War on Terror

Troops in Afghanistan Set Their Sights on Drug Traffickers

| by US Department of Defense

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2009 – U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan are targeting narcotics traffickers and drug labs that bankroll and support the Taliban insurgency, a senior Defense Department official said here June 12.

Since fall, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan has “had expanded authorities to go after counternarcotics targets that directly support the insurgency, the so-called narco-terrorism network nexus, where they fund or otherwise support the Taliban insurgency,” the senior official, speaking on background, told Pentagon reporters. Over the past few months, the official said, ISAF has conducted a number of successful operations against drug labs and traffickers.

One recent raid conducted in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan garnered “a significant amount of narcotics,” the official said. That operation, he continued, also destroyed a Taliban command-and-control node and logistical hub.

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Operational forces -- including U.S. special operations troops -- involved in counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan primarily are involved in drug-interdiction activities, the official said. Drug eradication duties, the official explained, are the responsibility of other forces.

Meanwhile, counternarcotics activities in Afghanistan are coordinated and managed as an integrated partnership between the Afghan government and U.S. and international organizations and agencies.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration “plays a very big role” as part of counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan, the official said. In fact, the official said, DEA participation in counternarcotics activities in Afghanistan “is surging.”