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SPECIAL COVERAGE: Living With Wildfires: San Diego Firestorm 10 Years Later

A Different Mission In Afghanistan

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San Diego National Guardsmen are part of a unit deploying to Afghanistan this week. Their mission is to develop agricultural businesses.

San Diego National Guardsmen are part of a unit deploying to Afghanistan this week. Their mission is to develop agricultural businesses.

This is the first National Guard unit from California to deploy to Afghanistan with a different set of marching orders. For security reasons, Specialist Besiderio Batucan of San Ysidro says he can't say exactly where they are going, but it is in a dangerous province of Afghanistan.

He says his job is on security detail, but many of his colleagues on the unit have agricultural and marketing skills.

“We’re not going to be going there to harm bad guys,” Batucan says. “Our mission is basically to help the Afghani people to do things like soil sampling and growing things like corn and grapes, and help their economy so that they can stand on their own feet.”

The head of Batucan’s unit, Lieutenant Robert Parry, says National Guardsmen from Kansas have already worked with Afghani farmers to increase grape production. He says they encouraged the farmers to grow vines on trellises instead of along the ground, the traditional practice.

They hope to give young, unemployed Afghanis an alternative to signing up with the Taliban.

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