Newsletter: The INL Beat, Winter 2010
In This Issue:
The United States and Afghanistan: the Good Performer's Initiative
Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne, Coordinating Director for Development and Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, and Afghan Minister of Counternarcotics Khodaidad signed an agreement for the Good Performer's Initiative (GPI) during a ceremony on November 23, 2009. The Governor of Helmand, Gulab Mangal, also attended.
The GPI funds development projects in Afghan provinces that have reduced or eliminated poppy cultivation. Afghanistan's Ministry of Counternarcotics administers the program, and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) funds it. The Ministry has used GPI funds to provide agricultural machinery for farmers associations; dig irrigation canals; and construct public buildings, such as schools, clinics, and stadiums. This year, the U.S. pledged $38.7 million to GPI for projects in 27 provinces, reflecting a decrease in poppy cultivation of 22% in 2009. Helmand Province will receive $10 million in GPI funds – the maximum allowed under the program – for reducing poppy cultivation by 34,000 hectares (or 33%). Three provinces – Baghlan, Faryab, and Kapisa – will each receive $1 million worth of projects for becoming "poppy-free" for the first time.
GPI is currently Narcotics Affairs Section/Kabul's largest counternarcotics program. GPI enables us to address a broad set of messages: it enables provincial governors to demonstrate to their constituents that there is a direct, immediate, and tangible incentive for eliminating or reducing poppy cultivation; GPI channels funding to poppy-free provinces, addressing criticism that counternarcotics efforts have principally benefitted those areas with significant poppy cultivation, and motivating poppy-free provinces to sustain their efforts. GPI also builds capacity in the Ministry of Counternarcotics which will be critical to Afghanistan's long term ability to sustain efforts against opium production.
Ambassador Wayne commended Governor Mangal's efforts, as well as those provinces that became poppy-free for the first time this year. He added, "…we cannot lose sight of the fact that the fight against narcotics production is a nationwide fight. Every province, every district has a role to play – otherwise gains in one province will be offset by backsliding in others."
He (Ambassador Wayne) added that GPI “is an excellent demonstration of Afghan leadership, and we hope it can serve as a vivid example of how Afghans are taking the lead in their country's development, building on the resources we and our international partners have contributed."
$10 Million Donated to Guatemala to Strengthen Capabilities in the Fight Against Drug-Trafficking
Representatives from the governments of the United States and Guatemala signed a $10 million agreement to include to fight narco-trafficking on September 23, 2009. The Joint Task Force Fuentes FIAAT (the Guatemalan Aerial Anti-drug and Terrorist Intervention Force) is aimed at preventing the abuse, trafficking, and production of drugs, and is implemented through joint operations by both countries. Minister of Government Raul Velasquez explained that under this agreement, the Government of Guatemala has already been provided with four helicopters and staff has been trained during the last three months. The remaining two helicopters will come at a future date. The Minister of Defense Abraham Valenzuela confirmed their support to strengthening the capabilities of the FIAAT which will contribute to counteract criminals. U.S. Ambassador Stephen McFarland emphasized that neither the helicopters nor the funds provided under this agreement come as a gift but as mutual cooperation to fight the gangs, narco-traffickers, and organized crime affecting the country. According to Ambassador McFarland, the recent drug seizures have demonstrated the existence of good working actions between both countries.
During the last twelve months, the United States has contributed more than $20 million in Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs funds to the Government of Guatemala in support of counternarcotics operations, in additional to $16 million contributed under the Merida Initiative. Ambassador McFarland praised Guatemalan authorities for recent drug seizures, the passing of an organized crime bill, and the implementation of wiretaps and other operations conducted to locate the Lorenzanas, a well-known Guatemalan drug-trafficking organization.
