DEA Afghanistan Unit Receives Prestigious Joint Chiefs of Staff Award
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Award for exceptionally meritorious service to the Afghan Threat Finance Cell (ATFC), a DEA-led unit that investigates and disrupts financial networks that finance the insurgency.
The Afghan Threat Finance Cell (ATFC), including DEA personnel assigned to the effort, recently received the great honor of the Department of Defense's Joint Meritorious Unit Award signed by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, General Martin E. Dempsey.
The Joint Meritorious Unit Award, established in 1981, is deemed equivalent to the Defense Superior Service Medal that is awarded to an individual.
The ATFC began operations in mid-2009 and is a multi-agency organization led by DEA with the Treasury Department and Department of Defense as co-deputies. Additional personnel staff ATFC from the Department of Defense's CENTCOM, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Internal Revenue Service. In the past, the FBI and Royal Canadian Mounted Police also were members. The ATFC’s purpose is to attack insurgence funding and financing networks by providing threat finance expertise and actionable intelligence to U.S. civilian and military leaders.
The ATFC seeks to identify and disrupt financial networks utilized to fund the insurgency. Personnel are embedded with military commands across Afghanistan to improve the targeting of the insurgents' financial structure. In partnership with specially-vetted Afghan police units and the Afghan military, the AFTC has collected tens of thousands of financial documents from financial institutions to include hawalas--the informal banking system prevalent throughout the Islamic world. Many of these hawalas are utilized to conduct illicit financial activities, to include insurgent financing, transfer of drug money, and funding corruption.
The citation text of the award from General Dempsey is as follows:
“Headquarters, Afghanistan Threat Finance Cell, distinguished itself by exceptionally meritorious service from 18 March 2009 to 1 July 2011. Through their relentless efforts and perseverance, the Threat Finance Cell’s Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen significantly contributed to the accomplishment of critical strategic and operational objectives in Combined Joint Operations Area- Afghanistan. By successfully integrating capabilities from law enforcement, the military, and the intelligence community to identify and disrupt insurgent and terrorist financing, they expanded the capacity of the Financial Investigation Team and Financial Transactions and Reports Center of Afghanistan, contributed to 71 Kingpin and terrorist-related designation nominations, and uncovered corruption and criminality in the Afghan Government and banking sectors. Additionally, the Threat Finance Cell supported numerous investigations and raids that disrupted insurgent funding and developed target packages that led to 27 approved targets on the Joint Prioritized Effects List and the capture of four key insurgent financiers. Finally, it developed the premier threat finance Intellipedia information and intelligence sharing Web site and recruited international support from Coalition partners to counter insurgent and terrorist financing efforts. By their exemplary performance of duty, the members of Headquarters, Afghanistan Threat Finance Cell, have brought great credit upon themselves, their Service, and the Department of Defense.”