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Thread: Agricultural Component of the Afghanistan Surge?

  1. #1
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Agricultural Component of the Afghanistan Surge?

    If we are to accept the premise that Afghanistan will require an integrated DIME (Diplomacy, Information, Military, Economic) solution to its problems then we might profitably consider the makeup of the future ‘Surge’ that is to be sent to this country, which is renowned for its isolating geography. (1, 2, 3)

    The USDA estimates that about 80% of Afghanistan’s population works in Agriculture (4) Accordingly, I will focus exclusively upon an analysis of the feasibility of an Agricultural Component for the Afghanistan Surge because it is my preference to have Afghani’s working in Agriculture and its supporting industries rather than ‘working’ to harm our troops (the analysis takes into account that the growing season lasts only part of the year).

    If we take the American Model to be the 100% Agricultural Solution it would seem that for ~ 400 million acres of arable productive farmland (5 -FAO) 21,000 Agricultural Specialists (6 - USBLS) (Subject Matter Experts on soil, crops, pests, etc.) would be needed. This works out to 19,048 acres per Ag Specialist.

    Oftentimes when a soldier is ‘downrange’ a less than 100% solution is found to be ‘good enough’ in many instances. Lets assume a 70% solution is our upper limit and a 51% solution is our lower limit for a typical ‘good enough’ solution. Given that Afghanistan has approximately 20 million acres (1 ha = 2.47 acres) of arable productive farmland (7 - FAO) a 70% solution would require approximately 730 Agricultural Specialists, and a 51% solution would require approximately 530. If we are concerned about difficult geography we might plus up the force to 150% of what’s needed or a little more than 1560 Agricultural Specialists. We need to take into account the concept of sweat equity and have Afghani’s as the lead element in this effort. (8 - Wikipedia) USDA states that they have provided 70 technical specialists for Afghanistan since 2003 and that Congressional Funding is an issue of concern. (9 – USDA)

    We would need to arm Agricultural Specialists with training, seed, fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides for crops that are both cultivatable in Afghanistan as well as desired by the Afghani’s from a business standpoint. This might include crops such as Almonds, Cotton, Pomegranates, Raisins, Tea, and Wheat. (10 - FAO) Planning and preparation could be best done now, while planting season is some months off.

    The approximately 3 billion dollar floral industry is an agricultural business model that might apply to Afghanistan. (11 – USDA ERS) Columbia and some of its competitors in Africa provide many data points to consider. (12 – Business Daily Africa). India has expertise in this business as well. (13 Trade Journal) It’s certainly not the only business model for Afghanistan, but perhaps it could be part of a 51% to 70% ‘good enough’ solution focused upon an Agricultural Component of the Surge.

    Opium’s importance in Afghanistan cannot be discounted, and may account for approximately half of the country’s estimated 4.4 billion dollar GDP. (14 - UN) Fulfilling demand for opium by pharmaceutical companies might be a small part of a solution to this complex and multi-faceted problem. (15 - Wikipedia)

    An analysis similar to that of the proposed Agricultural Component of the Afghanistan Surge should also be prepared for the supporting project managers, irrigation specialists, hydraulics & hydrology specialists, and the water well specialists, needed to supply adequate water for the myriad small scale agricultural projects that might be accomplished as part of a Surge in Afghanistan.

    The USAID, USACE, USISP, and others have already been thinking about and working on the roads needed to get agricultural supplies and products in and out of remote villages. (16, 17, 18, & 19) We could also build an estimate for the number of road crews, road security teams, truck drivers, mechanics, gas station personnel (as well as the appropriate specialists) that could be employed by focusing upon an Afghani led Agricultural Component of the Afghanistan Surge.

    It is my opinion that by ensuring that the Afghanistan Surge has a thoroughly planned and resourced Agricultural Component we could reduce the impact, currently very visible in Afghanistan, of the old saying, ‘idle hands are the devils playground’. Iraq AAR lessons on this same issue are instructive. (20)

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    Sapere Aude

  2. #2
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default Irrigation Experts Needed.

