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QUESTION: Alan Bjerga from Bloomberg News. Yesterday, the Administration said that it was going to be increasing civilian presence in Afghanistan. I’m wondering, from a USDA and USAID standpoint, how many more boots on the ground do you expect to be putting down?
SECRETARY VILSACK: We currently have 54 people in country and another 10 are on their way. And we’ll have an opportunity after this visit not only to thank those workers, but also to evaluate what additional assistance may be necessary. It isn’t just necessarily government boots on the ground; it’s also ways in which we can partner with the many land grant universities and other universities that are providing assistance and help, as well as working with USAID.
So we’re going to have a significant presence. I suspect and know that over the short time, all it’s going to increase. And I also know that there’s already significant work being done, from planting additional trees, up to 3 million additional trees in a forestation effort, to building storage facilities, to improving productivity, there’s good work being done.
from U.S. Government Agriculture Sector Programs in Afghanistan and Upcoming Travel to the Region Briefing with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, and SRAP Richard C. Holbrooke Washington, DC | January 7, 2010 (link)