Advice from the past:
"Whenever I took a decision, or adopted an alternative, it was after studying every relevant factor. . . geography, tribal structure, religion, social customs, language, appetites, standards-all were at my fingertips. . . ."
-T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia), Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph
Agribusiness development teams (ADTs) resulted from Operation Enduring Freedom requests for forces. The teams consist of Soldiers and Airmen recruited from Army and Air National Guard units within their respective states. Once the state Adjutant General identifies the ADT commander, recruiting commences, followed by training and equipping.
Forming the Agribusiness Development Team
An ADT is not an established modified table of organization and equipment unit organic to any command. Therefore, the ADT commander, once assigned, needs to start recruiting Soldiers with agribusiness skills and expertise (i.e., fertilization, irrigation, agronomy, marketing, storage, and large and small animal management) as well as Soldiers for the security team. Otherwise, he will still be trying to recruit them when the unit's premobilization training has begun. The recruiting process is as follows:
- Search the state's National Guard personnel and civilian skills databases for Soldiers and Airmen with agriculture and agribusiness-related expertise.
- Contact potential ADT candidates and do telephonic screening. The database is not too accurate. Filling the agriculture section of the team is the hardest personnel task.
- Leave time for "word of mouth" to get around about the mission. There are Soldiers and Airmen well suited for the mission who will not come up in the databases, and the only way they will know about the tour is by word of mouth.
- Coordinate with the state's Air National Guard headquarters to determine if it has qualified individuals interested in the mission.
- Form the security force. This should not be too hard as these Soldiers will likely come from one unit and have a command structure already in place.
- Form the headquarters section. This may take time if the commander is looking for individuals with lots of experience in their staff function. Since the ADT is a small, specialized unit on somebody else's forward operating base, a staff section comprised mainly of Active Guard and Reserve Soldiers who already know their jobs avoids a "learning curve" that would adversely affect the unit's ability to perform. Obtain the personnel officer (S1) and logistics officer (S4) as soon as possible, quickly followed by the executive officer and/or operations officer (S3). Logistics and personnel issues will start even before the ADT has formed.
- Obtain or secure releases from the units from which ADT Soldiers and Airmen are coming as soon as personnel are identified. This may take the state's National Guard headquarters to intervene since some commanders will not want to give up their Soldiers or Airmen. Take action in sufficient time for the ADT to complete all premobilization training.
- Establish the ADT rear detachment almost as fast as the basic staff is set, even before the agriculture team is "fleshed out." The rear detachment will be the ADT commander's worker bees while he is busy coordinating to get the team formed and while the team is busy training and going through the mobilization process.
Training the Agribusiness Development Team
There are three specific segments of ADT training: individual and unit level training all Soldiers undergo prior to becoming members of an ADT, ADT premobilization training, and ADT post-mobilization training. Once the ADT is established, training becomes a partnership involving the ADT commander; the state's premobilization training and assistance element (PTAE); and the First Army Mobilization Training Center at Camp Atterbury, IN. The following actions are important for preparing the ADT to be mission capable and combat ready on deployment:
- Identify and make contact with a land grant university for agriculture support; coordinate and implement an Afghan-specific agriculture training program.
- Identify and review available resources regarding Afghan agriculture- such us the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Agency for International Development, other ADTs, and the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL)-and incorporate the resources into training.
- Train on how to conduct meetings with Afghan leaders (governmental, educational, and tribal) and farmers; apply Afghan cultural nuances as they impact meetings.
- Conduct Afghan agriculture-specific training to include the following:
- Water and soil conservation and management.
- Animal husbandry (goats, sheep, cattle, donkeys, and horses).
- Orchard management (apples, peaches, almonds, apricots, etc.).
- Alfalfa and wheat production.
- Vegetable production.
- Agriculture marketing.
- Extension programs and education.
- Irrigation techniques and efficiency.
- Train on how to evaluate farm and agriculture production techniques.
- Conduct training on local, provincial, national, and international agriculture markets.
- Conduct training on the workings of the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock and the provincial Directors of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (budget, organization, etc.).
- Conduct training on how the security force and agriculture team work together (farm evaluation, meetings, market surveys, etc.).
- Conduct training on the Commander's Emergency Response Program, field ordering officer, and paying agent.
- Conduct training on data collection and reporting.
- Conduct Afghan-unique Soldiers' skills combat readiness training to include improvised explosive devices.
Equipping the Agribusiness Development Team
ADT Soldiers deploy with their individual and organizational clothing and equipment as modified based on guidance for Afghanistan. They also deploy with a mission-essential equipment list (MEEL), some of which is filled prior to deploying and the remainder filled in Afghanistan. The MEEL is a precoordinated listing of equipment deemed necessary to successfully perform the ADT mission. Since there are differences in the areas ADTs are operating, the standard MEEL may be insufficient for certain ADT tasks. For example, the MEEL may not include tool kits necessary for training Afghan farmers.
During the premobilization preparations phase, ADT commanders will identify additional equipment requirements and submit operational needs statements (ONSs) as a means of requesting additional equipment. Unfortunately, not all ONS requests are filled, and the ADTs have to operate accordingly.
Predeployment Site Survey
When authorized, ADT commanders and key team leaders conduct a predeployment site survey (PDSS) in their projected Afghan area of operations (AO) to meet the leadership and the chain of command of the ADT they will replace and the leadership of the provincial reconstruction team (PRT). If there is no previous ADT, they meet with the PRT working agribusiness issues in their operational area.
The visiting ADT will be introduced to the geographic AO via map, ground, and/or air reconnaissance. The team will meet local governmental leaders as well as agriculture educators and agribusiness leaders; tour ADT projects; and be given briefings on project development, funding, maintenance, and other related issues.
It is important that ADT leaders seek and obtain current and relevant counterinsurgency (COIN) operations information; tactics, techniques, and procedures; and points of contact to modify predeployment training as necessary to meet the COIN challenges. Sources for this information include:
- CALL Web sites: Nonsecure Internet Protocol Router Network, SharePoint, and SECRET Internet Protocol Router Network
- PTAE in the ADT's state
The intent of the PDSS is to familiarize the incoming ADT leaders with their AOs and with the current projects, potential future projects, and people with whom they will work. They will also become aware of issues, challenges, and opportunities that will affect their missions. The visiting ADT commander will use the information gained to modify and enhance the predeployment training of his team members.