Dear Interested Troops,
U.S. troops bring 4-H program to Ghazni. Kandahar supply depot issues weapons, collects insurgent weapons. Wheat seed to Khost farmers will increase yields. Law students perform well in Jalalabad court. TF Spartan 3 mentor Afghan police in Kabul.
Iraq: Heavy metal takes a ride to Kuwait.
RC-East, Bagram Media Center
U.S. Troops Bring 4-H Program to Ghazni
Written by AF Master Sgt. J. Lavoie
Afghan officials from the Bokwal Boys' School review a sample of the curriculum provided by Army Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Muckleroy, an agriculture education teacher from Texas. (Photo by Army 1st Lt. Rebekah Frost, Ghazni ADT PAO)
GHAZNI PROVINCE — In an effort to improve local agricultural learning, as well as share lessons from their own childhood, Soldiers with the Texas Army N.G. Ghazni ADT planted the seeds for an Afghan 4-H program.
According to the 4-H web site, in the U.S., “the 4-H idea is simple: help young people and their families gain the skills they need to be proactive forces in their communities, and develop ideas for a more innovative economy.” The program started as a way to teach entire families better and more efficient ways of gardening and farming.
“The end goal to for the students, parents and teachers to have a better understanding of agriculture, and have collective learning and activities among families,” said Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Muckleroy. “The children will learn gardening at a young age, and so learn better ways of agriculture, and will use these methods in the future. The parents will learn these techniques by teaching the children and each other. Also, they may see new ways of doing things, and learn better practices from other parents, teachers and their students.”
In the end, a more agriculturally educated community uses their resources to grow food for themselves.
“Even though the students receive some agriculture training from their families, due to the decades of war in Afghanistan, a lot of the knowledge of best practices have been lost," said 1st Lt. Rebekah Frost, a large animal specialist, from Texas. “It's been estimated by multiple orgs., that Afghanistan is only producing half of its potential agricultural products. We're hoping to turn that around.”
When the program was created in the U.S., in the 1800s, the 4-H had many of the same goals. At the time, America was going through the “dust bowl,” and American farmers we’re not producing produce efficiently.
During the late 1800's, researchers at public universities saw that adults in the farming community did not readily accept new agricultural discoveries. Researchers found that young people were open to new thinking, would "experiment" with new ideas, and share their experiences and successes with adults. Rural youth programs became a novel way to introduce emerging agriculture technology to their communities.
Although this program started as several local clubs in the U.S, Ghazni residents have the advantage of Soldiers with 4-H experience guiding and helping the program. Because of this, the program will be much more advanced than any 4-H elsewhere.
“The students will have both a classroom portion, where we're integrating current agriculture textbooks, with additional pamphlets and books in biology, animal anatomy and physiology, chemistry, and agriculture best practices,” said Frost. “Additionally, they'll have a practical application where the students will grow a garden, learning pruning, fertilization, and irrigation techniques. The students will also use the plants in the garden to identify the basic plant parts throughout the different stages of growth, allowing them to see first-hand what they're learning in the classroom.”
However, according to Muckleroy, the 4-H program can teach much more. “I'm a strong supporter of 4-H, because I was part of it from the 5th grade until graduation. I visited many places in the state and the country because of it, and met many lifelong friends through it,” he said. “Because of 4-H, I received awards and suffered through hardships that taught me life skills I still use today.”
With the help of the Texas ADT, hopefully, the 3,400 girls and 5,000 boys at the Bokwal Boys and Girls' School will not only learn to improve the agricultural production of their community, but life lessons that will make their future brighter.
Kandahar Supply Depot Issues Weapons, Collects Insurgent Weapons
Story and photos by Master Sgt. Paul Hughes
Lt. Gen. Dan Bolger (second from left), then-incoming comm. gen., NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, examines a trailer filled with M249 light machine guns, and visits with ANA Capt. Mohammed, Forward Supply Depot Weapons Officer, and AF Master Sgt. Kristin Morris, FSD Senior Enlisted Adviser, at the Force Support Depot on Camp Hero, Oct. 25.
KANDAHAR – ANA logistics professionals stand in a conex storage container full of Russian and Chinese-made AK-47 rifles. Handling each one, they read off the serial numbers as another member of the team holds a clipboard with the manifest, and checks off each one.
