URUZGAN, Afghanistan (June 14, 2011)- Australian Special Forces have partnered with the Afghan National Interdiction Unit (NIU) to combat the drug networks funding insurgent activities.
Members of the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) commenced operations with the NIU in May to help sever the link between the insurgency and the narcotics trade.
The NIU, mentored by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), is an expanding and professional force sent to detain, investigate, and prosecute individuals in line with the Afghan Government’s National Drug Control Strategy.
Commanding Officer of the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) said
“NIU operations reduce the Afghan narcotics trade and the threat it poses to the long term security, development and governance of Afghanistan.”
“We are aiming to degrade the insurgent drug trade to curtail attacks on Coalition and local forces, and reduce insurgent influence on the population,” CO SOTG said.
The Afghan Ministry of Interior (MOI) requested SOTG support the NIU during the poppy harvest period to promote counter narcotics efforts in Uruzgan. Despite stringent drug laws, much insurgent activity in the province is funded by the narcotics trade.
The NIU focus their efforts against the Drug Trafficking Organisations (DTO) rather than on eradication of crops or confiscation from the farmer, who may have been forced by insurgents to grow poppies.
Combined effort has resulted in hundreds of kilograms of drugs destroyed or confiscated as evidence and several individuals detained to face prosecution.
“The NIU have strong accountable evidence processes to ensure conviction rates within the judicial system are very high. 92% of detainees are duly and lawfully incarcerated,” CO SOTG said.
During NIU operations, SOTG primarily provide cordon security, logistic assistance, medical assets and specialist engineers for Improvised Explosive Device (IED) clearance.
“The SOTG will continue to work with the NIU over the coming months and into the future. Through continual interaction, we can also further the Rule of Law in Uruzgan by providing advanced training for the Provincial Response Company-Uruzgan (PRC-U).”
“Our supporting role is a key step towards eventual transition,” CO SOTG said.