By RDECOM Public AffairsMay 20, 2014
PFULLENDORF, Germany -- Relatively obscure Agribusiness Development Teams deployed to Afghanistan in recent years with the mission of providing the Afghan population the means to become self sustaining.
Brig. Gen. Eric C. Peck, commander of ground forces for the Kansas National Guard, addressed the ADT's mission during a military assistance class at the International Special Training Center here May 13.
About 60 agriculture and business experts from U.S. colleges were recruited for the ADTs to teach farming skills to Afghans, Peck said.
Some Afghan farmers, he said, were taught soil sampling in order to find nutrient content, which helps determine how much fertilizer is necessary to treat the soil for a crop such as wheat. As a result, farmers began to order only enough fertilizer to treat their fields, reducing the amount of fertilizer available for those who would manufacture homemade explosives.
Peck detailed the little-known ADT capability for shaping the battlefield.
"About 70 percent of the world's under-developed countries depend on agriculture for subsistence," Peck said. "Foodstuffs and infrastructure are as much a necessity for local threat forces as for the local civilians.
"Consequently, there was little interference in Afghanistan to ADT operations. And once the civilian population incorporated the new techniques and become self sufficient, they were also more likely to resist insurgent forces when threatened," Peck added.
The ISTC's military assistance class was taught to SOF elements from 13 participating European nations. The course focuses on methodology, processes and capabilities available to military forces as mission enablers when shaping an area of operations.
The lecture also fulfilled an ISTC aim to enhance, through an intensive exchange of experience, the knowledge of operations by SOF and similar units.
Eric Heilman, the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's Field Assistance in Science & Technology advisor to the Joint Multinational Training Center -- ISTC's parent command -- previously worked with Peck on a project to more effectively gather and transmit agricultural information to higher echelons. Heilman extended the invitation for Peck to speak at the ISTC.
The international SOF students appreciated the lessons learned, according to Heilman, adding that there is great interest in helping nations sustain themselves.