The logisticians track more than 1,200 captured weapons. Besides AK-47s, there are RPK light machine guns, DShK heavy machine guns, SPG-9 recoilless guns, and other former Warsaw Pact munitions. The nationwide weapons-collection program is part of an initiative by Afghan Pres. Hamid Karzi, the “Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups.”
The ANA’s 205th Corps’ FSD at Camp Hero is a central collection point. “There are places across the country that have amnesty-type of drop-off places for weapons and ammo,” said AF Master Sgt. Kristin Morris, the FSD’s senior enlisted adviser.
On this day, ANA logisticians inventoried more than 700 Russian-made AK-47s. “Those are a hot commodity downtown; we want to get them out of here, so there’s no theft,” said Morris. "There are also 164 Chinese-made AKs. Those aren’t as valuable. What makes a Russian version better than the Chinese is how it’s made,” explained Morris. “Imagine a block of metal and the grooves and sections are drilled and routed out of that chunk of metal.”
“The Chinese ones have a sheet of metal formed to make those grooves; they aren’t cut out; they're folded together, like how a trash can is one sheet of metal and grooves are stamped into it. So basically, they look the same, but, their structural integrity is substandard.”
Just the same, the mission is to get all of the foreign weapons off the compound. “We do up paperwork and get them convoyed to Kabul at the depots. When they get there, they can either refurbish them, or destroy them,” said Morris.
“We're trying to send off 1,280 various weapons to include AK-47s, Russia-machine guns, crew-serve type of weapons, and RPG-7s [anti-tank launchers],” Morris said. “If this proves to be a success, it will pave the way for future retrogrades.”
Not all weapons the FSD receives are made in Russia or China. Eight 122-mm howitzer D-30 towed artillery weapons, gifts from the Turkish govt to the ANA, stand impressively in the compound, and will find their way to the artillery batteries within the 205th Corps.
The FSD also collects and distributes NATO weapons for the corps’ units. “NATO weapons come to us brand new, 100% serviceable,” said Morris. “It's a busy and rewarding job knowing we're getting the weapons off the streets away from the Taliban, and have weapons to issue out to the ANA for their combat ops,” said Morris.
A farmer plants wheat seed in Jaji Maidan, Nov. 4. The Indiana N.G.'s 4-19 ADT members visited several villages in Jaji Maidan district, Khost prov., to assess wheat seed planting techniques. (Army Photos by Capt. Brian Foster, 4-19th ADT)
KHOST PROVINCE — For Afghan farmers in eastern Afghanistan agriculture is the primary industry, and wheat is the staple food. It accounts for over half the caloric intake of the population, and covers roughly 16,000 hectares of land.
Coalition members of the 4-19th ADT recently funded the purchase of 142 metric tons of certified winter wheat seed for planting throughout the prov. this winter. Made through the Army’s Cmdr’s Emergency Response Program (CERP), the seed purchase will help combat a projected shortfall in wheat production, and increase domestic supply.
According to a May 2011 report published by the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), cereal production, primarily wheat, was estimated to be 1.25 metric tons below last year’s yield.
“This project is very important, because it will help increase wheat production in Khowst Prov.,” said Capt. Marc Blue, of Ill., the CERP project mgr. “This project gives the DAIL and his staff a mechanism to expand upon year after year, as well as to increase the support and sustainability of the Afghan Govt.”
In order to receive the certified wheat seed, farmers join the Khowst Province Wheat Seed Assn., headed by the DAIL staff. Moreover, they must be willing to accept the guidance and technical assistance from local DAIL Agricultural Extension Agents, and be willing to share improved wheat seed from his harvest with his community.
Combined with the distribution of wheat seed, the DAIL’s office will form a Khowst Prov. Wheat Seed Assn. Initially, the DAIL staff will select district leaders who will identify the most successful and innovative wheat seed farmers in each of their districts, who'll become the base membership of the assn.
“It's important to get this wheat seed distributed quickly to the village co-operatives and farmers, so they can have a successful harvest in the spring,” said Faisal Rahim of the Khowst Prov. DAIL’s office.
During a mock trial, Oct. 27, at the Jalalabad central courtroom, Nangarhar University law students, listen to evidence gathered at a murder scene. Students argued their case using evidence and witness testimony.
