OKLAHOMA CITY –
Members of the Oklahoma National Guard supported the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs during a state-wide operation to curb the supply of illegally grown marijuana, Sept. 27-Oct. 7.
More than 30 Airmen and Soldiers volunteered for the joint Oklahoma Air and Army National Guard state active duty mission to collect, transport and prepare more than 75,000 plants seized in the ONB-lead operation for destruction.
Col. Shane Riley, the director of military support for the Oklahoma National Guard, said the Oklahoma National Guard has the unique capability to support state agencies along with the people of Oklahoma whenever called upon, whether it be in support of law enforcement or response to natural disasters.
“We are not law enforcement,” said Riley. “We still act as National Guardsmen and we let the law enforcement do their job. What the Guard specifically brings to a mission set like this is the capability that we have to provide a large number of Soldiers to get work done quickly.”
With the support of the Oklahoma National Guard, OBN removed and disposed of more than $9.7 million in street value of marijuana over the course of ten days and potentially helped the OBN further their operation and investigations.
Command Sgt. Maj. Brent Pearce, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the state active duty mission, said the work and effort put in by every Guardsman that volunteered was recognized by the state agencies and the civilians as they put in hours of work.. Clarifying that once the illegal area is secured by law enforcement and the legal process is completed on the agency's side, the Oklahoma National Guard’s role is to help facilitate the cleanup of the sites by removing marijuana and contraband.
OBN Director Donnie Anderson says he is particularly grateful to the Oklahoma National Guard which provided personnel and heavy equipment to assist with the eradication and disposal of plants during these operations.
“The Oklahoma National Guard’s hard work and support was crucial to the success of our operation over the previous weeks,” said Anderson “Their assistance enabled OBN to continue investigations that will have a positive impact on Oklahomans.”
Oklahoma Guardsmen utilized skid-steers and other heavy machinery from both the Air and Army Guard, normally used for route clearing and construction by the National Guard units, to load the marijuana into trucks that were used to transport the plants to the disposal site.
“What this shows is the versatility of the Oklahoma Army National Guard and the Air Guard and their ability to work together,” said Pearce, the command sergeant major for 700th Brigade Support Battalion. “I think it's about building those relationships.”
Riley said, “The National Guard understands that the Soldiers have a lot of competing priorities and Airmen have a lot of competing priorities in their life between their civilian job, participation in the National Guard and their personal responsibility at home and when the state calls, we've never had any hesitancy on the part of the citizen soldiers in Oklahoma to answer that call.”
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