50 graduate Fatima Girls High School

Tabasum Sharqi (left) opens a book she received for graduating at the top of her Fatima Girls High School class at a ceremony held at the Kunar Department of Women’s (click for more)

Polish and US Forces bond through weapons

Soldiers from the Polish Army and the Texas National Guard Agribusiness Development Team-IV check their shot grouping during qualification on the Polish AK-74 5.56 mm Mini-Beryl short assault rifle Feb. (click for more)

TF Duke Soldiers volley for peace

U.S. Army Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, play an impromptu game of volleyball against a team (click for more)

Nurgaram District leaders electrify Nangaresh schools

Dr. Mehirulla Muslim, the Nurgaram District subgovernor, addresses an audience of teachers, government officials and citizens during a ceremony to celebrate a completed solar panel electricity project Feb. 21 in (click for more)

10th CAB Soldiers bring communications to Bagram’s east side

U.S. Army Spc. Raheem Stewart, an automations specialist with TF Phoenix, steps along the rafters of the building his team helped wire for communications. Stewart, from Dallas, was one of (click for more)

ANA, Red Bulls search Parwai during Operation Brass Monkey

An Afghan National Army soldier from Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 201st Infantry Regiment, searches a pile of rocks in the courtyard of a high-value target home outside the village of (click for more)

Female engagement teams trained to aid communication with Afghan women

U.S. Army Capt. Nicole Zupka of Fair Lawn, N.J., a battlewatch captain with Combined Joint Task Force-Paladin, helps an Afghan child with her writing skills during female engagement team training (click for more)

ANA, TF Storm break trail, make difference in Kharwar

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army soldiers move through Kharwar District to prevent the Taliban’s freedom of movement Feb. 12. U.S. and Afghan soldiers braved more than 3 feet (click for more)

Ky. ADT II begins Panjshir sheep parasite project

Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team II members, U.S. Army Spc. Justin Allen (left), a London, Ky., native, and U.S. Army Sgt. Nicholas Combs, a Corbin, Ky., native, get to know a (click for more)

Engineer Soldiers deliver aid to Afghans

An Afghan carrying a child approaches U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Peter Moeller of Atkins, Iowa, a medic with Task Force Red Bulls, for humanitarian aid at Qale-Mussa Pain Middle School (click for more)

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KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Don Kuehl (left) of Jackson, Minn., U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Bennett Groth of Moville, Iowa, and an interpreter talk with three farmers planting alfalfa at the proposed site of a demonstration farm near the Sarkani District Center in Kunar Province Nov. 22. The farmers told Kuehl a total of eight farmers worked the roughly two acres of land earmarked for the demonstration farm. Kuehl had planned to discuss the demonstration farm with those eight farmers at a Dec. 27 meeting, but when Kuehl arrived to meet with them, Sarkani District officials told Kuehl they were not sure eight farmers actually farmed the two acres in question, and did not know the farmers. The Sarkani District officials promised to identify the mystery farmers and set up another meeting with Kuehl. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Capt. Peter Shinn, 734th Agribusiness Development Team)KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Iowa National Guard’s 734th Agribusiness Development Team is concerned about the potential impact a two-acre demonstration farm could have on the Afghan farmers currently using the land at the proposed demo farm site, near the Sarkani District Center in Kunar Province.

During an ADT site visit in November, three farmers were planting alfalfa on the land earmarked for the demo farm. They said a total of eight farmers depended on the proposed demo farmland to grow forage to feed their livestock.

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Don Kuehl of Jackson, Minn., the Sarkani District project manager for the ADT, met with the three farmers at the proposed demo farm site last month. At home, Kuehl works with U.S. farmers nearly every day in his role as a crop insurance broker, and he felt strongly about minimizing any negative impact the demo farm might have on the Afghan farmers he met.

“We want to make darn sure we’re not doing more harm than good,” Kuehl said, “so I wanted to help the farmers and the Sarkani District officials come to an agreement about using a portion of the proceeds from the demo farm to offset any losses the farmers might have.”

Kuehl, through an intermediary, set-up a meeting with the affected farmers, the Sarkani District subgovernor and the district agriculture extension manager for Dec. 27. However, when Kuehl arrived at the meeting, only subgovernor Shah Mahmood and Sarkani District Agriculture Extension Manager Mangal Khan were there.

