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    Ambassador touts Guard agriculture teams in Afghanistan



    Story by Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke 

    National Guard Bureau

    ARLINGTON, Va. — The most well-received change in American policy in Afghanistan has been the dramatic upgrade of agriculture, and an important part of that upgrade is the National Guard's Agriculture Development Teams, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan told reporters this week.

    "It was remarkable to me how every candidate we called on, every Afghan in the provinces, everyone had heard about it already," Richard Holbrooke said July 29 during a special State Department briefing on his trip to Afghanistan.

    The ambassador said he visited the Texas National Guard's ADT in the Ghazni province, and "they are doing all these terrific projects."

    The National Guard also has four other teams from Kansas, Tennessee, Indiana and Missouri working in Afghanistan. The Guardsmen bring with them more specialized skills than those of the advisory panels that typically lead these projects. This mission calls for military members with expertise in farming, raising livestock and cultivating natural resources.

    Holbrooke said the ADT's efforts as well as stopping crop eradication and increasing interdiction are all part of an important policy shift by the U.S. government . "I see this all interconnected ... which is what really hurts the drug kingpins, the corrupt police and the Taliban," he said.

    Afghanistan was an export country until the Soviet invasion in 1978. It exported pomegranates, over half the world's raisins, wine and pistachios. "And all that died," Holbrooke said. "And the Afghans are great, great farmers, but they need help, and we're going to do an overall effort."



    Date Taken: 07.31.2009
    Date Posted: 07.31.2009 13:44
    Story ID: 37029
    Location: ARLINGTON, VA, US 

    Web Views: 461
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    Ambassador touts Guard agriculture teams in Afghanistan