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Canadian Armed Forces | Concern for a unit overexposed to drugs

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The Canadian Armed Forces special unit responsible for recruiting foreign collaborators in the war zone is overexposed to large quantities of drugs during its delicate outings in the field, to the point where the military hierarchy is concerned to see one day a mission compromised by drug use, according to documents obtained by The Press.

Documents classified as “secret”, copies of which we obtained largely redacted under the Access to Information Actconcern an unknown unit of military intelligence, called JTF-X (for Joint Task Force X or Joint Task Force X).

This hand-picked unit is the only one in the entire Armed Forces responsible for recruiting informants in foreign countries. It is used exclusively to deploy specialized soldiers “to collect and report information obtained from human sources, with the aim of satisfying the tactical, operational and strategic intelligence requirements of commanders”, reads a briefing note written in September 2021 by Major General Michael Wright, Chief of Defense Intelligence, to the Chief of the Defense Staff.

Dangerous groups

To recruit their informants, these “military specialists” must rub shoulders with “individuals who have access to terrorist networks, organized crime, foreign intelligence services, corrupt leaders and other dangerous groups within the host country. “, specifies the note.


PHOTO MARTIN TREMBLAY, PRESS ARCHIVES

The war in Afghanistan is the only unit mission the Armed Forces agrees to discuss publicly. Here, a soldier is seen visiting a cannabis field in the Spin Bodak area in 2007.

However, “illegal drugs are abundantly available in the majority of theaters of operations” where the JTF-X is deployed, continues the document. This was the case during the war in Afghanistan, the only unit mission the Armed Forces agrees to discuss publicly. All other JTF-X operations remain secret to this day, a National Defense spokeswoman confirmed to The Press.

The hierarchy is worried about the fate of these soldiers who must spend a lot of time hanging out with suspicious individuals in this kind of environment.

If some members of the unit were to succumb to temptation and use narcotics while on a delicate mission in foreign territory, the impact on military operations could be severe, the intelligence command warns.

Members assigned to this unit must remain alert, sober and focused, the memo states. They often have little time to get a lot of information when deployed in the field.

“They are responsible for doing the initial assessment to gauge the source’s intentions and identify the threats. Thus, operators must remain constantly vigilant in their often chaotic environment while watching for subtle changes in the source’s behavior and mannerisms.

“This level of attention is required even when performing complex sets of questions simultaneously. If an operator misses a key detail or misunderstands information presented by the source, it can significantly affect the success of a Canadian Armed Forces operation. »

“JTF-X is a special mission unit with a high operational tempo” and a sensitive mandate, the note continues.

Real and proven risk

The command therefore requests that the operator function within JTF-X be classified as a “high risk, security sensitive” position, which would allow its members to undergo periodic and mandatory dope.

The soldiers assigned to this unit should not balk at this new requirement, given their maturity and their awareness of the importance of their mission, says the document. The tests would also increase the confidence of other military units in the JTF-X and further reassure high command of the latter’s ability to “operate in high threat environments”.

“Without this, officers will have to run the real and proven risk that a ‘compromised’ operator may be deployed to carry out tasks of higher than average political/strategic importance,” the memo warns.

No screening in operational area

The request submitted to the Chief of Staff in September 2021 is still under review and has not yet been approved, according to National Defense confirmed to The Press.

“To date, JTF-X has not conducted drug testing for military personnel in high security risk positions and no drug testing has taken place in any operational area. Consequently, we do not currently have results or other details on the screening tests, ”explains spokesperson Andrée-Anne Poulin.

Anonymous pre-deployment and urinalysis tests, however, are part of a Canadian Forces awareness and intervention program to assess the prevalence of illicit drug use among military members and support education and of intervention, adds Mme Poulin.

“The Canadian Forces Intelligence Command has a zero tolerance policy on illicit drug use,” she says.

With the collaboration of William Leclerc, The Press



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