    While I agree with you in principal, we have to look at what is currently needed. Water seems to be the current issue with wheat production. http://www.pecad.fas.usda.gov/highli...2/Afghanistan/. Dependency on rainfall will continue to limit production and the simple, gravity fed irrigation systems are not particularly useful for wheat as they are for row crops.

    What might be needed are wells with large scale watering systems (the large spoke style sprinklers used in the Midwest). Not sure the terrain and water table can sustain that.

    I am not convinced that growing wheat will have any affect on opium production. If you look at the maps of where wheat is grown and where opium is grown you will see they do not coincinde. While I am not positive, I believe this has to do with the ability to grow each type of crop in the region. http://www.unodc.org/documents/front...fghanistan.pdf
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

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  3. #3
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Water is life...

    TC,

    Agree with you on the water issue. No water, no crops...

    Thanks for the USDA link. This USDA report was from earlier in the year

    Well-below normal rainfall and winter snowfall across the majority of Afghanistan during late 2007 and early 2008 have led to the worst drought conditions in the past 10 years
    Here is an interesting (and dated) FAO report which provides some insight into Afghanistan irrigation issues:

    Irrigation systems can be divided into four main categories:

    * Kareze systems. A kareze (qanat) is an unlined tunnel in the hillside, bringing water by free flow from underground aquifers to be used for surface irrigation. Dug by local craftsmen from shafts at close intervals, they are small in size but may be many kilometres in length. It is estimated that 6 470 kareze still supply water to 167 750 ha, as in 1967, the date of the last inventory. It should be noted that kareze are often used for domestic water supply.
    * Small-scale informal surface water systems. These are the traditional irrigation systems, many of which have been established for centuries. In the past, maintenance and reconstruction were generally arranged on a traditional informal or communal village basis, and water rights were determined and recognized in a similar manner. Technical knowledge and operational systems were thus dependent on traditional community structures, and were largely retained in the memory of individuals.
    * Large-scale informal surface water systems. These are located mainly in the plains and along the main valleys. Although they are called informal, their operation and maintenance was highly structured. Repair and maintenance works can mobilize very large quantities of labour for a long period and farmers in the command area have to contribute in labour, cash or kind. Large parts of these schemes have been abandoned because of the sterilization of the land (waterlogging and salinization), particularly in the Hari Rud, Farah Rud and Helmand valleys.
    * Formal irrigation schemes. Formally organized large-scale irrigation systems are a relatively recent innovation. However, by the late 1970s three large-scale modern irrigation systems had been built and were in operation: the Helmand-Arghandab system in the south-west, the Ghaziabad farms near Jalalabad in the east, and the Kunduz-Khanabad system in the northern part of the country. By 1993, only a very small part of these schemes was still operational. Land tenure was different from most traditional systems in that ownership of land was registered. Some schemes were operated under private land ownership agreements, while others were operated as state farms where land ownership was deeded to the State.
    Qanats were a concept taught in some of my hydraulics courses, and I ran across Iraqis who knew about their use in Iraq:

    A qanat (from Arabic: قناة‎) or kareez (from Persian: كاريز) is a water management system used to provide a reliable supply of water to human settlements or for irrigation in hot, arid and semi-arid climates. The technology is known to have developed in ancient Persia,[1][2][3] and then spread to other cultures.
    Certainly there seem to be no easy answers other than sustained effort by local folks who are dedicated and who hopefully have some access to trained and dedicated folks who are willing to help out.

    As a CA Bubba, I often feel that raising, training, resourcing, and motivating a local 'technocrat army' is not as high on our to do list as it should be.

