. As a farmer himself and an expert in small ruminants, he understood many of the challenges faced by ordinary Afghan farmers. Robert was also an infantryman to his core and knew his infantry tactics cold. He wasn't here to fight the Taliban, but he studied their tactics, techniques, and procedures, and was always prepared for the worst. Pharris full y under stood the risks associated with the ADT’s missi on her e but he seemed to operate without the slightest intimation of fear. It wasn't that he was more courageous than the rest of us, it was just that he was so focused on doing his job that he didn't have time to be afraid. Like a soccer player in the finals of a

World Cup match, the only thing that mattered to him was putting the ball in the goal. In his mind, he was here to help Afghan farmers, and neither the Taliban, nor anyone else was going to stand in his way. At Pharris’s memorial ceremony on Jan. 12th, Sgt. 1st Class Dannie Thompson made this comment about him: “It is said that the truest test of a man’s character is to watch and see how much he is willing to do for someone who he does not know, and who he knows does not have either the resources or the desire to pay him back. Sergeant 1st Class Pharris offered up his life to give hope and knowledge to a people he did not know, and who he knew did not have the means to ever pay him back. Their friendship and success would have been his reward.“ In many respects, Pharris was the Taliban’s worst enemy. He genuinely cared about the Afghan people and was here to help them, he was extremely tenacious about his work, and his commitment to excel l enc e set a n out st andi n g exampl e f or ot her s t o f ol l ow. Phar ri s exempl i f i ed the Ar my values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. The commander of the NATO training mission in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, encourages service members to constantly ask themselves, “If you h a d t o r e ma i n h er e un t i l C Fs achieved all their objectives, what would you do differently today?” Pharris was one of the few Soldiers who could honestly answer that question, “Absolutely nothing.”



Transitioning Agri-Business Development Teams from Military-Led to Civilian-Led Clyde Vaughn and Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond.

By Lt. Col. North Charles


s the agri-business redevelopment mission continues throughout Afghanistan, it is time to begin discussing how Agri-business Development Teams will transition. The original vision for ADTs clearly articulates a transition from military-led to civilian-led to Afghan-led. Civilian and military leaders must envision this transition and then begin taking actions to write this next chapter in the redevelopment of agriculture in Afghanistan. The fathers of today's highly successful ADTs are Lt. Gen. (Retired)

ADT Way Ahead Military Led

Civilian Led

Afghan Led

• Develop long-term professional bilateral associations • Expand land grant Ag / Educational Institution Partnerships • Work with CENTCOM and interagency partners to develop a comprehensive agriculture development transition strategy • Full transition from ADT / USG led agriculture programs to Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock(MAIL) and provincial leaders





Their vision was to package the civilian -acquired skills found in National Guard Soldiers a n d A i r me n w i t h a n organic security force and other support enablers to create an expeditionary a g r i - b u s i n e s s redevelopment capability. These teams provided the theater commander with a unit able to conduct agriculture redevelopment in nonp e r m i s s i v e environments. Vaughn's and Bond's vision always included an event ual transition from military-led to civilian-led to Afghanled. Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter, the acting director of the Army National Guard, visited FOB Finley-Shields on Friday, January 21. During hi s vi si t , Car pent er reiterated Vaughn's and Bond's original plan for a g r i - b u s i n e s s redevelopment transition. Carpenter also provided additional senior leader vision on the role of the National Guard to ensure these agri-business redevelopment transitions are timely and

effective. Much of the ADT's agri -business redevelopment mission is the r espo nsi bi l i t y of t he Department of State and t he U .S. A genc y f or I n t e r n a t i o n a l Development. However, the security situation throughout portions of Afghanistan prevents these interagency partners from being able to complete necessary tasks in these areas. In this environment, ADTs are a viable, effective solution to begin a g r i - b u s i n e s s redevelopment and create the conditions for transition. A tenant of U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine is to progress through the Shape - Clear - Hold Build - Transition model. ADTs are entirely appropriate as the lead organization for agri business redevelopment during the Shape, Clear and Hold portions of the model. But once the Build phase begins in earnest, DoS and USAID are more appropriate as the lead organizations. It is never easy to determine when a province (Continued on page 4)






Transitioning Agri-Business Development Teams from Military-Led to Civilian-Led (Continued from page 3)

should begin its transition in this counterinsurgency model. In fact, components of two or more elements of this model can happen simultaneously in a province– holding in one area, building in another, and transitioning in a third. Commanders and civilian leaders may combine a variety of metrics and assessments to create their vision of progress. These determinations are key to deciding when and where to begin agri-business r e d e v e l o p m e n t transition. A timetable or calendar cannot schedule these transitions. Two unique factors affect transition d ec i si o ns . Fi r s t i s t h e relatively long lead time military and civilian leaders require to organize and equip follow-on forces. In the case of Nangarhar Province, the military has resourced ADTs through early 2013.

