Minnesota farming soldiers head to Afghanistan

Twenty-two Minnesota National Guard soldiers are heading to Afghanistan on an unusual mission: teach agriculture.

The Guard’s Agri-Business Development Team leaves for training Tuesday for a one-year deployment. 

“This is a unique and important mission that will take citizen-soldiers working in Minnesota’s agricultural sector and seek to leverage their skills and abilities in Afghanistan,” said Army Col. Eric D. Ahlness, who commands the unit.

The team includes an agribusiness university professor, veterinarians, livestock specialists and others with ag backgrounds.

“This is a mission that is well suited for the Guard because we are citizen-soldiers with strong skill sets which we’ve learned in the civilian sector,” Ahlness said. “And we do it much better due to the coalition of academia, business and individuals who willingly provide advice, guidance and training to our team.”

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