NATO Chief OKs Attacks on Afghan Drug Producers

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2009 2:16 PM CST
A British soldier aims his weapon at an opium poppy field in Habibollah Kalay village in Helmand province, Afghanistan.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 7 more images

(Newser) – NATO's top commander has authorized coalition troops “to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan,” saying they “are inextricably linked to the Opposing Military Forces,” Der Spiegel reports. The order from US General John Craddock is not going over well with commanders on the ground. The top general in Afghanistan said such action would “seriously undermine the commitment ISAF has made to the Afghan people.”

Craddock’s reclassification of drug activity means it is “no longer necessary to produce intelligence or other evidence” that a target is “a military objective.” The trade in opium and heroin accounts for half of Afghanistan’s GDP, according to the UN. The order, which another top NATO official has flatly refused to follow, comes as the US changed its specific policy, allowing attacks on drug labs if they would not kill “more than 10 civilians.”