Militarization of the Drug War
Basic Data and History
(Militarization of Domestic Law Enforcement) "Over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work. The most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.
"These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects."Source:Balko, Rodney, "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America," Cato Institute (Washington, DC: 2006), p. 1.
(Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy "The [Obama] Administration has deployed unprecedented technology, personnel, and resources along the Southwest border. From FY 2009- 2011, the Department of Homeland Security has seized 41 percent more drugs, 74 percent more currency, and 159 percent more weapons along the Southwest border as compared to FY 2006-2008. The Border Patrol increased its agents from approximately 10,000 in 2004 to more than 21,000 today, with nearly 18,500 agents stationed along the Southwest border. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) established its Latin American Southwest Border Section, strengthening intelligence-driven investigations targeting transnational criminal organizations impacting the Southwest border. Additionally, DEA has allocated nearly 28 percent of its domestic agent positions to the Southwest border, and HSI has deployed a quarter of its operational personnel to the region. The Department of Justice has also secured a dramatically higher number of extraditions from Mexico (93 in 2011, compared to 12 in 2000) and has trained over 5,400 Mexican prosecutors and investigators."Source:Office of National Drug Control Policy, "National Drug Control Strategy - 2012", (Washington, DC: Executive Office of the President of the United States, 2012), p. 26.
(Defense Department Counternarcotics Budget) "Counternarcotics. The fiscal 2012 budget requests $1.2 billion to fund the military’s counternarcotic efforts. Included are funds to support efforts of combatant commanders against drug trafficking; to collect, process, analyze, and disseminate information; and to support domestic counternarcotic efforts. Also included in the OCO request are funds to support counternarcotic efforts in Afghanistan."Source:"Summary of the DOD Fiscal 2012 Budget Proposal," United States Department of Defense (Washington, DC: February, 14, 2011), p. 7.
(Drugs as a National Security Issue) "The fight against drugs is characterized by a progressive militarization of the issue, as seen by the various interventions, military agreements on no fly zones, strong investments in the armed forces (especially in South America, e.g. Colombia). The drug issue was in fact considered to be a national security issue by the US, in the framework of the Low Intensity Conflict theory elaborated by Pentagon in the 1980’s. President Reagan officially added drug trafficking to the list of threats to national security with his secret directive number 221, signed on April 1986.  This directive authorized the US military to intervene abroad in order to fight against drug production."Source:Corti, Daniela and Swain, Ashok, "War on Drugs and War on Terror: Case of Afghanistan," Peace and Conflict Review (San Jose, Costa Rica: University for Peace, 2009) Volume 3, Issue 2, p. 3.
(Risks from Using the Military for Crime Fighting) "Using the military for internal matters like crimefighting carries four main risks. First, it generates a potentially tense overlap between military and police institutional missions and responsibilities, especially for crime prevention and control. Second, it politicizes the military; as Hunter (1994) warns, it 'invites the armed forces to remain an important political actor.... The symbolic significance of military involvement in domestic affairs should also not be underestimated, especially where a tradition of interventionism exists.'89 Third, it places military personnel in a situation for which they are not properly trained or equipped: constant contact with the population. This entails risks of authoritarian behavior and human rights abuse. Fourth, it carries a high institutional opportunity cost. Recurring constantly to the military to solve internal security problems reduces political will to make the investments necessary to build a functioning civilian security and justice sector. This sector’s continued weakness, in turn, guarantees that the armed forces will be called on again in the future."
[Note: Ellipses in original.]Source:Withers, George; Santos, Lucila; and Isacson, Adam, "Preach What You Practice: The Separation of Military and Police Roles in the Americas," Washington Office on Latin America (Washington, DC: November 2010), p. 14.
(Narcoterrorism Defined) "Many experts believe the term 'narcoterrorism' was first used by former Peruvian President Belaúnde Terry in the early 1980s to describe terrorist-like tactics used against Peruvian law enforcement by Shining Path Marxist rebels. While narco-terrorism has no formal definition, it is generally used to describe activities by groups that use drug trafficking to fund terrorism. For the DEA, it is 'a subset of terrorism,' in which groups or individuals participate directly or indirectly in the 'cultivation, manufacture, transportation, or distribution of controlled substances and the money derived from these activities.'"Source:Wagley, John R., "Transnational Organized Crime: Principal Threats and U.S. Responses," Congressional Research Service (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, March 20, 2006), p. CRS 3.
