Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, July 01, 2010, Pages 1 & 7
Smith to provide security for ADT team in Afghanistan
There is nothing unusual about training sessions at Iowa State University (ISU) Field Extension Education Laboratory (FEEL)
west of Ames.
Sessions typically include classroom instruction, as well as lessons in test plots and surrounding fields.
And it isn't out of the ordinary for ISU to hold educational events at the Animal Science Teaching Farms south of Ames or for
ISU Horticulture Station in Gilbert to be the location of fruit and vegetable classes.
But to have one group of people
receive training in crops and soils, animal husbandry, small scale poultry production and vegetable production and handling
at these locations in the course of four days is very unusual.
TO have all program participants arrive in military attire
is so rare that it hasn't happened before - until this past month.
As members of Iowa National Guard's 734th Agri-business
Development Team (ADT) prepare for a year-long mission to Kunar Province in Afghanistan, ISU faculty and ISU Extension
specialists are explaining techniques and methods that will help them improve agri-business half a world away.
as part of the ADT will be Lucas SMITH of Mount Ayr, but his role will be providing security for the other members of the
team who will actually be working with the Afghanistan farmers. SMITH and some of his team have been working on security
skills while the other members have been training in the agricultural areas.
A sendoff is planned today (Thursday) as
the troops leave Iowa headed for Indiana and eventually Afghanistan.
Col. Craig BARGFREDE, commanding the 734th ADT,
described the partnership between ADT and ISU. "We worked closely with Iowa State to design a training program based on
the various projects that we will be working on in Afghanistan," BARGFREDE said. "While each individual on the team has a
background in agriculture, those backgrounds are varied. The team includes a veterinarian, a veterinarian technician,
agronomists, soil scientists, agricultural marketing and processing people as well as a CPA and a contracts manager. Many grew
up or still live on farms."
At the end of the training, BARGFREDE expects his team to have a common baseline understanding
that will improve their functionality as a team when they are on the ground in northern Afghanistan. [Page 7] "The mission of the
ADT is to work with provincial leaders and the agricultural district to help them rebuild their agricultural
infrastructure, rebuild irrigation systems and increase capacity of their agricultural systems."
It has been the mission of
the ISU Extension Agri-business Education Program to create training that supports the needs of this team with diverse
backgrounds. "ISU had the research to address the agricultural issues that the team will face in Afghanistan and extension
specialists to teach in a way that will benefit the team," said Brent PRINGNITZ, ISU Extension program specialist.
the training, ISU Extension crop specialists covered wheat and corn production topics from soil sampling and
understanding nutrient avilability and needs to pest management and setting up demonstration plots," he said. "Because
of the limited technology and equipment of Afghanistan, the livestock specialists addressed handling livestock with limited
supplies and ways to improve forages using available nutrient supplies."
The ADT learned about vegetable production and
handling, and how to extend the growing season using high tunnels with ISU Extension horticulture specialists as their
instructors. ISU arranged for small-scale poultry production instruction at an area producer's farm.
specialists met the challenge of delivering information for a group of people with varying degrees of knowledge about
each topic," PRINGNITZ said. "In the end, the ADT had a common understanding of the many agri-business issues they would
be faced with in the coming year. They have a common starting point, even though none of us know exactly what they face."
ISU will continue to support the team during their time in Afghanistan with a reach-back component, according to PRINGNITZ
said. "They will be responsible for helping the Afghan producers understand the needs of their soil."
The team will have
ISU research and extension experts to consult as they set up demonstration plots and engage early adopter to implement new
farming techniques in Afghanistan.
"We have established and will maintain a website of resources for the team and have
saved all the training materials to DVD so they have a reference at hand when they are in the field without internet
As part of their training the group also spent some time at Living History Farms, where they saw some
agricultural practices similar to the ones they would be working with in Afghanistan.
