Report reveals increased drug use among US soldiers in Afghanistan

Azim, 8, stands next to his father, Zarren, in their poppy field May 25, 2011, in Faizabad, Afghanistan.
Paula Bronstein

Eight American soldiers died of drug overdoses while the US Army has investigated 56 soldiers on suspicion of using or distributing heroin, morphine or other opiates during deployments in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011, military statistics reveal.

Meanwhile, heroin use is on the rise in the Army overall, CNN reported, with the number of soldiers testing positive for heroin growing from 10 instances in 2002 to 116 in 2010.

Meanwhile, some Afghan forces that are being trained by the US military to take over the mission by 2014 have been found dealing drugs to American soldiers, according to Judicial Watch, a conservative US watchdog group.

According to Fox News, a December 2011 report from Army Criminal Investigation Command showed that at one forward operation base, hash, pot and heroin were purchased "from various Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police personnel."

In another case, an Afghan interpreter sold various opiates to soldiers, and other drugs were also available, said the report, obtained through Freedom of Information request.

Soldiers also bought drugs from Afghan juveniles and, in one case, an employee of a Defense Department contractor, who was eventually fired.

According to Judicial Watch, the Army investigative reports show at least eight confirmed overdose deaths involving the drugs oxycodone, heroin and morphine.

In one death announcement, the watchdog noted that the Defense Department release described the manner of death as "non-combat related."

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According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan is still the greatest producer of illicit opium in the entire world, ahead of Myanmar.

“It's really troubling that our troops are being placed in this situation where they're under enough pressure as it is,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton told Fox News. “But evidently our allies there are acting as drug pushers in some ways.”

The Associated Press wrote, meantime, that the cases detailed in the report represented just a slice of possible drug use by US troops in Afghanistan.

Army officials reportedly did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Saturday. 

Judicial Watch has said that it is waiting for responses on drug use in Afghanistan from the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. 

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