As the Obama administration increases the Drug Enforcement Administration’s presence in Afghanistan, some special-agent pilots contend that they’re being illegally forced to go to a combat zone, while others say they’re not being properly equipped, McClatchy Newspapers report. In interviews, more than a dozen DEA agents describe a badly managed system in which some pilots have been sent to Afghanistan under duress or as punishment for bucking their superiors.
Such complaints could complicate the Obama administration’s efforts to send dozens of additional DEA agents to Afghanistan as part of a civilian and military personnel “surge” that aims to stabilize the country.Veteran DEA pilot Daniel Offield alleged in an employment discrimination complaint he was told if he refuses to go to Afghanistan in July he’ll be demoted. The Stockton, Ca., agent asked for a reprieve because he was in the process of adopting two special-needs children and offered to serve his required temporary duty in other countries. Agents said supervisors told them that working in dangerous countries is part of their job requirements, but Offield’s attorney said such compulsory duty violates a 2008 federal law that requires civilian personnel to serve voluntarily. “The DEA is not only violating the law,” said Richard Margarita, a former DEA agent and county prosecutor. “They could very well be sending Dan Offield to his death.”