Maj. Gen. Ray Carpenter (right) and ADT members discuss transition from military-led ADTs to a civilian-led effort during a visit to FOB FinleyShields on January 21.

Off-ramping those forces requires significant lead time. Conversely, DoS and USAID must begin planning now to assume the civilian lead of agri-business r e d e v e l o p m e n t . Creating a robust USAID capability tailored to this mission requirement is a significant challenge.

effort. First, civilian-led teams must continue to focus at the provincial level. Increasing the capacity of the Nangarhar Director of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock is key. This is a province-byprovince partnership and not a nationwide, one-size-fits-all effort.

To execute their agri business redevelopment tasks, USAID currently uses a network of nongovernmental organizations as I m p l e m e n t i n g Partners. While these contractors and non-profit organizations may be appropriate for some portions of USAID's programs, they are not a viable s u b s t i t u t e f o r a civilian-led agri-business redevelopment team. This t a s k r e q u i r e s a team of skilled, organized and r esour ced agr i -busi ness redevelopment experts who are integrated with other U.S. redevelopment efforts.

Second, civilian-led teams must concentrate on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Efforts focused on individual farmers or cooperative associations (co-ops) often miss the target of legitimizing governance and extending GIRoA's reach. Agri-business r ede vel op ment i s about creating enduring GIRoA solutions.

To continue the ADT's mission successes requires a robust civilian-led team of experts with sufficient depth in technical agriculture, resource management and government processes. Only a civilian team with those skills will adequately bridge the transition from military-led to Afghan-led. Three elements are key to the success of ADTs and must be replicated throughout the transition to a civilian-led

Third, civilian-led teams must continue to develop the linkage between GIRoA and land grant universities back in the United States. These relationships are key to creating a professional and r o b u s t p r o vi n c i a l l e v e l capability. Vaughn and Bond always envisioned ADTs as a first step along a continuum from military-led to civilian-led to Af ghan -led. It is now time to plan the next step for agri -business redevelopment in Afghanistan. It is time for senior leaders to articulate their vision for transitioning to a civilian-led effort.

“It is time for senior leaders to articulate their vision for transitioning to a civilianled effort.�






By Lt. Col. Raymond Legg


ne of Nangarhar/ Missouri AgriBusiness Development Team’s essential missions is to mentor the Nangarhar Director of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock and his staff at the provincial level, and his A gr i cul t ur e Ext ensi on Agents at the district level. The immediate objectives of that mentoring are to develop leadership, management, training, and administrative skills throughout the DAIL’s organization, but the overarching goal is to improve the effectiveness of his organization as a whole and thereby increase the capacity of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to provide basic services to farmers across the province. M e n t o r i n g i s traditionally viewed as a transfer of knowledge or advice from a more experienced individual known as a mentor, to a less experienced or


knowledgeable “mentee” or protégé. However, because the Nangarhar DAIL, Engineer Hussain Safi, has proven himself to be extremely competent, and because we on the ADT recognize that we have a very limited knowledge of the Afghan culture, the ADT has viewed its relationship with Safi as more of a partnership than a traditional mentorship. We feel that we have as much to learn from him as he does from us, and have conveyed this message to Safi on multiple occasions. In doing so, we seem to have opened the door and increased the flow of knowledge, advice, and information in both directions. This partnership between the DAIL and ADT seems to be producing good results as evidenced by the following example. Shortly after the team’s arrival in Nangarhar province, the ADT commander, Colonel Mike Fortune, met with Safi and

told him that one of his goals was to help eliminate corruption from the DAIL’s organization. Although the DAIL was clearly uncomfortable with the conversation at that time, he reluctantly agreed to support the commander. O ve r t he ne x t s e ver a l months, Fortune continued to emphasize with Safi the need for transparency and anticorruption efforts. As a result, the DAIL eventually came to fully embrace the goal of eliminating corruption from his department and has since begun to enthusiastically convey this goal to his subordinates at every opportunity. In the preceding example, Safi changed his behavior based on input from the ADT. (Continued on page 6)

Dr. Gary Hart, USDA, and Engineer Safi, the Nangarhar DAIL,, discuss AEA training at the Sesembaugh Agriculture Research Station.






