News: Task Force commanders visit Iowa ADT demo farm
Story by Capt. Peter Shinn
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Commanders from task forces No Slack and Cacti traveled to a demonstration farm in the Chowkay District established by the Iowa National Guard’s 734th Agribusiness Development Team for a comprehensive briefing on the ADT’s capabilities April 21.
TF Cacti, part of 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, will relieve TF No Slack, part of 2nd Bn., 327th Inf. Regt., 1st BCT, 101st Inf. Div., which has conducted combat operations in several districts of Kunar province since May 2010. The commander of TF No Slack, U.S. Army Lt. Col. J.B. Vowell of Birmingham, Ala., explained why he brought his replacement to the Chowkay Demonstration Farm.
“What we’re trying to do for the Afghan people is to improve their prosperity, and they’re an agrarian-based economy, so the demonstration farms the ADT runs in Kunar are extremely complimentary to what we’re trying do for security and governance,” Vowell said. “To show my successor tactical, on-the-ground ADT capabilities and what their training does for the people here is, I think, pretty important.”
ADT experts briefed the commanders on key initiatives to boost farm output and improve agricultural education in the province. The ADT members outlined their efforts to introduce small-scale mechanization in planting and harvesting wheat and the impact of provincial irrigation issues. Also discussed was how greenhouses and orchards increase production of value-added crops like fruits and vegetables, the success of the ADT’s young Afghan agricultural internship program and provincial veterinary outreach efforts.
Afterward, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Colin Tuley of Atchison, Kan., TF Cacti commander, applauded the ADT’s work in Kunar.
“This is what right looks like to me,” Tuley said. “These are great programs and they should be exploited everywhere we operate.”
Tuley said meeting the ADT face-to-face at the demonstration farm in Chowkay will help to facilitate the transfer of authority between task forces.
“This allows me during this [relief in place] and transition to see what works well and ask the right questions to the unit that’s leaving, so there’s really a seamless transition and continuity as we continue here in Afghanistan,” Tuley said.
The officer in charge of the ADT’s Agriculture Section, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Neil Stockfleth of Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, described the ADT as “one more tool in the toolbox” for commanders.
“We bring a lot to the table in terms of practical counterinsurgency,” Stockfleth said. “Whether its improving overall economic conditions in the province or providing agricultural services in the aftermath of kinetic operations, we hope to continue to offer an important set of capabilities to the battle-space owner.”