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November 11, 2011

News

82nd Agribusiness Development Team conducts pre-deployment training at McCoy

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.
PHOTO: Members of the 82nd ADT interact with villagers. Photo by 2nd Lt. Stephen Montgomery
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 Montgomery)

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.

PHOTO: Members of the 82nd ADT qualify with M4s at a Fort McCoy range. Photo by Rob Schuette
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 mission.

“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.”

PHOTO: Soldiers from the 82nd ADT learn about combat life-saver techniques. Photo by Rob Schuette
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 deployment experience.

Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Mand, who has deployed to Iraq, said there were multiple volunteers for the positions, so the best personnel were chosen.

“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 agriculture.

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 people.

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, Feucht said.

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 historian.

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.”

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