(Ship Days and Flight Hours Spent by US Military on Drug Interdiction Missions) "Since fiscal year 2000, the availability of U.S. and allied assets spent on interdiction operations in the transit zone [South America through the Caribbean Sea and eastern Pacific Ocean] as measured in on-station ship days and flight hours - has varied. U.S. and allied on-station ship days decreased from approximately 3,600 days in fiscal year 2000 to about 3,300 in fiscal year 2005, and U.S. and allied on-station flight hours increased from approximately 10,500 hours in fiscal year 2000 to almost 12,900 in fiscal year 2005. However, on-station ship days peaked in fiscal year 2001 and flight hours peaked in fiscal year 2002, but both have generally declined since then, primarily because Defense has provided fewer assets. Declines in Defense assets were largely offset by the Coast Guard, CBP US Bureau for Customs and Border Protection), and several allied European nations - France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, with the assets available in recent years, JIATF-South (Joint Interagency Task Force-South) reports that it detected (made visual contact with) less than one-third of the known maritime drug movements."Source:"Drug Control: Agencies Need to Plan for Likely Decline in Drug Interdiction Assets, and Develop Better Performance Measures for Transit Zone Operations," Government Accountability Office (Washington, DC: USGAO, Nov. 2005), GAO-06-200, p. 4.
(Types of Information DOD May Collect on US persons) "C2.3 TYPES OF INFORMATION THAT MAY BE COLLECTED ABOUT UNITED STATES PERSONS,
"Information that identifies a United States person may be collected by a DoD intelligence component only if it is necessary to the conduct of a function assigned the collecting component, and only if it falls within one of the following categories:
"C2.3.1. Information Obtained With Consent. Information may be collected about a United States person who consents to such collection.
"C2.3.2. Publicly Available Information. Information may be collected about a United States person if it is publicly available.
"C2.3.10. Narcotics. Information may be collected about a United States person who is reasonably believed to be engaged in international narcotics activities."Source:Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, "Procedures Governing the Activities of DOD Intelligence Components That Affect United States Persons," (Washington, DC: United States Department of Defense, December 1982), p. 17.
Posse Comitatus Act
(Posse Comitatus Act) "The term 'posse comitatus' means the 'force of the county.' Its doctrine dates back to English common law, in which a county sheriff could raise a posse comitatus to repress a civil disturbance or for other purposes. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 states (as amended):
"'Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.'
"Over the past century and a half, the wording of the Posse Comitatus Act has remained essentially unchanged, but its use has become engrained in U.S. law and culture. Though there have been several incidents when the Act has been severely tested, this basic concept of civilian control – absent in too many other countries – has helped guarantee freedom from military oppression."Source:Withers, George; Santos, Lucila; and Isacson, Adam, "Preach What You Practice: The Separation of Military and Police Roles in the Americas," Washington Office on Latin America (Washington, DC: November 2010), p. 3.
(Posse Comitatus Act) "Americans have a tradition, born in England and developed in the early years of our nation, that rebels against military involvement in civilian affairs. It finds its most tangible expression in the nineteenth century Posse Comitatus Act, 18 U.S.C. 1385. The Act forbids use of the Army and Air Force to execute civil law except where expressly authorized."Source:Doyle, Charles, "The Posse Comitatus Act and Related Matters: The Use of the Military to Execute Civilian Law," Congressional Research Service (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, June 1, 2000), p. 1.
(Applicability of Posse Comitatus Act) "The language of the [Posse Comitatus] Act mentions only the Army and the Air Force, but it is applicable to the Navy and Marines by virtue of administrative action and commands of other laws. The law enforcement functions of the Coast Guard have been expressly authorized by act of Congress and consequently cannot be said to be contrary to the Act. The Act has been applied to the National Guard when it is in federal service, to civilian employees of the armed forces, and to off-duty military personnel.
"The Act is probably only applicable within the geographical confines of the United States, but the supplemental provisions of 10 U.S.C. 371-381 appear to apply world-wide. Finally, the Act is a criminal statute under which there has never been a prosecution. Although violations will on rare occasions result in the exclusion of evidence, the dismissal of criminal charges, or a civil cause of action, as a practical matter compliance is ordinarily the result of military self-restraint."Source:Doyle, Charles, "The Posse Comitatus Act and Related Matters: The Use of the Military to Execute Civilian Law," Congressional Research Service (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, June 1, 2000), Summary.