NANGARHAR PROVINCE -- As a capstone activity, Nangarhar University law students put on a mock trial in the central Jalalabad courtroom, in front of provincial judges, Oct. 27, where they were graded on their ability to work through the legal process of a complex murder case.
Similar to an actual case that occurred 3 years ago, the students had to argue evidence and question witnesses to make or plead their case. "The Afghan public expects those who graduate from law school to be competent and comfortable in the courtroom," said Shabeer Kamawal, country director, International Legal Foundation-Afghanistan, a non-govt, nonprofit org.
“Our hope is that the mock trial helps students gain a much better understanding of trial procedures,” said Kamawal. “Therefore, it fulfills people’s need for having lawyers, judges and prosecutors, who know what they have to do.”
"The trial enabled the law students to apply what they learned in an academic setting to a real courtroom situation," said AF Maj. Kari Fletcher, NATO Rule of Law Field Support Mission—Afghanistan. “The mock trial allowed students to hone their critical thinking skills, practice public speaking, and gain valuable experience working as a group,” said Fletcher.
"The program does not just benefit the students," said Kamawal. It offers clear insight into an ideal Afghan courtroom environment, where the defense and prosecution have equal time to present their arguments and plead their case. It offers an orderly and preset model that judges and other judicial officials can follow.
“One reason mock trials are structured the way they are is to educate and send the message out to judicial actors—whether it’s the police, judges, prosecutors—to explain what it's like to have a trial that goes according to the rule of law, and follows procedures correctly,” added Kamawal.
Although the audience was primarily judicial officials and students, local radio, television and news media also captured the trial, granting the public a view into the judicial process.
“Holding mock trials in a public form is a great way for the public to see its judicial system at work, and an appreciation for the principle of equal access to justice,” said Fletcher. “By allowing the students to hold the mock trial in a public courtroom, the judiciary is acknowledging the importance of the formal justice system.”
Once the trial concluded, members of the audience, which included prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges, asked questions and commented on the program. “It was a very successful trial,” said Chief Judge Fazil, Nangarhar’s chief judge of the appellate court. “The students worked exceptionally hard. They carefully prepared their decision, and I evaluated each of their efforts.”
"Although only a select number of law students participated in the mock trial, the program is ongoing," said Kamawal. "The goal is to grow the program to include twice as many students."
“Promoting the rule of law in Afghanistan needs to start with the younger generation,” said Fletcher. “Engaging students in the system at an early stage in their lives will help foster a belief in the future of Afghanistan, and that they will play a key part in how Afghanistan’s justice system is shaped. Traditional approaches to dispute resolution have such a deep-rooted place in Afghanistan culture that we need to instill in the next generation the efficacy of the rule of law in society.”
Nangarhar University law students, listen to evidence gathered at a murder scene. Students argued their case using evidence and witness testimony.
Afghan journalists interview Chief Judge Fazil, at the conclusion of mock trial.
A Nangarhar University law student, acting as a police officer, answers a question. The complex murder trial tested the students’ abilities to argue evidence and question witnesses in front of actual top Afghan provincial judicial officials.
TF Spartan 3, Truck Cmdr. Sgt. David Floyd (front) helps ANP officers detect vehicle threat indicators at Freedom Circle in the heart of downtown Kabul.
KABUL – As TF Spartan 3’s armored convoy stopped at the congested Freedom Circle, Nov. 8, in downtown Kabul, the 15 specially trained soldiers – including Sgt. David Floyd and Spc. Daniel Fowler – dismounted to find the ANP set up, ready and already searching vehicles.
“Since we’ve started doing our checkpoints and mentoring the Afghan police, I’ve seen a big difference in their work ethic and capability,” said Spartan 3 Team Leader Staff Sgt. Mark Moon. “The checkpoints we’ve helped them work are being run correctly and nearly autonomously.”
Stood up in early Sept., TF Spartan consists of several teams, most of which are based at Camp Phoenix, Kabul. Spartan 3 is the group’s largest and only element based at Camp Eggers, Kabul. They were charged by Cmdr., TF Yankee, Brig. Gen. John Hammond to serve as combat advisers to ANP officials at more than 50 different checkpoints, within 5 Afghan police districts spread out across the densely populated city of more than 3.9 million people.
“There are a lot of people out here,” said Moon. “We show the Afghan police how to protect themselves and catch insurgents. Ultimately, this will help ensure a successful security transition in 2014.”
