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Guest Blog

Read about different aspects of the industry from a variety of perspectives.

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As my entry into the civilian world becomes easier, I am often asked this question: “What lessons did you learn in Afghanistan that can help us understand our way of life here in America?” Let me provide two answers to this question in this month’s column.

At the top of the list are opportunities. In much of the developing world, and especially in Afghanistan, residents are old soldiers, illiterate adults or children, who if fortunate are attending a school. Or written this way, nearly everyone has few opportunities at joining the global economy and improving their way of life. The Taliban’s overarching objective was (and is today) obstructing learning, thus through ignorance avoiding the public free-thought process that might challenge them, revolt and demand change. They are today targeting schools and bringing harm to teachers.

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Winter has arrived in Michigan. In weather very similar to that of Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, I have come from the cold and entered the cold.

My leave taking of Afghanistan is nearly complete. I am home physically. However, parts of me are still embedded in the U.S. military unit of soldiers, airmen and warriors. I was told by many of my friends in Afghanistan that the return home would be difficult.

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As I turn the wall calendar over to January, the days left here in a war zone are on one page – a single page. I can, as often as I want, look up on the wall and visually see a day when I will likely leave Bagram Air Field (BAF), the day I will probably leave Kabul and the day I will arrive in East Lansing, then an hour later, in Alma, Michigan.

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I was recently on leave in Michigan, spending three days at home, including Thanksgiving Day. I certainly had much to be thankful for. My assignment in Afghanistan has been a safe one so far, and given what I see in that country, the developed world should never take for granted what it has. On my way back to Afghanistan, I traveled on a diplomatic passport to Syria, thus representing the United States and in particular, the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There I visited the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas or ICARDA.

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Here it is a new year again. The older you get the faster time goes. It seems to me, as soon as you get through going to school, time just takes off and goes faster the older you get.

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Two months ago, a vote was taken in Arizona. Not a vote about legislators or representatives, but a vote that had to do with agriculture. Most people throughout the United States had very little knowledge or understanding about the measure, but its future implications are widespread.

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