US increasing counter narcotics efforts in Afghanistan

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Obama Administration is deploying dozens of Drug Enforcement Administration agents to Afghanistan in a new kind of "surge" targeting trafficking networks that officials says are increasingly fuelling the Taliban insurgency and corrupting the Afghan Government.

The move to dramatically expand a second front is seen as the latest acknowledgment in Washington that security in Afghanistan cannot be won with military force alone, the paper said.

The Obama Administration in changing the policy of the previous administration which focused on destroying the vast fields of poppy that have long been the source of the world's heroin. Such a policy drove the farmers towards the Taliban, the new administration now believes.

"The US is now shifting to a counterinsurgency campaign that in addition to sending more troops is funding nation-building efforts and promoting alternative crops to farmers who have long profited from poppy production," the newspaper said.

The new effort is aimed at more than a dozen drug kingpins whose networks are producing vast amounts of hashish, opium, morphine and heroin, some of which ends up in the United States, said The Los Angeles Times.

Meanwhile, The New York Times in a news report from Bagaram Air Base said the Pentagon is seeking a major overhaul in this US-run prison in Afghanistan.

It said Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen last week sent a message to all the military service chiefs and senior field commanders asking them to redouble their efforts to alert troops to the importance of treating detainees properly.

Under the new approach, the newspaper said the US would help build and finance a new Afghan-run prison for the hard-core extremists who are now using the poorly run Afghan corrections system as a camp to train petty thieves and other common criminals to be deadly militants.

The remaining inmates would be taught vocational skills and offered other classes, and they would be taught about moderate Islam with the aim of reintegrating them into society, the daily said quoting unnamed officials.

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