Measuring the Leverage

Assessing Military Contributions to Drug Interdiction

by Carl H. Builder


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This report analyzes the problems of measuring the effectiveness of military operations in support of drug interdiction from several perspectives: from the military's extensive historical experience with interdiction campaigns, from the military's traditional means for assigning responsibility and granting authority, and from the changing relationship between the military and public through the news media. In sum, these perspectives suggest that any interdiction campaign devoted to controlling illegal drugs will be both difficult to assess and controversial. It will be difficult not just because of the fractionation of tasks and responsibilities or because of restrictive rules of engagement, but mostly because of the complex and dynamic nature of interdiction campaigns. It will be controversial not just because drug control or use of the military is controversial, but mostly because of the changing nature of a society with an abundance of public information. The concerns should not be with the difficulties of assessment or the controversy that may attend assessments, but with ensuring clear lines of military responsibility and authority and with the validity of the overall strategy that has led to military operations in support of drug interdiction.

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