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Sustainability of US Army Agribusiness Development Team Efforts: A Decade in Afghanistan

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Abstract

The World Bank has said that the impact of foreign aid is unknown, with aid delivery in Afghanistan being the most challenging. Innovatively, the US Army developed Agribusiness Development Teams (ADTs) using hand-selected, solider-experts in 2008. These egalitarian, specialized counterinsurgency teams worked directly with and within local communities in Afghanistan to implement Afghan-first, sustainable, development projects. As a case study, the Texas ADT II implemented 50 projects in Ghazni Province during 2009 with 27 detectable projects using satellite imagery. Multitemporal image analysis was used to record project sustainability between 2009 and 2019. Nineteen percent of projects were considered positive; 60%, no change; and 21%, a loss or failed. Only the Ghazni Agriculture Complex and the Ghazni Minarets are positive for the entire decade. The Arbaba Environmental Park showed no progress after 2010 except adjacent construction. Failed projects included the Ghazni Demonstration Farm and the Ghazni Experimental Farm. Even well-thought-out development efforts provided by specialized soldier-expert teams working on Afghan-first projects were not enough to overcome the complex and difficult circumstances in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, exceeding best practices as described in the academic literature, ADTs were what development agencies dream of and should be included in future military-development efforts.

Keywords

  • Stabilization
  • Humanitarian aid
  • Agribusiness
  • Asia
  • Development projects
  • Afghanistan

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Universally, aid is the general term for ‘Official Development Assistance’ with the United States considering all efforts to support foreign nations as Foreign Aid. No matter the delivery mechanism (e.g., military), it is an essential part of US foreign policy and covers national security, commercial interests and humanitarian concerns to provide a secure global environment for US products. In this paper, development falls under aid and was included in the Agribusiness Development Team name to recognize efforts to develop agricultural concerns in Afghanistan.

  2. 2.

    Proposal number 685, dated 28 May 2005 of the National Environmental Protection Agency and Order number 1017 of Hamid Karzai dated 30 May 2005.

  3. 3.

    Purdah is the South Asian practice of veiling women and secluding them from public view.

  4. 4.

    Shura is an Arabic word for consultation. The Quran and the Prophet Muhammad encourage Muslims to decide their affairs in consultation with those who will be affected by that decision.

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Acknowledgments

This work is the result of the author’s deployment as a US Army soldier with the Texas Agribusiness Development Team II (143rd Long-Range Surveillance Detachment, 36th Infantry Division) in Ghazni Afghanistan during 2009.

I would like to thank my university and department for travel support to present this work at the 13th biennial meeting of the International Association of Military Geosciences at the University of Padova. Thank you to the reviewers and editors for their constructive comments. The direct motivation and encouragement to continue promoting these efforts is in thanks to my wife, who always encourages me and is my travel companion in this life; Krystyna Kowalski, thank you for all.

Finally, I would like to remember my soldier-expert battle buddies, Christopher N. Staats, a staff sergeant and renewable natural-resources expert, and A. Gabriel Green, a sergeant and farm-management expert, who were killed in action on October 16, 2009, while on a soldier-expert mission in Ghazni Province Afghanistan.

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Correspondence to Alexander K. Stewart .

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Stewart, A.K. (2022). Sustainability of US Army Agribusiness Development Team Efforts: A Decade in Afghanistan. In: Bondesan, A., Ehlen, J. (eds) Military Geoscience: A Multifaceted Approach to the Study of Warfare. Advances in Military Geosciences. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-79260-2_14

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