U.S. Eyes Closer Military Ties With Mexico

U.S. Eyes Closer Military Ties With Mexico
March 21st, 2009  
Team Infidel

Topic: U.S. Eyes Closer Military Ties With Mexico

U.S. Eyes Closer Military Ties With Mexico
Miami Herald
March 21, 2009
The U.S. is trying to achieve closer ties with the Mexican military, but that may be difficult.
By Marisa Taylor and Nancy Youssef, McClatchy News Service
WASHINGTON -- As the Pentagon eyes a bigger role in Mexico's drug war, the military's efforts to open the door to a new relationship with its southern neighbor risks alienating the Mexican military, which has long had a strained relationship with its counterpart, experts said.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has called for improved relations with the Mexican military in response to escalating drug violence along the border and in Mexico. On Meet the Press earlier this month, the secretary said: ``We are beginning to be in a position to help the Mexicans more than we have in the past. Some of the old biases against cooperation between our militaries and so on I think are being set aside.''
Most experts, however, say any military role should be limited to sharing intelligence or training Mexican troops.
''It's a mistake to say that the United States is going to address this problem of security in Mexico by increasing the Pentagon's role,'' said Armand B. Peschard-Sverdrup, a senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. ``It only would perpetuate the dysfunctional relationship between the two countries.''
During a recent trip designed to expand U.S. Mexican-military relations, Adm. Michael Mullen, the highest-ranking U.S. military officer, visited the graves of American troops who died during the Mexican-American war of the 1840s. Although the gesture appeared innocuous, Mexico observers say the visit undercut the military's message that U.S. Mexican military tensions were a thing of the past.
''Yes, Mullen was well-intentioned but he goes to pay homage to Americans . . . not realizing in a sense that he's also reinforcing the concerns that many in Mexico -- especially the Mexican military -- have'' that the U.S. military will try to once again dominate its land, Peschard-Sverdrup said.
Critics said the military also has not helped its efforts with a recent U.S. Joint Forces Command report that concluded Mexico and Pakistan were the world's two states most likely to fail.
''It's ridiculous comparing the Mexico situation to Pakistan,'' said Raúl Benítez, a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico who specializes in military and national security issues
Benítez also questioned why the administration chose to send a military official before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano traveled there.
On the Mexican side, the military has taken on an unprecedented role in fighting the drug cartels. President Felipe Calderón has dispatched troops to hot spots throughout the country to try to contain the violence. Drug cartel leaders have hit back with widespread kidnappings, murders and beheadings. The death toll since last year: 7,000.
The U.S. government has tried to help Mexico contain the violence by launching the Merida Initiative, an anticrime aid measure expected to total $1.4 billion over three years. Under the initiative, the Pentagon is providing five helicopters, a surveillance aircraft, personal protective equipment, inflatable boats and night vision devices, among other equipment. In addition, the Defense Department trained 150 Mexican officers Oct. 2006-Sept 2007.

Similar Topics
Next US President
U.S. Defense Chief Visits Mexico Seeking Improved Military Ties
Thousands Of Immigrants In U.S. Military
U.S. Payments To Pakistan Face New Scrutiny
Military Chaplains: A Rich History Of More Than Just Blessing The Cannons