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More Attention Needed for Drug War to Succeed, Say Military Officials


September 1995

In interviews with Inside the Pentagon, an independent military news publication, two Department of Defense officials said that the US must commit more resources to the "war on drugs" (Christopher M. Parent, "DOD Officials Claim More Work Needs to Be Done in Counter-Narcotics," Inside the Pentagon, May 1, 1995, p. 2).

Commander of the US Special Operations Command General Wayne Downing said the military cannot fight drugs on its own. "We are restricted, and I think rightly so, as to what the uniformed military personnel can do inside those borders. But we've got to get our stuff together. This battle is not going to be won in source countries or in the transit countries. The battle is going to be won here in the United States and we better start doing something about it."

At an April 27 seminar sponsored by the US Naval Institute, General Downing called drugs and drug trafficking the "greatest threat that is out there."

Downing's group offers tactical and personnel support to counter-drug special forces units in about 60 countries.

The article also quotes an unnamed "key counter-drug official" blaming President Clinton for lack of leadership on the drug issue. The official said the US needs to recommit itself to the war on drugs to succeed. In addition, he said greater coordination is needed among the 40 government agencies that have some responsibilities for anti-drug operations and programs.

"Lee Brown [Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy] sits at the top," he said, "but he doesn't have control. He can't manage as he should."