Tester strengthening National Guard fight against illegal drugs
Senator backs bipartisan initiative that stops cross-border drug trafficking, helps education efforts
(U.S. SENATE) – Montana’s only member of the Homeland Security Committee is fighting to strengthen a National Guard initiative that stops drug trafficking and reduces illegal drug use in Montana and the nation.
Senator Jon Tester is joining a bipartisan effort seeking to boost support for the National Guard’s Counterdrug Program, which uses the Guard’s training and expertise to keep illegal drugs like meth out of communities. The initiative also prevents drugs from crossing Montana’s extensive northern border with Canada and helps educate children about the dangers of substance abuse.
“By providing facilities, training and expertise, the National Guard has earned accolades from law enforcement and military officials,” Tester wrote Senate leaders. “Ongoing support will allow for the continuation of vital no-cost investigative support, drug demand reduction, narco-terrorism and officer safety training for thousands of law enforcement officers.”
Tester also noted that Montana law enforcement officers rely on the National Guard’s aerial and intelligence support to stop drugs at the border and seize millions of dollars-worth of narcotics.
“Regional counterdrug training centers have supported federal, state and local law enforcement for more than a decade,” Tester added.
The initiative also works to reduce illegal drug use and educate kids about the dangers of drugs. More than 10,000 Montana students have participated in the National Guard’s substance abuse prevention programs.
The National Guard Counterdrug Program operates in 54 states and territories. Increased assistance would save 22 jobs in Montana.
Tester’s bipartisan letter, co-signed by Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), is available below and online HERE.
April 19, 2012
Senator Daniel Inouye, Chairman
Senator Thad Cochran, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Defense
Senate Committee on Appropriations
The Capitol, S-131
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman and Ranking Member,
As the Committee considers appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013, we write in support of the national security and criminal justice expertise provided by the National Guard Bureau. We particularly support the contributions made by regional counterdrug training centers, which have supported the military as well as federal, state and local law enforcement for more than a decade. Ongoing support for these activities will allow for the continuation of vital no-cost investigative support, drug demand reduction, narco-terrorism and officer safety training for thousands of law enforcement officers.
According to the National Guard Bureau, the Counterdrug Program supports the “detection, interdiction, disruption and curtailment of drug trafficking activities through the application of military unique skills and resources.” By providing facilities, training and expertise, the National Guard has earned accolades for these activities from law enforcement and military officials. The centers play a particularly vital role in coordinating the implementation of the Nation’s drug control strategy by assisting the efforts of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Department of Defense, Combatant Commands, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and state and local agencies. As these entities strive to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking and transnational organized crime activities, the National Guard acts as a key partner by providing training and investigative support.
In recognition of the National Guard Counterdrug Program’s importance to our nation’s crime-fighting activities, Congress has in recent years appropriated funding beyond the levels requested in the President’s budget. We are appreciative of the Committee’s past support in providing sufficient funding for the National Guard’s counterdrug activities, particularly when the President’s budget request was inadequate. In FY 2013, we respectfully ask that the Committee once again support this program at a level that allows all centers to stay open and regional support activities to be continued. Under the FY 2013 budget request, these activities would be threatened and at least two centers would be forced to close, according to the National Guard Bureau.
In a bipartisan manner, previous Congresses have acknowledged the value that these schools and state plans provide in the battle against drugs both internationally and domestically. Recognizing the fiscal constraints under which the Appropriations Committee and Congress must operate, we respectfully request that you provide adequate funding to continue the successful activities of the National Guard Counterdrug Program. Thank you for your attention to this issue. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of further assistance.
Jon Tester et al.