NEW YORK TIMES
WASHINGTON - The U.S. military will significantly increase its role in halting the production and sale of poppies, opium and heroin in Afghanistan, responding to bumper harvests that far exceed even the most alarming predictions, according to senior Pentagon officials.
The military will support efforts by Afghan and U.S. agencies, rather than lead them.
It will move anti-drug agents by helicopters and cargo planes and assist in planning missions and uncovering targets in a stepped-up war on the trade and on the heavily armed forces that protect it.
The Drug Enforcement Administration is already conducting missions with Afghan law enforcement officers.
Pentagon and military officials caution that support for the coalition's overall mission in Afghanistan could become unhinged if U.S. forces are seen eradicating a crop that is the only livelihood for many Afghans, and they stress the importance of allowing Afghan forces to take the lead.