(Continued from page 5)

In the following example however, we in the ADT modified our strategy based on information from the DAIL. Back in November, Eng. Safi requested that the ADT prepare for him a set of talking points that he could use to inspire and motivate Nangarhar farmers during a radio talk show. In response, the ADT provided him a short speech telling the Afghans that they have always been great engineers and great farmers, and it was time for them to come together and take charge of their own development and their own future.


that the DAIL is confident that he fully understands the requirements and how to manage preparation of these documents; so he doesn’t need input from the ADT. Another is that he feels that coordination with the ADT could potentially belabor the process and make it more difficult for him to meet established deadlines. Still another possible explanation is that he doesn’t want outsiders criticizing his staff’s work.

value-added advice and feedback that is extremely timely and as constructive as possible. At the same time, we must be careful not to do the work for him or his staff since our goal is to eventually transition all of these processes to GIRoA.

Master Sgt. Bradley discusses strategic planning with Yadav Shyam, the DAIL’s strategic planner, during the AEA training session at FOB FinleyShields in September 2010

Previous ADT’s laid a solid foundation of trust and respect with Safi, upon which our current team has continued to build. The ADT must ensure that we continue to be perceived as supporting the DAIL in everything we do. By empowering him and his staff to deliver basic services to farmers – rather than delivering those services ourselves – we can work in the background and thereby allow the government of Afghanistan to receive the credit.

This message was so well received that Safi came back to the ADT and asked that we expand the speech for his use in future media engagements. We believe this combined DAILADT initiative to get the Afghans invested in redevelopment efforts is a necessary component of the counterinsurgency fight. But while our partnership has been successful in these areas, we have had less success partnering with the DAIL on bureaucratic processes such as budget development and strategic planning. In preparing these products, Safi has been reluctant to seek input from the ADT, which begs the question as to why. One possible explanation is


In late December, Fortune asked Mr. Safi why he had submitted his budget without requesting input from the ADT. While Mr. Safi did not provide an explanation, he did agree to staff such products with the team in the future. Whatever his reasons for failing to consult the ADT prior to submitting his budget, it is clear that continued cooperation from the DAIL on matters such as this will require the ADT to provide sound,

We recognize that the ADT is only one small player among a host of other interested parties who vie for the DAIL’s time. We are also cognizant of the fact that we are not his most important priority and that he also receives frequent input and suggestions from the Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team, the U.S. A genc y f or Int er nat i onal Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and various nongovernmental organizations. We further recognize that he ultimately answers, not to us, but to the minister of agriculture in Kabul.



Interpreters, Translators and Cultural Advisors By Capt.. John Paluczak

T “I rely on our interpreters as much as any member of our team. Their insights and analysis are invaluable. They know if our plans will work long before we do.”

h e f o u r interpreters assigned to the Nangarhar Agri-Business Development Team fill a variety of mission essential roles. These four Afghan men serve as interpreters, translators, cultural advisors and a host of other vital roles as we execute our mission here. Colonel Fortune explains their role, “I rely on our interpreters as much as any member of our team. Their insights and analysis are invaluable. They know if our plans will work long before we do.” T h e s e f o u r interpreters use the aliases Bob, Steve-O, Willy, and Shaun. Of these four, Bob and Steve -O have worked with a number of previous Nangarhar ADTs and continue to provide not only interpreter support but also a deep knowledge of previous projects. At a minimum, one or two interpreters participate in every ADT mission and each meeting. During missions, our interpreters allow us to communicate w i t h t h e a gr i c u l t u r e extension agents, district




sub governors, and local maliks. Interpreters also work with the Security Force Platoon to help manage crowds and ensure we operate safely by keeping curious children a safe distance from our vehicles. Because every time we go "outside the wire" we put the lives of Soldiers and Airmen at risk, one of the ADT commander's basic rules is that the team should accomplish everything we can within the confines of our Forward Operating Base. For this reason, the team has become quite proficient at calling upon our interpreters to conduct business with Afghans using the telephone; and we also make it a habit to invite Afghans to our FOB for one-on-one meetings. While the team still conducts missions off the FOB almost every day, using the interpreters to help us "do our homework" enables us to minimize our time at the locations we visit. Thus, good use of our interpreters is helping keep the team safe. A s a n e xa mp l e of their additional work, the AEAs submit Cash For Work proposals in