(Activities in Violation of Posse Comitatus Act) "Questions regarding which activities violate the Posse Comitatus Act arise most often in the context of assistance to civilian police. At least in that context, the courts have held that, absent a recognized exception, the act is violated (1) when civilian law enforcement officials make 'direct active use' of military investigators, (2) when the use of the military 'pervades the activities' of the civilian officials, or (3) when the military is used so as to subject citizens to the exercise of military power that is 'regulatory, prescriptive, or compulsory in nature.'84 The act does not apply to the Navy or Marines85 and does not prohibit activities conducted for a military purpose that incidentally benefit civilian law enforcement bodies."Source:Best, Richard A., Jr.; Elsea, Jennifer K., "Satellite Surveillance: Domestic Issues," Congressional Research Service (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, January 13, 2011), p. 19.
(Drug War Exception to Posse Comitatus Act) "Late in 1988, the U.S. military’s active participation in America’s fight against illegal narcotics was further expanded by the George W. Bush administration through Public Law 100-456 that created amendments to USC Title 10, Chapter 18.22 The changes to public law now required the Department of Defense (DoD ) 'to serve as the lead agency for the detection and monitoring of aerial and maritime transit of illegal drugs into the United States.'23 It also required the DoD, 'to the maximum extent practicable,' to consider the needs of civil law enforcement agencies when planning and conducting military training or operations.24 The Secretary of Defense was now authorized to not only make available military equipment and facilities for law enforcement authorities, but also the personnel to train law enforcement agents in the operation and maintenance of equipment. Finally, Public Law 100 -456 authorized the DoD to provide the funds 'sufficient to pay for all expenses of the National Guard of such State when engaged in drug interdiction assistance activities.'25"Source:Luoma, Jr., Benjamin C.," The U.S. Military and Security along the U.S. Mexico Border: Evaluation of its Role in the Post September 11th Era," Naval Postgraduate School (Monterey, California: December 2002), p. 11.
(Statutory Exceptions to Posse Comitatus Act) "DOD [Department of Defense] personnel are permitted to provide training and expert advice to civilian law enforcement personnel, and may conduct maintenance on equipment it provides. However, DOD personnel are expressly authorized to operate the DOD-provided equipment only in support of certain federal law enforcement operations, which include counter-terrorism operations, renditions of suspected terrorists from a foreign country to the United States to stand trial, and investigations involving violations of certain laws that control imports, exports, immigration, drug trafficking, and terrorism.87 DOD personnel are authorized to operate equipment for the purpose of, among other things, detection, monitoring, and communication of the movement of air and sea traffic, as well as surface traffic outside of the geographic boundary of the United States and within the United States not to exceed 25 miles of the boundary (if the initial detection occurred outside of the boundary), and “aerial reconnaissance.”"Source:Best, Richard A., Jr.; Elsea, Jennifer K., "Satellite Surveillance: Domestic Issues," Congressional Research Service (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, January 13, 2011), p. 20.
(US Drug Policy and Electoral Politics) "The election year of 1996 marked the highest percentage of federal funds allocated to drug enforcement during the decade. The Clinton administration appointed former SOUTHCOM CINC, Gen (Ret) Barry McCaffery to the office of Director, National Drug Control Policy. Following the mandate of the President and Congress, the Cabinet level office maintained the 70/30 ratios between supply and demand reduction programs with the exception of 1999 and 2000. Programs that represented a traditional supply control approach included Presidential decertifications of Colombia, followed by the support of Plan Colombia."Source:Major Barrett K. Peavie, United States Army, "United States War on Drugs: Addicted to a Political Strategy of No End," School of Advanced Military Studies, United States Command and General Staff (College of Fort Leavenworth, KS: January 2001), p. 46.
(Drug Policy and Electoral Politics) "Electoral politics was the reason why the preponderance of federal fiscal dollars resourced supply programs higher rather than demand reduction programs. The United States drug policy has been driven by the need to appear tough on drugs, regardless of results. Cocaine and heroin cost are declining and product purity is rising. Presidential leadership has a value, however, pressures to compromise may mitigate effectiveness. Political activism by an informed electorate to help shape the direction of public policy is needed."Source:Major Barrett K. Peavie, United States Army, "United States War on Drugs: Addicted to a Political Strategy of No End," School of Advanced Military Studies, United States Command and General Staff (College of Fort Leavenworth, KS: January 2001), p. 46.
