Defense

January 23, 2013

Northcom pursues closer engagement with Mexico

Tags:
Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Air Force photograph by TSgt. Thomas J. Doscher

Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, and Mexican Navy Secretary Adm. Mariano Saynez pause briefly at the NORAD and Northcom Sept. 11 Memorial during Saynezís visit to the commands Nov. 26, 2012. During the visit, Jacoby praised Saynez, who since has left his position, for his efforts toward closer bilateral military cooperation between Mexico and the United States.

With a U.S. defense strategy focused heavily on the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East, officials at U.S. Northern Command here are enthusiastically advancing engagement to the United Statesí immediate southern border.

Mexico, which has long focused its military internally, is increasingly receptive to building a closer bilateral relationship with the U.S. military, Army Maj. Gen. Francis G. Mahon, Northcomís director for strategy, plans and policy, told American Forces Press Service.

During the past two to three years, as the Mexican army and Mexican navy have taken on a larger role beyond internal security issues, our relationship with them has really grown and expanded through security cooperation,î Mahon said. ìThey have opened up to us and said, Let’s start working closer and closer together.

Thatís good news for the United States, he said, because the United States and Mexico share a 2,000-mile border and are intertwined culturally as well as economically. What happens in Mexico matters to the United States – in terms of trade, immigration and, of particular concern here at Northcom, U.S. national security, he said.

Closer military-to-military cooperation will enable the U.S. and Mexican militaries to share best practices as they collaborate in tackling common challenges, Mahon said. They will be able to deal more effectively with threats such as transnational organized crime, while increasing their ability to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster response throughout the region.

Mexicoís constitution explicitly prohibits foreign forces from operating on Mexican soil. But as SEDENA and SEMAR, Mexicoís army and navy, respectively, shed their internal focus, they are becoming increasingly open to combined training and subject matter expert exchanges, Mahon said.

The Merida Initiative opened the door to increased engagement in 2007, with the United States providing funding and equipment to help Mexican law enforcement fight drug cartels and related criminal elements.

Navy Cmdr. Matthew Turner, assigned to U.S. Northern Command, congratulates Mexican navy sailors upon completion of the clinical hyperbaric training course at the Search, Rescue and Diving School in Acapulco, Mexico, Feb. 20, 2012. U.S. Navy medical specialists instructed the course for 30 Mexican navy physicians, nurses and divers.

Five years later, the United States expanded the mission to include other efforts that contribute to security. Today, the Merida framework includes disrupting organized crime, training state and local police, supporting judicial reforms, promoting legal cross-border commerce while stopping illicit shipments and building strong communities that discourage criminal activity.

The bottom line – for the Merida Initiative and for all other theater security cooperation – is about building partnership capacity, Mahon said.

ìThe end state for Mexico, from our perspective, is that we are their strategic partner of choice in the region, and they are a regional partner who can then assist other nations in the region or respond to other crises in the region, for example through humanitarian assistance or disaster relief,î he said.

The Mexicans, for example, are modernizing their aviation platforms. Northcom worked with them, through the State Department, to help upgrade their RC-26 aircraft and acquire UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for SEMAR, he said. The United States also is helping Mexico buy C-130J Hercules aircraft through the foreign military sales program, along with the logistics capabilities required to maintain these latest-generation cargo aircraft, Mahon said.

But Mexicoís interest in bilateral cooperation extends beyond equipment.

As Mexican military leaders evaluate their current missions and plan for the future, they are looking to the U.S. military for ideas and techniques that would be useful to them. Members of Marine Forces North, Northcomís Marine Corps component, are conducting junior noncommissioned officer training for SEMAR at Camp Pendleton, Calif., a step toward helping Mexico to establish its own NCO academy, Mahon said.

Mahon hopes to establish a similar relationship between the U.S. and Mexican armies. To promote that effort, members of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo., demonstrated various military techniques while hosting senior SEDENA leaders last year.

Last spring, Northcom sponsored a group of Mexican military doctors to observe their American counterparts medically evacuating wounded warriors from Afghanistan. The Mexican group traveled from Afghanistan to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and ultimately, to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. From this experience, the Mexicans may draw ideas on how to improve their field medicine capacity, Mahon said.

I believe their objective, in the long run, is to change their medical process,î he said. ìTheir hope is to institutionalize something better than what they have now, which is basically soldier first aid, without the benefits of combat lifesavers or intermediate evacuation care capability.

