By Staff Sgt. Sidney Hoffman, Agribusiness Development Team 5 Unit
KANDAHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (March, 2013) — Members of the veterinary team of Kentucky’s Agribusiness Development Team 5 conducted their first joint Veterinary Outreach Program with a Special Forces team in the Maiwand District of Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.
The two-day exercise involved training the Afghan National Army Special Forces, or ANASF, medics in common veterinary techniques to include large animal handling and restraint, physical exams, basic anatomy, proper nutrition, common diseases and preventive medicine.
The training was tailored to meet the needs of southern Afghanistan, focusing on common ailments prevalent within the district of Maiwand.
“This was the first time since their training that they were able to interact with a local group of herders and apply their training to helping their people,” said Capt. Chase Kohne, Agribusiness Development Team, or ADT, 5 veterinarian. “Their ability to work with the herders as well as identify and treat common ailments truly legitimized the efforts of the ag-team over the past 12 months.”
Planning for a joint exercise with Afghan para-veterinarians working with the Afghan medics has been in the works since early 2012 under ADT 4. Eight individuals were selected from five districts within Kandahar province for six months of training from the Dutch Committee for Afghanistan. This group of para-veterinarians is committed to helping their communities through livestock production and prevention of disease.
Kentucky ADTs have been present in southern Afghanistan since early 2012 with a focus on crop production and preservation, water management and livestock. Common problems for livestock in the region are a lack of proper nutrition and water in order for the livestock to work, produce milk or eggs, or reproduce normally. Improper vaccination and de-worming techniques are also obstacles, leaving the livestock susceptible to treatable diseases, infections, worms and parasites.
The exercise concluded on the second day with Afghan para-veterinarians working jointly with the ANASF medics that were supervised by the ADT 5 veterinary team. Nearly 300 animals were treated to include donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep and goats that belonged to local herders in a small village in Maiwand District. Both the ANASF medics and para-veterinarians participated in the delivery of treatment, which included vaccinations, de-worming, dental care and treatment of infections.
The veterinary team assigned to ADT 5 was also given the opportunity to mentor the local para-veterinarians.
“We are transitioning to a phase where the trained para-veterinarians will be working for their people independent from the International Security Assistance Force,” said CEW Amberlie Silva, an ADT 5 agribusiness specialist. “You could see the confidence in their skills growing with each animal they treated. It was a truly rewarding experience to see the para-veterinarians that we helped train giving back to their country in a way that can help to improve the quality of life for entire communities of people.”
ADT 5 will continue to develop joint exercises with the locally trained Afghan agricultural leaders as well as the provincial government in order to ensure the skills received during our time here continue to remain as troops begin to draw back.
Col. Bob Hayter, commander of ADT 5, believes that the key to a sustainable solution lies within the coordination of the local Afghan people with the Guard members and International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, personnel.
“We are working hard to analyze their problems and formulate action to achieve agricultural improvement, economic opportunity, social advancement and, thereby, to promote the national well-being,” Hayter said. “This can only be achieved through a unified effort with ISAF and the Afghan government in a way which could never be accomplished solely through individual efforts.”
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