|By Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff
A unique mixture of Wisconsin National Guard personnel who will perform
an unusual, but vital agricultural mission in Afghanistan conducted
pre-deployment training at Fort McCoy in October.
Members of the 82nd Agribusiness
Development Team interact with villagers, played by members of
the Recruit Sustainment Program’s Detachment One, Company A,
during a training mission at Fort McCoy.
(Photo by 2nd Lt. Stephen
The 82nd Agribusiness Development Team (ADT) will conduct
agricultural development planning, assessment and support activities
in Kunar Province to expand legal agriculture/agribusiness,
services, markets, and education to reduce rural poverty, increase
employment opportunities in agriculture service industries and
improve agriculture education.
Col. Darrel Feucht, 82nd ADT commander, said the unit is comprised
of Soldiers and Airmen from Army and Air Force units. Feucht brings
agricultural know-how to the mission with his agriculture degree
from the University of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin joins many other states in providing an ADT to support the
Afghan people, he said. Although Afghanistan has gained a reputation
for growing opium, the country produces a wide variety of legitimate
crops, such as wheat, tree fruits (apricots, almonds, walnuts,
mulberries, etc.) and grapes.
Unit personnel bring a variety of backgrounds and experience to the
mission, he said. The approximately 60 members include security and
medical personnel, Feucht said. In addition to military skills,
members of the ADT also have experience in agriculture-related
fields, including hydrology, veterinary services, entomology,
forestry, marketing and farming.
Female team members also will have the role of supporting/developing
women’s cultural programs, he said.
Members of the 82nd Agribusiness
Development Team qualify with M4s at a Fort McCoy range. The
82nd conducted pre-mobilization training at Fort McCoy in
October. The unit will next conduct mobilization training at
Camp Atterbury, Ind., before deploying to Afghanistan in spring
2012. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
“We came to Fort McCoy to fulfill our collective military training
tasks,” Feucht said. “Fort McCoy is close to home for the Soldiers
here, and we can do all of the military training we need to do.”
The training at Fort McCoy included using the Contingency Operating
Locations (Forward Operating Bases), rural village facilities and
weapons ranges, he said. A field training exercise also allowed for
key leader engagement.
Maj. Paul Felician, S2-Intelligence, said Fort McCoy offered a
number of good training opportunities to prepare unit members for
their military roles in deployment. Since ADT members are from a
number of different units, the training also provided opportunities
for teamwork and cross-training in the various skills needed for the
“They will learn about every piece of equipment we have and learn
each other’s job,” Felician said.
Spc. Kimberly Flock, a medic, helped teach a combat life-saver class
to other members of the unit.
“Everyone teaches everybody else what they know,” Flock said.
“Everyone is cross-trained so we at least have basic knowledge of
everything that we do. The practical exercises give us hands-on
experience and we can ask questions.”
Soldiers from the 82nd
Agribusiness Development Team learn about combat life-saver
techniques at Fort McCoy.
(Photo by Rob Schuette)
Flock, who has been in the National Guard for three years, said
after seeing many of her friends deploy, she was anxious to get
Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Mand, who has deployed to Iraq, said there
were multiple volunteers for the positions, so the best personnel
“These are the best of the best, Wisconsin’s finest,” Mand said. “I
volunteered to go to this mission to serve with Colonel Feucht and
take care of the Soldiers.”
Mand, who lived on a farm as a youth, also knows his way around
Staff Sgt. George Nagel of the Air National Guard brings his
experience in entomology, or pest management, to the mission.
“I saw this mission as an opportunity to help people,” Nagel said.
“It was a humanitarian mission to better people’s lives.”
Nagel said he will impart knowledge about how to control pests, grow
crops, and store crops to have a better food crop for the Afghan
As one of two Air National Guard personnel in the mission, Nagel
said he had a big training curve to learn the Army Warrior Tasks
necessary to perform the mission, including tasks the Air Force
doesn’t normally do, and combat drills. He does bring deployment
experience as he has been deployed to Iraq.
Capt. Sarah Bammel will serve as a hydrologist. She earned a degree
in meteorology from the University of Michigan. Bammel’s duties will
include determining ways to increase irrigation efforts in
Afghanistan. Many areas currently use drip-irrigation methods.
Unit members spent an earlier training session learning about their
agricultural mission from various agricultural experts, including
personnel from the University of Wisconsin Agriculture Department,
Mand said after this training the unit will conduct its
mobilization/deployment training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., before
deploying to Afghanistan in spring 2012.
2nd Lt. Stephen Montgomery, an Air National Guard public affairs
officer, will serve as the unit’s public affairs officer and
Montgomery will document the unit’s mission and tell its story.
“As the unit historian, one of my big jobs will be to document not
only the missions we go on, but all aspects of our deployment for
the Army,” he said. “I also will serve in the typical role as a
Public Affairs officer; taking pictures, writing stories and,
basically, telling our unit’s story.”