Since its inception in 1989, a Defense Department agency in Fort
Bliss, Texas, has completed more than 4,800 counter-drug missions
in support of more than 430 different local, state, regional and
federal law enforcement agencies.
The Joint Task Force Six (JTF-6) staff coordinates military support
to civilian agencies, explained spokesman Armando Carrasco. “This
unique relationship that exists between the law enforcement community
and the military nets what we term a win-win situation,” Carrasco
said. “The nation’s law-enforcement agencies receive
invaluable and unprecedented support that they would not otherwise
have, and the military gains tremendous training opportunities in
new environments that offer unique challenges and situations.”
JTF-6’s area of operations includes the entire continental
United States, with primary focus in the southwest border states
of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
“The military support is aimed at enhancing the capabilities
of our law-enforcement clients in curtailing illegal drug smuggling
activities,” said Carrasco. “The military personnel
are strictly in a counter-drug support role.” Federal law
prohibits the use of active duty and reserve military personnel
in a direct law-enforcement capacity. Military personnel performing
JTF-6 missions cannot search, seize, detain or make arrests.
As a joint-service command, JTF-6 is comprised of active and reserve
soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and women. “The personnel
and units volunteer to perform specific JTF-6 counter-drug support
missions that are directly related to their mission-essential tasks,”
The funding for JTF-6 activities comes from the Defense Department
budget, Carrasco said. The law-enforcement agencies only fund the
costs of the required materials, such as engineer construction supplies.
Recently, U.S. Army engineers from the 46th Engineer Battalion,
based at Fort Polk, La., deployed to the Arizona border on a projected
one-month engineering mission to be completed in support of the
U.S. Border Patrol. About 160 active-duty soldiers are conducting
operations to improve 2.5 miles of border roads and construct a
Among the most popular pieces of equipment are unmanned aerial
vehicles, which recently flew in support of two South Texas U.S.
Border Patrol sectors. These aircraft are equipped with day/night
cameras and infrared sensors. “We were also able to assist
the Border Patrol in integrating the Texas Army National Guard C-26
aircraft, a highly sophisticated counter-drug platform, into the
overall effort,” said Carrasco.