According to US Defense Department regulation 5240.1-R, DoD intelligence components are allowed to gather information on US citizens in some circumstances relating to drugs: "C2.3.10. Narcotics. Information may be collected about a United States person who is reasonably believed to be engaged in international narcotics activities."Source:Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, "Procedures Governing the Activities of DOD Intelligence Components That Affect United States Persons," (Washington, DC: United States Department of Defense, December 1982), p. 17.
Plan Colombia, and the US Drug War in Central/South America
(Beginning of Plan Colombia) "The US Congress approved in July 2000 an emergency supplemental assistance request for fiscal years 2000-2001 of $1.32 billion, of which $862.3 million was allocated to Colombia and the balance to neighboring countries (primarily Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador) and to US agencies' Andean region antidrug operations. Of the $862.3 million allocated to Colombia, $521.2 million is new assistance to the Colombian armed forces and $123.1 is assistance to the police, with the rest ($218 million) going to alternative economic development, aid to displaced persons, judicial reform, law enforcement, and promotion of human rights.
"The bulk of the military assistance will support the Colombian armed forces' three counter-narcotics battalions, which are to receive 16 UH-60 Black Hawk and 30 UH-1H Huey transport helicopters."Source:Rabasa, Angel & Peter Chalk, "Colombian Labyrinth: The Synergy of Drugs and Insurgency and Its Implications for Regional Instability" (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2001), pp. 62-63.
(US Counternarcotics Strategies in Andean Countries) "Although no single comprehensive U.S. counternarcotics strategy exists for the Andean region, mission strategic resource plans (MSRPs) for each of the countries in the region delineate the strategic approaches guiding U.S. counternarcotics assistance. According to State officials, the MSRPs incorporate high-level guidance from ONDCP’s annual National Drug Control Strategy, which also includes specific policy guidance for the Western Hemisphere. This strategy presents a broad framework for reducing illicit drug use and its harmful effects on the United States. Included in the strategy is a chapter on international partnerships focused on reducing the supply of illicit drugs in the United States via U.S. cooperative efforts, such as those with Colombia and Peru, the CBSI [Caribbean Basin Security Initiative] countries, and the CARSI [Central American Regional Security Initiative] countries, and initiatives to combat trafficking through transit countries such as Ecuador.
"The MSRPs for the Andean countries, developed by interagency teams at U.S. embassies in consultation with host country governments, summarize conditions in each country, specify U.S. foreign assistance goals, and describe in general terms the assistance planned to further those goals.7"Source:"Counternarcotics Assistance: U.S. Agencies Have Allotted Billions in Andean Countries, but DOD Should Improve Its Reporting of Results" (Government Accountability Office: Washington, DC, July 2012), GAO-12-824, p. 7.
(US Counternarcotics Assistance to Andean Countries) "State, USAID, DOD, and DEA allotted a combined estimated total of nearly $5.2 billion in counternarcotics assistance to Andean countries in fiscal years 2006-2011. Of this amount, about $366 million (7 percent) was allotted for Bolivia; $3.92 billion (76 percent) for Colombia; $233 million (5 percent) for Ecuador; $659 million (13 percent) for Peru; and $7 million (less than 1 percent) for Venezuela (see fig. 2)."Source:"Counternarcotics Assistance: U.S. Agencies Have Allotted Billions in Andean Countries, but DOD Should Improve Its Reporting of Results" (Government Accountability Office: Washington, DC, July 2012), GAO-12-824, p. 10.
(Declines in Counternarcotics Assistance to Andean Countries) "Total estimated allotments for counternarcotics assistance programs in the Andean countries declined overall by about 51 percent from fiscal year 2006 to fiscal year 2011. Allotments for Bolivia declined by about $103 million (87 percent); for Colombia, by $377 million (45 percent); for Ecuador, by $32 million (59 percent); for Peru, by $87 million (52 percent); and for Venezuela, by $2 million (88 percent). In fiscal year 2008, allotments for counternarcotics assistance programs declined in all Andean countries. (See fig. 3.)"Source:"Counternarcotics Assistance: U.S. Agencies Have Allotted Billions in Andean Countries, but DOD Should Improve Its Reporting of Results" (Government Accountability Office: Washington, DC, July 2012), GAO-12-824, p. 11.
