National Guard Counterdrug Program
What is it?
Since the U.S. Congress authorized the National Guard to perform interdiction and anti-drug activities in 1989, the National Guard has worked tirelessly with law enforcement agencies and community-based organizations in the fight against illicit drugs. More than 2,500 Soldiers and airmen in the 54 states and territories support more than 5,000 law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal levels to prevent illicit drugs from being imported, manufactured, and distributed.
Reaching more than 2.83 million people in FY07 through drug demand reduction efforts, the National Guard Counterdrug (NG CD) program has unparalleled relationships within communities and often leads local community-based organizations in their unified mission to prevent youth from drug use and abuse.
Through Combatant Commander support to both Northern Command and Southern Command, the mission for the NG CD program continues to expand as the nexus between drugs and terrorism has become evident. The unique training of National Guard troops and specialized equipment lends itself more and more to its increasingly relevant role in homeland defense and security. With ongoing strategic planning and implementation of initiatives that combat modern drug and terrorism-related threats, the NG CD program helps keep more than $34.9 Billion worth of illicit drugs off the street annually.
What has the National Guard done?
Recent NG CD program accomplishments include those listed below:
- Serving as mentors in uniform to youth, Soldiers and airmen teach a variety of anti-drug and positive decision-making programs, including the primary curriculum called “Stay on Track.” In its pilot year, the school year 2006-2007, Stay on Track reached more than 45,000 middle-school students. It has a target goal of 115,200 students by the end of the school year 2007-2008.
- After building and maintaining positive relationships with so many law enforcement agencies, the National Guard has become a force multiplier in counterdrug information sharing. Through the information-sharing environment (ISE), the NG CD program develops, tests, and expands law enforcement agency engagement with classified assets; is expanding the current training programs in place at schools that offer the program; and is maximizing its own support to the Department of Defense and interagency capabilities to produce actionable information in support of homeland defense and homeland security.
- The OH-58 helicopter and the RC-26B fixed-wing airplane are the aviation platforms that support the NG CD missions. Currently, the program operates 125 of the helicopters that now fall under the security and support battalions. There are 11 RC-26B aircraft throughout the programs. Together, these two types of aircraft provided 32,000 flight hours for support to law enforcement agencies.
- Administration of the Substance Abuse Prevention Program (SAPP) falls under the NG CD program. To ensure the Guard remains a drug-free workplace, all members are subject to random, unannounced testing throughout the year. In FY07, 65 percent of the Army
- National Guard and 53 percent of the Air National Guard were tested. Additionally, the SAPP expanded the Prevention, Treatment, and Outreach Program to provide prevention education to Guard members and their Families.
The NG CD program support led to the arrest of 79,875 criminals and seizures of the following:
- Cocaine 621,062 pounds
- Crack cocaine 2,416 pounds
- Marijuana (eradicated) 7,791,118 plants
- Marijuana (processed) 856,384 pounds
- Methamphetamine 5,703 pounds
- Heroin 2,141 pounds
- Ecstasy 1,020,533 pills
- Other/designer drugs 2,022,769 pills
- Weapons 21,603
- Vehicles 4,302
- Currency $382,435,841
What continued efforts does the National Guard have planned for the future?
After undergoing a massive transformation in 2005, the NG CD program has vigorously focused its efforts on drug demand reduction and ISE training initiatives. Expanding these structures requires strengthening the relationships between NG CD programs and its partners. Reenergizing its support with the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and forming new partnerships with organizations such as the National Foundation of Women Legislators demonstrates its increased emphasis on community coalition involvement. ISE initiatives continue to move forward, ensuring the NG CD programs remain a critical force multiplier.
The school system set in place by the NG CD program in four locations across the United States was responsible for training more than 73,000 military, law enforcement, and community-based organization members annually. The new curriculum in many of the courses ensures the NG CD program is providing the best training at no cost to these individuals. Three of the courses now offer additional skill identifier (Army) and special experience identifier (Air Force) qualifications. For the foreseeable future, several of the RC-26B aircraft will continue to support Combatant Commanders overseas, and the remaining aircraft are undergoing software and equipment modifications to provide better support here at home.
Why is this important to the National Guard?
Because the National Guard is not restricted by posse comitatus, it serves a particularly unique role for the Department of Defense in the fight against illicit drugs. Counterdrug activities inherently benefit the nation’s antiterrorism and homeland defense efforts by attacking a primary source of terrorist funding and disrupting other criminal enterprises, such as smuggling persons, weapons, cash, and other contraband into the United States. Drug demand reduction programs support communities that are home to Guard members and their Families, and help to protect the pool of potential future Soldiers and airmen in those communities. Prevention programs specifically designed for Guard members and their Families, especially during this time of high operations tempo and long deployments, support retention efforts by protecting Families from the lure of substance abuse as a means to cope.
The ISE benefits the National Guard in two major ways. First, it strengthens and enhances relationships between and among the National Guard and Civilian agencies charged with law enforcement and homeland security issues, as well as counterdrug activities. More tangibly, it is a means to obtain developed information that protects the force and supports domestic operations. The standardization in equipment and training initiated in FY07 establishes regional response capabilities in the areas of ground reconnaissance, drug demand reduction, and criminal analysis that not only can support counterdrug operations, but also extends unique capabilities in support of crisis response operations when necessary.