Meanwhile, as the Mexican government transforms its judicial system into an adversarial framework like that used in the United States, U.S. judge advocate general staff are working with Mexican lawyers to integrate this new construct into the Mexican military legal system.

ìThe scope and breadth of things we are doing with our Mexican partners is very wide. Itís everything from techniques to planning skills to support for disaster operations,î Mahon said.

The next big step — one that Mahon said he hopes Northcom will be able to take with Mexico in 2013 — will be the start of bilateral exercises.
Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief has been a good starting place, Mahon said, noting that Mexico is earthquake-prone and also provided relief after Haitiís 2010 earthquake.

Mexican military leaders participated in several tabletop exercises last year through the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. The scenarios, which centered on earthquakes and pandemic outbreaks, incorporated not only the U.S. and Mexican militaries, but also their interagency partners, Mahon said.

Mexico also sent observers last spring to Northcomís Ardent Sentry, a major exercise that tests the commandís processes for supporting civil authorities in the event of a natural disaster or pandemic. ìWe hope to integrate that into future exercises that can benefit not only both countries, but also others in the region,î Mahon said.

This month, U.S. and Mexican military officials will chart new ground as they begin planning their first bilateral air defense exercise, expected to take place later this year, he said. As envisioned, the exerciseís scenario will involve a rogue aircraft that flies from the United States into Mexico. U.S. interceptor aircraft scrambled by North American Aerospace Defense Command will shadow the aircraft until it enters Mexican airspace, then will transfer the mission to the Mexican air force.

The scenario, similar to the Amalgam Eagle exercise conducted last year with Russia, will help both militaries exercise the procedures they would need to follow during a real-life situation, Mahon said.

From a command and control aspect, it will address how we coordinate between the U.S. and Mexican air forces as an aircraft that we have concerns about crosses the border,î he said. ìIt also will help address their ability to generate plans, find the aircraft and intercept.

With two Mexican officers assigned to the Northcom headquarters to help coordinate these initiatives and increasing receptiveness from Mexico, Mahon said, he sees plenty of opportunity for more exchanges and combined training.

It’s all about getting comfortable with each other and hopefully, advancing in the relationship,î he said. It would be wonderful, someday, to take a Mexican company to the National Training Center to train with an American battalion or brigade.

That sounds visionary, but we regularly conduct combined training with other allies and partners. There is no reason we canít get it going with our Mexican partners,î he said. ìI think our vision, working with Mexico, is that they become more of a regional strategic partner and more of an outward-looking military. I think theyíre moving in that direction.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines April 23, 2014

News: U.S. conducts spy flights over Russia - After a tit-for-tat series of delays, the United States conducted an Open Skies Treaty intelligence flight over Russian territory April 21, a State Department official said.  Army paratroopers heading to Poland after Russian annexation of Crimea - U.S. Army paratroopers are arriving in Poland to begin a series of...
 
 

News Briefs April 23, 2014

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,177 As of April 22, 2014, at least 2,177 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. The AP count is one less than the Defense Department’s tally. At least...
 
 

Northrop Grumman sets new greenhouse gas emission reduction goal of 30 percent by 2020

Northrop Grumman announced April 22 its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from 2010 levels by 2020, as part of its commemoration of Earth Day.   “Northrop Grumman is dedicated to top performance in environmental sustainability,” said Wes Bush, chairman, chief executive officer and president. “This new goal sets the bar significantly...
 

 

Lockheed Martin demonstrates enhanced ground control system, software for small UAV

Lockheed Martin’s Group 1 family of unmanned aircraft systems is migrating to enhanced automation capabilities using its Kestrelô “Fly Light” flight control systems and industry-leading mobile Ground Control Station software. The increased automation allows operators to focus on executing the mission, rather than flying various aircraft. Earlier this year, Lockheed MartinR...
 
 

U.S. Navy awards General Dynamics $33 million to operate, maintain military sealift ships

The U.S. Navy has awarded General Dynamics American Overseas Marine LLC a $32.7 million contract modification to operate and maintain seven large, medium-speed, roll-on / roll-off ships for the Military Sealift Command. AMSEA is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics. Under the terms of the modification, AMSEA will provide services including crewing, engineering, maintenance,...
 
 

US Navy deploys Standard Missile-3 Block IB for first time

In partnership with the Missile Defense Agency, the U.S. Navy deployed the second-generation Standard Missile-3 Block IB made by Raytheon for the first time, initiating the second phase of the Phased Adaptive Approach. “The SM-3 Block IB’s completion of initial operational testing last year set the stage for a rapid deployment to theater,” said Dr....
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>