    Regards,

    Steve
    Sapere Aude

  4. #4
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default Orchards

    Thanks for the information on the qanat. I ran across one of these systems in Khost province. It was rather amazing as it ran better then ten kilometers from the river to and under a local town. The Afghans are so good at irrigation systems that they have learned how to make water run up hill. It is actually an illusion created by the step valleys but you would swear that it runs up hill.

    Three other things. First, I think that the soil tends to fail from overuse and crops have to be rotated further limiting production.

    Second, in places where that happens, and generally all around the country, orchards and in particular olives might be a better cash crop. I had heard while in county, but have been unable to verify, that prior to WWII Afghanistan had a flourishing olive oil business. I know these trees take years before they produce but they may be a better fit for the soil and conditions.

    Finally, Pakistan and its constant battle with India still hampers the ability to export goods. Afghanistan is a few hundered miles from one of the largest and fastest growing economies in the world but could never hope to get its goods to market there.

    Food for thought.
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

    Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
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  5. #5
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default From Today's SWJ Roundup

    Today's Washington Post has an Opinion Article that is of interest...

    The result of letting the Pentagon take such thorough charge of the programs to create local police forces is that these units, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, have been unnecessarily militarized -- producing police officers who look more like militia members than ordinary beat cops. These forces now risk becoming paramilitary groups, well armed with U.S. equipment, that could run roughshod over Iraq and Afghanistan's nascent democracies once we leave.

    Or consider another problem with the rising influence of the Pentagon: the failure to address the ongoing plague of poppy farming and heroin production in Afghanistan. This fiasco was in large part the result of the work of non-expert military personnel, who discounted the corrosive effects of the Afghan heroin trade on our efforts to rebuild the country and failed to support civilian-run counter-narcotics programs
    Sapere Aude

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default

    I saw that one and I guess if you want to write an extremist, conspiratorial viewpoint about how the Pentagon is out to conquer the US government, you can. Frankly it just shows that the person who wrote--despite his familial ties to the services through his father--has never served in the Pentagon.

    Rumsfeld did push the boundaries and undercut other agencies. That does not leave those other agencies blameless, either in rolling over and accepting the Rumsfeldian push or later in faling to meet their own responsiblities.

    Looks to me like the author is posturing for a job in the new administration.

    Tom
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 12-21-2008 at 08:34 PM.

  7. #7
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Bias...

    Tom,

    Like you I am biased and don't see it all as horrible/evil thing, but this article does serve to illustrate some of the perceptions we bump into out in the field. I have had to spend more time than I thought would be necessary with my DOS, OGA, USAID, and USACE friends working through the one team one fight concept. Change is tough.

    I feel that we also need to look at why many of our Inter-Agency brothers have this perception...the whole where there is smoke there is fire thing does apply to a certain extent. We have not conquered our inter-service/inter-agency tribal tendencies and have yet to really make the DIME concept work in this fight. I believe that the force-mix requests and staffing are very telling in the upcoming Afghanistan Surge. I see little to no info about a surge in the D,I, & E components...

    Best,

    Steve
    Sapere Aude

  8. #8
    Council Member jkm_101_fso's Avatar
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    Default Military Agricultural Team-KSARNG

    The Kansas Army National Guard was selected to take the "Agricultural Development" mission in AFG for the next three years. Guard units in Kansas screened Soldiers in their formations with Ag backgrounds and asked for volunteers. With Kansas State being a huge aggie school, there are plenty of experts around, plus all of the small farmers. A friend of mine was picked up for a year long tour. He is a CPT and has an agronomy degree. He has been told that the mission consists of teaching afghans new methods of planting, irrigation and harvest. Plus he will be doing some soil work.

    I'll post more as I find out. He leaves next month.

    I found this:
    http://www.army.mil/aps/08/informati...ment_Team.html
    Last edited by jkm_101_fso; 12-21-2008 at 06:02 PM.
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

  9. #9
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
    Tom,

    Like you I am biased and don't see it all as horrible/evil thing, but this article does serve to illustrate some of the perceptions we bump into out in the field. I have had to spend more time than I thought would be necessary with my DOS, OGA, USAID, and USACE friends working through the one team one fight concept. Change is tough.