When BARGFREDE'S team arrives in
Afghanistan later this summer, they will face the needs of an agrarian area that their leader predicts will resemble
Biblical times in terms of limited technology and small-plot farming. He is counting on the common baseline understanding
of agricultural principles that ISU and extension provided his team to make it possible for them to accomplish the tasks
that they are charged with.~ ~ ~ ~Local soldier readies for ag
deploymentBy SPECIALIST LUCAS SMITH
When I first found out about the Agri-Business Development Team (ADT) mission to Afghanistan last November, I volunteered
In July, I'll have been in the Army four years, and I wanted to go on a deployment. This seemed like a
pretty good one. We'll get to go and interact with people, rather than sitting "behind the wire" guarding prisoners.
Also, if the team needs help with construction, I'll be able to pitch in. I'm majoring in construction management at UNI
and work in the summers roofing houses and putting up siding.
At first I wasn't sure I'd get to go. Soldiers on the ADT are
hand-picked, and I was selected just as an alternate. Then a couple of months ago, another soldier had to withdraw from the
team and I got word I would definitely be going.
We've been training for the ADT mission since January during weekend
drills. We started training full-time the last week of May, and this month we've been training hard. We're getting less
sleep, but we're getting even better at the soldier tasks that will keep us safe over there.
I'm a little nervous
about the deployment because it is my first one to a combat zone. But the Security Forces section I'm a part of all
come from the same military police company, and we all work really well together as a team. That makes me confident we'll
be successful in our mission of protecting the agriculture experts on the ADT.
We'll be gong to Camp Atterbury in
Indiana on July 1, right after a going away ceremony at Camp Dodge in Des Moines. My family will be there, and I really
appreciate my mom and dad's support. I know they're proud of me. That's another reason I want to do a good job while I'm
My commander says I should keep everyone at home posted while I'm gone, so I'll write again when I have
some more to tell you.
Specialist Lucas SMITH is a member of the Security Forces section of the Iowa National Guard's
734th Agri-Business Development Team (ADT). He is a lifelong resident of Mount Ayr and has been home visiting his parents --
James and June SMITH -- in preparation for the deployment. The ADT'S mission is to improve the productivity and
sustainability of Afghan ag producers and agri-business,and build the capacity of the Government of the Islamic
Republic of Afghanistan to provide agricultural services to its citizens.
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2012
Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Lucas Smith back from Afghanistan ag deployment
Specialist Lucas Smith
A community homecoming ceremony was held for the 734th agribusiness development team of the Iowa National Guard Saturday
at the Johnston high school gymnasium after the return of the group from Afghanistan.
Specialist Lucas SMITH, son of
James and June SMITH of Mount Ayr, was one of the members of the team.
Serving in Afghanistan, the 734th agribusiness
development team was the first-ever joint Iowa Army and Air National Guard unit to be deployed overseas. The team was
comprised of approximately 60 Iowa Army and Air National Guard members from around the state of Iowa with backgrounds
and expertise in various sectors of agribusiness.
SMITH provided security for the team.
Their mission was to provide
training and advice to Afghan universities, provincial ministries and local farmers with the goal of increasing stability
opportunities for Afghanistan's re-emerging agribusiness sector.
Following their July 2010 send-off ceremony at Camp
the soldiers and airmen reported to their mobilization station at Camp Atterbury, IN for additional training and
preparation for departing for overseas operations in Afghanistan.
While in Afghanistan, the team initiated or expanded
six demonstration farms in six different districts, helped Afghan veterinarians treat nearly 40,000 head of livestock,
underwrote the planting of more than 70,000 trees for orchards and reforestation, conducted training of hundreds of
Afghan men and women in items such as tree nurseries, orchard planting, greenhouse growing, row crop production and basic
livestock care, funded cash-for-work canal cleaning projects, launched a range of micro-entrepreneurial projects and
mentored key provincial governmental officials.
They served in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, for the duration of their
The unit is out-processing at Fort McCoy, WI.
Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, July of 2011
To submit your Ringgold County news items, contact Sharon R. Becker at
Please include the word "Ringgold" in the subject line. Thank you.