Military and the Drug War

Drug Policy Question of the Week – 7-6-11

As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 7-6-11.

Question of the Week: Does the military participate in the drug war?

According the Washington Law Office on Latin America (WOLA), in 1986 …

in 1986,  “…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…”

Three years later, in 1989 per the Department of Defense, Joint Task Force 6 was formed under the U.S. Army …

“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.”

That same year per the Air Force Law Review,

“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…”

Unfortunately, in 2001,

“… 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. … Two people on the aircraft were killed, a U.S. missionary and her infant daughter.”

In 2006, according to WOLA,

“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.”

That same year, he signed a repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act, but under public pressure, it was restored in 2007.

In 2010, “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,’”

These troops remain there today.

These facts and others like them can be found on the “Brief Chronology of Domestic Military Involvement” table in the Military Participation Chapter of Drug War Facts at