In uniform, they look like any other soldier.
But the heart of Lt. Col. Stan Poe’s unit of Texas National Guard troops is radically different than most combat outfits in Afghanistan, answering to the sounds of agriculture and the sight of crops.
Soldier-farmers, one might call them.
The Texas soldiers, agricultural experts who come from Aledo to Weslaco, are on the forefront of a new National Guard initiative to bring Afghan farming out of the 19th century, in a place where decades of war have destroyed infrastructure, wrecked government capabilities and provided a favorable environment for illicit poppy production.
Virtually everything is on their plate — preventing erosion, irrigating fallow orchards, developing ways to market crops regionally, down to helping one farmer keep his grape juice from fermenting. They’re doing it all without much of a playbook, either.
"The disadvantage of that is that we have nothing to go off of," Poe said.
"But the advantage is that we really get to set the direction for agriculture in Ghazni province."
Read the complete story at star-telegram.com