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Oklahoma Troops Prepare to Help Afghan People Grow Economy

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the Oklahoma National Guard's First of the 45th Agricultural Development Team will be deployed for a year the Oklahoma National Guard's First of the 45th Agricultural Development Team will be deployed for a year

News9.com for NewsOn6.com

STILLWATER, OK -- A group of Oklahoma's finest is preparing to ship out to Afghanistan to help the Afghans, but they won't be on the front lines, instead they will be helping the Afghans grow their economy from the ground up.

Sixty men and women are part of a new unit, the Oklahoma National Guard's First of the 45th Agricultural Development Team. They're heading to Afghanistan to show the people how to best manage their crops and farms.

“Eighty percent of their population take part in some part of agricultural endeavor, and so developing that part of the economy is an important part of stabilizing and developing the country,” said Col. Mike Chase.

All these people are experts in their fields, there's a veterinarian, a beekeeper and even a wheat specialist. The goal is to get the Afghan crops growing again and teaching the people how to get them to market.

“Their mechanization is virtually non-existent. So everything from helping them drill wells in the land or getting high-quality seed and then again the transportation system, the roads are under developed there,” 1st Lt. Lance Gosney said.

Although they won't be engaging in combat, safety is a concern so extra security is going along to help out.

“Little worried, little ready to go, kind of been training a lot so just ready to get over there, get it done and get home,” said Chris Noel with the First of the 45th Agricultural Development Team.

The unit will be deployed for about one year, time away from family and friends, but they say in the end it'll be worth it.

“Just the focus on something as simple as food security to help these people take care of their families and their communities and their villages, I think it's a wonderful opportunity,” 1st Lt. Gosney said.

The troops have been training with OSU's International Agricultural Program, and they'll go through pre-mobilization training in Indiana before heading to Afghanistan toward the end of the year.

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