SIUC trains soldiers to assist Afghan farmer

By Heartland News

CARBONDALE, IL- Soldiers headed to Afghanistan next spring are focusing on farming, not fighting and they are getting some of their training in Southern Illinois.

Southern Illinois University in Carbondale is assisting with training National Guard soldiers on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Colonel Fred Allen says besides fighting a war there is also a stabilization challenge in Afghanistan.

"If agriculture is strong in that poor country it's going to employ a majority of the folks and at the same time provide that essential need of food," said Allen.

That is the goal for the soldiers training at SIU farms.  Experts like Sgt. First Class, Joshua   Lueker.

"I was kinda born and raised around farms," said Lueker.

Lueker and the rest of his team are experts here in the Heartland, and they're learning from professors that aren't only US experts but Afghanistan agriculture experts too.  Some techniques are basic while others are more localized to Afghanistan.

"We hope some of our techniques in the US will help them improve their productivity and help them store their products so they can get them to market and even establish a market," said Lueker.

The team of about 60 soldiers will finish training at SIU and then return for more training next year before they deploy to Afghanistan in the spring of 2011.

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