After an animated discussion between Mahmood, Khan, the intermediary, two interpreters and Kuehl, it became clear neither Mahmood nor Kahn knew who the farmers in question were, nor how many were actually working the land set aside for the proposed demonstration farm. Still, the group quickly reached consensus that the affected farmers should be indemnified for any losses caused by placement of the demo farm on the land they work. Mahmood and Khan also promised to identify the affected farmers and arrange for Kuehl to meet them.

Kuehl, Mahmood and Khan then discussed the structure of the proposed demo farm, and agreed on the size and placement of two separate greenhouses. Mahmood and Khan were especially enthusiastic about the prospect of growing fresh vegetables during the winter.

“The farmers here do not know how to grow vegetables, but they bring a much higher price during the winter,” Khan said. “With these greenhouses, we can teach them how to grow vegetables they can take to market for more money.”

After discussing outstanding irrigation issues confronting the district, Kuehl agreed to consider underwriting the rental of an excavator to clear the intake of a major canal. However, he insisted Mahmood get three bids for the work first. Mahmood readily agreed, noting “when we shop, we go to three stores before we buy anything.”

Mahmood also expressed gratitude for the ADT’s help in improving agriculture in his district. He shared a vision of the future involving the ADT’s return in a more leisurely role.

“I hope you provide us enough help so you can leave here and return to your country,” Mahmood said. “Then, you can come back here in a few years as tourists.”

For Kuehl, the meeting delivered something of a mixed message. On one hand, he was “surprised the district officials didn’t know who was farming their land, especially since the farmers told me they were paying taxes to do it.” On the other hand, Kuehl has no doubt about the sincerity of Shah Mahmood and Mangal Khan or their commitment to the people they serve.

“I was very encouraged by the district leaders as to getting the demo farms and greenhouse established, and I anticipate getting tremendous results from the training of both the district officials and the Afghan farmers,” Kuehl said. “That way we can accomplish what we set out to do: help the maximum number of people here improve their life.”KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Don Kuehl of Jackson, Minn., says farewell to Shah Mahmood, the Sarkani District subgovernor, following a meeting at the Sarkani District Center Dec. 27. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Capt. Peter Shinn, 734th Agribusiness Development Team)KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Soldiers from the Iowa National Guard's 734th Agribusiness Development Team establish a security perimeter around the edge of a proposed demonstration farm near the Sarkani District Center in Afghanistan's Kunar Province Dec. 27. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Capt. Peter Shinn, 734th Agribusiness Development Team)


Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 December 2010 01:20


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Coalition forces engage insurgents in Kapisa

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Coalition forces killed seven insurgents in defensive operations in the Alah Say District, Kapisa Province, eastern Afghanistan, March 29.

Coalition forces and aircraft responded to an insurgent attack. Four insurgents were killed by air strike and three were killed by direct fire from coalition forces.

All rounds were reported safe and on target. There were no reports of injuries or damages to civilians in the area.

ANSF, ISAF begin major operation in Laghman valley

LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Afghan National Security Forces, partnered with U.S. Task Forces Red Bulls and Phoenix and French Task Force La Fayette, began operations in Galuch Valley, Laghman Province, March 25.

Soldiers of the Afghan National Army’s 201st Corps, Afghan National Police’s 202nd Shamshod and the U.S. Army’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, TF Red Bulls, supported by the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, TF Phoenix, conducted an air assault into the valley to remove enemy forces. Battle Group Richelieu, TF La Fayette, provided artillery support from Kapisa Province.

While conducting operations, the forces found multiple weapons caches including assorted rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, Russian rockets, materials to make homemade explosives, various other ordnances and communication equipment.  

While moving through the valley, unit leadership met with village elders to discuss the security situation and to allow them to give up insurgents still in the area.

The operation will assist the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in establishing the valley as a new district giving the Afghan people in the area freedom from the insurgency.   

President Hamid Karzai approved the creation of the additional district and hopes the new district will help improve the security of the area and support the reconstruction effort.

Mohammad Iqbal Azizi, Laghman Province governor, held a press conference March 7 announcing the establishment of a new district located in the valley.

ANSF, TF Bastogne continue operations in Kunar


KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and coalition troops from Task Force Bastogne continued operations in the Shigal District March 18 after clearing the village of Lawsin and the surrounding area.

Afghan leaders, coalition forces look forward

PAKTYA, Afghanistan – Leaders from across eastern Afghanistan attended a security conference March 9 at Forward Operating Base Thunder, the home of the Afghan Army’s 203rd Thunder Corps.