A Federal Case II; 2; The Military and the Drug Scene
This is a federal case. From Washington D.C. the National Educational radio network brings you an examination of current issues facing our nation and its capital city. Here is NPR and correspondent John shot. The military our country's defense is full of tradition customs and plant life. And of course discipline. But today there's a new generation in the United States making itself felt in every area of society. What happens when this new generation becomes part of the military.
Yes the last time I saw smoke in a man. Before this it was the night before the operation the night before as a complement commandos have stated that this is a situation people don't use dangerous drugs going into combat. I don't think I can say there's a mattress and some of these brass hats had any sense they'd want all this publicly aired. There have been of course crimes where men were killed who should not have been there been aircraft which grace which should not of Christ and have been other cases where individuals have been killed or been killed. The military and the drug scene what and whom do you believe. Is there really a problem. Is it being face most of what's been said on the situation including some of what you just heard was said on Capitol Hill with reverberations in the Pentagon. This was the Senate
juvenile delinquency subcommittees investigation right from the start the committee chairman sparked controversy. It is unfortunate that in Viet Nam I wanna add dangerous drugs even to heroin. Almost is available as a candy bar. This availability simply worsens the drug abuse problems in Vietnam. Ultimately in the United States. That a fact that seems to be proportionately more drug abuse among our young servicemen in Vietnam. Than among the youth population in the United States. That was Senator Thomas Dodd as he opened hearings on military drug abuse in March of this year. We asked the Defense Department about DOD statement. Frank Barr Tomorrow is the Pentagon's top expert on the drug abuse problem. In part I do believe that the statement is accurate in part. I do not agree from the facts and hard statistics that vailable to us here in the Pentagon and I might add we keep very very
close tabs on. This type of situation in South Vietnam for example over the last three and a half years I had reported to me every single case of drug abuse reported for investigation in South Vietnam by name rank serial number on a shot synopsis of the case based on those hard facts and in addition to those we also have conducted several responsible surveys based on those two areas of responsibility I can state specifically that marijuana is readily available as Senator Dodd points out in South Vietnam. It's available because there is some demand for the demand however in my judgment should be put in proper perspective perspective in this case that means figures and border mo disputes some of those figures that were handed up at the DOD hearings I believe it's they had to point out that the
figures are what I term sometimes rather bombastic that have appeared in the in the media parts of the media do not do any good. For the parents and their wives and sweethearts of our people who are undergoing an arduous experience in South Vietnam I believe the responsible figures that I've quoted in addition to the surveys indicate that approximately 30 percent of the youngsters between 18 and 24 have abused or are abusing some drug and it's important to point out that these surveys indicate that either use these drugs before coming into the military Rylan the military off for the first time in South Vietnam. And it's also very important to point out to get this in proper perspective that about 70 percent of these youngsters are experimenters. They're not hard drug abusers. Of course officials point out that the military did not invent the drug problem and body most says it with a missionary fervor a
popular notion that the military gets is merely a reflection of what's happening in the civilian community and what's happening in the civilian community doesn't make me happy. I think we have to focus on this problem with our youngsters and going back to junior high school and high schools to point out the dangers of drug abuse and hopefully to look at the problem because a human know it appears to be grown in the civilian community as it is not a community. How much worse has the problem gotten by said M. William Mack headed a Defense Department review of the situation. The problem has become much worse in the last two years and even before that it was becoming worse and we have really thought in the last two years that it was becoming very serious and these are the words we used to describe it. So despite arguments over the extent of military drug abuse everyone seems to agree that it is serious and it is a problem. Admiral Mac's task group was charged with recommending measures to ease the situation and they came up with a four point
program. First and foremost they decided their job would be much easier if drug users were kept out of the military. But how does one do that. We found there was no simple easy test we could use. We knew we could do to every drug abuser who had to use drugs within 72 hours but not beyond. We recommend using what we call a home man concept that is a man should be examined and ask if he had ever used drugs and if he said yes then his whole background should be examined. He was an experimenter thinking from a good home and he psychiatry said he was sound psychologically. We recommend he be brought in. Now this was the best we thought could be done to screen out drug abusers. When these men are in the services the next thing we thought was we should be educated well and drug education that is their second point. Testimony during the dot hearings indicated that there is indeed a need for more than has been done. Senator Milo Cooke questioned former Sergeant Charles
West. Were you ever given any orientation in regard to drugs or the availability of drugs. The fact that you ought to be careful about them. The fact that at least that they were paying some attention to the fact that drugs were so readily available in Vietnam. Well no I don't. All in taste and I don't remember our discussing anything about drugs on absolutely nothing. You know what they stressed us mostly what to watch out for mosquitoes. Oh it's never a mention. Of the absolute wide range use of drugs in Vietnam. No not to my knowledge that's absolutely me. Amazing the senator Cook said. But Admiral Macke says this must change. Once a man is brought into the military he should be educated well in drug abuse first when he came in then with the refresher sessions later with special session
