Afghanistan is a requested stop on a military careerHudson resident Janet Jones is a career military person and she made it known that she wanted to do at least one out-of-country deployment before she wrapped up her career.
By: Margaret Ontl, Hudson Star-Observer
Hudson resident Janet Jones is a career military person and she made it known that she wanted to do at least one out-of-country deployment before she wrapped up her career. The U.S. Army fulfilled her request by sending her to Afghanistan from November of 2009 until September of 2010. This month, it is just a year since her return. Last week, she shared a program with the St. Croix Valley Master Gardeners Association about agriculture in Afghanistan.
Sgt. Maj. Janet Jones moved from reserve status to mobilization in 2005 becoming a public affairs officer. In 2008-2009 she was in Texas at Fort Bliss for ten months of training. In September of 2009 she reported to Camp McCoy for two months of pre-deployment training and then was sent to Camp Sharana in Paktika province in Afghanistan.
She went as a member of the 372nd Engineer Brigade which is headquartered at Fort Snelling. The brigade was made up of soldiers from 22 different states.
“We were there to prepare for the surge,” said Jones. “We also were training the Afghan military and civilians in the skills needed to build their infrastructure.”
Jones was responsible for writing a monthly newsletter for the soldiers, writing stories about individual soldiers for their hometown newspapers, photographing visiting VIP, ceremonies, USO tours and writing quarterly history reports. She also frequently visited combat outposts as well.
“Our goals over there, include protecting the Afghan people, training them in agriculture, infrastructure and military skills so they can take over management of their country,” said Jones. “Everything we are doing is to improve their economy and infrastructure to allow them to be successful.”
Highlights of her deployment included meeting the first director of women’s affairs.
“She asked to be sent to the least developed province in terms of women’s rights,” said Jones. “She still had the fear of being kidnapped by the Taliban.”
Another highlight was being one of three women invited to the Afghan governor’s New Year Eve dinner.
“We were seated at a separate table from the men,” said Jones. The meal consisted up flat bread, goat meat, a type of apple custard and tea. “Tea is the drink of choice all over the country.” After dinner a local musician performed while the 30 men danced in a large oval.
Jones feels to be truly successful, we would need to stay in Afghanistan for a generation.
“We need to give them the opportunity to be successful in their own culture,” said Jones, who plans to retire in January. “My sense is that they are good people.”