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Report on Progress toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan

June 2008
Report to Congress in accordance with the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (Section 1230, Public Law 110-181)


Section 4: Counternarcotics (CN)

The cultivation, production and trafficking of narcotics in Afghanistan is a major concern. Narcotics-related activities are fueling the insurgency in Afghanistan and, if left unchecked, threaten the long-term stability of the country and the surrounding region. Over 90 percent of the world’s opium originates in Afghanistan, and the emerging nexus between narcotics traffickers and the insurgency is clear. Due to the threat to economic development, security, and governance posed by the trafficking of drugs in Afghanistan, the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics (OSD CN), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. Marshals Service, the Department of Justice (DoJ), and the Department of State (DoS) are committed to strengthening the counternarcotics (CN) capabilities of the GIRoA and bordering nations.

4.1 Strategy, Resources, and Priorities

The U.S. Government has developed both short and long-term objectives to meet CN goals in Afghanistan and the region. These objectives are framed within the Five Pillar strategic plan for Afghanistan. The five pillars include: 1) Public Information, 2) Interdiction and Law Enforcement, 3) Eradication, 4) Rule of Law and Justice Reform 5) Alternative Development. In the short-term (one to three years), the primary focus will be on the interdiction pillar. To this end, DoD will continue to focus on capacity building programs; sustaining CN police forces; training the ABP to identify, track and interdict outgoing narcotics and incoming precursor chemicals; increasing the capacity of the CNPA to detect, gather evidence, develop cases and incarcerate drug traffickers; integrate CN capacity building in the provinces within the CSTC-A FDD Plan; and better utilize the National Guard State Partnership Program for regional CN support activities.

The long-term (three to five years) strategy is to continue providing support to interdiction-capacity building. This support will primarily be targeted towards Afghan law enforcement, but legitimate law enforcement organizations of neighboring countries will also be beneficiaries. U.S. efforts aim to contain narcotics trafficking within Afghanistan, break the tie between insurgents and the drug trade, continue to engage Central Asian countries in order to gain access, ensure regional efforts remain Afghan centric, and eventually transfer CN program support to partner nations. To achieve these goals, the United States will continue to fund programs that enhance the logistical and technical abilities of partner countries to conduct CN interdiction operations. Descriptions of other agencies responsibilities can be found in section 4.2 below.

In August 2007, the U.S. Counternarcotics Strategy for Afghanistan was revised by the interagency community to improve implementation of CN activities in Afghanistan. Strategy elements were based on input from an interagency group of experts representing the DoS, DoD, Department of Justice, USDA, Department of the Treasury, Drug Enforcement Administration, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and USAID. The improved strategy evaluated the previous CN strategy for Afghanistan, examined pertinent issues, obstacles and lessons learned, and presented a way forward on the five pillars of the strategy.

The way forward involves three main elements: (1) dramatically increasing development assistance to provide incentives for licit development while simultaneously amplifying the scope and intensity of both interdiction and eradication operations; (2) coordinating CN and counterinsurgency planning and operations in a manner not previously accomplished, with a particular emphasis on integrating CN into the counterinsurgency mission; and (3) encouraging consistent, sustained political will for the CN effort among the Afghan government, our allies, and international civilian and military organizations. To ensure the goals of this strategy are met, several weekly and bi-weekly interagency counternarcotics coordination meetings are held. All principal policy makers take part in the Afghan Interagency Operations Group (AIOG), the Afghan Working Group (AWG), the Afghan Steering Group (ASG), and the Deputies and Principals Committee meetings.

4.2 Roles and Missions

At the national level, the Counternarcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA) are the policing agency responsible for countering illicit narcotics traffickers in Afghanistan. The CNPA mission is to enforce the narcotics laws and regulations, the policy of the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and orders from the Ministry of the Interior. In order to foster stability and security, the CNPA targets narcotics trafficking suspects and those who protect them. Provincial governors are responsible for discouraging poppy cultivation and conducting Governor-led eradication (GLE), if necessary. Should governors need assistance in conducting eradication, they can ask for national assistance. In provinces where governors are either unwilling or unable to conduct GLE, the central government’s Poppy Eradication Force (PEF) may be deployed, even if the governor does not request support. Those provinces that demonstrate notable progress in counternarcotics by greatly reducing poppy cultivation or eliminating it altogether, may qualify for high-impact development assistance through the Good Performers Initiative.

