By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2014 – A senior Defense Department official has warned about the growing threat of narcotics originating in Afghanistan and has urged continued support for efforts to eradicate production.
Erin Logan, the Defense Department’s principal director for counternarcotics and global threats told the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control yesterday the United States “cannot ignore the growing threat” of narcotics and will remain committed to disrupting the flow of these drugs as far away from U.S. shores as possible.
“We must be vigilant about the possibility of Afghan-produced heroin becoming more available across the U.S., certainly because of the global trade lowering the price,” Logan said.
Of the nearly $570 billion spent on the Afghan war since 2001, the DOD has invested about $2 billion for dedicated counternarcotics training and programs, which she said has already been a worthy venture with growing numbers of Afghan vetted units independently planning and executing counternarcotics missions.
She cited an example of a DOD-supported and Drug Enforcement Agency-mentored Dec. 18 operation in which an Afghan-led central investigative unit took the reins.
The team used judicial wire intercepts to build a case resulting in the arrest of two criminals and the seizure of 660 grams of heroin, 500 boxes of ammunition, 40 remote-controlled improvised explosive devices and 75 rocket-propelled grenades.
“That’s an incredible success story,” Logan said.
The counternarcotics strategy for post-2014 in Afghanistan, Logan said, is threefold: continue support for the vetted units set up by the DEA, leverage international interagency capabilities, and leverage aviation capacity building.
“I cannot overstate how vital we believe this is for the terrain of Afghanistan,” she said. “For any security effort … Afghan forces must have adequate air mobility to enhance their effectiveness, and the safety of CN [counternarcotics] operations in the remote areas where insurgents and illicit drug networks operate.”
“As we draw down in Afghanistan,” she added, “we need to explore creative ways to retain some of the effective targeting and intelligence fusion we’ve been able to develop” with American partners, she said.
Logan also said the goal is to create a more effective capability for targeting the illicit traffic that is departing the Makran Coast of Pakistan and Iran to Africa and beyond.
She cited examples of major busts –- seven seizures in 2013 -- at the hands of the U.S.’s Canadian partners in combined maritime forces Bahrain, specifically the crew of the HMCS Toronto.
“We estimate that just 1 percent of the value of those seizures removed from the high seas is equal to the amount of funding necessary to out-foot a platoon of insurgents,” Logan said. “Our adversaries make good use of these networks to destabilize territory and hurt U.S. interests –- we must be equally committed to countering these threats with our networks of creative and capable partners at home and overseas.”