(Counternarcotics Assistance to Andean Countries, by Agency) "Of the agencies’ combined estimated assistance in fiscal years 2006 through 2011, State provided about $3 billion (60 percent), USAID provided $1 billion (21 percent), DOD provided $956 million (19 percent), and DEA provided $25 million (less than 1 percent). As figure 4 shows, each agency’s allotments decreased during this time period. State’s allotments for counternarcotics assistance declined the most, dropping by about 60 percent from fiscal year 2006 to fiscal year 2011. According to agency officials, this decline in funding for counternarcotics assistance could be attributed to factors such as the ongoing nationalization of U.S. counternarcotics programs and assets in Colombia as well as a general reduction in available resources across the federal government in recent fiscal years.10"Source:"Counternarcotics Assistance: U.S. Agencies Have Allotted Billions in Andean Countries, but DOD Should Improve Its Reporting of Results" (Government Accountability Office: Washington, DC, July 2012), GAO-12-824, p. 13.
(Link Between Counter-Narcotics and Counter-Insurgency Strategies) "Although US assistance is provided for counter-narcotics purposes only, there is a clear linkage between the Colombian government's counter-narcotics and counter-insurgency strategies. the Colombian government believes that, by striking at the drug trade, it also strikes at the economic center of gravity of the guerrillas. That is, by destroying the coca and poppy fields, drug-production facilities, and transportation networks, the government can also degrade the guerrillas' ability to carry on the war.
"Whether this is an accurate assessment remains to be seen."Source:Rabasa, Angel & Peter Chalk, "Colombian Labyrinth: The Synergy of Drugs and Insurgency and Its Implications for Regional Instability" (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2001), p. 65.
(US Counter-Narcotics Efforts in Colombia and the FARC) "The FARC clearly believes that US counter-narcotics assistance is directed against it, that it is, in effect, disguised counter- insurgency assistance, and that if they, the guerrillas, were to gain the upper hand, the United States would intervene on the side of the Bogota government. Therefore, in its public posture, the FARC has stressed the threat that US military assistance to Colombia poses to the peace process, a theme that plays well with some domestic and international audiences. The FARC professes to be opposed in principle to the narcotics trade, while criticizing the methods employed by the Colombian government -- aerial spraying in particular. It has also sought to forestall direct US intervention by drawing parallels between Colombia and Vietnam."Source:Rabasa, Angel & Peter Chalk, "Colombian Labyrinth: The Synergy of Drugs and Insurgency and Its Implications for Regional Instability" (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2001), p. 68.
(Unreliable Information on Counternarcotics Funding to Andean Countries) "Given the strategic importance of reducing drug production and trafficking in the Andean countries—the source of more than 95 percent of the cocaine seized in the United States and much of the heroin available east of the Mississippi River—accurate and reliable information on the results of this assistance is essential. State, USAID, and DEA have reported the required information, with attestations of its reliability, regarding the combined $4 billion in assistance that they provided in fiscal years 2006 through 2011. However, lacking attestations by DOD’s IG, ONDCP has minimal assurance of the reliability of DOD’s reporting on its estimated $956 million in counternarcotics assistance in those years. Without reliable information, ONDCP may be limited in its ability to carry out its responsibility for coordinating and overseeing implementation of the policies, goals, objectives, and priorities established by the national drug control program and to report accurately to Congress on counternarcotics assistance provided by agencies under ONDCP’s purview. Moreover, without reliable information, Congress and other decision makers, including ONDCP, may lack information that is essential to assessing progress toward the U.S. goal of curtailing illicit drug consumption in America, making decisions on the allocation of resources, and conducting effective oversight."Source:"Counternarcotics Assistance: U.S. Agencies Have Allotted Billions in Andean Countries, but DOD Should Improve Its Reporting of Results" (Government Accountability Office: Washington, DC, July 2012), GAO-12-824, p. 20.
(Air Bridge Denial Program) "The Air Bridge Denial Program derives its name from its goal: to deny the South American drug network the “air bridge” used to transfer semi-refined cocaine from growing areas in rural Peru, Bolivia and Colombia to processing plants in Colombia and onward to destination countries. While this transportation network also includes land and water routes, its lifeblood is aerial transportation.4 The denial of this air bridge, initially through the interdiction of suspect planes on the ground and later through the use of weapons against aircraft in flight, is seen as a key component of the overall success of U.S. counter-drug operations. However, while this component has had a long and successful history, it has been controversial."Source:Huskisson, Major Darren C., "The Air Bridge Denial Program and the Shootdown of Civil Aircraft under International Law," Air Force Law Review (Maxwell AFB, Alabama: 2005) Vol. 56, pp. 111-112.