    I feel that we also need to look at why many of our Inter-Agency brothers have this perception...the whole where there is smoke there is fire thing does apply to a certain extent. We have not conquered our inter-service/inter-agency tribal tendencies and have yet to really make the DIME concept work in this fight. I believe that the force-mix requests and staffing are very telling in the upcoming Afghanistan Surge. I see little to no info about a surge in the D,I, & E components...

    Best,

    Steve

    Steve

    I agree that the biases and perceptions play a large role and do affect what we try and do. But where I disagree with this opinion piece are the ideas that:

    a. The Pentagon is a monolith capable of acting as the inner evil empire; there are as many agendas inside the Pentagon as there are outside, perhaps more.

    b. That inner agency friction is somehow a new phenomenon and that the Constitution is under attack as a result of the evil empir (see a.)

    In 15 years of inter-agency work, the turf battles never stopped. At best, good leaders--civilian or uniformed--minimized the friction. At worst, bad leaders--civilian or uniformed--only thought in terms of their own agencies agenda. Based on this author's criticisms, I would tentatively place him in the latter category.

    Best

    Tom
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 12-21-2008 at 06:10 PM.

  10. #10
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Of interest only in that it is correct for all the wrong reasons.

    Quote Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
    Today's Washington Post has an Opinion Article that is of interest...
    The premise of the article, that DoD primacy in intelligence and foreign affiars is wrong and needs to be reined in is, IMO, correct -- however, he totally misses on almost all the reasons we are where we are.

    He presents a State centric view of the current Administration -- which admittedly has screwed up a number of things. So, however, have the other 11 Administrations I've seem; every single one of them including FDR. All of them contributed in several ways to put DoD in its current position.

    A combination of federal missteps, academic arrogance, media ignorance and Congressional errors and partisan stupidity in the vetting and Advice and Consent business have also conspired to insure that few civilians on any real competence and stature are remotely interested in Fedral service. Why would anyone really competent want to put up with that idiocy?

    We are in the DoD primacy arena because State defaulted on their obligations a number of time over the years, because Congress is venal and corrupt and would prefer to fund big ticket defense items due to the fact that helps all Districts rather than properly fund foreign affairs and assistance (and to the fact that State has never been able to state their needs very well). He neglects the death of USAID and the US Information Agency virtually at the request of DoS. Two very big errors an both were fought for by State through several Administrations and were effected prior to this administration assuming power in 2000. He needs to speak to Warren and Maddie...

    The unintended consequences of Truman's establishment of a DoD -- which was not necessary and arguably led to greater efficiency (at least nominally...) at the cost of less effectiveness and of Goldwater Nichols which placed the geographic CinCs in a position to dominate regions of the world while State did and said nothing and the ineffective Desk system at Foggy Bottom and a few marginal Ambassadors virtually demanded that something be done; DoD did it -- not necessarily because they wanted to, because somebody had to...

    Physician heal thyself.

    On the issue on former military folks in high places; a valid concern. he suggests placing competent civilians in those positions. I totally agree -- the question is, where do you find those kinds of folks? Take a look at the last few Cabinets. Big talent is rare.

    ADDED: See also Tom's comment which is correct and if anything, understated and that of jkm_101_fso for an example of DoD filling a gap that exists because state drove USAID out of business.

    Schweich LINK is also a piece of work for complaining about ranks when he uses his own -- rather temporary and , IMO undeserved -- to promote his agenda and he sure does have one...

    Parochial and self serving article -- but his principal point is valid.
    Last edited by Ken White; 12-21-2008 at 07:03 PM. Reason: Addendum

  11. #11
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default References...

    Ken,

    As always I learn from your posts and am interested in references if you are willing to share. The DOS/USAID splits are of particular interest as well as the Goldwater Nichols history.

    jkm_101_fso 's post(thanks for the link jkm) is significant in several ways.