The international forces present in the country provide operational support to the GIRoA. ISAF does not have a direct mission in CN; however, ISAF assistance to CN activities is a key supporting task. The DoS works within the five pillar plan to coordinate public information campaigns and poppy eradication. DoS and DoJ work in conjunction to enhance the Afghan judicial system, train prosecutors, and build the infrastructure necessary to indict, arrest, try, convict, and incarcerate drug traffickers. The DEA, DoJ, DoS and DoD have been successful in building the interdiction capacity of the CNPA. With the assistance of DoD, the DEA recently opened a new training facility for the CNPA. The DEA is also in the process of developing a three-to-five-year expansion plan for DEA operations in Afghanistan. USAID provides devolvement opportunities for the Afghan people, and is building roads, installing irrigation, constructing cold storage facilities, and introducing improved farming techniques to the Afghan people with the goal of providing viable alternatives to opium cultivation.

4.3 Efforts to Improve Coordination

4.3.1 Interagency

As mentioned previously, the U.S. Coordinator for Counternarcotics and Justice Reform in Afghanistan worked with an interagency group of experts to revise the U.S. Counternarcotics Strategy for Afghanistan with the goal of improving the implementation of CN activities in Afghanistan. Experts from DoD, DoS, Department of Justice, USDA, Department of the Treasury, Drug Enforcement Administration, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and USAID worked together to create the revised strategy, which was publicly released in August 2007.

4.3.2 International

The opium problem in Afghanistan can not be viewed as Afghanistan’s problem alone. For this reason, the USG will continue to build the interdiction capacity of neighboring countries in the South and Central Asia region. Regionally, DoD will continue to provide non-intrusive detection equipment, training and infrastructure support for better border security to the Government of Pakistan; improve border facilities and provide new communications equipment in Tajikistan; provide scanning equipment and construct border crossings in Turkmenistan; and improve command and control and provide mobile interdiction training in Kyrgyzstan. In addition, DoD will continue to provide the Pakistan Frontier Corps (FC) with funds to improve its ability to identify and interdict narcotics traffickers; in FY08 alone DoD will provide more than $50 million to continue to build the capacity of the FC. Building regional counternarcotics capacity ensures that the Afghan opium problem will not simply migrate to another country in the region and continue to threaten U.S. goals of peace and security in this important corner of the world.

4.3.3 Use of Intelligence

The U.S. Government coordinates the development of CN programs and the sharing of CN intelligence and information with partner nations and lead federal law enforcement agencies. Sharing intelligence, while building the capacity of the GIRoA and neighboring countries to collect CN intelligence, will allow the United States to shift the burden of counternarcotics activities in Afghanistan to the Government of Afghanistan more quickly. The Joint Narcotics Analysis Center (UK-led, based in London) enables analysts from different U.S. and U.K. intelligence and law enforcement agencies to conduct strategic analysis to provide CN policy makers with an accurate assessment of the Afghan opium problem. The Interagency Operations Coordination Center (IOCC) (U.S.-U.K. joint leadership, based in Kabul) provides law enforcement targeting support and operational coordination for U.S., U.K., GIRoA and other CN law enforcement operations. These operations target the illicit Afghan narcotics industry, and the IOCC works to support, strengthen and expand the rule of law and good governance in Afghanistan. The DoD-funded CNPA Intelligence Fusion Center (CNPA – IFC), located in the CNPA headquarters, liaises closely with the CNPA Intelligence and Analysis Department. On a daily basis, the CNPA-IFC handles information requests from the CNPA and IOCC and provides targeting coordination based on information gathered from intelligence sources and seized documents. By coordinating efforts between the CNPA and the international partners, and by facilitating the flow of information, the CNPA-IFC acts as a critical enabler for the intelligence and analysis department while playing a vital role in creating synergy between the GIRoA and partner law enforcement agencies.