INL Supports Community Policing in Palestinian Refugee Camp in Lebanon
The Nahr Al-Barid Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon was a safe haven for the Fateh Al-Islam terrorist organization. After a bloody attack on Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) checkpoints in May 2007, government forces engaged the terrorists in a three month battle that left hundreds dead and much of the refugee camp destroyed. The battle and its impact on refugee and nearby civilian populations prompted the Lebanese government to re-introduce government security and policing in the camp for the first time since 1969 in order to prevent similar incidents in the future. The government hopes that the initiative can be a model for Lebanon's other refugee camps.
The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) contributes by supporting the Lebanese government's plan to apply a community policing model to the camp's security, most visibly through the construction of an adjacent police station. In December 2009, INL provided temporary housing for the initial deployment of Internal Security Forces (ISF) during construction of a permanent police station. INL also equipped ISF personnel with police cars, bicycles, bullet proof vests, and other necessary police equipment. Construction of the INL-funded, permanent police station in the camp will begin in 2010, and will provide housing and office space for 100 ISF police plus meeting space for community policing efforts.
The government's community policing program aims to establish and maintain a positive relationship between the police and the camp population. In December 2009, 21 ISF Lieutenants completed specialized training, and will serve as the ISF community policing trainers. These trainers, along with U.S. police experts, will provide formal community police training to 300 ISF officers of all ranks by November 2010. These trainees will then share their expertise via assignments to police stations serving key locations in Beirut, Tripoli, and in Nahr Al-Barid camp.
Regional Gang Initiative Training in El Salvador
On November 9-20, 2009, the first Gang Resistance, Education, and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) course was conducted at the International Law Enforcement Academy in San Salvador. This is the first time such training has been provided to police officers outside the United States and represents the culmination of over a year of negotiations and planning between the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the G.R.E.A.T. National Policy Board, and the Institute for Intergovernmental Research, the NGO contracted to manage the program. The graduation event on November 20 was an important step in the implementation of the INL Regional Gang Initiative, which calls for a strategy which is regional in scope and comprehensive in nature, including robust prevention programs. Thirty-one police officers from four Central American countries have now been certified as G.R.E.A.T. instructors, and implementation of the curriculum is expected to occur in schools within communities targeted by INL for Model Precinct/Community Policing projects in January, 2010. Keynote speakers at the graduation ceremony included Carlos Asencio, Director General of the PNC of El Salvador; Aida Santos de Escobar, President of the National Public Security Council of El Salvador; and Mark Logan, ATF Assistant Director.
Merida Initiative Provides Nearly an Additional $1 Million to Costa Rica
Costa Rican Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Stagno and U.S. Embassy San Jose Chargé d'Affaires Peter Brennan participated in a signing ceremony of an Amendment to the original Merida Initiative Letter of Understanding in San Jose, Costa Rica on September 29, 2009. Costa Rica received $976,000 in addition to the original $4.3 million allotted by the Merida Initiative to combat drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime. The additional money will be used to buy police equipment and conduct special training against money laundering.
The Merida Initiative is not a U.S. plan for Costa Rica, but is a cooperative plan that has been jointly developed and agreed upon by officials from both countries.
An Insider's View of U.S. Efforts Against Drug Trafficking
A "typical" day in the life of an intern at the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) is actually far from typical. Sure, there are common duties – photocopying, note-taking, and e-mailing – but with INL, you are helping to reduce illegal drug trafficking while you work.
INL intern Elaine Aguasvivas (Hobart and William Smith Colleges, 2010) spent her days scouring newspapers for the latest updates on drug seizures and cash smuggling, writing memos to the Assistant Secretary, creating spreadsheets providing country-specific budget breakdowns, or attending Merida Initiative meetings.
"My internship never got dull, never boring," she says. "One of the coolest projects I was responsible for was the transmittal of pending funds from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to INL for the enhancement of Costa Rica's communication system for more effective drug interdiction. The funds had an expiration date and I was accountable for completing this time-sensitive transfer in only four days. I met with officials within my Bureau for their review so that the document could go forward to DEA and the transfer effectuated. It was enormously rewarding to have met the specified deadline," she reflects.
