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Military Drug Border PatrolResearch Paper

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Drug Policy and Military

The following piece will address the United States policy on drugs as well as the involvement of the United States military with regard to protecting the borders and ports of the United States. Further the paper will address the changes in the drug policy since the late 1960s.

Former President of the United States (USA), Richard M. Nixon, during his tenure in 1971, founded the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) with the specific purpose of countering the profuse quantity of drugs coming into the country from outside. Nixon termed this as a 'war on drugs'. The war was intended to rid the streets of America of unlawful drugs, and close down drug cartels. In 1994, it was found that America's war on drugs had led to more than a million people being incarcerated in USA. Given that many of these people were non-violent users of drugs, one has to probe into whether or not the objectives of this war had been truly accomplished (Drug Policy). Overall rates if drug usage in the country are down. However, prominent sociologists have discovered that this is a result of other social causes, and not federal policy. Thus, it brings about the question of where this drug-war will head in future. Certain facts about this war, in addition to the role of military in it, are explored in this paper.

Military Role in Border and Port Protection

The Border Patrol has the challenging responsibility and task of preventing terrorists and any form of terrorist weapons, specifically weapons of mass destruction, from crossing the borders into the United States. They serve as a militant defense mechanism that protects the borders of the United States (U.S.) through their vigilant acts while battling the abundant challenges encountered with the hot desert temperatures and the blistery cold winters. The Border Patrol was first implemented in 1924 and though it has progressed in its diverse responsibilities and functions over the years, no alterations have been made to their primary mission concentrating on the detection and prevention of illegal aliens from crossing the borders into the United States. The Border Patrol partners with varied law enforcement personnel to maintain organization and orderly admittance at the borders of legal immigrants, as well as legal goods, while remaining steadfast to the prevention of unauthorized or smuggled individuals across the borders. With the responsibility of safeguarding Mexican and Canadian international borders stretching over 6,000 miles, and coastal waters around the island of Puerto Rico and Florida of over 2,000 miles, the Border Patrol and all of its operatives work diligently on their challenging assignments regardless of land and weather conditions. There are abundant operatives present in many of the secluded communities located throughout the United States as well. Increased trafficking of drugs has become the target of focus for the Border Patrol who has now taken the lead in the U.S. war on drugs. Their role along the Southwest border as the military organization that has jurisdiction over forbidden smuggling activities has become highly visible and very powerful and has become burdensome to many drug smugglers. 2012 statistics revealed that Southwestern Border Patrol operatives successfully confiscated greater than 5,000 pounds of cocaine along with over 2.2 million pounds of marijuana (DHS, 2015).

Further research has revealed that it is imperative that we reduce the resources for supplying drugs abroad as well as on our borders and within the United States in conjunction with drug treatment and education as well as overall drug prevention (LaMar, 1999). This approach has been highly prevalent since 1996. Though many more policies are required, one of the more recent plans generated to aid in decreasing this critical problem, is providing funds which can be allocated toward 100,000 civil policemen, 1,000 additional border guards, and multiple grants awarded to civil groups fighting the war against drug abuse. The start to finish procedures outlined in the 1998 National Drug Control Strategy proved to be all-inclusive and incredibly sufficient (LaMar, 1999). This very strategy is not only well-constructed but has ramifications that extend to future years especially if the levels of current anti-drug resources remain constant and unchanged. One of the most visible anti-drug resources in use the United States Armed Forces which serve to safeguard American frontiers, (air, land and sea) against the threat of drugs and to eliminate drug sources both foreign and domestic. Although they are not required to secure and protect our borders, the United States Armed Forces routinely offer backing and varied support to immigration and legal authorities along the southern U.S. borders. Increased levels of crime and illegal aliens have forced lawmakers to reassess the type of military assistance needed as well as the extent of that very support along the borders (Mason, 2010).

Drug Policy Since 1960s

The 1960s in the U.S.A. showed the growth of a relatively defiant drug-using popular movement. The 'counter-culture', for instance, made marijuana in vogue on college campuses. This was followed by lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), first tested by the CIA and then later more generally popular among students and others. Soldiers who came back from Vietnam brought with them marijuana and heroin addictions. Thus, the general drug-demand in America in the 60s rose to unexpected heights. The Johnson Administration consequently passed the 1966 Narcotics Addict Rehabilitation Act; this Act specified addiction to narcotics as being a mental disorder. As well, the Act was formulated on the premise that the concept of substance-abuse, such as alcoholism, could be relevant to addiction to drugs. However, drug use was still thought of as a crime and the act didn't have much impact. It would, however, pave the way for national expenditures on treatment of drug abuse.

The illegal drug trade expanded rapidly in the 1960s and early part of the 1970s, especially in America. Nixon had to deal with a rise in the use of marijuana, with the emergence of anti-establishment 'hippies', and the problem of numerous heroin-addicted American soldiers returning from Vietnam. The resultant explosion in illicit substance-demand saw a swell in production as well as profits, in the region south of USA. The political response of the White House in July 1969 saw Nixon declaring drug-abuse as a critical threat to the nation, in an exclusive message to the Congress. Aneed for a federal anti-drug law was also expressed, at the federal and state levels (Nixon and the Beginnings of War).

How did the above-mentioned anti-drug law add to America's drug policy? Under the supervision of Nixon, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act was passed by the Congress in October 1970. This legislative piece consolidated earlier United States drug policy laws. It also accorded greater strength to the idea of criminalizing drugs, and gave police the authorization to carry out 'no-knock' investigations. Rather than trying to understand the basic causes for the increased domestic drug-demand, America started a drug-war on foreign traffickers and growers by expanding its drug policy (Nixon and The Beginnings of War). Further, this was appended by Nixon's 1973-established Drug Enforcement Administration. The change in policy would go on through Carter's presidency.

It wouldn't be until Reagan's presidency where major changes would be made to the U.S. drug policy. Reagan famously stated in 1982 that illegal drugs threatened the country's national security. Thus, Reagan, in 1988, established the Office of National Drug Control Policy to coordinate legislative, research, diplomatic, security and health policy related to drugs throughout the nation's government (Glass, 2010). Successive directors of agencies were dubbed by media as 'drug czars'. President Clinton, in 1993, elevated the position to a Cabinet-rank status.

How exactly did Clinton's administration elevate the post to Cabinet rank? Clinton acted in a way that would signify a major drug-policy change. This change was previewed by Tim Worth in a speech at a United States Information Agency-convened conference (Kokinda, 1993). His speech is considered to parallel the outcomes of a newly-completed research on America's drug policy, conducted by Clinton's National Security Council (NSC). The review by NSC was intended to back a directive, which was to be endorsed shortly by Clinton, and was proclaimed as a component of a recent administrative drug strategy which was to be revealed by Lee Brown (Kokinda, 1993).

By the time of Bush's presidency, the war on drugs had slowed slightly. That, however, didn't stop President Bush from taking up an enthusiastic stand on the matter. He directed John Walters to concentrate on marijuana; he made headway in drug testing of students as well. While the rate of illegal drug usage stayed constant, fatalities linked with drug overdose increased rapidly. George Bush's era also saw a rapid rise of national drug- law implementation's militarization (A Brief History of The Drug War). By the conclusion of Bush's tenure, there were roughly 40,000 paramilitary-type SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) raids each year on Americans - usually for drug-law felonies that were non-violent, often misdemeanors. Federal reforms under Bush's government were mostly stalled, but reforms on state-levels finally started slowing down the drug-war's… [END OF PREVIEW]

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