before he went overseas that his superiors should be educated in drug abuse and the administration of programs chaplains legal officers as dead advocates doctors and commanding officers and I or even should know how to cope with this sort of thing. The education system failed and we want a fair but strict discipline system which would. This been in a drug abuse area fairly and rapidly but with certain any consideration being given to the health and well-being of the person involved. The fourth point is rehabilitation officials admit that rehabilitation programs are still in the embryo stage pilot projects and experiments are underway and that connection one experiment was conducted in Vietnam early this year. An amnesty program for getting more people to admit they need rehabilitation. A man is encouraged to come forward without any drugs in his possession and
declare to his chaplain his doctor his lawyer his commanding officer that he has used drugs and he wants help and in rehabilitating himself he's given psychiatric examination any medical help he needs. Then takes part in a rehabilitation program and hopefully then will you to rejoin his unit to a separate unit and eventually be brought back to society and to the military. Military drug use up to now has not been associated with amnesty but rather with courts martial for instance Mr. Barbeau handling the drug abuse problem is the Pentagon's assistant general counsel for manpower. A high ranking lawyer but at his level certainly officials all ready to accept the idea. I think that Amnesty has a place where you have a large amount of drug abuse where the individuals misread some of the facts for example about marijuana which is our chief problem. Experiment with that and then go on to use it on a weekly or even daily basis these
are the individuals that amnesty may help. And so Incidentally some of the other dangerous drugs like the unfettered means in a buy but your rights are also included. But what about out in the field away from the Pentagon. Is everyone going to use the amnesty program in the military community we must always remember that discipline is the byword the commanding officer that thinks of using amnesty misread the impact that amnesty may have on discipline. Let me give you a specific if in a smaller base unit. There are several abuses of the drugs and the commanding officer is trying to cope with it. Brightest tools that I've mentioned and he feels that amnesty may may be a useful device. He must weigh that as against the backlash of perhaps having an encroachment on discipline a military unit without discipline there is no military
unit at all. Now with that emphasis on discipline and the hard nosed reputation a lot of us attribute to the military. Is this really going to work. Are some of the crusty old colonels and sergeants going to accept it. Bottom o doesn't feel that problem exists in my judgment and I've been in this business as a civilian for now almost 25 years and I've gotten to know some of these individuals very well then there are people that. That we know on the outside they're the people with empathy and by that I mean people who can put themselves in the skin of another and try to cope with situations the military has heart believing the contrary to some of the things you read. Sometimes I hear the military has harked. Well certainly Admiral Mack seems to have heart. When a man comes in who has a draft he comes in with a bill in a presentation he doesn't want to be there in the first place. We had this take up occasions of danger in the
Far East. Watching his friends die may be with him so that he might fly as a long time out there. These are off restoration was build up to do something and he can't rest or turn to religion or buy a can of beer or something he finds what he can and this is unfortunately always turned out to be marijuana which is very easy to come by in the Far East. How easy to come by very easy in Vietnam. Again back to the DOD hearings this is Dr. James Teague a former Army psychiatrist. It grows there readily and throughout the country. It is also possible to buy what would appear to be American cigarettes completely see only with the appropriate tobacco stamp but these are packages of cigarettes which have been carefully open and the tobacco removed to be replaced with marijuana. This did not seem to be an attempt to induce anyone to smoke marijuana without
their knowledge but rather to more freely and openly deal with the product. Admiral Macke backs that up. A man in Viet Nam for instance is fighting one day and the next day's back behind the lines where a small boy does make me pop up my in the bush and offer him a cigarette. It's very hard to control this sort of abuse it's hard to do it even in the States in barracks where men are free to come and go several days a week on passes and it's difficult to search each one coming back fences along the way. Some of these areas. Well there is some disagreement on that point even at the Pentagon back to Mr. Boyd IMO. I think in the military. All of those who have served in the military I think would agree with me that it's very difficult for an individual to become a drug abuser for any protracted period of time without being detected. Now there are exceptions to that rule but in the military each individual is looked at almost daily by his unit commander. The
medics the chaplains the legal offices and others in responsible positions. And it would be very difficult for a high od drug user to go along without being detected. As I get to repeat there are exceptions and we've seen them. So therefore I'd say that the opportunity of being a drug abuser in the military is much more difficult than in the civilian community. But let's dwell for Obama but on those exceptions no matter how frequent or infrequent they are do they occur in combat. We have had situations where a GI eyes have used drugs for example marijuana or the end fed I mean particularly but this is on a individual basis. The reports I've got both here and in my visits to South Vietnam is that a unit going to the combat wants to have all of its facilities everybody has to be alert. And if one the buddy
system prevails if one body finds that another body is smoking marijuana. He will be the one that will run him that he may be jeopardizing not only his own life but the lives of the others in the unit. Most of the component commandos have stated that this is the situation people don't use dangerous drugs going into combat because I know and Hugh know there are exceptions but I'm grateful to be able to report that the exception is a minor and it is an exception. Again he mentions exceptions. Was the operation Edmee lie South Vietnam in March of 1968 one of those exceptions. Charles West was a sergeant in the unit involved in that operation. Senator Dodd questioned him closely on that point. Yes unless I see a video of a mom smoking a marijuana. Before this is that was on the night before the operation the night before.
