US/NATO Troops Patrolling Opium Poppy Fields in Afghanistan

These photos have been released by the Department of Defense and ISAF over the last few years. Some of the photos discuss instances of troops helping with the destruction of poppy fields. Many of the photos do not mention anything related to destruction or removal of poppies.  Instead, they describe how troops “patrol” through and around the fields. In one instance, a US soldier even seems to be even helping with cultivation. In a recent report from Geraldo Rivera which aired in late April on Fox News, a USMC Lt. Col. indicated that US forces encourage the Aghans to grow different crops, however, out of fear of losing stability poppy cultivation is tolerated and even supported. In November 2009, the Afghan Minister of Counter Narcotics General Khodaidad Khodaidad stated that the majority of drugs are stockpiled in two provinces controlled by troops from the US, the UK, and Canada. He also said that NATO forces are taxing the production of opium in the regions under their control and that foreign troops are earning money from drug production in Afghanistan.

Captain Julian Hohnen, Officer Commanding a combined Australian and Afghan Army patrol base in the Baluchi Valley Region mentors Afghan National Army Officer, Lieutenant Farhad Habib. Mid Caption: All across the MTF1 area of operations partnered mentoring is being conducted on mounted and dismounted combined patrols with ever increasing security presence being experienced by local communities from the Southern Baluchi Valley to the Northern Chora reaches as well as east through the Mirabad. Ongoing combined ANA and MTF1 security operations involving infantry, combat engineer and reconnaissance capabilities in Oruzgan have achieved multiple layers of effects including an increased rate of IED “find and render safe” percentages, increased cache finds, and enhanced trust fostered within local communities. Deep Caption: Operation SLIPPER is Australia's military contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, piracy and improving maritime security. Under this operation our forces contribute to the efforts of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) - led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. ISAF seeks to bring security, stability and prosperity to Afghanistan and aims to prevent Afghanistan again becoming a safe haven for international terrorists. Operation SLIPPER also supports the United States led International Coalition Against Terrorism (ICAT) in the broader Middle East.

U.S. Marines assigned to the female engagement team (FET) of I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) conduct a patrol alongside a poppy field while visiting Afghan settlements in Boldak, Afghanistan, April 5, 2010. The FET, which is deployed in support of the International Security Assistance Force, is in the area to engage with local women in an effort to gain cultural awareness and ascertain family needs. (DoD photo by Cpl. Lindsay L. Sayres, U.S. Marine Corps/Released)

An Afghan poppy farmer watches an AH-1W Cobra helicopter fly over his field in Farah province, Afghanistan, March 8, 2009. The Cobras are providing overwatch protection for Afghan National Police officers and U.S. Marines with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment as they conduct a cordon and search in a small village. The Cobras are part of the Air Command Element for the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Afghanistan which is rooting out Taliban and insurgent fighters and providing security for the Afghan people. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Offficer Philippe Chasse/Released)

An Afghani farmer stands in the middle of his poppy field in Delaram, Afghanistan, watching U.S. Marines from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment Combat Train conduct a resupply convoy down Highway 515, from Delaram to Bakwa, Afghanistan, March 25, 2009. The Iraqi government is working to eradicate poppy cultivation throughout the country to improve the health, security and development of Afghanistan. Alternative livelihoods for farmers are being planned and implemented. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer Philippe Chasse/Released)

DIZAK, Afghanistan - ARSIC-W’s Commander’s Emergency Response Program Manager U.S. Navy Lieutenant David Williams from San Diego, Calif., checks out a villager’s poppy crop after being informed the profit for poppy was 40% greater than the profit for growing wheat in the area. Williams visited Dizak to gather information on their needs the same day the Afghan National Police and ARSIC-W Civil Affairs Team delivered humanitarian aid to the village. He plans to use CERP funds to assist the villagers in the future. ISAF Photo by US Navy Mass Communications Specialist Petty Officer 1st Class Monica R. Nelson

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Burton Shields, commander of 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, and his interpreter Ali Mohamed discover a pile of dried poppy plants in Badula Qulp, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Feb. 12, 2010. The Soldiers are participating in Operation Helmand Spider. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Efren Lopez/Released)

Dried Poppy plants are photographed July 15, 2009, as Afghan National Army soldiers and U.S. Marines with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment conduct a civil affairs patrol in the Nawa District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Marines with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 3, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade - Afghanistan, are deployed in support of NATO's International Security Assistance Force. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. James Purschwitz/Released)

A U.S. Marine with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, patrols a poppy field in the Garmsir District of Helmand province. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mark O'Donald/Released)

A Police Mentoring Team and members of the Afghan national police patrol through a poppy field near Combat Outpost Castle, Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 29. PMT routinely patrol the area searching for improvised explosive devises, looking for Taliban influence, and interacting with the local populace while mentoring the ANP.

Afghan farmers grow poppies outside the Salaam Bazaar in Now Zad, Afghanistan, April 14, 2010. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Matthew P. Troyer/Released)

Afghan farmers walk the fields and check their poppy plants as poppy season nears in Now Zad, Afghanistan, April 14, 2010. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Matthew P. Troyer/Released)

Afghan children sit outside a poppy field in Now Zad, Afghanistan, April 14, 2010. The children played together while older family members worked the poppy fields. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Matthew P. Troyer/Released)

BALA BALUK, Afghanistan--Opium fields ready for harvesting are the target of poppy eradication by Afghan National Security Forces in Bala Baluk district on April 15, 2009. Tractors plow up poppy fields to prevent farmers from harvesting their opium crop. ISAF Photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Monica R. Nelson (RELEASED)

BALA BALUK, Afghanistan--Opium fields ready for harvesting are the target of poppy eradication by Afghan National Security Forces in Bala Baluk district on April 15, 2009. Tractors plow up poppy fields to prevent farmers from harvesting their opium crop. ISAF Photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Monica R. Nelson (RELEASED)

A Por Chaman resident helps other local villagers with destroying a poppy field in the district of Por Chaman in Farah Province, Afghanistan, May 10, 2010. The destruction of the poppy field occurred in the presence of Farah Provincial Governor Rahool Amin, as an effort to promote positive agricultural solutions such as wheat cultivation. (ISAF photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Rylan K. Albright)

A Por Chaman resident helps other local villagers with destroying a poppy field in the district of Por Chaman in Farah Province, Afghanistan, May 10, 2010. The destruction of the poppy field occurred in the presence of Farah Provincial Governor Rahool Amin, as an effort to promote positive agricultural solutions such as wheat cultivation. (ISAF photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Rylan K. Albright)

Dead poppies mark the destruction of a poppy field in the district of Por Chaman in Farah Province, Afghanistan, May 10, 2010. The destruction of the poppy field occurred in the presence of Farah Provincial Governor Rahool Amin, as an effort to promote positive agricultural solutions such as wheat cultivation. (ISAF photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Rylan K. Albright)

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