The National Guard will join the fight against the deadly and growing drug problem in the nation's capital.

District of Columbia National Guard Maj. Gen. Calvin Franklin said Thursday that the Pentagon has given preliminary approval to a $300,000 project allowing guardsmen to aid city police in breaking up more than 80 open-air drug markets that flourish in the district."It could involve the guard using helicopters and night vision devices to assist in monitoring and detection of illegal drugs," said Franklin.

The city's murder rate is the worst in the nation, with 84 people killed so far this year, many in shootings police said were drug-related. Police say 60 percent of last year's record 372 killings were drug-related.