In the last few years the Drug Enforcement Agency, or D.E.A has been taking a new step on the war on drugs. During the War on Terror, the D.E.A formed groups of commandos that are called Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team, or FAST for short. These commando teams are tasked with the interdiction and destruction of drugs, specifically those that support terrorism.
This is a noble goal, but since 2008 the FAST teams have been taking on expanded missions, that are no longer under the purview of aiding the war efforts. Lately, there have been reports of five of these commando units taking actions in the western hemisphere. Cases have been brought up from major drug capitols, such as Honduras and Guatemala, that describe how these shadow forces have started helping combat the war on drugs closer to home. This identifies a major shift and the blurring of the war on “terror” with the war on “drugs”. These units are working with the governments to combat cartel involvement and the expansion of the drug trade, where the D.E.A have traditionally been less aggressive in direct aid.
Having this shift creates both beneficial and problematic instances when referring to national security and international policy. The benefits are widespread, and useful for American security. Many cases exist where the interdiction of American troops are necessary for the missions to succeed. Many of these countries, in the western hemisphere, are poor and under-trained to deal with these highly funded cartel organizations. By having the support of trained troops, there is more incentive to actually try to stop the drug trafficking. Along with this, there are more aggressive missions that are available with direct U.S support. For one, there is less chance for corruption or bribery; thereby allowing for greater chances to actually surprise the cartels.
While all of these points are the benefits of deploying elite D.E.A. forces into these countries, there are also a number of things that must be considered. Firstly, the political backlash of both the host country and America. There are many ways this could come about, but the major reason for this fear would be that the American government would be hesitant to lose the public support of having any of these American citizens killed on foreign soil. With the fear of public reprisal requiring a reduction in direct, paramilitary aid comes the fear that this would damage the apparent hegemony America sports in the western hemisphere. Having this reduction in aid would signal a weakness to the other countries that could drastically America's reputation and power on the world stage. If Congress is going to allow the D.E.A are going to continue using these elite commandos, then they must be prepared to continue using them even after the loss of a number of these individuals. There must be a show of continuity and strength, rather than an apparent weakness after the loss of a small number of individuals. This could lead to more attacks from these cartels, or other nations, hoping to weaken American involvement through loss of life.