Zabul ADT completes mobilization training, ready to deploy

St. Paul, MN — Soldiers of the Zabul Agri-Business Development Team (ADT), comprised of elements from the Minnesota and Mississippi National Guard, have completed required mobilization training and are preparing to move to Southern Afghanistan.

“We’ve had a lot of good and relevant training during the last month that will increase our abilities and productivity when we get to Zabul Province and assume our duties,” said Army Col. Eric D. Ahlness, Zabul ADT Commander.

During a month of intensive training, Zabul ADT soldiers took part in a variety of training activities with real-world implications for their upcoming deployment, said Ahlness. Training events included practice working with Afghan interpreters, qualifying on a range of Army weapons systems, learning to counter Improvise Explosive Devices (IED) techniques, as well as familiarization with new equipment.

Ahlness cited counter-IED training as a key period for the unit. “This was an extremely important opportunity to learn about this threat, and acquire and sharpen the skills that will keep us safe during the deployment. Our trainers used the same tactics and techniques that the Taliban has currently adopted, so it really gave us a realistic look into some of what we could be facing.”

Mobilization training also provided an opportunity for the unit to mesh as a team, said Ahlness.  Twenty-four soldiers that make up the staff and agricultural specialist section of the staff come from the Minnesota National Guard and the 34 soldiers that comprise the Security Forces element hail from the Mississippi National Guard.

“It’s a challenge, there’s no doubt about it,” said Army Capt. Lee Tucker, Security Forces Commander. “Both groups spent a lot of time training together in their home states, but we’ve made progress in the last month to the point where we’re operating as a single unit.  We’re all coming together as a team, which is going to be important when we get over there and conduct the ADT mission.”

The Zabul ADT will deploy to Zabul Province in southern Afghanistan and assume their duties around mid-November, said Ahlness.  The team is responsible for mentoring the local Afghan Agricultural Ministry and working to develop Zabul Province’s agricultural practices and markets.

To view photos of their mobilization training, visit

For more information on the Minnesota National Guard Agri-business Development Team, visit

For more information on the Minnesota National Guard, visit Also, contact Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs at or call 651-282-4410.

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