An Iowa expert on farm finance is on a six-month mission in Afghanistan as part of “Operation Enduring Freedom.” Randy Frescoln works in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office in Iowa. He says the central government of Afghanistan is trying to increase its influence in the rural areas of the country and the big issues are security and reconstruction. He says they’re doing this by setting up “provincial reconstruction teams,” that he says are military bases. The base he’ll work at is under NATO control and actually run by the German Airborne. Frescoln has worked in farm finance for 20 years — and says his his other agriculture background growing up on a farm is also important. He says those on the mission have expertise, but also have a broad background. He says they need to take their 2004 knowledge and link it to proposals that’re affordable and sustainable. Frescoln believes past history shows potential for the country. He says the biggest surprise he’s come across in his background reading on the country is that Afghanistan prior to the Soviet invasion of 1978 the country was self-supporting and a big exporter of fruit. He says for the last 30 or so years we’ve always thought of Afghanistan as a failed state. Frescoln has visited 10 other countries in his career to help with agricultural issues — but says there’s some difference in this mission. He says the factor that’s also necessary with the reconstruction is security. He says he’ll wear a flack jacket and helmet and be under military command 24-hours a day. Frescoln says 11 subcontractors from China a German soldier have been killed in the area where he’ll be staying. He is married with three kids, so he says going there required a lot of discussion of the potential danger. He says it is an issue, but says it’s more of an issue growing up with a patriotic background to be able to actually contribute something to our war on terror. Frescoln was once in the Army reserves and he says several members of his family were in the Marines. Frescoln is one of 10 U-S-D-A employees nationwide selected to take part in this mission.
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