    It's good to see the need for an agricultural surge officially acknowledged. A quick back of the envelope calculation tells me that if your average Afghani Farmer works for 6 months, takes every Friday off, and only works eight hours a day (most farmers work more), then he would be spending 1248 hours focused on improving his, his family's, and his nation's condition through agriculture as opposed to spending this time engaged in warfare. Depending upon the size of the force opposing us as well as the number of folks needed to push the country to stability, the total number of hours at stake is not insignificant. It would be wise of us to help the Afghani's to spend these hours on agriculture.

    From the article I gather that 6 ADT's will be deployed to a country that has ~ 20 million arable acres. The ADT's are not alone

    John Santas, an associate director of international agricultural programs at the University of Illinois, and Myers, a not-so-retired professor of plant genetics at SIUC, are heading a new project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development to revitalize agricultural education in Afghanistan as part of postwar reconstruction efforts.
    From a practical standpoint as one who has been dropped off in the boonies with a couple of duffle bags and told 'figure it out' I still have questions:

    1) Who's in charge of the Ag Effort?
    2) Will DOD, DOS, USAID, USACE, & Coalition Forces support this?
    3) How is it prioritized and resourced?
    4) How are we tying ADT's, PRT's, Universities, NGO's, IO's, and Coalition forces together?
    5) What are the metrics for 2009 (ie how many tons of wheat, cotton, pomegranates etc.)?
    6) Who is the CIO and what are the digital languages we will speak during this effort?

    As I look for answers to these and other questions I am struck by the diMe as opposed to DIME emphasis. Once again it seems we (M=Military) are going to be planning, blocking, and carrying the ball while most everybody else will be smoking and joking on the bench.

    Going back to the article, if we keep doing the same things I predict that we can except the same perceptions and outcomes.

    Regards,

    Steve
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 12-21-2008 at 10:13 PM.
    Sapere Aude

  12. #12
    Council Member ODB's Avatar
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    Default If memory serves me right

    I recall reading some years back that prior to the Soviet invasion, Afghanistan was 3rd in the world for tourism and much of the land was covered with orchards. The Soviets knocked out most if not all the irrigation infastructure (down to 3%) and in the process created a climate change in the region. Creating a much drier climate than they already had, when there in 2002 many Aghans commented when it rained in Kandahar it was the first rain something like 10 years. Wondering if others have read/heard the same? If they actually had this once before can it not be done again? I understand the time to get trees to maturity to bear fruit, but in the process can we not reverse the climate in the region? In doing so making the region much more productive overall.
    ODB

    Exchange with an Iraqi soldier during FID:

    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

  13. #13
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I'll do part of that...

    Quote Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
    ...am interested in references if you are willing to share. The DOS/USAID splits are of particular interest as well as the Goldwater Nichols history.
    There's no share to it, I have no file on the topic. It's all out there and Google works.

    Not at all hard to find LINK. Note that Democratic foibles in 1971 and 1978 lead to emasculation which was completed by the Peace, Prosperity and Democracy Act (heh. How pathetic is that name...) of 1994.

    That set the stage for the Administration to jawbone the Congress:
    Arguing that the Secretary of State should have more direct control over all tools of U.S. foreign policy, a number of analysts and members of Congress proposed in the mid-1990s to abolish the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) and USAID, and consolidate their operations within the State Department. After three years of debate, Congress enacted legislation in 1998 (Division G of P.L.105-277), transferring USIA and ACDA into State, but retaining USAID as an independent agency. The legislation, however, further required that the USAID Administrator report to and serve under the foreign policy guidance of the Secretary of State. This remains the current relationship between USAID and the Department of State.
    The 'analysts' above cited were mostly from DoD and the Congroids were those Bill got to push his vision -- and State's -- to consolidate their power and get hold of the AID budget to an extent. Bill pushed ececutive power like all Presidents have (and will...), he was just a shrewder politician in the way he went about it than many.

