The third and final UGA trained Georgia National Guard Agricultural Development Team (ADT III ) returned from Afghanistan after 11 month’s deployment, just in time for the holidays. ADT III was made up of 48 citizen soldiers from across the state but deployed as part of the Augusta based 201st Regional Support Group commanded by Col. Barry Beach.
Deployment ceremony last January as the group prepared to leave for Afghanistan to mentor the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) employees and Afghan farmers.
Previous ADT ‘s t raining mission’s focused on building infrastructure project s such as constructing root cellars and simple irrigation and erosion control systems as well as food preservation, crop storage and financial management as they worked directly with farmers.
ADT III used a train-the-trainer approach for this mission. They were split into small groups of four to eight guardsmen stationed at forward operating bases around Helmand Province with contingent s of marines.
They focused on training extens ion specialists with the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock with the hopes of improving the country’s food production systems and building new connections between villagers and the provincial government.
“The mission with Afghans was very rewarding” Col.Cheek said. “They wanted to know all the information we had to offer. Honestly, they were like sponges – absorbing everything we had to teach them.”
At least 12 other states have Agriculture Development Teams on the ground in Afghanistan or have had in the past. They are CA, WI, TX, KY, NE, KS, NV, AR, IL, IN, MO and OK