Editor's Note: The number in parenthesis following each quote references its respective source below.
Brief Chronology of Domestic Military Involvement and the Posse Comitatus Act Year Event 1878 (Congress enacts Posse Comitatus Act) "Congress enacted the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 that placed strict limits on the military’s participation in civilian law enforcement duties.” (1) 1970 (National Guard called out against students) "... the Ohio National Guard was called out [by Governor James Rhodes] to put down an anti-war protest on the campus of Kent State University." (2) 1972 (Military called during seige) "During the siege [of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota], military was called in and used in several ways, including aerial reconnaissance flights, as undercover agents, and for advice in negotiations, logistics and rules of engagement." (2) 1981 (Posse Comitatus Act amended) "...Congress enacted a series of clarifying authorities and restrictions on the use of the military to assist law enforcement.14 Included in this law are several specific authorities in which the military can share information, training and equipment with law enforcement agencies.” (2) 1986 (first military anti-drug effort) “...Bolivia became the scene of the first major antidrug operation on foreign soil to publicly involve U.S. military forces. One hundred sixty U.S. troops took part in Operation Blast Furnace...” (2) 1988 (defense department to lead transit drug detection) “... the U.S. military’s active participation in America’s fight against illegal narcotics was further expanded by the George W. Bush administration through Public Law 100-456 that created amendments to USC Title 10, Chapter 18 [Military Support for Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies]. The changes to public law now required the Department of Defense (DoD) 'to serve as the lead agency for the detection and monitoring of aerial and maritime transit of illegal drugs into the United States.'” (1) 1989 (military task force formed to counter illegal drug flow) “In response to President George H.W. Bush’s declaration of the 'War on Drugs,' General Colin Powell, then Commanding General of the U.S. Army’s Forces Command, issued the order ... that established JTF-6 [Joint Task Force-Six] at Fort Bliss, Texas. JTF-6 was established to serve as the planning and coordinating operational headquarters to support local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies within the Southwest border region to counter the flow of illegal drugs into the United States.” (3) 1989 (military advisors deployed to South America) “President George H. W. Bush’s so-called 'Andean Initiative... involved the deployment of seven Special Forces teams and approximately 100 military advisors to Colombia, Bolivia and Peru to train the armies of the region to fight the drug war.” (4) 1989-1993 (military assistance increased to South America) “...the George H.W. Bush administration and U.S. congressional leaders committed to a five-year package of greatly increased counter-drug assistance to Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.” (2) 1990s (military monitoring of the 'air bridge') “United States Southern Command began a program called 'Support Justice' to assist in the aerial monitoring of the air bridge [used to transfer semi-refined cocaine from rural growing areas to processing plants and to destination countries] ... [and] to 'confirm anecdotal law enforcement information regarding the frequent use of small private aircraft to move ... cocaine'" (4) 1991 (Posse Comitatus Act amended to include counter-drug assistance) Via the National Defense Authorization Act for 1991, the Posse Comitatus Act was amended so that “during fiscal years 1991 through 2002, the Secretary of Defense may provide counter-drug activity assistance upon request of federal or state law enforcement agencies.” (5) 1993 (military counter-drug operations shift to South America) “President Clinton signed Presidential Decision Directive 14 (PDD 14),9 which shifted the focus of U.S. counter-drug operations from the 'transit zone in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico to the source zone, chiefly Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.'” (4) 1995 (military anti-drug task force expanded) “By directive of the Commanding General of U.S. Army Forces Command, JTF-6's area of responsibility was expanded to include the entire continental United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.” (3) 1997 (innocent teenager killed by Marines) “... a teenager named Esequiel Hernández, a U.S. citizen, did not know that four U.S. Marines were concealed in camouflage in the area where he was herding goats while carrying a 22-caliber rifle, which he often did to protect the herd against snakes and other animals. At one point, one Marine felt that another concealed Marine was in danger because of the teenager and he opened fire, killing Hernández instantly.” (2) 1998 (military funds Colombian counternarcotics batallion) “... meeting in Cartagena, U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen and Colombian Defense Minister Rodrigo Lloreda agreed to establish a Counternarcotics Battalion in the Colombian Army. The battalion, financed at first entirely by accounts in the U.S. defense budget.” (2) 2000 (military assistance for Colombian anti-drug missions) The U.S. Congress approved “a $1.3 billion package of mostly military aid to Colombia and its neighbors – a contribution to a larger strategy called “Plan Colombia” – the military’s resistance to anti-drug missions, whether counter-guerrilla or otherwise, wore away.” (2) 2001 (aircraft shot down killing missionary and daughter) Under the Air Bridge Denial (ABD) program, “... a Peruvian A-37 interceptor, operating as part of a joint U.S.