ACCESSION NUMBER:338939 FILE ID:LEF421 DATE:04/14/94 TITLE:PENTAGON TO FOCUS ANTIDRUG EFFORTS ON SOURCE COUNTRIES (04/14/94) TEXT:*94041421.PFL *LEF421 04/14/94* PENTAGON TO FOCUS ANTIDRUG EFFORTS ON SOURCE COUNTRIES (SP) (House hearing 4/14) nrb (465) By Norma Romano-Benner USIA Staff Writer WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department has restructured its counternarcotics policy to focus on helping Peru, Colombia, and Bolivia fight drug trafficking and production, according a senior Pentagon official. Testifying before a House Armed Services subcommittee April 14, Brian E. Sheridan, deputy assistant secretary of defense for drug enforcement policy and support, said Pentagon support for these countries "will be aimed at strengthening the democratic institutions (and) encouraging national resolve and regional cooperation." Sheridan made it clear that U.S. military support will be given only to countries that request it. Such assistance, he noted, will consist of training and operational support to the police and military units with counternarcotics responsibilities. "As in the past," he pointed out, "U.S. personnel will be prohibited from engaging in, or accompanying host nation forces on law enforcement operations." He said all training of host country forces will include a human rights component. Sheridan credited joint efforts for the dismantling of four major cocaine trafficking organizations in Bolivia in 1993 and the arrest in Colombia of Demetrio "Vaticano" Chavez Penaherra, reputed to be Peru's leading drug trafficker. Chavez was extradited to Peru, where he is being prosecuted for narcotics trafficking and treason. Despite a recommended cut of $135 million to specific counternarcotics Pentagon programs, Sheridan said the Pentagon is unswerving in its determination to dismantle cocaine cartels. 1 Lee P. Brown, the Clinton administration's top antidrug policymaker, applauded the Pentagon's strategy. He told the panel that President Clinton is committed to "strengthening the ability of our partners to carry out effective counternarcotics programs by themselves. "We want in particular to assist countries that have the political will to fight the drug trade. Our specific programs with these countries are aimed at strengthening their judicial systems, law enforcement and penal institutions, and their control of money laundering and precursor and precursor chemicals." Both Sheridan and Brown agreed that in times of reduced budgets "it makes sense to reduce our relying on random air and sea patrols and to extend interdiction operations deeper into the source countries. "This strategy" Brown said, "makes better use of available intelligence and cooperation with host governments." But he added "it is important to remember that we have not dismantled our interdiction capability in the transit zones." Brown said the new strategy, announced in February, calls for a reduction, but not the abolition, of the tools needed to interdict illegal drugs in transit regions. Sheridan said the Pentagon will continue to work with U.S. domestic law enforcement agencies at the 2,000-mile border with Mexico. NNNN .