APRIL 17, 2015, LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan National Guard Counterdrug Program is comprised of approximately 20 full-time Soldiers and Airmen whose mission is to support the detection, interdiction, disruption and curtailment of drug-trafficking activities within the community through the application of military-unique skills and resources.
Counterdrug is considered a program, not a unit, and is assigned a military officer who serves as a program coordinator rather than a commander. Capt. Michael May has a background in both public affairs and military police and is assigned as the coordinator to oversee the program and facilitate support for existing and new law enforcement agency partners.
“Our program exists because drugs are bad. It sounds overly simple, but everyone has somebody in their lives that has been harmed by drug abuse,” said May. “As the National Guard, we are in a unique position to leverage our military training in the local community to support law enforcement efforts to keep illegal narcotics off the street – and we get to do this every day. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make a difference.”
Counterdrug members work alongside law enforcement partners in various communities throughout the state, providing numerous means of support. The members have a diverse range of military occupational skills and their counterdrug duties are not MOS specific with the exception of the pilots and maintainers for the LUH-72 Lakota helicopters.
Though full-time with the Counterdrug program, all members are assigned to a Michigan National Guard unit for monthly drill weekends and annual training periods. During these times, they hone diverse skillsets as musicians, artillery and infantrymen, explosive ordnance disposal, finance, personnel, military intelligence or medical personnel.
Sgt. 1st Class Devin Hahn has been assigned to the Michigan National Guard Counterdrug Program for 15 years and is one of the longest serving members on Michigan’s team. When he began his assignment, he worked in what was then referred to as the Drug Demand and Reduction section and visited schools to teach drug abuse awareness. Hahn is now assigned to the Michigan State Police as an analyst and a member of the ground operations section. On his National Guard weekend, he serves with the 126th Army Band based in Belmont, Mich., as a trombonist among other instrument proficiencies.
“The two jobs are completely different. I get to fulfill my passion for music and the satisfaction of doing a job with Counterdrug that helps my state and community,” said Hahn. “Really, the situation is no different than one of our M-day [drill-status Guard] members who has a civilian job and serves in the band for their National Guard duty.”
Counterdrug members are assigned to different sections within the program at one of more than 10 locations around the state. Members assigned to the aviation section support local, state and federal law enforcement agencies with specialized equipment and aerial reconnaissance that aids in illegal drug detection, so when necessary, law enforcement agencies have the information required to issue and execute a search warrant. Ground operations team members provide similar support to law enforcement by assisting them with reconnaissance and observation on the ground to detect and report illegal drug activities in a law enforcement partner’s areas of interest.
Members assigned to the program’s criminal analyst section evaluate and disseminate information to provide law enforcement officers with information to assist in their investigations. According to Hahn, an analyst’s skill set is similar to putting a complex puzzle together, yet, when the pieces fit, they are always careful to protect the rights of U.S. citizens in the process.
“Even though we work alongside federal and local law enforcement agencies,” said Hahn, “Counterdrug analysts are only permitted to assist with crimes that have a tie to illegal drug activities and we always do so in a support role and within the limits of the law enforcement partner we support.”
All Counterdrug analysts are trained to assist with crime-event mapping, charting, research and analysis for case support. All of the members’ military occupation skills have a special skill identifier denoting their specialized training-whether they are an Army band member or an Air Force medic.
Due to the domestic nature of their mission, the Counterdrug Program will never be called to support contingency operations overseas as a unit. They are limited to support stateside emergencies. In 2005, Michigan Counterdrug members provided support during Hurricane Katrina, assisting with security operations and search and rescue in direct support of the New Orleans Police Department.
At home in Michigan, one may not know that Counterdrug members are in the U.S. Armed Forces because they do not always wear a military uniform when supporting law enforcement agencies. The Counterdrug members support various agencies around the state including the Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs and Border Protection, the High Intensity Drug Traffic Area, U.S. Forest Service and the Michigan State Police.
“Our job is truly a National Guard mission and serves the people of our state. Whether seen or not, we are there every day helping keep drugs off the street,” said Hahn.