    The above quote is from a CRS study LINK and is on Page CRS 9 . Note (Pages CRS 3 and 4) that for 2006, State managed $10.6B, USAID managed $4.37B and the two jointly managed $2.6B. It's all about money...

    Addressing part of the flaky article's point, note on Page CRS 10 that the funding lines are still opaque -- that's the way Congress likes it -- that way they get to allocate $$$ and don't have to answer questions about it.
    Going back to the article, if we keep doing the same things I predict that we can except the same perceptions and outcomes.
    Foolish and pointless article -- his 'solutions' are aimed at a symptom, not the problem; as I said above (to and for State) "Physician, heal thyself."

    In order for change to be made, State will have to correct it's ideological bias (unlikely) AND Congress will have to put the good of the nation above partisan politics (even more unlikely) and our system of budgetary allocation will need to be changed (still more unlikely). That sounds bad -- and it is -- yet, incremental change, always the American way, can and does occur. Unfortunately, it's usually one step forward and two back but every now and then, with a charismatic President (I see none in the near future, including the next), a good Congress (those do occur with moderate frequency) or a significant event (hopefully not... ) we get three steps forward and only one back.

    As for Goldwater Nichols, I'm not sure what you're asking for. The Act itself is out there, plenty of discussion about it is also easily found. What I said about it was: ""Goldwater Nichols which placed the geographic CinCs in a position to dominate regions of the world while State did and said nothing..."" I'm unsure why that needs amplification as I thought it was pretty much common knowledge.

    The point is that was an unintended consequence; the Act was designed to strengthen the power of combatant commanders versus the DC DoD and Service Chief bureaucracies. It did that but it also inadvertently created a series of regional bureaucracies which provided Pro Consuls or Satraps in the form of the Cincs who were and are located in (mostly) and looking at large multinational regions on a consolidated and daily basis. At the same time, State had only individual Ambassadors in each country, the regional focus was effective only within the State bureaucracy in DC and those folks did not have the clout that the individual Ambassadors had or have. Nor did they have the clout that more money and visibility gave the Cincs. Congress frequently outsmarts itself like that...
    Last edited by Ken White; 12-21-2008 at 10:53 PM. Reason: Typo

  14. #14
    Council Member jkm_101_fso's Avatar
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    Default KSARNG AG Team to AFG

    Found some more info...

    KANSAS NATIONAL GUARD WILL DEPLOY AGRIBUSINESS DEVELOPMENT TEAM TO AFGHANISTAN


    One of the things the United States is known for is its military might, but a group of Kansas National Guardsmen will soon be demonstrating that there is more to the National Guard than that as they deploy in February 2009 to show the people of Afghanistan how to do something that Kansans are known for: farming.


    A joint Kansas Army and Air National Guard team of approximately 60 personnel will go to Afghanistan next year as an Agribusiness Development Team (ADT). The team, comprised of personnel with backgrounds and expertise in various aspects of the agribusiness field, will work in conjunction with the Provincial Reconstruction Team, USAID, USDA, the Department of State and other agencies in Afghanistan's Laghman Province. Their year-long mission is to assist in building capabilities for increased agricultural production, training and services, and improving the safety of food and other agricultural products that are produced and distributed to the Afghan people. They will also assist in the development of sustainable agriculture and other related enterprises that will increase the economic well-being of the Afghans.


    The Kansas National Guard will be performing this mission in partnership with Kansas State University over a three year period to build continuity and relationships with local and regional Afghan individuals and leaders.
    Entire article:
    http://www.kansas.gov/ksadjutantgene...008/08-122.htm

    More:

    Military team melds farming, business savvy for Afghanistan

    by Mike Belt
    November 23, 2008

    A team of Kansas National Guard troops will go to Afghanistan next year to combine its military and civilian skills and help to improve the country’s agricultural capabilities.

