By Air Force Capt. Dale E. Mitchell
Combined Joint Task Force 1 – Afghanistan
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (1/31/12) – The commander of the Missouri National Guard spent some time during the holiday season to visit the Missouri Agribusiness Development Team V at Forward Operating Base Finley-Shields, Dec. 29.
During his visit to Forward Operating Base Finley-Shields, Army Maj. Gen Stephen L. Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, shared a message of gratitude for the tremendous sacrifices each Citizen-Soldier and -Airman has endured while bringing agricultural stability to the eastern region of Afghanistan.
Accompanying Danner was Army Command Sgt. Maj. James Schulte, state command sergeant major of Missouri. Schulte played a key role in setting conditions in Nangarhar prior to the arrival of ADT I. During the visit his comments and words to the troops mirrored the adjutant general's themes. He also spent some one-on-one time with the ADT V enlisted personnel.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Seth Fifewas prepared to answer questions about his duties and accomplishments while in poverty-stricken Afghanistan, but was refreshed to share stories of his wife Jennifer instead.
"You always hear the idea, 'mission first,'" Fife said, "[but] when Maj. Gen. Danner shook my hand, he asked about my family, not the mission."
"Bringing in the New Year in Afghanistan could have been another routine event, however, it was nice to bid farewell to 2011 with a memorable visit from a supportive command," Fife said.
In preparation for the eventual drawdown in Afghanistan, Danner and Schulte led small informal discussion groups to alleviate concerns, and laid out the way ahead for the state of Missouri beyond the year 2014.
ADT members also engaged their top leaders in discussion of force reduction issues.
The state command team echoed sentiments that the U.S. government, as well as the state of Missouri, is focused on the shared goal of providing a foundation for an independently run, stable, democratic, and financially prosperous Afghanistan.
Danner will continue to dedicate troops to the Agribusiness mission as long as the proven model, created by the state of Missouri and replicated by numerous other states, can be funded.
"The ADT is performing a vital mission, and although they have faced adversity in attaining their goals, they continue to maintain high standards of performance established here in Nangarhar by previous Missouri Guardsman," Danner said.
"Nothing can be more trying at times than the life of a day-to-day Soldier or Airman, tasked to serve a people they don't often understand both through cultural nuance and language", said Army Maj. Samuel Forester, Nangarhar ADT executive officer.
"As the leaders of the Agribusiness Development Team, we know life is tough here – we depend on the resiliency and dedication of not only our team, but our family members back home. It was an honor to have the top leaders from our state set aside time that they could have been spending with their own families, to listen to and acknowledge the successes and concerns of our team members," Forester said.
As the Missouri Agribusiness Development Team heads into 2012, the agribusiness situation within Afghanistan continues to evolve. The team's priorities continue to revolve around supporting agricultural governance and development within Nangarhar Province. Their last few months of effort are focused on laying the foundation for a seamless transition between Missouri ADT V, and Team VI, scheduled to arrive in Afghanistan in the spring of 2012.
"This continuity of effort is one of the reasons why the Missouri ADT has been so successful in achieving positive long term effects within the Nangarhar province," Forester said.