September 23, 2014

Iowa National Guard will send ag team to Afghanistan

Members of the Iowa National Guard will be part of a federal program that will go to Afghanistan in the fall of this year to provided expertise in farming. Iowa Guard spokesman, Major Mike Wunn, says it’s called am Agribusiness Development Team.

Wunn says soldiers or airmen with an agriculture background are put on the team and that team works with local farmers, village elders, agribusinesses to try to bring some stability and support to the agricultural sector in Afghanistan. Wunn says the teams are usually around 60 soldiers.

He says there are two components to the teams, with the ag-related component, and there is also a security force that would go out into the countryside with the teams. Wunn says the National Guard Bureau started the program in 2007 and several other states have already sent soldier teams over.

Wunn says the Iowa team will follow up a team from California, which help with things like developing a livestock slaughter facility and livestock vaccination programs. He says the Iowa team will figure out what needs to be done when they get there. He says once the team gets to the country, they will finish up on the previous team’s work, but will also do a needs assessment of things that need to be done based on their expertise.

Wunn says they will look for soldiers with ag experience, and will also ask for volunteers with ag experience who would like to be a part of the team. The team will undergo some training and then leave for Afghanistan in the fall.