    “We’re looking at agricultural-type tasks, while at the same time we have to provide security for when we go out to villages and interact with the populace,” said Capt. Trent Miller, of Eudora. “We’ve got two ongoing missions rolled into one.”

    A team of 60 Army and Air Guard members has been specially selected for an agribusiness development team.

    In February, the team’s members will begin their year-long deployment to Laghman Province in northeastern Afghanistan.
    Article: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2008/no...ni/?city_local
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

  15. #15
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Soviet Lessons...

    Much more at the link

    Accordingly, numerous Soviet-sponsored attempts to enlist popular support foundered. In 1981, the government announced formation of the National Fatherland Front, conceived as a coalition reaching out beyond the ranks of the Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan to village and tribal leaders. Although official claims, by 1986, asserted a total membership of over a million, the support was entirely illusory and its impact minimal. Other visible attempts to mobilize support entailed land reform, construction projects, literacy campaigns, and the promotion of greater civil equality for women. None of these initiatives, not even land reform, achieved much progress. Failure to resuscitate the Afghan economy, an important component for improving popular perceptions of the regime, also hampered the Soviets. In fact, the war—as evidenced by the effects of massive bombing—crippled development prospects by exacerbating agricultural shortages and driving up prices.30 As asserted in a retrospective analysis by M. A. Gareev, deputy chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the Soviet Army and later the General Staff, reform imposed from above had little prospect of success. Rather, he argued, support should have been built from below, beginning with the Moslem clergy, who numbered perhaps 40,000 and wielded tremendous influence.31 Still other measures that produced meager results included proclamations of amnesty for deserting soldiers and well-publicized agreements of cooperation with Islamic institutions.
    An Afghanistan food price report from Reuters

    Wheat prices have seen a marginal but steady decline since May in all the provinces in line with the "decreasing trend of wheat prices on global markets", it said.

    Wheat prices have fallen by up to 17 percent in global markets over the past few months.
    And a link on cloud seeding for ODB

    Cloud seeding, a form of weather modification, is the attempt to change the amount or type of precipitation that falls from clouds, by dispersing substances into the air that serve as cloud condensation or ice nuclei, which alter the microphysical processes within the cloud. The usual intent is to increase precipitation (rain or snow), but hail and fog suppression are also widely practiced in airports.
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 12-22-2008 at 03:12 AM.
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Afghanistan can thrive?

    An excellent article on development work in Afghanistan, I concede there maybe some spin at work here: http://www.spectator.co.uk/the-magaz...e-let-it.thtml

    A Google search on the author Clare Lockhart found she's been on the Charlie Rose show, which appears to be a badge of success.

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-22-2008 at 11:30 PM.

  17. #17
    Council Member ODB's Avatar
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    Default Cloud seeding

    Funny you mention that, just saw a show a few weeks ago about that. Pretty amazing stuff. I relate the issues in Afghanistan to our very own dust bowl years. The farming was done incorrect, caused massive erosion and dust storms. The debate has been made that through inproper/over cultivation enhanced the drought of the dust bowl years. I'm no where near an expert on these things, but it kind of makes sense to me.

    Droughts occur frequently in the areas affected by desertification, and are generally a feature of their natural climate. The relations between desertification and drought on the one hand, and human influence on the other, are complex. Occasional droughts (due to seasonal or inter-year variations in rainfall) and long-term droughts covering wide areas are both caused or aggravated by the influence of man on the environment (the reduction in vegetation cover, the change in the Albedo effect, changes in the local climate, the greenhouse effect, etc.). Human influence can also hasten desertification and aggravate the negative consequences on man. But the degradation of land due to desertification has a serious compounding effect on drought, and thereby reduces the chances of the local people to cope with difficult periods.
    http://www.fao.org/sd/EPdirect/EPan0005.htm

    My question with cloud seeding is are we in effect robbing Peter to pay Paul. We seed the clouds in the southwest which then reduces the rain in the central US? Seems there is some speculation that this is what happens but no one really knows for sure.
    ODB

    Exchange with an Iraqi soldier during FID:

    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

  18. #18
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Hiking and thinking...

