The program was designed to benefit new agricultural producers in the Southern Great Plains, but, for the National Guard team, the information was directly applicable to their mission. “When we found the Noble Foundation, we were shocked to learn about all the educational opportunities that the organization offered,” said Master Sgt. Lorn McKinzie. “The Noble staff is helpful and knowledgeable in their various fields of expertise. We have attended several events and each was exceptional. The hands-on experience and wide variety of information make the training extremely useful.”

The Oklahoma National Guard 2-45th Agribusiness Development Team deployed in August and recently arrived at their undisclosed location in Afghanistan, assuming the responsibilities of another Oklahoma unit, the 1-45th Agribusiness Development Team, who will brief them on the status of the program, upcoming needs and current intelligence so that the new unit can seamlessly continue the effort.

“We do not just go in and create new missions where we feel like it,” said Chief Warrant Officer Three Warren Higginbotham. “The Afghan people tell us what they need and we try to help in every way possible. To be successful, we must implement the programs in ways that make them feel comfortable so that they will accept us and our help.”

The task for the Noble-trained National Guard team is daunting. The language barrier must first be overcome. The team works with a translator to ensure that he understands their mission’s purpose and can translate it effectively to the oftentimes hesitant producers. The village elder must also be contacted and grant consent before the military team can enter a region. “We may be trying to help, but we in no way force that help on anyone who does not want it,” Arnold said. “We pride ourselves on being respectful and approachable.”