Despite the long hours, Aguasvivas believed her internship was very rewarding. "Knowing that my efforts will contribute to positive social change in the Western Hemisphere makes all sacrifices worthwhile," she explains. The experience has piqued Aguasvivas' passion for fostering a stronger partnership between the United States and the Western Hemisphere. "It is not an easy task to interdict the flow of drugs, arms, and illegal cash that has been transported north and south of the border," she explains, "but any progress made toward more stable economies and less corrupted political bodies is a victory which favors both partners."
An economics major with a double minor in Latin American studies and Spanish and Hispanic studies, Aguasvivas studied abroad in Madrid, received the Latin American Organization's "William Smith College Student Award" in 2007, served as a teaching fellow in the Spanish department, and also interned at the U.S. International Trade Commission.
INL Sends Additional Huey-II Helicopters to Pakistan
In recent months, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) provided five more Huey-II helicopters, and associated equipment and hardware, to the aviation program in Pakistan, increasing the size of the helicopter fleet fourteen. Two Huey-IIs were delivered in June, with two more delivered in July, and an additional helicopter in September, 2009.
The Air Wing fleet in Pakistan also includes three Cessna 208 fixed-wing aircraft. INL's aircraft in Pakistan are operated by the 50th Squadron of the Government of Pakistan's Ministry of the Interior in a border security project under a letter of agreement signed with the U.S. Embassy Islamabad. Typical aviation support missions include surveillance and reconnaissance, troop transport, logistical re-supply, medical evacuation, command and control, interdiction, and other missions mutually agreed upon by U.S. Embassy Islamabad and the Pakistan Ministry of Interior.
INL Employee is U.S. Embassy Lima Award Winner
Mr. Guillermo Salkeld, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs' Narcotics Affairs Section (NAS) Acting Procurement Supervisor, is the U.S. Embassy Lima Locally Employed Staff (LES) of the Quarter for July to September, 2009. Mr. Salkeld has worked for NAS Lima for 14 years, and is the Acting Procurement Supervisor for almost a year, while his supervisor is on a long-term TDY to Iraq. Guillermo was recognized for both his leadership and procurement expertise, doing an excellent job with difficult end of the fiscal year procurements, despite serious staffing gaps in the Procurement Section and problems with implementing the new ARIBA procurement system.
INL-Funded Personnel Provide Earthquake Assistance in Padang, Indonesia
Following a devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake in Padang, West Sumatra in Indonesia on September 30, 2009, a Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL)-funded International Criminal Investigative Training and Assistance Program (ICITAP) team was deployed to Padang to provide assistance to the Indonesian National Police (INP) responders. Led by the Senior Law Enforcement Advisor Jerry Heuett of Phoenix, Arizona, the crisis response team included several Jakarta-based technical advisors and language assistants. The team was among the first foreign government personnel to arrive on the scene of the earthquake, which killed more than 800 people and injured more than 2200, and immediately assisted the INP in setting up an emergency operations center to coordinate and implement disaster response. Utilizing Standard Emergency Management Systems (SEMS) practices taught through the INL program, the INP initiated the coordination of a multi-agency response, including disaster victim recovery and identification.
Survivors Speak to CIVPOL-Mission Candidates During Pre-Deployment Training
Mrs. Sheila Wetherbee and Mrs. Christine Kimbrell, survivors of Dyncorp International employees killed while serving on civilian police missions in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs' Civilian Police and Rule of Law Program (CIVPOL) in Iraq, spoke to civilian police advisors preparing to deploy to Afghanistan at the Police Assessment and Selection Training program in Fredericksburg, Virginia on November 5, 2009.
Mrs. Wetherbee and Mrs. Kimbrell described how proud their spouses were to serve in this crucial mission for the United States, and of their own appreciation for police officers willing to serve abroad. As board members of the CIVPOL Alumni Association (CAA), Mrs. Wetherbee and Mrs. Kimbrell introduced the organization, and discussed their role as "survivor advocates." The CAA provides a central forum for all CIVPOL police officers, present and past, and their families.