The latest battle in the war on drugs is being staged in our own backyard. Hundreds of narcotics officers are in town this week to learn the latest combat techniques. It's the kind of training they hope will keep them alive and get the drugs off our streets.
While hundreds of thousands of our armed forced fight in the war on terrorism, these armed forces are fighting a different kind of war on the home front.
"In military doctrine, you always have acceptable losses," said special agent Francisco Hidalgo, Jr. "We don't believe in acceptable losses. One innocent person dying is one too many. One of our people dying is one too many."
On the battlefield, the officers never know if the car they roll up on will be filled with people high on drugs or if the hallway they walk down is laced with dealers armed with guns.
"These officers leave their homes their families behind, go out to wage a war on the street with people who could care less, who could shoot to kill one of them over a kilo of cocaine," said George Hood of the National Drug Enforcement Officers Association.
And most recently, they're dealing with highly addictive drugs like methamphetamines and the addicts who make and distribute them, even right here in the Coastal Empire. That's why we're not allowed to show local undercover agents' faces.
"The bad guys are always one step ahead of us and we're trying to keep up with that and it's tough to do," said Hood.
Not knowing if the room they sweep will be their last, one of the biggest dangers these narcotics officers face is not being prepared.
"There's nothing in this job worth dying for, so that's the reason we're doing this, to train to prepare them better for what they're going to face," said Hidalgo.
The narcotics officers should wrap up their training by Friday. Afterwards, they'll take what they've learned and bring it back to their own agencies.