News: Indiana ADT says farewell to Hoosier state
By Sgt. Darron Salzer
120th Public Affairs Detachment
FRANKLIN, Ind. – Soldiers with the Indiana National Guard’s 6-19th Agribusiness Development Team said their farewells to friends and family members during a departure ceremony held at the Johnson County Armory, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013.
The 12-member team will bring the experiences gained through their civilian jobs in the agricultural and farming industry to assist local Afghan farmers and agricultural experts within the Ghanzi province of Afghanistan.
Indiana Army National Guard Maj. Rob Brake, 6-19th ADT commander, said what he hopes to do is to assess what exactly he and his soldiers can do for the local population and impart those tools and knowledge so local Afghan farmers can continue to be successful after the unit has left to return home.
"I've got 10 guys who are second and third generation farmers. They live, eat, breathe and die to be farmers -- guys who want to get up every morning at 5:30 and go to bed at midnight," Brake said. "That's their career, so I am very confident that wherever we end up that our mission will be a successful one."
Brake referred to soldiers like Sgt. Nathan Fridlund, who works as an assistant manager at a 100-cow, dairy farm near Indianapolis, where he said he also grows corn, wheat, soybeans and alfalfa crops.
"Some of the things that I understand we'll be doing include working with corn and wheat and large animals, like goats and cows," Fridlund said, who is deploying for the first time as an animal husbandry specialist.
He said the biggest challenges in Afghanistan will be the lack of modern farming equipment and technology.
"They're still using animals to plow the ground, and spreading seed by hand," he said. "It'll be a back-to-basics experience, and maybe I can learn something that I can bring back here to make my job a little easier."
To better prepare for the deployment, the 6-19th soldiers participated in training that taught them more about what's important to the Afghan agricultural climate such as bee keeping and how they can be used to pollinate flowers for crops such as olives, almonds, grape vineyards, apricots and wheat fields.
"Bees contribute to the overall Afghan economy," said Master Sgt. Matthew Foster, the 6-19th ADT noncommissioned officer in charge. The more the local farmers can harvest from one acre, the more they can sell which helps the local economy, said Foster.
The support of the local economy is something that falls directly in line with the long-term goals of Brake.
"I want to help the local communities find a solution, a long-term solution … that we can help get them started on during the one year in which we are over there," Brake said. "It's important to get them started on something that they can then pass from generation to generation and continue to sustain on their own."