The Taliban’s Heroin Ploy Essay

BS Top – Posner Heroin Dima Gavrysh / AP Photo As the U.S. postpones a determination on Afghanistan, Gerald Posner studies on a new secret arm in the armory of the Taliban and Al Qaeda: acquiring the Army addicted to their inexpensive diacetylmorphine.

Forty old ages ago, the Vietnam War was partially undermined by heroin dependence among U.S. military personnels. Surely aware of that, the Taliban and al Qaeda are now utilizing Afghanistan ‘s big diacetylmorphine supplies as a tactical arm. An internal U.S. intelligence study has concluded that the two groups are aiming American military personnels in an attempt to sabotage their effectivity, while raising hard currency to pay for new recruits and arms, a U.S. intelligence functionary tells The Daily Beast.

It ‘s a logical maneuver. The drug is plentiful, cheap less than $ 1 for a twenty-four hours ‘s supply and potent. And while Army functionaries publically dismiss talk of any billowy drug job, some in private express concern about the possibility of increased drug usage among world-weary and susceptible immature soldiers.

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The Taliban and al Qaeda see an chance: U.S. and other NATO soldiers are caught in an progressively unpopular struggle with high emphasis and small to make in their trim clip.

Harmonizing to the study, which the functionary spoke to me about merely on the status of namelessness, the Taliban and al Qaeda see an chance: U.S. and other NATO soldiers are caught in an progressively unpopular struggle with high emphasis and small to make in their trim clip. Drugs are a alluring flight. The study cites the drug jobs in old drug-producing combat zones. In Vietnam, some frontline U.S. troop battalions had substance maltreatment rates that exceeded 20 per centum, about all due to China White, the almost-pure diacetylmorphine from the next Golden Triangle. Russian soldiers who served in Afghanistan in the eightiess returned to the fatherland with an dependence rate than besides approached 20 per centum.

This diacetylmorphine bomb so does indirect harm back place. The returning soldiers brought place a diacetylmorphine job to Russian metropoliss that grew exponentially during the past two decennaries. This past March, Russia ‘s anti-narcotics agency announced that the state had become the planet ‘s ‘No. 1 heroin consumer. ‘

Today ‘s Taliban-fighting Americans were yesterday ‘s mujahideen-fighting Soviets. They saw how diacetylmorphine helped disenable a foreign contending force more than 20 old ages ago. And that lesson is n’t lost on them. With the Afghan opium harvest at record degrees bring forthing more than 90 per centum of the planetary supply and the Taliban and al Qaeda progressively trusting on the drug trade to finance their war, aiming U.S. soldiers besides has the possible to seed new markets.

Reihan Salam: The Taliban-al Qaeda ConnectionOfficially, the topic remains forbidden, particularly given the Obama disposal ‘s current argument about altering the Afghanistan military scheme. Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star general who was the U.S. drug tsar under Bill Clinton, told a conference of addiction-treatment suppliers that serious drug usage among U.S. military personnels in Afghanistan has doubled in the last four old ages, and that as the Obama disposal moves more soldiers from Iraq to Afghanistan, more will fall prey. ‘ [ Soldiers ] are traveling to lodge it up their nose and like it, ” he told the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers this yesteryear May.

The comments went mostly unnoticed, but Army functionaries were in private ferocious at McCaffrey ‘s statements, stating me he did n’t hold the stats to endorse up his charge. But while Army functionaries speak a good game reasoning random drug testing is in topographic point, the Army is now voluntaries, non conscripts, and the Numberss of opiate nuts are still low they are clearly concerned about what might be coming.

In 2004, the military, worried even so about the immense supply of inexpensive opiates, began random drug testing of American military personnels in Iraq, and shortly extended that to Afghanistan. Ten per centum of military personnels in each unit are selected at random, one time a month, for a uranalysis. But proving soldiers in a combat zone is non easy. Rhonda K. Paige, the head of the public personal businesss and strategic communications office of the Army ‘s deputy head of staff, told The Daily Beast, ‘We apply the same testing demands to soldiers in theatre as we do to soldiers at place station ; but non at the hazard of the mission and or our soldiers ‘ personal safety. ‘

George Wright, a Pentagon-based Army spokesman told me, ‘In Iraq, a bulk of units inspected at the brigade, battalion, and company degrees were run intoing the purpose of current Army policy, but conformity in Afghanistan is debatable due to operational pacing and unit scattering. ‘

Wright made a strong statement for the Army ‘s many efforts to avoid the drug jobs that afflicted military personnels in Vietnam, indicating out that it has sharply trained soldiers to be better aware of the causes of drug maltreatment and ‘to wipe out the stigma associated with seeking behavioural wellness attention. ‘ As for penalty for anyone who tested positive, Wright said, ‘Leaders will back up soldiers to the highest grade possible, and will turn to each state of affairs on its virtues. However, substance maltreatment will non be tolerated in the Army. Every attempt is made to assist a soldier rehabilitate. ‘ That means that if person does test positive, the Army is n’t likely to reassign out a combat soldier when it already has trouble acquiring good combat military personnels with experience on the front line.

‘Through September 2006, [ there were ] no positive uranalysis consequences among deployed soldiers for diacetylmorphine, ‘ he told me. He was non able to happen any ulterior informations. But The Daily Beast spoke to six soldiers, four of whom had served in Iraq, and two from Afghanistan. All had developed opiate dependences and had sought intervention from the Veterans Hospitals in their place metropoliss. None wanted to travel on the record, because they were either in the Militias, afraid their remarks might be interpreted as unfavorable judgment of the Army, or might reflect severely on their friends who were still functioning uprightly in the combat zones.

