EASTOVER, S.C. — Members of the S.C. State Guard — the state’s all-volunteer self-defense force — recently took part in a three-day Pre-mobilization Training Assistance Element (PTAE) with the S.C. Army National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team (ADT).
The training was held Dec. 12 to 14 at the McCrady Training Area.
The ADT is composed of National Guard members with agricultural and business backgrounds, along with civilians from the Clemson Cooperative Extension, and will be deploying to Afghanistan in January.
According to CSM Dan McGowan — command sergeant major for the State Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade — this is the second training evolution in 2012 in which the State Guard has assisted the National Guard with PTAE training.
During the training, State Guard members portrayed Afghan forces setting up ambushes and improvised explosive devices and played herdsmen, farmers, terrorists, village elders and tribal council members.
McGowan said, “Our job was to act as Afghans on the battlefield. We were there to portray what they will encounter in Afghan villages.”
COL Raymond Franks — executive officer of the State Guard’s 1st Brigade — said that 40 State Guard members have participated in PTAE training this year, volunteering 3,696 hours to support the National Guard.
Franks said, “the training represents the largest and longest sustained effort to date by the modern S.C. State Guard.” He said that, “it has helped define a professional working relationship between the State Guard and the National Guard.”
During their upcoming deployment, ADT teams will teach local Afghan farmers agricultural techniques to help wean them from growing poppies - which support the opiate drug trade — in favor of raising other financially sustainable crops to improve their lives and provide for their families.
ADT teams also teach Afghan farmers how to prevent animal diseases, inoculate livestock and reduce the environmental impact of animal slaughtering.
The ultimate goal of ADT teams is to increase education, reduce poverty and expand job opportunities in Afghan communities.
— Keith Pounds, a former U.S. Navy hospital corpsman (medic), is today a S.C.-based author, journalist and corporate manager in the hospitality industry. He holds an MBA from American Intercontinental University and serves as a 1st Lt. in the S.C. State Guard.