According to Spartan 3 Senior NCO Master Sgt. Jerry Dees, completing their mission demanded a higher pedigree of soldier. “We needed the best and got them,” said Dees. “Every single person on this team was handpicked based on their capabilities, motivation, and overall desire to conduct themselves as professional soldiers. Spartan 3 can communicate extremely well, and understands that building a good rapport with the Afghan police requires respect and courtesy.”
Spartan 3 mentors work shoulder to shoulder with ANP officers, demonstrating ways to identify possible VBIEDs, vehicle and personnel searches, and how to set up traffic control points. This mission places Spartan 3 in a unique position, where each action results in a measurable success or failure, and pushes the most junior soldier to perform as a seasoned warfighter.
“Being a leader fills me with a lot of confidence,” said Spc. Matthew Crane, Spartan 3’s most junior truck cmdr. “Proving that I’m capable of doing the job of a NCO gives me a lot of fulfillment.”
Spartan 3’s efforts also support Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior priority to counter internal corruption. By setting a positive example both externally in the way Spartan 3 soldiers engage the Afghan community, and internally in the way the team inter-operates with each other, Afghan police see a reachable standard that emphasizes common respect – a lesson Moon says comes naturally by way of a classic soldier mentality.
“When you talk to soldiers, you hear them talk about why they go to war,” said Moon. “It’s always about the brothers and sisters next to them. I’m here for my team, and we are all here for each other. When we work with the ANP, we demonstrate this in our actions. They are happy to see us and appreciate us being there.”
Activated in 2009, NTM-A (NATO Training Mission) is a coalition of 37 contributing nations charged with assisting the GoA in generating a capable and sustainable ANSF ready to take the lead of their country’s security by 2014.
Spc. Daniel Fowler provides security for his team while ANP officers conduct routine vehicle inspections at Freedom Circle in the heart of downtown Kabul.
NCO Master Sgt. Jerry Dees briefs his team before leaving to help ANP officers.
Heavy Metal Takes a Ride to Kuwait
Story and photos by Pvt. Andrew Slovensky
Soldiers with the 1452nd Combat Heavy Equipment Transportation Co (CHETC), N. Carolina Army N.G., load an M1 Abrams tank onto the bed of a super heavy equipment transporter tractor-trailer on COB Adder, Nov. 4. The 1452nd loaded 2 of the 60-ton tanks to transport to Kuwait in support of the U.S. Forces drawdown in Iraq.
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA – On COB Adder, Humvees, tanks, trucks, and tractors wait silently for their turn to make the more-than 100-mile trip to Kuwait. As U.S. troops leave, the growing list of heavy machinery that can't be packed into bags or shipping containers has an alternative route out of the country.
Soldiers with the 1452nd mobilized in July to support the rapid drawdown of U.S. Forces from Iraq. The N. Carolina Army N.G. unit deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, and runs convoy missions to load up heavy equipment in Iraq, and deliver it safely to the southern neighbor.
“The mission is to go up north and move equipment back down to where they need it,” said Sgt. Charles Evegan, asst. convoy cmdr. for the 1452nd. "They spend most of their time on the road in convoys of heavy equipment transporters, armored tractor-trailers," said Evegan.
The trailers are loaded with some of the largest pieces of military equipment in use, including massive 60-ton M1 Abrams tanks. Soldiers in the unit are responsible not just for driving the oversized HETs, but also for securing loads, operating wenches, and performing maintenance on their vehicles.
With the deadline set by the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq for U.S. Forces’ withdrawal, units are lining up with gear in hand to leave the country. But soldiers of the 1452nd said they're proud to swim against the current of departing troops, to facilitate the needs of the drawdown.
“I put in a volunteer packet to be here; I want to be here to help my country,” said Spc. Ryan Lee, truck driver with the 1452nd. “I know it’s one of the biggest drawdowns in history, and I feel glad that I’m able to contribute.”
“It feels pretty good to know you're part of something this big, and moving a lot of equipment in such a short amount of time,” said Evegan.
Soldiers with the 1452nd prepare to convoy out of COB Adder, Nov. 4.
Staff Sgt. Kyle Gentry, convoy cmdr. with the 1452nd, secures an M1 Abrams to the bed of a super heavy equipment transporter tractor-trailer.