The Criminal Investigations Management System is a database system for recording data and performing link analysis on criminal activity in support of the CNPA. In addition to a database function, the system provides capabilities for collecting biometric data on criminals. The project involves developing the database system and deploying equipment to Afghanistan in conjunction with system management training. This development enables the CNPA to archive information and share it with international law enforcement agencies. The mission of the Centers for Drug Information is to help disrupt illegal drug trafficking through operational and tactical law enforcement information sharing. Sharing of drug-related information between and among the participating nations and agencies enhances the effectiveness and efficiency of CN law enforcement. These systems will ultimately provide the CNPA with the capability to develop a comprehensive information sharing process; and will facilitate sharing of timely and secure investigations information. DoD is also working to improve its human intelligence capability. In FY 2008, DoD will provide more than $57 million towards CN intelligence programs in Afghanistan, and has requested funding to continue these programs.

4.4 Efforts to Improve Afghan Capacity

CN operations are severely constrained by the capacity of the Afghan law enforcement and judicial systems. In Afghanistan the judicial system is negatively affected by varying degrees of corruption and a lack of transparency. As a result, DoD, DoS, DoJ, DEA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are working to build the infrastructure necessary for the GIRoA to conduct legitimate law enforcement operations against narcotics traffickers.

Over the next several years, the U.S. and its international allies will assist the CNPA in building the capacity to arrest high value drug traffickers, intercept narcotics during transit, and destroy clandestine laboratories. Current joint DoD programs with DEA have resulted in the construction of the National Interdiction Unit (NIU) training compound, the installation of equipment for the Sensitive Investigative Unit and the Technical Investigations Unit, and provided advanced training for the CNPA, with DoS funding all the operations and maintenance costs for these facilities. Additional funding for these programs was supplied by DoD and DEA to conduct background checks on applicants and train those who were found to be suitable for duty in these elite units. With DoS, DoD provided funding for the Afghan Joint Aviation Facility and the CN Justice Center, while providing helicopter flight training to MoI personnel for the creation of an organic airlift capability for Afghan CN organizations. DoD is developing an Unmanned Aerial System program to provide dedicated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support to interagency CN forces. This program will provide situational awareness and force protection for CN forces when they are conducting operations, specifically DEA Foreign Advisory Support Teams (FASTs) and the NIU. The FASTs provide guidance, mentoring, and bilateral assistance to the GIRoA and CNPA in identifying and disrupting clandestine drug operations. The DEA FAST teams have consistently requested and received helicopter support from DoS, including mission support, insertion, extraction, medevac, search and rescue, and reconnaissance. Although U.S. military personnel do not directly participate in law enforcement operations, USCENTCOM forces do provide medical evacuation, in-extremis support, pilot training, helicopter lift support for administrative purposes, and intelligence for law enforcement CN missions.

In FY 2008, DoD is providing more than $95 million to foster CNPA development. Some major DoD funded initiatives are Afghan helicopter crew member training ($4 million), Mi-17 helicopter operations and maintenance ($13.2 million), aviation facilities ($4.3 million), NIU sustainment training ($5.6 million), DEA mentoring and training program ($9 million), expansion of the CNPA headquarters compound ($20 million) and construction of two regional law enforcement centers ($9.7 million). DoD has long-term plans to further support the capacity building of GIRoA CN forces. Some of the potential programs could include acquisition of additional MI-17 helicopters, Afghan helicopter crew member training, additional regional operations and training centers, NIU sustainment training, and mentoring for all levels of the counternarcotics police.

DoD also plays an integral role in building the operational capacity of the Afghan Border Police (ABP) and Afghan Customs Department (ACD). The ABP and ACD require extensive support if they are to be effective in controlling Afghanistan’s 5,000 plus kilometer border.

Border crossings with Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and China present a challenge to these Afghan departments. To meet this challenge, DoD funded a DoS program, the Border Management Initiative (BMI). The purpose of BMI is to improve security and promote stability in the border regions, and to increase interdiction capacity. In FY08, DoD will provide more than $14 million to build the capacity of the ABP and ACD. At the request of DoS, DoD funded the development of the U.S. Embassy Border Management Task Force (BMTF). The BMTF provides oversight and management of U.S. border initiatives and assists the GIRoA with border issues. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime looks to the BMTF as the focal point for border management issues on behalf of the international community. Under the BMTF, U.S. mentors are provided to the ABP and ACD for border crossing points at Islam Qalah and Towrkham. DoD funded construction of several border crossing points in Afghanistan and the region including Sher Khan Bander, Towragundhi, and Islam Qalah. A communications system was also purchased for the ABP to support key command and control functions. Non-intrusive detection capability (x-ray and gamma scanners) has been provided to support inspections at major border crossing points and airports.