What hour. Well I was on guard between I was overloaded 12. 11 and 12 the night before. Dodd came out of that day's hearings convinced that marijuana did indeed play a part in the massacre it may lie and he pledged to get to the bottom of it. Been some people ask me to call up these hearings and I have I said I can't be done I couldn't do it in good conscience and I feel that there's no excuse for this. I'd like to know and I think a lot of other people would if this abuse of marijuana had anything to do with their misconduct and I think it did. I don't think I'm an American soldiers are murderers and some of these brass hats had the sense they want all this publicly aired so me like I was close to the top of the list when Senator Dodd gave Admiral Mack a chance to testify in August we had a witness he had.
Sergeant Charles West. Who served in Viet Nam. He told us that half of the company involved in the Mai lay operation smoked marijuana. That pot parties before missions were common. That one half of this. Life was high. Within a few hours of that dreadful occurrence. Do you know whether the Fenster thought with any of its officials made any effort to find out whether that statement by West Yes sir I do if we could ask officially whether there was going to vomit and me like case. The reports coming back said no there is no evidence that there was. Obviously starting West appearing in stating so. Is indications that it was but it's not really a legal official evidence which we could bring that for you. I was feeling that there was but that's only my personal opinion. Edmond Mack said he personally felt there was some involvement and this touched off some
controversy when we talked with him he wanted to clarify the situation. Same about I've said I had Sergeant west here recently who were told this committee that he had rock through the bill right here the night before me where I had seen roughly half of his scribe using marijuana and many others using it. And he said how can you tell me there was no drug use there. In view of the evidence I have had before me and then he said What is your personal opinion. I told him that I had given him my personal opinion which was there is no evidence in hand to show that there was drug abuse or connection with me and I am that was a factor. But that in view of the fact that we knew the rapper 30 percent of men in the armed forces had used a wanted some time. And you know the fact that he had witnesses who had said they saw some uses and they were obviously followed that there probably was some drug abuse either just before or sort it within the six hours of me life. But was marijuana a factor in the incident.
Nothing that we have or anybody's opinion would indicate that because somebody has drugs and he did what he did in connection with me like I think the key word here was not a factor and you can use it and have some effect as your thoughts if you're otherwise showing some effects of it up to 36 hours after you use marijuana but that doesn't mean that you will do something just because you use the drug. But when you have to admit that kind of logic would indicate that somebody probably use marijuana. But the key here is it was not a factor in me and nobody was it I don't think the outcome have been any different. Whether or not marijuana played a part in me lie there have been some incidents. Senator Dodd talked about this has been an increasing number of psychotic episodes. Reported among our troops using Vietnam. Such reactions are our most on known. From the marijuana consumed in the United
States. Some of my soldiers in Vietnam have gone temporarily insane. After using that drug. Aside from the obvious dangers related to drug abuse under combat conditions. Or in a war zone that far exceed the dangers of drug use in civilian life. I think in the course of these hearings we'll find that rifles and reefers do not mix. Apparently there is something about the marijuana in Vietnam that such apart from that commonly used in the US. Dr. Joel Kaplan another psychiatry is to study the problem while serving in the Army in Vietnam. When we began to see which I had not seen in the United States were many cases of soldiers who were abusing client ESTA coming out of the acute toxic phase remaining schizo phrenic these soldiers then had to be air in fact out to Japan or back to the United States. Contrary to
many popular opinions held here in the states the drug could cause people to become fearful. Paranoid extremely angry and lead in a number of cases to acts of murder rape and aggravated assault. But Admiral Macke found relationships between drug use and behavior not only in Vietnam but elsewhere in the military men under the influence of drugs tend to do things they would not do otherwise. When they say you know since the murder of two or more men by a third man and the influence of very strong marijuana they tend to after prolonged usage. They will go AWOL or stay away for long periods or go absent without leave and stay shorter periods because they want to escape the same sorts of things that drug abuse is to try to escape for them in a very short period and light of all the evidence and the acceptance that there is a serious problem in the military still get its job done. We want to make sure that all of our units can carry out their missions and is in Vietnam and other places they can do
their job. So far there's never been a unit which you cannot carry out his job. There have been of course crimes where men were killed and who should not have been there been probably a few aircraft which grace which should not of Christ and there been other cases where individuals have been killed who should not have been killed. But in general we have been able to do our job. We have always tried to make sure for instance that drug abuse was not something which would endanger our national security in the sense that a drug abuser could stop the delivery of a nuclear weapon or more importantly could result in the delivery of it and we didn't want to be delivered when thousands would be involved in a cryptographic work or would be involved in something of the order. Thank you Hercules Barry when we were defending ourselves we had what it called sensibility programs where we make sure that all people going into these billets are very very carefully screened and observe that even after they're there and are promptly removed we have had people removed