Pashtu. The interpreters use their translation skills to create documents in English so the Ag Team can approve those projects. The reverse is also true. Our team of four also takes documents in English and produces Pashtu scripts, flyers, agreements and speeches. The Ag Team’s technical c or r e sp on den ce wi t h Nangarhar University and the Director of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock is especially challenging. The Ag Team partners with the DAIL to develop their budget. This effort entails untold hours of translation of very technical products. Lt. Col. Ray Legg, the ag team chief, says, “Our team of interpreters work the full gamut of tasks. O ne mo me nt t he y’ r e ensuring our SECFOR team can keep us safe a n d t h e n e xt mi n u t e they’re helping us understand a highly technical issue with water rights. We would not be able to accomplish even a small percentage of our current work without their significant contributions.” The interpreters also act as cultural advisors to the ADT. While out on (Continued on page 8)

Interpreters, Translators and Cultural Advisors (Continued from page 7)

missions, the interpreters are able to notice many cultural nuances. For example, if someone spits on the ground in your direction it is considered an insult in Afghan culture. The team sees this as just someone spitting on the ground. The interpreters can also notice when something is out of the ordinary. Recently, when the team was visiting an Olive Farm, an Afghan National Police officer and sergeant approached them. The team started to speak with them and after a while, the interpreter turned to the person in charge of the Ag Section and said, “There is something not right about the way the sergeant is acting.” It turned out the sergeant was on drugs and that his behavior, while obvious to an Afghan, was not so obvious to the team. Because the interpreter was able t o i dent if y the behavior, it allowed the team to take the appropriate security precautions.

When implementing the Cash For Work program we asked the interpreters if the villagers would embrace our plan to read them a script. The script lets the villagers know how much they were to get paid and what the project entailed. The interpreters told the team it would be a great idea and it would be As the team was departing, Stevea first for the villagers. O offered his opinion that this was the In the past Coalition Forces did best thing the team could have done to not take the time to explain projects help win the war. The team was the to the villagers. We are generally first group of Coalition Forces to stay and have chai with the villagers. met with great enthusiasm as we talk These simple social interactions help with villagers and explain the details reinforce the message that Coalition of the project. Forces are in Afghanistan as friends However, work as an interpreter and helpers, not colonist occupiers. is not without risk. Interpreters use After each mission, the team aliases to protect their identity and conducts an After Action Review. their family. Interpreters wear the The interpreters are an invaluable part same uniform, helmets and body of those AARs. Our gr oup of armor that we do. In addition, interpreters provides perspectives and interpreters often cover their faces to avoid recognition. Despite the risks, insights that we simply cannot see. our group of four inter preter s The Ag Section also works with believes they are building a better the interpreters to design projects and Afghanistan. They are heroes who training programs. The interpreters are at the leading edge of making help us ensure that what we are doing Afghanistan a secure and prosperous will make sense to the Afghan people. country. As another example, on November 30th, 2010, the team was inspecting a canal cleaning project in Surkh Rod District when some villagers invited them to have chai. The interpreter, Steve-O, suggested this would be an especially useful Key Leader Engagement.

Contact Information


The Muleskinner Report provides insights and analysis on the Nangarhar Missouri National Guard Development Team’s mission. If you have questions or comments on the Muleskinner Report, please contact Col. Mike Fortune at The Muleskinner is an unofficial publication authorized by AR 360-1. It is published monthly by the Missouri Agribusiness Development Team IV to provide important information related to their deployment for the Soldiers and Airmen, their Families, units and commands, the Army, DOD and the public. Views and opinions expressed in the Muleskinner are not necessarily those of the Department of the Army or DOD.




Muleskinner Report Vol.4 Iss.8  

Monthly newletter by the Missouri Agri-Business Development Team IV working in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.

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