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September 17, 2023

In recent years, we’ve seen a strategy shift among those who hate America.

Open the borders, legalize low-level drugs, back off drug enforcement – and watch our cities fall into decay within one generation. I saw it happen on the battlefield in Vietnam.

An article on 9/11 written by Governor Mike Huckabee caused me to reflect on how the destruction we see in America today has an eerie similarity to what happened in Vietnam.

In the fall of 1970, our battalion had its first drug fatality from heroin overdose. Our battalion commander took it hard and was ready to assign whatever resources were necessary to engage and destroy the problem.

A few days later, I had the opportunity to serve in a special operation involving ARVN Special Forces, also known as "Luc Luong Dac Biet," and the South Vietnamese National Police known as the “Canh Sat Quoc Gia” (CSQG). Both played a crucial role in attempting to curb the flow of drugs during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s amidst the chaos of the Vietnam War, and both were known for their specialized training in counterinsurgency and unconventional warfare. They had been fighting drug trafficking since the late ‘60s.

In 1970, the government of South Vietnam, working with the CIA, enlisted the aid of Sir Robert Thompson to develop a counterinsurgency program. Sir Robert had been knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his work in Southeast Asia during and after WWII. He developed a strategy[1] for a joint operation, declassified by the CIA on 12/28/2007. An intelligence network of men and women living in local villages reported enemy activity through the CSQG. Our team of two Americans, two senior ARVN Special Forces operators recruited by CSQG, and a squad of seasoned ARVN soldiers were responsible for responding to the reports.

The problem wasn’t isolated to American soldiers; drugs were also a problem for the South Vietnamese Army.

After TET of 1968, many Viet Cong who lived in the villages of South Vietnam were either captured or killed, which dealt a significant blow to the communists. Shortly thereafter, North Vietnam changed its strategy and began running hard drugs into the South. The idea was part of a deliberate strategy to weaken the morale and combat effectiveness of American and South Vietnamese forces.

And it worked. Why shoot a soldier when you can disable him with addiction?

The addiction level among U.S. soldiers in Vietnam, according to a 1971 New York Times report, was as much as 25%. Many were draftees who didn’t want to be there. They were scared and turned to heroin as a form of escape.

The North made it cheap and readily available. A report in the Special Action Office Monograph, US Gov Print Office 1974 claimed that “approximately 42% of U.S. military personnel in Vietnam in 1971 had used opioids at least once, and half of these individuals were reported to be physically dependent at some time.” [2]

The problem was exacerbated by U.S. soldiers re-entering the civilian world. Drug usage by military personnel had a significant impact on our society and was portrayed in movies like The Deer HunterApocalypse Now and Platoon. It was the enemy hiding in plain sight.

The anti-American strategies I witnessed on the battlefield fifty-three years ago have morphed into what I am seeing in our society today. Instead of crumbling Twin Towers, we are seeing the crumbling of human beings. Today, men and women are under stress and fear due to debt, pandemic fears, and the never-ending woke assault. This makes them vulnerable to experimentation with drugs.

In 1970, the impact drug use had on military operations was obvious. But many commanders didn’t know how to deal with addicted soldiers within their ranks. The New York Times reported that as many as 37,000 who had served in Vietnam had experimented with drugs. A later DoD report said the problem was even worse than the NYT had reported.

I saw, firsthand, the impact of soldiers risking their lives and freedom just to get the next fix. It destroys a person mentally and physically. Look no further than the streets of Philadelphia, San Francisco and Austin to see the devastating effects. Addiction was, and is, a serious threat.

North Vietnam obtained drugs from the "Golden Triangle," a region encompassing parts of Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar, known for its opium production. The drugs were primarily packaged in small plastic containers of an ounce or less. I saw thousands of these containers when our team raided the various distribution centers scattered in the jungles and along rivers. They were hidden in small villages and strategically located from the Ho Chi Minh Trail by Cambodia to areas near large military populations.

The North Vietnamese communists found it easier to enlist their soldiers in the drug war because the recruits didn’t have to sacrifice themselves for a political dogma, and they were financially rewarded for selling drugs to unwitting American soldiers. They didn’t even have to carry weapons to defeat their enemies. Americans were willing to hand over their money and their lives for the next fix.

During the Vietnam War, North Vietnam was backed by the Soviet Union and China. Today, we see the same players involved in the drug epidemic sweeping America. An epidemic that has destroyed once-vibrant cities in less than a generation.

Communist China has been a major source of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances that have contributed to the opioid crisis in the United States. The drugs are shipped in small quantities, making them difficult to detect, not unlike what was done during the Vietnam War.

However, opioid addiction is not a widespread problem in China, despite China being a source of the drug epidemic in America. Why? Because the Chinese government is vigilant in their efforts to prevent opioid abuse in their own country. But they see opioid exportation as an opportunity to weaken their greatest opponent.

And it’s working.

The tragedy of 9/11 resulted in the deaths of 2,996 people; however, a quick walk through the homeless camps of Philadelphia, San Francisco and other cities will reveal another tragedy, perhaps one of much greater magnitude.

We are losing the war, and it’s time to wake up.

Mike Grayson is a Bronze Star combat veteran and tech entrepreneur with decades of experience in military and commercial technologies. His pioneering work in expert-based systems and data analytics has earned him national recognition by Networld Interop, Communications Week, and others. He has also provided trailblazing solutions in cybersecurity, financial, and education systems. After serving in the Vietnam War, he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal by the U.S. Army and the Civic Action Medal by the Republic of Vietnam for his contributions to counterinsurgency operations in 1970.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss the topics covered in this article further, feel free to reach out to Mike at [email protected]

[1] CIA. Report on the National Police Republic of Vietnam. March 1971.

[2] DoD. Drug Policy History. Military Drug Program Historical Timeline.

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