Lawmakers: Fund Counterdrug Training

Washington Report

(March 25, 2014) Lawmakers in both chambers are asking the Defense Department to fund the five counterdrug training facilities operated by the National Guard. The President’s Budget for fiscal 2015 included no money for the sites that train federal, state and local law enforcement members for the fight against illegal narcotics trafficking.

Letters have gone out this month to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel from members of Congress asking him to fund the program that has trained more than 680,000 law enforcement officials since the program was created in 1991.

“Without these training centers, law enforcement officers would be unable to obtain this valuable training, drastically reducing the United States Northern Command’s . . . ability to combat narco-terrorism, and diminish the support they provide to other combatant commanders,” nine House members wrote in their letter to Hagel mailed March 4.

Several senators mailed a similar letter last week.

Funding for the centers has been falling fast. They received $19.1 million in fiscal 2013 and $4.9 million last year, before receiving nothing in the fiscal 2015 budget.

NGAUS would like to see funding for the centers, which has been diminishing in recent years, to become a distinct line item within the budget, providing stability for this important program.

"The unique and long-term relationships between the National Guard and the law enforcement community is only strengthened by the outstanding educational and training experiences provided by the National Guard Counterdrug Training Centers,” said Grace Washbourne, the NGAUS legislative program manager for joint programs and domestic operations. “Working to eradicate drugs and drug violence within our communities has always been the goal of the National Guard program and NGAUS strongly supports the men and women of the Guard who work tirelessly to do just that.”

The centers are located in Johnston, Iowa; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Meridian, Miss., Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.; and Tacoma, Wash.