from these billets but in no case was the national security involved in the case whether every two people in the chain wear. And that could be done which would have resulted in breaking our nation's security when they get past the statistics that talk about the nation defense officials do seem to be genuinely concerned about the human aspect of the problem. Atmel Mack tells us now what concerns us really is the damage to the heights and the brains in the bodies of our young men. Just as it concerns a parents who sent them to us we are very much concerned about this and we hope do increasingly better job of doing something about preventing to abuse and abuse and sending them back to their families and friends in better shape when we got them. Of course the rehabilitation programs the task force recommends in fact any of the really major significant steps their report suggests. All these are going to cost money and in the military as elsewhere that's in short supply.
We have a as always a budgetary problem in the armed services. We would like to do what we can but were you to program like this it requires additional psychologists psychiatrists sociologists if we could get them. Well you should call untrained medical experts in this particular field but certainly medical experts and plain doctors and it requires additional administrative personnel in order to do this sort of a program you have to pay for it in a time when the armed services are cutting down when the manpower is in short supply when so any medical and health service personnel are hard to come by. We must make a calculation each time we do this as to how much we can put into a program in exchange for the good we get out of it. We would like to put in a lot more than we have but we are constrained by budgetary and manpower considerations. So Admiral Macke says they would like to do more but have money problems. Perhaps the final question then is this Are the president priorities meeting the president
needs while a problem serious. We don't not have that we're not frustrated from pursuing it by by a lack of money. I want to have a at that statement. Someone I believe the focus is on education and rehabilitation. And I see no lack of funds there at the moment. The problem gets worse if it gets exacerbated. Hopefully it won't but. All indications are that it's increasing not only in the military but in the Sunni community. Then we may have in the days ahead some problem not funds but I'm sure that with the imagination that's been given to this from the very top signed Secretary Laird Mr. Pack and Mr. Kelly that will meet that problem. Optimism or pessimism you'll find them both in talking about the drug situation in talking with almost anyone even G.I. eyes and former G.I.. Many will tell you that like on American campuses only the tip of the iceberg is showing in the military. The drug use and abuse is far more widespread than
admitted or imagined by the authorities. There is no real way to know and no immediate answer to the overall situation. Only surveys questionnaires and a determination by the Pentagon on two counts to preserve the military's ability to do its job and to help the individuals involved to preserve their lives. Senator Dodd and other critics accuse the military of doing too little too late. Dodd fears that more men will pick up the drug habit in the military and carry it back into civilian life. The Pentagon concedes this might happen in some cases but claims the supposition is incorrect. That actually fewer men use marijuana and other drugs in the military than outside of it. From their standpoint they feel significant measures to combat drugs are being taken. And they say they are continually adopting more advanced techniques. There is a growing segment of the civilian society that feels there is nothing wrong with such things as marijuana that they should be legalized perhaps with restrictions similar to those where
alcohol if that should come about with the military allowed within the ranks. Well first of all they'll have to accept the premise that marijuana is not harmful and BARDA most is there is just too much evidence to the contrary he is ready to cite study page and paragraph to argue against that idea but him and his colleagues do recommend continued research on the subject. And in fact in the task force report one of the suggestions includes the hope that the National Institute of Mental Health will someday be able to offer some definitive guidelines on exactly how marijuana does affect its users. But until that time there are no easy answers only a growing recognition that the drug scene is here in the military as well as civilian life and people must learn to cope. This is John Abbott shot for the national educational radio network from Washington. You've been listening to a federal case a weekly examination of the national issue from the perspective of our nation's capital. A federal case is
- A Federal Case II
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- The Military and the Drug Scene
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- National Educational Radio Network
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- "A Federal Case II" is a weekly program produced by the National Educational Radio Network which examines current political topics in the United States and Washington, D.C. Each episode features interviews with experts, members of the public, and lawmakers concerning a specific issue of government.
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Producing Organization: National Educational Radio Network
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 70-18-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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