EASTOVER — Members of the S.C. State Guard — the state’s all-volunteer self-defense force — recently took part in a three-day Pre-mobilization Training Assistance Element (PTAE) with the S.C. Army National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team (ADT).
The training event was led by Col. Richard Mullinax of Winnsboro, who serves as commander of the State Guard’s 1st Brigade, from Dec. 12 to Dec. 14 at the McCrady Training Area.
“This training helps fine tune our activities with those about to deploy overseas,” he said. “Because of our military background, we are honing their skills with training they’re not receiving elsewhere.”
The ADT is composed of National Guard members with agricultural and business backgrounds, along with civilians from the Clemson Cooperative Extension, and will be deploying to Afghanistan in January.
According to CSM Dan McGowan, command sergeant major for the State Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, this is the second training evolution in 2012 in which the State Guard has assisted the National Guard with PTAE training.
During the training, State Guard members portrayed Afghan forces setting up ambushes and improvised explosive devices and played herdsmen, farmers, terrorists, village elders and tribal council members.
“Our job was to act as Afghans on the battlefield,” McGowan said. “We were there to portray what they will encounter in Afghan villages.”
Col. Raymond Franks, executive officer of the State Guard’s 1st Brigade, said that 40 State Guard members have participated in PTAE training this year, volunteering 3,696 hours to support the National Guard.
“The training represents the largest and longest sustained effort to date by the modern S.C. State Guard,” he said. “It has helped define a professional working relationship between the State Guard and the National Guard.”
During their upcoming deployment, ADT teams will teach local Afghan farmers agricultural techniques to help wean them from growing poppies — which support the opiate drug trade — in favor of raising other financially sustainable crops to improve their lives and provide for their families.
ADT teams also teach Afghan farmers how to prevent animal diseases, inoculate livestock and reduce the environmental impact of animal slaughtering. The ultimate goal of ADT teams is to increase education, reduce poverty and expand job opportunities in Afghan communities.
Mullinax is one of several Fairfield County natives serving in the Guard. According to Pounds, others of note who are serving include Major Gen. Nelson Lacy (retired, former commanding general of S.C. State Guard), Brig. Gen. Danny Odom, Col. Ed Mills (S.C. State Guard retired), Chief Warrant Officer Jack Ramsey and Master Sgt. W.P. Bearfoote.