    ODB,

    Back in my younger days I used to hike near one of I.M. Pei's buildings where a bunch of big brain folks were asking the atmospheric questions that you are posing. Much later, during my ag engineering course I had to spend a fair amount of time figuring out the correct nozzle sizing for center pivot sprinkler systems and how to properly tilt fields in order to optimally distribute the water...its more complex than it looks and it pushed me hard in my spreadsheet modeling abilities. I do have a friend however, who was a supercomputer driver and who has worked on some atmospheric modeling issues; I will ask him what he thinks about Afghanistan when I see him next.

    In the meantime this link on laser levelingof fields might be of interest and besides it makes me chuckle to think about both trying to fit one of these rigs into the back of Chinook and how it would be received when we landed.

    Davidbfpo,

    Thanks for the link from the Spectator, it was a good read. Oxfam has an interesting link that I ran across today

    Oxfam America is working to increase the effectiveness of US foreign aid by placing the voices and priorities of poor people at the center of aid policy and practice. Through analytical and field research, we will bring out the hopes and concerns of intended beneficiaries, implementing partners, aid professionals, other donors, and host governments.
    I have very much enjoyed working with the majority of the NGO's and other groups I bump into 'downrange'. There are lots of good ideas and dedicated people out there. Some of the older folks (and I am not as young as I used to be as my college age kids continually advise me...) are pretty wise and have been kind enough to show me a tip or two. I was in a chai bar in Mosul once and struck up a conversation with a gentleman who was easily 20 years my senior, still getting things done on the security side, and I greatly appreciated his insights.

    Ken,

    Thanks for the info. My library is pretty thin when it comes to CINC info. I have a single first hand account written by GEN Zinni/Tom Clancy/Tony Koltz entitled Battle Ready (ISBN 0-399-15176-1) which I go back to from time to time. Some of my friends down the street at the 3/325 did Provide Comfort which he covers in the book. USAID/DOS wise it's all FM's and experience. The CRS link was a good read. As a taxpayer I really like those CRS reports, we are getting our moneys worth on that one.

    Regards,

    Steve
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 12-23-2008 at 05:27 AM.
    Sapere Aude

  19. #19
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Something to keep an eye on...

    From the AP by NICOLE WINFIELD US announces big shift in Afghanistan drug policy

    The U.S. envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, told the AP that the U.S. eradication programs were only driving Afghan farmers into the hands of the Taliban.

    "Eradication is a waste of money," Holbrooke said on the sidelines of a Group of Eight foreign ministers' meeting on Afghanistan, during which he briefed regional representatives on the new policy.

    "It might destroy some acreage, but it didn't reduce the amount of money the Taliban got by one dollar. It just helped the Taliban. So we're going to phase out eradication," he said. The Afghan foreign minister also attended the G-8 meeting.
    Afghanistan is the world's leading source of opium, cultivating 93 percent of the world's heroin-producing crop. While opium cultivation dropped 19 percent last year, it remains concentrated in Afghanistan's southern provinces where the Taliban is strongest and earned insurgents an estimated $50 million to $70 million last year, according to the U.N. drug office.
    To fight it, he (U.N. drug chief Antonio Maria Costa) said major powers had to expand their counter-drug efforts to neighboring Pakistan as well as Iran, where half the 7,000 tons of exported Afghan opium transits, "causing the highest addiction rate in the world."
    Sapere Aude

  20. #20
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default From the BBC

    Stoned wallabies make crop circles

    Funny...

    Australian wallabies are eating opium poppies and creating crop circles as they hop around "as high as a kite", a government official has said.
    ...interesting...

    Australia supplies about 50% of the world's legally-grown opium used to make morphine and other painkillers.
    Sapere Aude

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