The Counternarcotics Infantry Kandak (CNIK), security element for the CN forces, is the Ministry of Defense’s contribution to GIRoA CN efforts. The unit is intended to provide cordon security in direct support of Poppy Eradication Force deployments. The CNIK will enable the CN forces to focus on their core competencies and reduce the security burden on international forces. OSD (CN) is coordinating with CSTC-A and the Afghan MoD to develop the requirements to field a fully air-mobile unit with appropriate combat enablers to deter security threats posed to CN forces by the insurgents and the drug traffickers. The creation of the unit is part of the USG CN strategy for Afghanistan.

4.5 Assessment

4.5.1 Progress to Date

Although there has been some limited progress in the fight against narcotics, Afghanistan remains the leading producer of opium in the world. While many provinces have seen success in reducing poppy cultivation (12 of 34 provinces had more than a 50 percent decrease from 2006 to 2007 and the number of provinces that did not cultivate poppy rose from 6 in 2006 to 13 in 2007), four provinces experienced a significant increase in cultivation. Helmand in the south, Farah and Nimroz in the west, and Nangarhar in the east each saw an increase of more than 4,000 hectares from 2006 to 2007. Helmand alone now accounts for 53 percent of the total poppy growth in Afghanistan. One of the foremost problems is the lack of a comprehensive CN strategy among Afghanistan and its regional and international neighbors, especially Pakistan. With growing evidence of a link between the insurgency and the narcotics trade, it is becoming increasingly apparent that security in Afghanistan is directly tied to counternarcotics efforts.

Another major issue that requires resolution is the lack of coordination between the MoD and MoI. The current framework leads to a compartmentalization of responsibility between these ministries. The CNIK is an example of improvement. The MoD initially opposed the augmentation of the CNPA with ANA forces, mainly due to the potential risks posed by association with counternarcotics operations. In early 2008, the MoD changed its position, and the CNIK went into development. However, the issues that still need to be worked out are officer training for the CNIK, a memorandum of understanding with MoI on equipment loans and shared logistics during operations, and joint coordination and mission planning between the ministries.

4.5.2 Impact of Counternarcotics on the Counterinsurgency Mission

U.S. forces provide support to CN law enforcement operations within the scope of current rules of engagement, applicable law and regulation, and within the limits of their means and capabilities. Use of limited forces in Afghanistan is a zero-sum endeavor. A shift in force application from one mission set to another comes with a cost of a reduction of available forces for the former mission set. A shift of limited assets may result in a degradation of the counter-terrorism mission. Intelligence sharing, limited logistical support, and in-extremis rescue and medical evacuation are currently being provided by U.S. and international forces towards the CN mission. Additional resources, targeted to the CN mission would be needed to expand direct DoD support to counternarcotics operations. Similarly changes in rules of engagement and national law would also be required.

The CN mission affects the counterinsurgency and counterterrorism missions in another way. It is likely that counternarcotics operations have in some areas enabled insurgents to make common cause with farmers against the Afghan Government and ISAF. Insurgents can set up a protection racket, exchanging protection against eradication forces for support, supplies, and equipment from locals.

4.5.3 Potential Improvements

The impact of building GIRoA CN operational capacity complements the DoD’s primary mission of CT and counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. There is a clear nexus between narcotics and the insurgency in Afghanistan that threatens U.S. gains in Afghanistan and the region. The narcotics trade has strong links with the anti-government insurgency, most commonly associated with the Taliban. Narcotics traffickers provide revenue and arms to the Taliban, while the Taliban provides protection to growers and traffickers and keeps the government from interfering with their activities. By enabling the GIRoA to confront drug trafficking organizations we positively impact the effort to defeat the insurgency. The U.S. military is committed to continued work with other U.S. agencies, within the legal constraints imposed by Congress on military assistance to law enforcement operations, to support U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Central and South Asia to defeat the Afghan opium problem.

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