Given the fact that there are already established agencies which are specifically designed and created to fight the war on drugs, the American army should then have no business meddling in such affairs. This paper is therefore meant to portray that any drug war conducted outside the United States is bound to fail miserably and that any war carried out within the United States should not be a military fight. There is no doubt that the drug menace has negatively impacted the American nation. To varying degrees, the United States has over the years called for total war on drugs and this is exhibited in the U.S. presidents who have regarded the use of drugs to be a “national security” matter. Strategy and politics of the American nation have failed in the real reduction of drug use and even statistics have continued to indicate that despite the various amounts of programs, money and other resources that have been deployed to solve the drug menace, the use of drugs has not declined. The vast amount of personnel, resources and equipment required coupled with the legal and political issues have made the war on drugs to become unwinnable.

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The role of the Military in History


From history, it is remembered that American army started the war on drugs during the end of the American-Spanish War. The United States was handed the Philippines whereby Spain had the drug war that was ongoing. Indeed, the American Military is remembered to have made attempts to take over the control of drug flow from the Laos Republic during the Vietnam War. In order to reduce the drug flow through Panama Canal, the United States invaded it in 1989 during which its President Noriega Manual was convicted of the drug smuggling. In Afghanistan and Iraq what is to be done with the opium trade has not only troubled the military strategists but also the political strategists as well. The responsibility was vested upon the Command-Control-Communications Intelligence (C3I) through the National Defence Authorization Act towards the Department of Defence. In addition to that, the NDA act also authorized utilization of the National Guards in the drug enforcement. The military was also called upon to provide support and surveillance. However, the major focus has been placed on the operations which are based abroad, especially in South America (Miranda).


The major objectives of the United States government include interdiction, eradication, reduction and prosecution of demand among others, especially through handing offenders stiffer sentences. The war against drugs includes both external and internal foes. Internal enemies are the users or dealers while the external foes are the drug lords, smugglers and the drug producing nations. In 1986 drug trafficking was taken to be a national risk towards its security when a National Security Directive was signed by Ronald Reagan who was by then the President of the United States. Despite the fact that this action had little impact on the military, the focus of the drug problem was highly emphasized by politicians. The military was given the anti-drug powers in 1988 when both Congress houses voted for it. On a televised speech that was broadcast nationally, President George Bush on September 5th, 1989, placed the focus on the theme of war. President Bush used the words which were to describe traffickers and drugs in a military war manner. In order to inflict a strong sense of the urgency and importance of fighting and winning the drug war, the President went ahead to use a vile of cocaine. Many people believed that the president’s speech was aimed at preparing the country for more military participation in the drug war.

Posse Comitatus

According to the Posse Comitatus, military involvement in any given law enforcement capacity is forbidden unless it is authorized expressly. The act, which was signed into a law on 18th of June 1978, has been amended severally over time despite the fact that its impacts have remained the same. The act does not apply only to the military but also to the National Guard located on the Federal Borders. The act is only known to apply within the United States Continental (Doyle). The Coast Guard Law enforcement functions are not subject to the act and are given express authorization by the Congress. The Joint Counterdrug Operations which were published by the Department of Defence (DOD) clearly state that “the Posse Comitatus” act does not apply to any National Guard on state orders (Miranda). This is attributed to the fact that the drug enforcement mission is federal in nature and therefore is funded by Federal dollars.

Resources Needed

Force Structure Needed

In the 1987 Report on Review of International Narcotics Control Strategy, it was estimated that in order to competently seal the American borders and stop the inflow of drugs, there 53 helicopters, 96 battalions, 110 surveillance aircraft and 210 patrol ships would be required. The requirements remain unchanged despite the fact that the report is dated. To fight the drug war in the United States, then twice the strength of the current military will be needed and this can cater only for the domestic front without the inclusion of the account support personnel. Simply put, the military does not possess the manpower that is required in order to fight the drug wars and sustain any threats that may emanate from foreign enemies (Miranda).

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The available existing agencies

The United States Customs Service, the Border Patrol Agency and the Drug Enforcement Administration all have one thing in common: they already have missions in federal law enforcement. Despite the fact that these agencies actually do not possess the equipment or manpower to secure the borders fully, they are all equipped and trained for this mission. Simple logic would then dictate that the solution would be to increase or empower the agencies which are already responsible for such purposes. This is due to the fact that apart from dealing with eradication and smuggling of drugs in the real sense, they are also responsible for the investigation of such crimes and ultimate prosecution in a court of law. By requesting the American armed forces to get involved in fighting the drug wars even in a supporting responsibility, then we are putting the uniformed officers in a way that is near to ultimate domestic lawsuits.

Issues of Funding

The amount of cash required in fighting the drug war is skyrocketing on a daily basis while the budget cuts aimed at lowering the national debt rate has taken its toll. During the financial year 2000-2001, the annual military contract funds were revealed to have averaged to $121 million and by the year 2010, it hit $438 million. Most of the money was not related to the fight against drugs like, for instance, spending in detention centers like Cuba, Haiti and Guantanamo relief effort. This is despite the fact that most of such funds were aimed at drug related programs. According to the “Merida Initiative and Plan” (Lindsay-Poland 2011), Columbia had the biggest program that fuelled increase. The two programs in Columbia which were fully operated by the military, needed valuable resources and time, which could have been adequately utilized on military issues.


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The Only Resource is the military

Some people will argue that in the United States the only important war that the country will ever or has ever fought is the one on drugs. Approximately over 76 % of the American people believe the war on drugs has miserably failed, while approximately 73 % of the people are opposed to legalization of any form of drugs. Each year, it is believed, the American people purchase over ten billion of illegal drugs as opposed to any other nation (Naim 2009). The argument is based on the fact that since the war on drugs is America’s most serious security risk, then the severe negative effect and the largeness of the trade ought to be given priority. This will eventually conclude that only American armed forces have the technology, resources and manpower needed to win this war. The DEA, the United States Customs and the Border Patrol Agencies combined possess less than a third of the manpower as compared to the armed forces. Already, the National Guard has more soldiers who are involved in drug wars yearly than the DEA agents (Lindsay-Poland 2011).

Military Needs the Funding

Another argument lies in the fact that the military requires the drug war mission in order to increase its yearly budgetary allocations. The armed forces have to seek for other means in order to justify their funding owing to their shrinking budget. While administration costs and contract funding are quite significant, some critics have argued that their soldiers are able to secure their jobs. Despite the fact that spending of Pentagon can be hard to track and obscured, it can be observed that indeed, some spending lies in a gray area of programs which are drug related. Bases continue to be built in such places as South America to be used for future missions despite the fact that focus is expressed to be the drug related.


It has been observed that the drug wars carried out by American armed forces for close to 25 years have been a constant drain. At the same time, the American armed forces have been requested to fight wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, maintain training and equipment, respond to efforts of international relief and fight drug wars. Little progress has been realized in slowing down drug smuggling or drug growers. There has been an increase in the amount of money spent by the military on fighting drug wars. Despite the fact that they desperately need an increase in manpower, such agencies are well-equipped and designed for such domestic missions. The United States government, therefore, leaves the armed forces to fight foreign intruders as designed and increase funding to the relevant agencies which have leads in criminal prosecution and are under no posse comitatus restrictions.

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