Are you familiar with CNTPO? I wasn’t either. Maybe by its full name: The Defense Department’s Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office. Nope? Me neither.
An obscure Pentagon office designed to curb the flow of illegal drugs has quietly evolved into a one-stop shop for private security contractors around the world, soliciting deals worth over $3 billion.
This is the kind of thing we constantly face — pots of money and power all over the place that depend on the drug war (as well as the war on terror and other such never-ending wars).
The office, known as CNTPO, is all but unknown, even to professional Pentagon watchers. It interprets its counternarcotics mandate very, very broadly, leaning heavily on its implied counterterrorism portfolio. And itâ€™s responsible for one of the largest chunks of money provided to mercenaries in the entire federal government.
Mercs. Drug War. Terrorism. Funding. What a combination.
For the vast majority of people whoâ€™ve never heard of CNTPO, the organization answers to the Pentagonâ€™s Special Operations Low-Intensity Conflict Directorate, within the Counternarcotics and Global Threats portfolio. Itâ€™s tucked away so deep, bureaucratically speaking, that it doesnâ€™t actually have an office at the Pentagon.
The organization, run by a civilian named Mike Strand, has been around since 1995. In 2007, it made a big push into contracting, hiring the Blackwater subsidiary U.S. Training Center as well as defense giants Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and ARINC for â€œa wide range of Defense counternarcotics activities,â€ according to a statement provided to Danger Room by the agency. That award, which has doled out $4.3 billion so far, is the precursor to the current bid. […]
In its new contract, the office explicitly stakes out a broad definition of its mandate: â€œto disrupt, deter, and defeat the threat to national security posed by illicit trafficking in all its manifestations: drugs, small arms and explosives, precursor chemicals, people, and illicitly-gained and laundered money.â€ It declares its practices â€œbeyond traditional DoD acquisition and contracting scopes.â€