-Peruvian counternarcotics mission, fired two salvos of machine gun fire into a small Cessna float plane after it had been identified as a probable drug trafficking aircraft. ... Two people on the aircraft were killed, a U.S. missionary and her infant daughter, both killed by the gunfire from the Peruvian aircraft. ... In the wake of the tragedy that took two innocent lives, programs in both Peru and Colombia were suspended pending a review of safety procedures.” (4) 2003 (air bridge monitoring resumes) ABD program restarts in Colombia. (6) 2004 (military anti-drug task force mission expanded) “JTF-6 was officially renamed JTF North and its mission was expanded to include providing homeland security support to the nation’s federal law enforcement agencies.” It’s mission statement is: “Joint Task Force North supports Drug Law Enforcement Agencies in the conduct of Counter Drug/Counter Narco-Terrorism operations in the USNORTHCOM area of responsibility to disrupt trans-national criminal organizations and deter their freedom of action in order to protect the homeland.” (3)(7) 2004 (air bridge monitoring changes trafficking patterns) Office of Congressman Mark Souder (R-IN) reported that Colombia ABD program “forced down and/or destroyed over 28 suspected narcotics trafficking aircraft, … seized 7.9 metric tons of illicit drugs ... [and] Resulted in changed narcotics trafficking patterns. (6)” 2006 (National Guard troops ordered to U.S./Mexico border) “President [George W.] Bush ordered 6,000 National Guard troops to assist the Border Patrol for a two-year period in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. ... They operated surveillance systems, analyzed intelligence, installed fences and vehicle barriers, built roads, and provided training.35 The deployment became known as 'Operation Jump Start.' This was the largest number of soldiers on the border since the Mexican Revolution ninety years earlier.” (2) 2006 (Posse Comitatus Act repealed) “President George W. Bush signed into law the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. That Act included a section that essentially repealed Posse Comitatus: 'The Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies.'29 It amended the U.S. Code to allow the president to use the military 'to restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States.'” (2) 2007 (Posse Comitatus Act restored) "When the [above] little-known provision in the FY 2007 Defense Authorization bill became more widely understood, the section was quickly repealed in the next year’s Authorization bill, thus restoring the effect of the Posse Comitatus Act." (2) 2007 (military anti-drug assistance to Mexico) At a “... meeting in Mérida, Yucatán, Presidents Calderón and Bush signed an agreement for a new security cooperation program, called the Mérida Initiative. This proposal provided Mexico and Central America with $1.6 billion in assistance, most of it military and police equipment and training, from 2008 to 2010.” (2) 2010 (National Guard troops ordered to U.S./Mexico border) “President Barack Obama announced the intention to send 1,200 National Guard troops to the border again. These troops will join the 340 already there under the 'State Counter Drug Programs,' assisting law enforcement with surveillance and intelligence gathering." (2)Source:(1) Luoma, Jr., Benjamin C., "The U.S. Military and Security along the U.S. Mexico Border: Evaluation of its Role in the Post September 11th Era," Naval Postgraduate School (Monterey, California: December 2002).
(2) Withers, George; Santos, Lucila; and Isacson, Adam, "Preach What You Practice: The Separation of Military and Police Roles in the Americas," Washington Office on Latin America (Washington, DC: November 2010).
(3) "History of Joint Task Force North," United States Department of Defense.
(4) Huskisson, Major Darren C., "The Air Bridge Denial Program and the Shootdown of Civil Aircraft under International Law," Air Force Law Review (Maxwell AFB, Alabama: 2005) Vol. 56.
(5) Doyle, Charles, "The Posse Comitatus Act and Related Matters: The Use of the Military to Execute Civilian Law," Congressional Research Service (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, June 1, 2000).
(6) U.S. Representative Mark E. Souder, "Foreign Ops: Talking Points on Counternarcotics Efforts," (Washington, DC: Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, 2005).
(7) "Joint Task Force North Mission," United States Department of Defense.