It has one of the ponderous titles favored by the feds President Obama's 2009 National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy.

However, there's a simple goal buried in that bureaucratese attacking drug smuggling and use.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the initiative Friday in Albuquerque. With her were Attorney General Eric Holder and White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske.

Efforts will focus on smuggling, as would be expected. But in remarks in Tucson on Thursday, Napolitano said, "This is not just about slowing or impeding the flow of drugs from Mexico and Central America into the United States, it's also about reducing the demand for those drugs."

One goal of the strategy is coming up with new and more effective methods of detecting underground tunnels that smugglers use to get their product across the border.

That goal has become even more important because of recent reports detailing plans by al-Qaida to use tunnels to bring bioweapons into the United States from Mexico.

Another goal is to increase safety for law officers who protect the border. There have been numerous incidents of violence directed at those officers and, especially with the violence in Mexico, it's important to safeguard the officers.

Also, the feds want to develop better technology to detect smuggling activities at border crossings. That's necessary, because drugs and smugglers caught at the border obviously don't have the opportunity to operate deeper into the United States.

It's good to see that border security is getting more and much-needed attention from the federal government. The violence we're seeing along the border is, of course, inextricably tied to the drug problem.

Three federal agencies with interests in the border are currently without permanent directors. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are working with interim directors.

Napolitano said that won't affect the new strategy. However, of course, it would be better to have permanent leadership in those strategic positions as this new initiative goes forward.

The initiative is welcome, as is increased federal attention to the border.

-The El Paso Times