These six nem con confirmed that diacetylmorphine ‘was everyplace, ‘ particularly in Afghanistan. Each of them besides talked about local providers who had established grapevines into American troop installings in many parts of the states. One, who had been based at the Bagram landing field, said that diacetylmorphine was ‘sold at a batch of the stores in the bazar ‘ located merely outside the air base ‘s margin. They confirmed that some soldiers have bartered away military equipment, including knives, helmets, and flak jackets, for drugs. ‘Why do you believe you can purchase excess Army equipment inside the bazar, ‘ one solider asked me. ( At Bagram, harmonizing to a written statement provided by an Army interpreter for the base, the “ Military Police receive few studies of intoxicant or drug issues. ” )

In conversations with Army functionaries, it becomes clear that the true extent of the diacetylmorphine job among American soldiers now functioning in Afghanistan, and Iraq, is unknown. The military support statistics merely on how many military personnels failed drug trials, as George Wright noted when he cited the zero-positive consequences in ‘deployed soldiers. ‘ But it turns out that that better information on long-run dependence comes non from the Army but from the U.S. Veterans Administration. The VA is the universe ‘s largest supplier of substance-abuse services, caring for more than 350,000 veterans with these issues per twelvemonth. Ten per centum of those are opiate nuts ; intoxicant and prescription drug maltreatment are the dominant jobs. Merely preliminary information for Iraq and Afghanistan is available. Veterans of those struggles are non yet demoing up in big Numberss. Harmonizing to the VA ‘s 2008 study on substance maltreatment, 22,024 veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom ( Afghanistan ) sought intervention for substance maltreatment of all sorts at the VA. That was double the figure of merely two old ages earlier.

The anecdotal information from some at the VA suggests there may be a moving ridge of new patients coming. Although non yet in the authorities ‘s official statistics, studies of overpacked dolophine hydrochloride clinics indicate future VA patients have already returned in big Numberss. Experts think it can take up to a decennary for the true range of the job to emerge.

“ We ‘re merely get downing to acquire a batch of Gulf War veterans, ” says Dr. Jodie Trafton, a health-care specializer with the VA ‘s Center for Health Care Evaluation in Menlo Park, California. Young soldiers, says Trafton, tend non to seek intervention unless urged to make so by their household. ‘It ‘s when they are still making it and their friends stop that they show up for attention. We tend to acquire people subsequently instead than earlier, and we are making every bit much as possible to force testing. ‘

A big figure of veterans do n’t even subscribe up for VA benefits. ‘It ‘s a deficiency of consciousness, ‘ says Trafton. ‘We find it surprising. But we are still acquiring World War II vets that are coming into the system. ‘ That means that some soldiers who develop dependences will acquire treated outside of the VA and ne’er even be counted in the authorities figures. “ We are merely presuming the worst, ” says Trafton, “ and we ‘re seeking to do certain we have the substructure in topographic point if it comes. We hope the veterans will come if they need aid and wo n’t wait until it destroys their lives. ”

But dependence is merely one job from holding a contending force stationed in the universe ‘s largest opium-producing state. “ I ‘d be astonished if we do n’t see soldiers who find 10 kgs of diacetylmorphine and battalion it up in a birthday bar and direct it place to their female parent, ” McCaffrey said in May.

Army functionaries are still biting over the 2005 incident in which four military intelligence soldiers, whose mission was to help the Colombian authorities in surveillance and sensing of drugs, transported more than 200 lbs of cocaine on military aircraft into Texas and Louisiana. They received general tribunals Martial and the sergeant who was the ringleader got six old ages in prison. That was the same twelvemonth that an Air National Guard pilot and a sergeant used a C-5 Galaxy military conveyance plane to mouse about 300,000 Ecstasy pills from Germany into New York. And in the past two old ages, the British have prosecuted nine soldiers for smuggling guns out of Iraq to merchandise for drugs and hard currency.

Army functionaries are non worried about big, widespread narcotic trusts run by U.S. soldiers. Alternatively, they are concerned that some persons may be tempted to do some fast and easy money. But the Army does non hold the resources or ability to supervise every soldier who wants to gain a twelvemonth ‘s excess wage by get offing place a twosome of bundles of virtually pure diacetylmorphine. The Daily Beast has learned that the DEA, which has the duty for developing major drug instances inside Afghanistan, does non hold any American service forces presently functioning in Afghanistan or Iraq under a drug-related probe.

This does non cover the more than 18,000 private armed security contractors, such as Blackwater and Armor Group, now working in those states under Pentagon control. Some in the Afghan Ministry of Anti-Narcotics believe the private soldier of fortunes might hold more incentive and means to cover in diacetylmorphine.

A senior DEA officer told me the bureau is working hard to seek to forestall diacetylmorphine trafficking from Afghanistan going an American job. “ We ‘re seeking to construct the complex instances to halt the Pablo Escobars of Afghanistan from acquiring a lasting bridgehead, ” he said. “ We do n’t hold the ability to halt every ma and dad trader in a state where opium is the biggest hard currency harvest. Some people are merely traveling to wing under the radio detection and ranging. ”

Update: The substance-abuse rates in U.S. battalions during the Vietnam War has been revised since originally posted.

Gerald Posner is The Daily Beast ‘s main fact-finding newsman. He ‘s the award-winning writer of 10 fact-finding nonfiction best sellers, runing from political blackwashs, to Nazi war felons, to 9/11, to terrorist act. His latest book, Miami Babylon: Crime, Wealth and Power? A Dispatch from the Beach, was published this month. He lives in Miami Beach with his married woman, the writer Trisha Posner.


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