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Afghanistan Making Progress in Counternarcotics Capacity

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With the relentless support of the United States, Afghanistan has made progress in its counternarcotics capacity.

In his remarks on Future U.S. Counternarcotics Efforts in Afghanistan in Washington DC, Assistant Secretary William R. Brownfield said there have been positive developments in areas such as interdiction, prosecutions, treatment services for substance use disorders, and alternative livelihoods for Afghan farmers.

Progress also includes that farmers are less likely to grow poppy in communities where the government has established a strong foothold and where basic development facilities, such as electricity, medical clinics, and schools, are available.

Mr. Brownfield said that together with the United Kingdom, the US has helped the Afghan government stand up skilled Afghan interdiction units with specialized intelligence capabilities.

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Soldiers of the Afghan National Army, including the ANA Commando Battalion standing in the front. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Progress cited

According to Mr. Brownfield, the US has seen a steady increase in the amount of illicit narcotics seized by the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA) and its vetted units, which have been trained through U.S. programs.

He said that the growing and self-sustaining capacity of these vetted units is the direct result of the mentoring, training, and assistance of U.S. programs, which INL implements with our partners at the DEA and Department of Defense.

The INL has successfully transitioned the Kunduz Regional Law Enforcement Center to the Afghan Ministry of the Interior (MOI) in September.

The MOI now manages this center and it continues to be used by the CNPA vetted units for sensitive interdiction missions, Mr. Brownfield stated.

In addition, Afghan prosecutors at the court secured three convictions based on conspiracy statutes rather than seizures, demonstrating their use of additional provisions of Afghan law.

Drug treatment is another area where the Afghan government and civil society are making significant progress.

US helps Afghanistan on its counternarcotics activities

Mr. Brownfield highlighted that the U.S. and other donors have provided substantial support to enable the Afghans to establish a network of over 100 facilities across the country offering evidence-based treatment services.

"We are now in the process of transitioning responsibility for all drug treatment services to the Government of Afghanistan." - Mr. Brownfield

He also stressed that supporting economic alternatives to poppy cultivation is also critical.

US has joined the Afghan government in launching a new Food Zone in Kandahar. The Kandahar Food Zone (KFZ) will provide comprehensive counternarcotics support: alternative livelihoods, law enforcement, public information, and demand reduction in key districts in Kandahar province.

Less poppy grown in Afghanistan

According to Mr. Brownfield, the estimated value of opium to the Afghan economy has remained relatively stable over the last decade. However, poppy is grown on less than three percent of Afghanistan's farmable land roughly the same amount of land devoted to rice and one tenth as much as is devoted to wheat production.

"In short, Afghanistan's drug challenge may be formidable, but it is not insurmountable." - Mr. Brownfield

International efforts on Afghanistan

The United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan, already provide significant assistance to build the Afghan government's capacity.

Recently, the said countries are re-doubling their efforts to bring additional countries to the table, particularly those which are most affected by Afghan opiates.

Mr. Brownfield also underlined that as the U.S. footprint shrinks, the US is regularly reviewing its multilayered oversight approach that includes U.S. direct hires having eyes-on wherever possible, supplemented by locally employed staff, independent third party audits, and reporting from implementing program partners and intergovernmental organizations.

Illicit opium proliferates in Afghanistan

Afghanistan today produces well over 80 percent of the world's illicit opium.

The production is said to undermine good governance and public health, subverting the legal economy, fueling corruption and insecurity, and putting money in the hands of the Taliban.

The narcotics trade has been a windfall for the insurgency, according to Mr. Brownfield

The United Nations (UN) estimates that the Afghan Taliban received at least $155 million annually from narcotics-related activities including taxation, protection, and extortion.

US and Afghanistan Partnership

Both nations have worked together to set forth a long-term political, diplomatic, and security partnership, and it entered into force just a few days ago.

The US government sees this alliance as a powerful symbol of its commitment to Afghanistan's future.

The United States also wants to continue to invest in doing what the Afghans believe they need.

The United States will continue to protect Afghanistan from any efforts by insurgents and outsiders to destabilize Afghanistan.

The US government has supported President Karzai in his effort to have an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led reconciliation process.

In December 2011, the United States withdrew 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

July 2011 marked the beginning of a responsible transition that will see Afghan forces gradually taking the lead in securing their own country.

By 2014, the process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.

The Afghan security forces move into the lead, the United States continues to reduce its military footprint. Its mission will change from combat to support. The remaining 23,000 "surge" troops in December 2009 will leave Afghanistan by the end of summer 2012.

The U.S. government has made significant progress towards their goals as well .

Reports say the U.S. government is redoubling its efforts to pursue a peaceful end to the conflict in the region.

The U.S. government has taken tangible steps to advance Afghan reconciliation and reintegration initiatives, including support to the Afghan High Peace Council and provincial police and reintegration councils.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain english. Read more stories by Mina Fabulous. Contact Mina through NewsBlaze.

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